My Experience With Colitis and Stress

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.


An in-depth, 4-week reverse dieting course for women who feel like their metabolism has slowed down, think they might have hormonal imbalance and can’t lose weight no matter what they do.

Hi! Happy Sunday! I hope you’re enjoying the weekend!

It’s been a pretty low-key weekend in the Haupert household. Mal, Murphy, and I actually haven’t done all that much.

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Yesterday, Mal and I got our butts kicked at CrossFit, went to the dog park with the pug, fired up the grill for dinner, and then went to bed early. Nothing too crazy around here.

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I’m actually happy that our weekend was laid-back because my intestines have been acting weird all week. I haven’t mentioned this on CNC (mostly because I didn’t know what was going on), but I’ve been experiencing pain in my lower left colon for weeks now. It’s basically an achy, occasionally stab-y pain, that comes and goes.

Quick disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor. I actually don’t understand ulcerative colitis at all; it makes no sense to me. This post is about my personal experience with it.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve had all sorts of tests and met with my gastroenterologist as well as my gynecologist (we thought the pain might be an ovary issue, but it wasn’t). Both of my doctors think the pain is probably related to my colitis since inflammation often starts in the lowest part of the colon. However, neither of them could say exactly what was causing it, and my gastroenterologist decided to keep me on my current dose of steroids (and not ween me) until it goes away.

Then, I went on vacation.

And the pain in my lower colon completely went away.

Hooray! But, wtf?

I ate and drank a decent amount of crap (i.e. booze, pizza, ice cream, desserts) on the cruise, but I felt totally fine and didn’t have a single digestive issue. I’m still shocked, but, health-wise, I felt GREAT on my vacation.

I thought the inflammation in my lower colon was gone once and for all, but as soon as I returned home and got back to work, the pain came right back and got worse throughout last week. I know colitis is an autoimmune disease and isn’t caused by what you eat, but I now realize what probably causes mine: stress. (My doctor was right after all! Who knew?!?)

When I got home from vacation, I felt really overwhelmed by work, my inbox (!!!), and everything else that goes along with being your own boss and running a business. Obviously, I LOVE what I do, but it’s clear that I need to better manage my stress because I don’t handle it well (I never have), and now it’s negatively affecting my health.

I didn’t work yesterday and just enjoyed a day off, and, you know what, my intestines are less wonky today. I guess I just need to make a better effort to de-stress and not work all the time. It’s CRAZY how much stress can affect one’s health. It truly blows my mind.


I scored a big bunch of bananas from the reduced section of the grocery store this week, so I whipped up a batch of OMG! Pancakes for breakfast this morning. (The recipe calls for 3 bananas.)

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I spread almond butter between my pancakes as well as on top. I also drank an iced coffee with almond milk with breakfast.

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A few hours later, I whipped up a salad for lunch. In the mix: leftover BBQ pork and roasted veggies from last night’s dinner, leftover pasta with kale and walnut pesto, balsamic vinegar, and truffle oil. I also ate an orange with lunch.

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I am super sore from yesterday’s CrossFit workout, so I am taking a rest day today. The WOD was seriously killer– and awesome! Check it out:


For time:

100 Abmat Sit-ups
90 Squats
80 Alternating Kettlebell Swings (35, 25)
70 Walking Lunges (total)
60 Hollow-rocks
50 Burpees
40 Wall Balls (20, 14)
30 Knees2Elbows
20 Calories on the rower
10 Wallclimbs

The Burpees + Wall Balls + Knees2Elbows was insane. I thought I was going to die. I actually ended up doing sets of 5 and then set of 3 on the Wall Balls because I was so tired. Not surprisingly, I’m sore from head-to-toe today, and a rest day is much-needed!

Weekly Workouts

  • Sunday: Off
  • Monday: CrossFit
  • Tuesday: CrossFit
  • Wednesday: 9 miles
  • Thursday: Off
  • Friday: CrossFit
  • Saturday: Zella Movement event or CrossFit

Question of the Day

How do you de-stress?

I’d love to hear your ideas. At this point, I’m willing to try just about anything!



  1. I can relate to all that you are going through right now and I am so sorry. I was diagnosed with IBS, in 98, then it was Crohn’s and now I have UC, and STRESS is the major factor for me in everyday life as well ( we have 5 kids :)). I have found that cutting back on the caffeine helps tons, since it is known to stimulate the colon. Also, for me switching from cow’s milk to Soy helped and reducing the things that I do like to eat that are made with milk.
    And, like someone already stated, remember it is okay for you to take a day off, you are important too and the emails and such will still be there , but with out you there is no CNC 🙂

  2. I have a do-it-all attitude, and it’s gotten the best of my health many times. Sometimes it’s mental health and sometimes just being so worried or worn out that it causes other issues. As a teacher, grad student, and in the process of training for another half marathon, I’m in over my head. I’m trying harder to allow myself a beer here and there to calm down, even if it’s 4:30 p.m. on a Monday. I used to tell myself there was no reason for that “need” during the week. Although it isn’t a need, it’s a great tool to make me sit down and soak up life for a few minutes before getting on to the next task. I’m not saying “beer” is a solution, but something that helps you set things aside even for a few minutes and put it back into perspective. A smoothie, an extra coffee, going for a walk, buying yourself flowers…etc. Good luck finding your calm!

    1. @Kellie: I agree. Sipping a good beer forces you to slow down and enjoy the moment and, if you’re like me, you make the moment last as looooooooong as possible.

        1. @Kellie: I 3rd the beer comments. I totally agree with the stress connection – a lot of the time the stress is “self-created” though or in our own heads (thinking of regrets, the future, things we can’t control and need to let go of). The times in my life I looked my best and felt the best were the times I ate whatever I wanted (generally healthy but no eliminating and nothing off-limits). Interestingly the times I’ve ate far healthier and really tried to be uber-careful were the times I felt and looked the crappiest. I was depressed, sad and stressed bottom line.

          Great post.

          1. @Jen: I relate! When I stop forcing thought about it, the work of being healthy is easier for me. It’s strange. At least we’re figuring it out…little by little! 🙂

  3. The thing about being a full time blogger is that you NEVER get a day off! Not to mention all of the other projects you are working on. I can imagine how stressful that must be! It’s a little bit like being a parent-you love the work but it can get to you when you’re around it 24/7! But even parents hire babysitters once in a while and I have been enjoying the guest bloggers (blogsitters?). Don’t be afraid to utilize the blog community to help keep your colon (and sanity!) healthy!

  4. i destress by going on a walk, talking to my husband, writing lists, or doing yoga. i get overwhelmed really easily too, so it’s so important that i’ve learned how to manage my stress. it’s not always easy though, that’s for sure! i hope things get better! 🙂

  5. I’m very sorry to hear that you still suffer with colitis, but I appreciate your openness in talking about stress and the impact it can have on health and how stress is difficult to manage for most people, which I feel is often overlooked in the blog world. Just a refreshing take and feel better soon!

  6. I have IBS and I know all too well the lower left side colon pain. Mine was worse in college (I’m 29 now), but I can remember leaving class to go dry heave into the toilet hoping to throw up from the pain, and one time my friend took me to the ER the pain was so intense I couldn’t feel the left side of my body (thankfully it subsided within a couple hours and all other tests came back great).

    The biggest thing that has helped me was to change my diet. I no longer eat dairy and soy (HUGE causes of the pain), drink beer, or eat a ton of sugar. I’ve found those three items contribute to my IBS the most.

    I love de-stressing by working out and reading. I’ve also found that decluttering my home has helped a ton with stress that I didn’t even know existed (until the decluttering was done).

    🙂 Sorry for the lengthy comment. Hope you find what works for you!

  7. Y-O-G-A. Please go try it and go again and give it a couple of weeks. Try it a couple of times a week. Yoga helps…but certain kinds are better suited to your workout style. Power or Hot (bikram) will do wonders for your breathing, mind, body and spirit. and sweaty detox is a plus!

  8. Yes, stress is a major issue that a lot of people don’t stop and deal with (pun intended. Hah).

    I love going to bed early, reading a good book, going on a walk, and doing yoga or stretching–to help me destress 🙂

  9. Hi Tina,
    Hope some of these ideas are catching your eye. Here’s my top stress reliever: going to the park on a sunny day while everyone else is at work. Pop the earbuds in, put on some good music and stretch out on a park bench for 15-20 minutes doing nothing but relaxing and recharging in the sunshine. I know it sounds a little goofy but it unplugs me from stress in a way nothing else can. Good luck to you!

  10. Yoga Yoga and then some more yoga!!! Haven’t found anything that helps stress long term like yoga. Not just the boring meditation yoga either. It can be power yoga like the Baron Baptiste Power Yoga’s. I think you would love it if you give it a try.

  11. I love to read your blog. I just had a very bad flare-up of UC. I haven’t had one in years, I wasn’t stressed but I did get the flu and that was I guess enough stress on my body. I am using a probiotic, and eating a low residual diet and I feel much better. I hate the round of steroids and just refuse to put my body through it. Thanks for sharing your story.

  12. As I started practicing more yoga (and therefore learning to “just breathe”) I began handling my stress better. Same with running actually. That probably doesn’t help too much since I know you work out but maybe balancing out your workouts to include more yoga?

  13. I’ve been reading your blog for a bit now (I’m actually just getting back into running and daily exercise, after a three month stop….coincidently from a bad Crohn’s flare). As hard it is to talk about something so personal, it’s appreciated. It helps to know we’re not alone 🙂
    Running has been my release. Sometimes the pain slows me down, but it won’t stop us! Our feet keep moving, just REALLY slow sometimes.
    I’ve had IBD for ten years now. And the moment I think I understand what’s going on, something new and different happens.
    Good luck, deep cleansing breaths help.
    And dancing in your living room. 🙂

  14. Have you ever heard of EFT? Emotional Freedom Technique can help you manage your stress. Eileen is an expert I know and she is awesome!
    You can also write and burn, journal everything that is on your mind, then tear is up or actually burn it (safely).
    I hope you get to feeling better, release your stress, so you can be happy and healthy all of the time!

  15. Hey Tina-
    What an awesome workout! You are an animal!

    I have a health issue as well that I am struggling with. Sometimes it flares up when I am relaxed but stress definitely exacerbates it. Since there is a physiological aspect to stress (hormones) it does not surprise me. I also find that I don’t react immediately to some foods. Sometimes it takes a day or two for me to react. My body reaches what I call the tipping point. It is not always immediate.

    I use a bunch of different techniques. One is the “what if” technique. For instance if I find myself overwhelmed with one thing in particular I say what if it didn’t get done…what is the worst that could happen. Usually the answer is much less traumatic than I thought it would be and does not warrant the stress I am feeling.

    I also like to take a hot bath, take the dog on a long hike, eat some dark chocolate or some gluten free cookies.

    Have you tried eating fruit separate from the rest of your meal? I find that helps a bit. Also for some reason, even though I love them so, I find that bananas sometimes do not agree with me. I had to give up iced coffee last year. I really miss it, especially during summer, but it is too acidic for me. Now I drink iced Tzao Hibiscus tea which is delicious.

  16. Balance what you think you have to do with what you actually need to do…if it’s making you sick, it’s not helpful. Most of our stress is by choice, sadly.

  17. I’d suggest looking into a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. It’s an 8 week class (meets 2-2.5 hours a week) that teaches skills and practices to help cope with stress and other things. There’s been a lot of great research on the program showing its very effective for a variety of physical and psychological problems and it was founded by a professor at UMass so I’m sure there would be a lot of options in your area. Given you liked the “You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf” quote above I think you would might really like the MBSR program as it enables you to relate to your thoughts, feelings, pain in a different way than we’re used to!

  18. Have you ever considered going to therapy? It’s really great to have a neutral space to talk about things and also develop greater insignt into one’s self. It helps you get in touch with yourself and your feelings. It’s totally worth it and money well spent.

  19. Meditation, yoga, running all help me deal with stress. Realizing that not everything has to be done at one time, balance is the key. I wish you the best.

  20. Honestly, Tina, taking several days off of the blog a week has really helped me destress. Letting negativity slide off my back. Long walks. My morning devotional time. Not sweating the small stuff…and it’s all small stuff.

    Hoping you find a way that works for you soon!

  21. Tina,

    So sorry to hear about your stress woes. I too have experienced the negative effects of stress and have read that 85% of most medical conditions have an underlying stress component. Stress can be so debilitating.

    For me the secret has been yoga and lots of breathing exercises. These symptoms are your body’s way of communicating with you. The key is to pay attention, tune in and slow down.

  22. For me, managing stress isn’t about “what can I do to relieve stress?” but it’s “what can I stop doing?” I am better when I can delegate, say “no”, and simplify my life. I hired a dog walker so I didn’t have to rush home from work. I don’t teach as many BODYPUMP classes anymore. I give myself a pass when I leave dishes in the sink. Also I spend 20-30 minutes organizing my day each morning and then systematically attack my to-dos. It helps me work more efficiently. I hope these suggestions from everyone help!

  23. I hear ya’, I too have stomach issues that are made worse by stress. I think recognizing that fact has actually helped tremendously. Running and cuddling with my dog are great stress relievers for me. I also just try to be aware of the fact that stress=stomach pain, so I try not to get too worked up over things anymore (easier said than done ;))!

  24. Hi Tina – sorry to hear about your stress-related pain, but the good news is that you know what causes it! That’s the first step to getting better.

    I know you love CrossFit and running, but have you considered adding more yoga or Pilates to your routine? Over the course of the past several months, I’ve pretty much given up running (it’s just too hard on my body, personally) and have converted solely to a regimen of walking, Pilates, and occasional power yoga. The result is that I’m happier, healthier, less stressed, and more centered overall. (Plus, I love how Pilates makes me look). I’m not advocating that you totally revamp your exercise routine, as you clearly love it, but I think you might benefit from incorporating some lower impact (but still beneficial) exercise into your routine. It’s great for managing your stress and restoring balance.

  25. Tina, I can TOTALLY relate to your stress-related pain. Hot baths (with lavender epsom salts), yoga, long walks and a cup of hot herbal tea all help me de-stress. I also found that I was guilty of making myself overwhelming daily to-do lists, and stressing to complete all of the items by day’s end. Now, I set myself one or two priority goals for the day, instead of overwhelming myself with long lists. It’s really helped!

  26. I’m so glad you figured out that the stress is what makes you hurt! Cause targeted.
    However, even autoimmune diseases are affected by what you eat. Not in terms of your colon hurts because you ate something that made it hurt, but in terms of your overall diet and intake of nutrients. Stuff to think about, but doctors don’t always know what’s best. Maybe a trip to a nutritionist would help.

  27. The same thing happened to me! I don’t have colitis, but I do experience stomach issues (bloat, uncomfortableness, etc.), but when my husband and I went to Maui for a week, I had absolutely NO problems–and my diet wasn’t as good as it usually is. I can’t wait to be done with school in 3 weeks then my stress will be reduced immensely.

  28. Hey Tina,

    I can not comment on Colitis, but I can comment on stressed induced stomach issues. For ten years I have suffered from severe stomach pains. I went through all the different tests including a colonoscopy which did not come up with anything. My stomach pains were so severe that I would be bent over unable to walk and the only thing I could do is lie on my bed and strech it out. After awhile it dawned on me it was all stressed induced. When anything big (good or bad) was happening I would get these pains. I had them for a week before my fiance moved back home from Guate, the night before a big race I couldnt walk, the week of my wedding I was a mess etc. My Dr. gave me a prescription to anxiety pills, but I didnt really find that to help. I am still looking for something to help me relax before big events, but its a process. Anyway just wanted to let you know I can relate. I hope you feel better!

  29. Have you considered that the stress of working out intensely many times per week could be contributing to your stomach issues? I think it’s most definitely a combination of physical and mental stress. Have you considered/gone to therapy? Therapy can be really helpful for you to learn techniques to de-stress and also work on stuff that may be getting in your way. Also, taking a break from cross fit could help, especially when your intestines are inflamed.
    I know you keep saying that this will be your last flare, or the last time that pesky little thing called inflammation makes an appearance…….but that’s just not very realistic, unfortunately. You have a chronic, autoimmune disorder, which is exacerbated by stress (physical and mental). It’s not going to be gone for good, ever. I think it just helps to not be in denial about it.

  30. Honestly, I would suggest therapy. If the blog is what you love, it’s your passion and it’s still causing you that much stress there might be some underlying stuff going on that should be talked about in a non-judgmental space. A good therapist would be able to give you stress relieving techniques that are designed with you and your habits in mind. Consider a business expense and insurance that you are able to maintain this job you love for many years to come, rather than let yourself burn out. I say this from experience.

  31. One word: yoga! The best destressor – I also think massage – regular massage works miracles. And don’t underestimate the power of toxic food build up… Especially with your condition! AVOID ARTIFICIAL ANYTHING, and say sweet things to yourself while you brush your teeth. 😉

  32. To de-stress I make no plans on Sundays. No internet, no online time, no work, no house cleaning, no shopping. Just rest. It is a miracle day. I need one day every week like that to keep my stress away because I get stressed easily. I also meditate for 10 minutes per day. It is huge for me. Sending love!

  33. Good for you for taking the day off!
    Stress causes HAVOC all over my body. I struggle to find ways to keep doing ALL of the things that I love without over doing it! At the end of the day, there is not always time to get in all of my favorite stress relievers, like yoga.

  34. I have Crohn’s Disease and just had surgery to remove a stricture. A few things I’d suggest are a low-residue diet. If you have any scar tissue from your UC, a high-fiber diet can be highly aggravating, and for me, it caused a complete blockage that landed me in the hospital for a week, with an NG tube sucking out all of the contents of my stomach. It also led to my surgery. Sometimes eating crap can actually be healing on a UC/Crohn’s digestive tract. The other thing is coffee. Every bad flare I’ve had correlates not only to stress but also to my heaviest coffee drinking. By giving up coffee, I’ve really lowered the amount of time that I’ve been sick in the last year.

    1. @Kim: Hi Kim, I wonder if you’ll see this but I have a surgery consult in the next couple of weeks to address some strictures and a fistula in the TI area. I’m pretty nervous for it, just wondering if your surgery was laprascopic and what the recoverys been like? Sending good vibes your way!

      1. @Christine:
        Hi! I’m happy to be of help. My surgery was laproscopic. I have two cuts–one above and one below my belly button. I had my surgery a week and a half ago, and I am feeling great. Not eating normally yet (just a fiber-free diet) but I am getting around (could go to work if I wanted…but I feel like relaxing instead) and am not taking any painkillers. The first couple of days were rough, but walking, eating, and going home are amazing cures. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Best of luck to you! I’m sure it will go well.

  35. Hey!, I have colitis too and like yours stress is a big factor. For the longest time I thought it was IBS or lactose intolerance. Then one day with the stress of my parents divorce things just went crazy down there. A yr and half later Im doing good, but stress management is the only way I can control it. I’m a type A, over-achiever, over-committed, always doing something type of person, and unfortunately my intestines can’t handle my stress. So I take time to chill and relax on days when I can. I learned to say “no” to people so that Im not over extended. And most importantly, not to allow other peoples stress become my own. I hope you are feeling better.

  36. Hi. I don’t have colitis, but my 20yr old daughter was dx with it in 2009. She has been on several types of medications to try and control it. She visited a new GI doctor today that wants to put her on Imuran. Everything I’ve read about this drug seems negative. Stress seems to be a huge part of her flare-ups. She a college student, volunteers a lot of her time to charities and is an over-achiever. Food really doesn’t seem to play much of a role in her flare-ups. My main goal is to get her healthy, keep her out of the hospital and get her off medication. I found your blog by googling stress management. I’ve found all your suggestions very helpful and I’m gonna pass them on to her. I’d like to know if anyone has try other natural ways of controlling colitis, like probiotics, aloe vera… Best of luck to all of you!! Hope you all find the thing that works for you. Sorry this is so long, this is my first time doing anything like this 🙂

  37. Thank me in 5 years when I tell you – ALL digestive problems have something to do with the food you eat.

    My husband was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and here is what works. We refused steroids despite being in pain and we were ruthless about it, we did WHATEVER it took to fix it. No I cant live without bread, pasta etc. We redefined what we thought of as healthy, and we were conventionally “healthy” to start with.

    1. Do not fully trust your doctor with your health. They will try drugs that might work for a little bit or might not work, and try a new cocktail of drug and this cycle will go on until you’re frustrated.
    2. Well cooked warm foods. Nothing raw.
    3. Only warm water all day all night.
    4. No sugar, gluten, soy or dairy
    5. Juicing vegetables
    6. fermented foods and/or probiotics
    7. The best indicator of your health is your poop.

    Please read “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” by Dr. Natasha Campbell and or any SCD book, Ayurveda all of which deal with digestive related autoimmune diseases.

  38. I am 71 years old and just realized my GI virus that keeps recurring is really colitis.
    My boyfriend gave me 1/2 a Valium and my pain and all the bathroom trips have disappeared, proving stress causes it. No OTC GI med had any impact.
    Thanks for everyone’s helpful comments and good luck.

  39. I just found your blog. Especially this particular post. I’ve been dealing with the same pain too. Thank you for sharing.

  40. I know this is an old post but it’s comforting to know that someone else has experienced this! I have pain in the same area off and on and have for almost 2 years now. Doctors can’t find anything – did ovary ultrasounds, CAT scan, etc. My gastro isn’t concerned (I’ve had a colonoscopy during my last glare about 8 months ago) but it sure is annoying! Thanks for sharing!

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