S***, shower, shave: the three S’s of a successful grooming routine, but an elusive process to perfect. It takes a disciplined diet and schedule to become a same-time-every-day pooper. My own BM schedule is haphazard and borderline dangerous — too many times have I experienced the shame of the post-shower crap, ruining that fresh, clean feeling I’d just attained by bending over and blasting my butt with the shower stream.
So I wanted to know: Could a basic bathroom bro like me master the fine art of crapping on command? And what would it take to earn my brown belt?
Sarah Greenfield, a registered dietitian and coach in digestive health (who’s even given a TED Talk on poop), tells me that “getting your BMs on schedule requires you to be somewhat regimented, and you may need to do a couple things initially to get your body in the habit of pooping first thing in the morning.”
Are you ready, fellow compooptriats? Let’s get regular.
Step No. 2
Greenfield mentions some “catalysts” that can jumpstart your gastrointestinal tract for that first (of hopefully many more) 7 a.m. poops. It comes as no surprise that caffeine kicks off things. “Drink green tea in the morning,” she says. “Caffeine is a stimulant and can help get things moving.” Caffeine doesn’t necessarily aid in becoming more regular, but rather pushes that first poop through whether it’s ready or not, and primes your body into adapting to a morning poop routine.
After your first caffeine-induced poop, Greenfield says to “stop eating around 6 p.m. and continue to drink water throughout the day to avoid dehydration and constipation.” Poop hack: “If you tend to be more constipated, you can add a little aloe to it.”
At the end of the day, Greenfield suggests, take a serving of “psyllium husk or Calm (magnesium citrate) before going to bed.” This mixture of natural muscle relaxants and fiber “should help you get in the habit or train your body to poop when you wake up in the morning.” However, tread lightly, Greenfield warns. “Start slow and monitor how your body responds. Doing everything together could cause increased transit time,” and by that she means diarrhea.
The Daily Routine
Once you’ve got your catalysts, it’s time to settle into a routine. Not only “does [said routine] help things stay more regulated,” but it keeps your hormones balanced and “keeps things moving through the GI tract.”
First, she recommends doing some morning meditation. “This may sound silly, but when you wake up and extend your calm feeling, you’re getting in your parasympathetic nervous system, or your rest and digestion mode,” she says. “If you can keep it relaxed, this may help get things going.”
From there, stay active, stress-free and hydrated. Taylor Wolfram, a registered dietitian and nutritionist, details the steps to regulating your diet, both timing and food-wise: “Eating meals and snacks at consistent times can help bowel movements become more predictable, but it’s also important to eat a variety of plant-based foods including whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits, to provide adequate fiber — plus drinking plenty of water throughout the day.”
These things “encourage ideal stool consistency, which make bowel movements easier no matter what time of day,” she says, which “might be more useful than trying to control when bowel movements happen.”
Wolfram adds that keeping your stress levels low is important, as stress can wreak havoc many people’s GI tract. Plus, “staying active helps encourage regular bowel movements. Some people, especially those who participate in endurance sports, find that exercise may induce the need to have a bowel movement.”
Greenfield agrees with this sentiment, telling me that a regular “workout routine can help create a more diverse microbiome, and thus, help with regularity.” In particular, she suggests “twisting yoga poses,” as they “can help stimulate your GI tract and get things moving.”
When You Get Thrown off Your Cycle
Don’t be discouraged if life gets in the way of your regular poops. Travel, time zones and just eating different foods “can all be stressful on your system and change your poop schedule,” Greenfield says. If this happens, do your best to maintain your workouts, and “taking digestive enzymes daily is great when you’re traveling to stay regular. You can take them on a daily basis if you notice a difference in your digestion.”
“If you miss a meal,” she says, “you won’t be thrown off — just get back on your routine.”
Once you settle into a regimented pooping schedule, the chaos of daily life suddenly becomes a bit more manageable. But it takes focus and discipline. “Distractions, such as using a smartphone while on the toilet, could possibly lead to incomplete evacuation,” Wolfram says. “Focusing on the task at hand and being mindful about your body can go a long way.”