Do You Sit or Squat? Potty Training For Grownups! [How to solve every poop problem and even some non poop problems with one little trick]

by Charlotte on December 3, 2013 · 36 comments

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 Pooping: You’re doing it wrong.

What if someone told you there was a simple device that would solve every poo problem you’ve ever had? Constipation, hemorrhoids, UTIs, appendicitis, chilly cheeks (that is so a real problem) – all solved! You’d want to try it like rightthisverysecond, right? Which is how I found myself in the bathroom this morning with my knees elevated to eye level as I hovered my hiney precipitously over the bowl. As I hung out there – literally and figuratively – I contemplated all that had led to this very exciting moment in poo history.

Like all things popular in health right now, it started back in the Stone Age. Since there were no primitive porta-potties, mankind had to figure out how to squat outdoors in such a way as to relieve the pressure and yet not get one’s shoes all wet. And shoes weren’t even invented yet! All through the ages since then, people have been squatting over a hole, pot or generously sized coconut shell to do their business. Despite the many advances in health care, this method of baking butt brownies stayed basically the same for centuries. That is until the advent of the porcelain throne in 1776 (an auspicious year!), although it didn’t become widely popular until the late 1800′s.

Now, starting from a very young age, we are trained to sit on a chair-like device with a hole leading to a water-filled bowl which then noisily whisks your brown dive bombers away. No wonder little kids are so scared of the things! The other problem, according to people who study these things (poopologists?), is that sitting like you’re sitting on a chair is not your body’s natural poop posture making your colon all kinky.

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Nothing like starting off your day with a cartoon sphincter! But as you can clearly see from the diagram lines your poop needs an exit strategy with blue emergency lights just like the ones on airplanes. And also maybe a protractor. 

 This may surprise you, being as entranced with bodily functions as I am, but all of this was news to me. I mean, I’d heard people talk about squatting to sink a link but I always took it with a grain of salt as these were usually the same folks using their menstrual fluids in their compost (love you Laura!) and sleeping on the floor. (Not that there is anything wrong with those things! I still wish I could be a pillow-less matress-less sleeping beauty.) So when a friend on Facebook tagged me in a post about “natural” pooping, I was all ears. And butts. Yes, plural. There are lots of butts in my house. In fact we talk about them ALL the time. Case in point:

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As I was putting dinner on the table I hear Jelly Bean pipe up, “Um mom? You made us…BUMS for dinner??” Then Son #1 chimed in, “No, those are WHOLE WHEAT bums.” I hadn’t thought of the dinner rolls that way as I was making them but clearly yes, I made bums. The fart jokes are never ending.

Anyhow, the author wrote about his experience using a Squatty Potty – a little plastic stool that elevates your legs to mimic a squatting position on the toilet. Of his experiment he said, “Things changed folks. Elimination took a lot less time, I didn’t have to go as often, and my elimination was complete. I didn’t have the urge to go again a couple of hours later. Nothing lingers in my colon anymore, which is a great feeling!” Plus, in addition to protecting you from bad stuff and helping you poop happier, squatty pottying also helps strengthen the pelvic floor and quad muscles.

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image courtesy of Squatty Potty

Plus, and this is huge, lots of squatters say it’s so clean YOU NEVER HAVE TO USE TOILET PAPER. Whoa.

But I had two problems:

1. I actually don’t have any poo issues. Nope, none. I’m pretty much never constipated (I eat so much fiber that my shiny colon is visible from space, just like the Great Wall of China), I got hemorrhoids from childbirth but since I’m done in the breeding department that isn’t a problem any more and when I do go, everything seems to, er, go as planned. So how was I going to tell if squat-pooping was helping me? Although I daresay I’d love to know how it feels to have “nothing lingering in my colon”! Mostly because I can’t tell when something IS lingering in my colon. Like, right now, what exactly is happening in there? Are the pomegranates and beets from dinner conspiring to give me poop like bloody entrails? I would not put it past them.

2. I don’t have a squatty potty.

Me being impetuous, I decided to just ignore the first problem because this whole thing sounded like crazy fun. And thankfully there are many easy solutions for #2. (ha!) When I posted about this on Facebook, tons of people chimed in saying things like “Two milk crates. Boom.” and “Paint cans. Save your $$.” and “My legs are so long that normal toilets make me do this anyhow.” (Hi Jeff!)

After checking out the squatty potty site, I discovered they have two heights: 7″ and 9″ depending on the height of your toilet. On the Amazon reviews (which are hilarious, entertaining and highly informative), they recommended the 9″ only for flexible people. Hey, I happen to be a very flexible person! So I took that as a challenge to find the highest squatty-potty-esque thing I could. And also because I’m too lazy to measure things.

I ultimately decided on a laundry basket. Mostly because it was already in my room. (See above: Lazy.)

But the pressure was on. Because I typically only have to return Pooh to the Hundred Acre Woods once a day that meant I only had one shot to get this right. (Or I’d have to wait a whole other 24 hours which when you’re as impatient as I am is tortuous.) So I lined up my basket and waited:

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When the big moment arrived I hopped on it only to realize that I had no clue how to use it. Was I supposed to stand on the basket and hover over the toilet? I tried that first but have you ever tried holding a below-parallel squat? HAVE YOU?? I was in too much pain to poop. Plus I didn’t trust my aim. So I tried it with my hands on the toilet seat to support my weight:

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Don’t worry this is just a REENACTMENT. I do not potty with my pants on. But hey, you dig my jammies? It’s like 3 layers of plush – I get cold!

But then this happened:

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Yeah I broke my laundry basket. Apparently they’re not meant to be squatted upon. Oops. 

I took it out to fix it and discovered this scene of debauchery:

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Ken, you devil!

After that I just sat on the toilet with my feet on the basket and leaned forward. (Which after reading the squatty potty site further is what you’re really supposed to do. Good to know!)

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It felt a little awkward, not gonna lie. But despite having my knees practically up to my chin, I pooped! And it was… great! Like usual! I used TP anyhow though. I didn’t get a visual but I wasn’t chancing anything. It didn’t really feel any different to me. My colon felt as vacant as Charlie Sheen. But it didn’t feel worse either. It really wasn’t uncomfortable. So, win? I’d try it again.

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After I’d finished, I found a ruler to measure the height of the basket, just to see how good I am at judging inches. 13″ says not very good. Oops. Eh, it worked anyhow. Plus, like I said, I’m very flexible – who knew that would come in handy for toileting??

Your TMI turn!! Do any of you squat? What do you use under your feet? Or is a real “squat toilet” (a.k.a. hole in the ground) better? Are you convinced enough to try it yet??

P.S. Thank you so much for sharing all your wonderful stories about paying a compliment to a stranger and giving someone the benefit of the doubt – I’ve just been grinning and grinning. Seriously you guys make me SO HAPPY:)

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy @ Run Mom Run December 3, 2013 at 11:52 pm

I’ve never heard of this before – but I guarantee you I’m doing this tomorrow. Seriously.

PS This may be my favorite post you’ve ever done. Thanks for doing your duty (with a heart full of song) and sharing this valuable information with us.

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Cbuffy December 4, 2013 at 8:27 am

Terrific – now I’m going to have to giggle EVERY TIME we sing that…LOL

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Jess December 4, 2013 at 12:03 am

Well, I can’t say I’ve gone that high, but I do frequently use my Little’s stool if it’s going rough. After I had her, the nurses and doctors “trained” us to sit with a stool or at least on tippy toes to make the first few times easier. Why not just keep it up?
And in thinking of the second challenge, I realized I do give others the benefit of the doubt almost always, but I have a much harder time doing it for myself. Instead of judging myself for something I did, I should really just think that I was doing the best I could. I know, not quite what the challenge was, but I need to help myself believe the best about me as well as giving others leeway for what they do.

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Shari December 4, 2013 at 12:18 am

Something to think about… children in diapers squat naturally to deficate, so there *may* be somethinh to it! (Also, I learned this trick when I was preggers with #1 and EXTREMELY constipated… like, 5 days constipated… and developed terrible hemorrhoids… and I have used common foot stools as well as my garbage can on its side and it really does help!)

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PCOSgirl December 4, 2013 at 12:31 am

I’m an Indian and for us ‘squat pottying’ is what is the natural way to potty . I would squat poop until 2010 when I moved places and I use the ‘western toilet’ eversince.

I had hemorrhoids in the start of 2013 due to a stupid trainer pushing me with too much weight for squats. I managed to get rid of it by strengthening my core and I found it relapsed when I was inactive for some months due to injury. Hemorrhoids also run down my family from my mommy’s side. Funny thing but I and my mommy both find the western toilet much more comfy for rhoids. Even docs recommended my grandpa (who also had rhoids) with an accessory to ‘westernize’ the Indian toilet at his place – just like they have things to sqauttypottize the western toilet ;). I might consider using squatty potty when my things are in place where they are supposed to be LOL

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Motorina December 4, 2013 at 1:48 am

Trail runner with demanding bowels so, yeah, have squatted to crap, uhhh, al fresco on occasion. (The visuals I leave to you.) No difference at all, other than the drafts and the occasional nettle sting.

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Reid December 4, 2013 at 4:45 am

I’ve been wanting to try this for a while now! I’m glad to hear your thoughts about it. The device does seem a bit much to pay, but spacewise I haven’t found the right “props” lol… You’ve inspired me though- gonna do a bit of searching so I can try. (Although like you I don’t need much help….)

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Jess December 4, 2013 at 4:54 am

I have a cousin who married a really religious girl who also happens to be a squatter. So now he preaches squatting and god in one breath. He seriously swears by it and has sent me some pretty funny articles about the benefits.

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JLVerde December 4, 2013 at 8:07 am

Hmm, I have a real grumpy cat of a bung. This just might make it a tiny bit less crabby (and yes, I almost typed crappy).

Hey, it can’t hurt any and my hubby keeps so many magazines and newspapers in the bathroom I bet there is at least 9 inches of height right there (and yes, I’ll announce to him that I used his copies of Harpers as a poo foot stool–hee hee, STOOL!)

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Cbuffy December 4, 2013 at 8:30 am

ROFLOL!

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katspeakz December 4, 2013 at 8:17 am

My son is a squatter. He’s 7 now, but he always has been. When he was potty training, he started standing on the toilet seat and squatting over it. He puts a foot on either side of the seat and then squats down with his hands on his knees for support. I used to try to get him to sit, but he’s stubborn so now I just caution him to never ever go #2 at school. Since he squats so low he also tends to strip naked from the waist down. My daughter, 5, usually sits, but will squat on the toilet like her brother if she’s constipated.

I’ve seen frames that go over the toilet with a place to put your feet so that you balance over the toilet in a cul squat, but without standing on the seat like my son does. When he gets older, I imagine we’ll have to get him one. I have no idea what he’ll do when he gets to college.

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Rachael December 4, 2013 at 8:22 am

I hadn’t previously heard of this as a re-emerging trend. I guess I’m in the same boat as Charlotte – usually once a day, usually no issues, and I have to say that I feel pretty cleaned out afterward. I do have to laugh at how many things have been developed during civilization to make our lives easier that we now renounce as unnatural.

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Cbuffy December 4, 2013 at 8:33 am

My goodness, we are 12 year old boys. LOL But yes, I read about this on the T-Tapp forums about a year ago. I have a little white trash can next to the ..uh.. can. Used to use that, and then stopped. No idea why. But I’m TOTALLY going to try it again. You, as always, are HILARIOUS!

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Jill A. December 4, 2013 at 8:59 am

I read about doing this in a pregnancy book years ago and it really did help at the time. I guess I thought it was just for preggos only so I stopped doing it when I wasn’t pregnant anymore. My toilet now is so tall that if it were just an inch taller, I could swing my legs while doing my business, so I think a small footstool might be just the thing I need!

Great post! I can always count on you to tackle the things that no one else wants to! :)

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Joemama December 4, 2013 at 10:29 am

I heard about this method during my second pregnancy, but have never needed any help going so I’ve never used it. I can count the times I’ve had trouble going on, like, one hand. Lucky me, I know. Oddly, I got hemorrhoids with all three of my pregnancies from too much diarrhea. (Whoa. Spell check nearly exploded with ‘hemorrhoids’ and ‘diarrhea’ in the same post…so hard to spell correctly!)

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Renée December 4, 2013 at 11:15 am

As someone who has had her share of a lifetime of GI issues, and yeah, we’ll leave it there, the topic actually came up one day at the GI doctor. The PA at the office told me to use a short bucket or one of the small steps we use for kids to stand at the sink. Made a HUGE difference! She actually said that in addition to the whole “wrong angle” bit, women have a tendency to experience constipation a lot…mainly because we are caregivers and will put off our own bodily functions because of everyone else’s needs. And, after a while the body just stops sending signals cause we’re going to ignore them anyway. She said this holds true for bladder issues as well. And me, being me (I’m a Medical Writer, for heaven sake!) found this information both useful and fascinating!

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Bethany December 4, 2013 at 1:16 pm

I have all kinds of poop problems and I can’t WAIT to try this.. you know, in like 3 days when I’m finally ready to go. Sigh.

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Cindy December 4, 2013 at 1:40 pm

I have heard of this before but the devices they wanted to sell me were designed so you are standing with your feet beside the toilet seat at seat height and then you squat down. I was totally put off because I have no intention of breaking my neck getting up that high and I could see that missing the mark could be a problem. This solution seems much more reasonable and I will give this a try.

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Abby December 4, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Interesting! I want to try it but I’m like you, other than a brief laxative addiction when I was a chronically constipated anorexic, I’ve never had any issues. I consider myself pretty lucky. But I have lots of laundry baskets handy!

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Becca December 4, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Having gone camping, hiking, and trail-running many times, I have indeed had this experience, but it was never any kind of glorious bathroom epiphany. Mostly just breezy and difficult since your legs are tired after all the above-mentioned activities!

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Lori Goodman December 4, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Thanks for the info. This will be beneficial as we potty train our child.

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Megan @ Meg Go Run December 4, 2013 at 3:20 pm

lol this is hilarious! I have never squatted in THIS way!

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The Bear Cub Bakery December 4, 2013 at 4:41 pm

I squat! I squat! My husband is (per my request/demand) getting me a Squatty Potty for Christmas.

Because I currently turn our small bathroom trash can on its side and squat on that. I’m so glad someone else has jerry-rigged a Faux-ty Potty! :) It makes me feel less weird. A little.

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Stephanie December 4, 2013 at 4:45 pm

My, how informative! I have been known to try this with the little stool (no pun intended!) my kids keep in the bathroom to reach the sink. It is helpful.

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Dorothy December 4, 2013 at 4:49 pm

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but I am flexible enough that I’ve always just put my feet up on the toilet seat. It’s completely automatic. I can’t remember a time I didn’t do it, so probably it’s been since I stopped using diapers. Bonus: completely travel-friendly, no props required.

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Robin December 4, 2013 at 5:16 pm

So much to say about this topic…where to begin? I, too, have no problems with elimination. However, of my two adopted Chinese daughters, the older does. We’re talking 20 minutes to get ‘er done. She did not join our little clan until age 6, up until their her toiliting (sp?) was done in a country with abundant squatting. My mother must have read about the feet on a stool (ha!) trick and introduced it to said kiddo. It does seem to help.

Re: squatting myself, I can hold it like a champ and when confronted with a squat toilet, just opt out if that’s my only option. HOWEVER, with second kiddo adoption in China, was stuck at a hospital for 8 hours with only the squat. I held out for as long as I could, even searching a second wing of said facility for a non-squat potty, but, in the end, had to cave.

Eh, wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined.

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Megan @ Meg Go Run December 4, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Charlotte, I just have to say you are absolutely adorable.

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Katie December 4, 2013 at 7:03 pm

I read this on your facebook page and you better believe I clicked right over to that article to read and now, I am on the lookout for something that I can use to try it out. Soon, because, well…because. You know.

Who knew there was such a phrase as “anorectal angle” Now, imagine the google searches that will bring people here!

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deb the librarian December 4, 2013 at 10:49 pm

I’m sold! I just ordered it from amazon…I’ve actually been having terrible issues with IBS and other assorted problems, that was finally diagnosed as an overabundance of gas and poops handing out in my intestines. I’m on a regimen of two kinds of probiotics and metamucil, in addition to my vitamin, eating healthy and exercising.

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Jessica Fletcher-Fierro December 5, 2013 at 12:34 am

So glad I inspired you to blog this! :) I feel strangely proud. I laughed at your re-enactment pics. My husband thought it was weird enough that I was taking a plastic tub of Christmas ornaments into the bathroom…I can only imagine if I asked him to photograph it. ;)

I couldn’t tell a huge difference either, but I will definitely try this next time I am, ahem, backed up. Thanks again for testing it out!

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Tamara December 5, 2013 at 9:54 am

I knew squatting was best, but it never occurred to me to employ props! I will be trying this out soon!

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Courtney @ Don't Blink. Just Run. December 5, 2013 at 3:08 pm

We visited cousins this past Labor Day weekend and discovered their Squatty Potty when we were unpacking. I didn’t know what in the heck it was, but because one of them has “gut issues”, I figured it had to do with that. I never did try it out though…sounds like it would work well though, now that I know more about it. I love the reenactment pics!

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Jo December 6, 2013 at 1:27 pm

What a wonderful topic! In an internet full of repetition and recycling, I can always count on you to blog about something I had no idea about, and genuinely useful.

As a very long time sufferer from many of these things (including the frustrating lingering feeling) I had to give this a go. I think I went too high though, because my weight pushed into the toilet seat was rather painful. Definitely trying again though, with the only other object in the house of a reasonable height – my boyfriend’s homemade sandbag. So I get a bonus deadlift too!

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Betty Baez December 7, 2013 at 12:38 pm

My 6 yr old son squats he’s done it ever since he was potty trained. I always thought it was odd but I guess now that I know this he’s doing it right!

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Kathryn Anderson December 8, 2013 at 2:42 am

A friend of mine grew up in India and swears by squatting. Apparently it helps your body work more efficiently and strengthens some of the muscles used to push out babies, which helps when it comes to giving birth. She has two stools that are the same height as the toilet seat that she puts on either side so that she can put her feet on them and squat naturally with her weight on her feet. I’m not sure how much of it was due to squatting, but when she had her kids she had very easy labours.

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