OK, lets not be squeamish here. We all need to poop and if you want a good indicator that you are improving your diet and health, then your bowel movements are a good indicator.
Keep in mind I am not a doctor, so make sure you get your own advice if you are concerned about something.
The frequency, apparently this varies from person to person. A minimum of 3 times of week is the least I have heard quoted. A lot of people say at least once a day and I am of the same opinion for my body.
I once had a severe case of constipation, which lead to haemorrhoids and being very uncomfortable. It happened after the birth of my first child, one of those things that people don't tell you about. My diet near the end of my pregnancy and after the birth of my first child was not as good as it could have been, that combined with the huge loss in fluid during child birth, left me constipated. I was told to eat more fibre, that though was not my problem, my problem was a lack of fluid. So even though I ate 1 to 2 bowels of bran for breakfast every day, I still didn't do a bowel movement. I didn't for an entire month. I was drinking a lot of tea and very little water. When I did eventually do a bowel movement, my bowel tore. It continued to tear every time I went to do a number 2. The straining to go caused the haemorrhoids, although I think pregnancy also contributed. Eventually I got some good practical advice (not from a doctor) and the haemorrhoids have all healed up.
I had to make going to the toilet a priority and it is now something I continually monitor.
If I don't go once everyday, there is a good chance I am constipated.
As soon as you need to strain to do a bowel movement, you are constipated. Constipation occurs when you don't digest your waste fast enough. The waste becomes firmer and harder to pass.
Your stools should be soft and squishy, like toothpaste.
If it isn't you need to change your diet, but changing your diet won't necessarily help you go straight away.
If I miss a day, I take a fibre supplement and drink lots the next day.
Fibre supplements are great, but you shouldn't need to take them everyday. Remember moderation is the key.
It should be enough to change your diet to have long term improvement. Change from white bread to wholemeal, eat lots and lots of vegetables matter and reduce your red meat intake. Drink lots of water and drink more water if you drink coffee, tea or cola. 6 to 8 glasses a day is a minimum, you may need to drink more in hot weather or after exercise.
Monitoring my poo, is part of my weight loss program.
How often am I going?
Is my stool hard or am I straining?
How much is there after I go?
I don't exactly check the colour, but if you notice the colour become reddish, or look particularly unusual, go to your doctor.
I find exercise increases how many times I go a day. A good indication to me, that the more I go, the healthier I am.
One other thing I do, that is related to bowel movements, is that I flush my system. Nothing particularly radical, but if I have a splurge on some particularly fatty or sugary food, I drink a lot of water afterwards and may even take a fibre supplement to help move it through my system.
I have no idea if makes any difference to the amount of calories my body takes in from the food, but at least the toxins don't get a chance to build up in my system.
I guess, what I am saying is, when you change what you put in your mouth and change the amount you exercise, you should see a change in what comes out. If you don't notice a change, then you may need to overhaul your diet plan again. Bowel movements are like a litmus test, if you think you are healthy but you find it hard to do a number 2, then you probably aren't as healthy as you thought.
You need to know your own body, first and then look for improvement.
New goal for me, get to 2 times a day.