Person walking their dogShare on Pinterest
chabybucko/Getty Images

I am a certified personal trainer and licensed nutritional therapist, and I have my Bachelor of Science degree in health promotion and education. I’ve also been living with Crohn’s disease for 17 years.

Staying in shape and being healthy is at the forefront of my mind. But having Crohn’s disease means my journey to good health is ongoing and always changing.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to fitness — especially when you have Crohn’s. The most important thing you can do is listen to your body. Any specialist can suggest a diet or exercise plan, but it’s up to you to learn what works and what doesn’t.

When my last major flare happened, I was working out regularly and competing in bodybuilding competitions. I lost 25 pounds, 19 of which were muscle. I spent eight months in and out of the hospital or stuck at home.

Once it was all over, I had to rebuild my strength and stamina from scratch. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.

The following are some tips to help you on your fitness journey if you have Crohn’s disease. Use these guidelines and stick to your program if you want to see long-term results.

As much as we’d all like to be able to run for miles every day or lift heavy weights, it may not be possible at first. Set small, attainable goals based on your fitness level and abilities.

If you’re brand new to working out, aim to move your body three days a week for 30 minutes. Or, get your heart rate up every day for 10 minutes.

When beginning any exercise, you want to make sure you’re doing it correctly. I suggest starting on a strength-training machine that keeps you in a proper range of motion.

You could also consider hiring a personal trainer to show you ideal exercise position, whether it’s on a machine or on a mat. You can also watch a video tutorial on the correct form for your workouts.

Set a realistic time frame for you to achieve your goals. And remember to listen to your body above all else. If you’re feeling strong, push yourself a bit more. On the tough days, scale back.

It’s not a race. Be patient, and don’t compare your progress to that of others.

It may take some trial and error to find the workout routine that works for you, and that’s OK. Try many things and always listen to your body. Also, feel free to switch it up! Whether it’s yoga, running, biking, or another exercise, get out there and be active.

When done correctly, practicing good health will always help you to feel better—physically and emotionally. Exercise, after all, is known to improve your mood!

Dallas is 26 years old and has had Crohn’s disease since she was 9. Because of her health issues, she decided to dedicate her life to fitness and wellness. She has a bachelor’s degree in health promotion and education and is a certified personal trainer and licensed nutritional therapist. Currently, she is the salon lead at a spa in Colorado and a full-time health and fitness coach. Her ultimate goal is to make sure everyone she works with is healthy and happy.