weight training with a stoma

Zoey: I take pride in breaking down barriers

Read Zoey’s journey and how she didn’t let her stoma stop her from competing in her favourite sport.

Zoey is 23, World Figure Champion in bodybuilding and fellow ostomate since 2012.

It was one of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make...

Facing any type of surgery can be scary. So when I decided to have my bowel removed due to being unable to control my ulcerative colitis for 2 years, whilst still studying at University, it was one of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make.

Will I ever be able to weight train again?

At the age of 23 I felt heartbroken that I would have to wear an ostomy bag for potentially my whole life.

So many questions came flying into my head and the biggest one was “will I ever be able to weight train again?” I've always kept myself fit playing some sort of sport but I fell in love with the gym after 1st being diagnosed in 2012 - it was my therapy, my outlet. I would go in the gym for 1-2 hours a day and leave my illness at the door.

I made it my mission to become strong again

After surgery, I made it my mission to become strong again, I was lucky enough to have a strong foundation of training before having my surgery resulting in my recovery being successful with no complications. I made sure I saw my stoma care nurses before returning to the gym 12 weeks’ post-surgery to find the correct support wear for my shape & size.

I was extremely nervous returning to the gym, I won’t lie. I had to be extremely careful and listen to my body. If I were to give any advice it would be that it doesn't matter if you're 2 weeks’ post-surgery or 2 years - know your limits and listen to your body. Become aware of your body, and take note of its needs. I may be a pro-athlete but I still must remember I've had 2 major surgeries to my abdominal area, this can be frustrating but it hasn't yet hindered my performance. I'm active 7 days a week and when I'm not training myself in the gym I also instruct fitness classes.

I take pride in breaking down the barriers

Before surgery, I had always wanted to become a fitness instructor but my IBD held me back. I didn't feel as though I was reliable due to constantly being sick, it stripped me of my confidence in every aspect of my life and looking back at the struggles I faced still makes me emotional. But competing & being a part of the fitness industry is a dream come true, with the industry being so image orientated I take pride in breaking down the barriers and killing the stigma which can come with IBD, and having an ostomy.

Zoey became World Figure Champion & 2nd overall winner at the O2 Arena in 2016 for the fitness modelling federation Pure Elite.

Zoey comments: “Never let your ostomy define who you are, you are in control of your life - embrace the journey and never stop being you!

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