So if you’re like me and you have a serious problem with getting bloated at times, even if you sneak the slightest smidge of dairy, or something spicy, or a margarita, or whatever, it becomes very difficult to rock your Pilates, Yoga, or combination thereof (gotta get my PiYo baby!) when you can barely bend down to touch your toes due to your protruding gut. In the midst of my belly health crisis last year when I had fallen in love with Pilates Reformer classes at Lifetime Fitness, I noticed that my belly would go from a littlebloated to a lot by the time I was done with the class. I know that some yoga gurus (or yogis I guess they’re called) say that there are certain poses that alleviate digestive distresses, like some pose where you lie on your back with your butt up against the wall and stretch your legs upwards against the wall and somehow that’s supposed to tell your innards to relax. I tried it once. Didn’t work. Maybe I had to sit there longer… who knows? But I found that the more I stressed out my core in the midst of belly bloat, the worse it got. Maybe my upper abs needed crunching, but my intestines certainly didn’t. They probably were screaming “I’m inflamed enough! Why are you twisting me left to right when I can barely move the food down the conga line as it is?!” Sure, the equivalent of Russian twists made me feel super strong, but they also made my gut feel as if I were digesting tacks. The one move that I found particularly stressful to my gut is ironically The Hundred, which is one of the cornerstones of Pilates in that it works on your breath and your core in a methodical manner. It’s actually kind of calming to count down the breaths as you hold yourself aloft with your head raised, arms outstretched, and legs lengthened, pressed together and daintily pointed. But I noticed that as I was thinking long and lean, my belly had something more bulbous in mind. In an effort to have you avoid neck strain, Pilates instructors tell you to focus on your belly button while your doing The Hundred. Well, in my case, it wasn’t hard since it seemed to be growing ever closer to my face. By the time The Hundred was over, I looked 3 months’ pregnant, not 2. The only thing keeping it from busting out from my workout shirt were my compression shorts, which also isn’t good either, since sometimes you have to let thebloat just be: don’t try to contain it, compress it, press it inward with your hand or try to massage the discomfort around. The best thing to do for a bloated belly, besides maybe popping a peppermint in your mouth since natural peppermint oil alleviates bloat, is to rest it. Peel off those tight workout capris that were cutting off your circulation, change into some unsightly sweatpants whose elastic has been worn out, get into bed, and lay on your side. Literally, let the belly flop over. It’s inflamed for a reason, so it doesn’t even want to have to fight gravity or crunching abs or laboring breaths from the diaphragm. Give it a rest. If you fall asleep, bonus! It has to work through its issues so you have to give it time.
Now I’m not addressing times when you get a bloated belly in the middle of workday. That’s a whole ‘nother blog post. But I’m talking when the pre-workout drink doesn’t agree with you, the protein bar, the shot of espresso, or whatever you’ve popped into your mouth to get your workout on throws your belly into a tailspin right before or during your workout of choice… throw in the towel literally and DON’T push through the pain. Just make a note of what you ate (if the bloat happened within 15-30 minutes of your eating) in your food diary or tracker, and cross it off the snack list. Bundle that belly up all cozy-like and use your gym time instead to enjoy a good book and some hot tea. You can tackle Warrior 1 another day and your belly will thank you for it. A hundred times over.