Where Did You Come From?

In May of 2012, I started to notice that my belly was not going away after having my twins in February of 2011.  I know that our bodies change after pregnancy, especially when you have 3 of them.  However, something was just not sitting right with me about my belly, so I started to do some investigating.  I’m not sure what fueled my desire to explore this more, my own vanity or curiosity of the human body.

As I researched, I came across my answer—diastasis recti.  What?  Exactly!  In all my 10-plus years in the fitness world, I had never heard of this. The more I researched, the more curious, frustrated, and even angry I became. A diastasis recti is the separation of the rectus abdominis (the “six pack” muscle). When this occurs, the integrity of the rectus abdominis has been lost and weakened.

Again, I am not sure which fueled my desire to fix this–vanity or curiosity of the human body, but I was determined to get to the bottom of this.

Below are some before and after pictures of my belly.  I am sharing these pictures as a way to show measureable differences in my belly as I started to make some changes in how I carried my body.  My goal was to see if the changes I was implementing were actually helping and when I discovered that they were I decided to share it with each of you.

The first set pictures I took of my belly in August of 2012.  You will also notice various comments next to the pictures.  I’m adding the comments as a way of evaluated the anatomical elements of my body.  My comments are not meant to as a way of shaming my body.  No matter what one’s body looks like, Psalm 139 tells us that we are beautifully and wonderfully made.  So knowing that, why did I want to fix my diastasis?  Well, because a diastasis is a result of me not taking care of my body, which is not taking care of the temple the Lord has created for me.

Front view: notice how the belly is rounded,  to some people they may think I look pregnant

front view august 2012

Side view: notice how the belly is pushed forward, the lower part of my ribs are pushed forward which results in a fold of skin in my middle back, and again one may think that I am pregnant

stomach 003

After these pictures, I began the work of correcting my diastasis.

Step 1: Learn how to get up and down from the floor without stressing the rectus abdominal muscles.

Step 2: Change my entire mindset on abdominal strengthening and avoid/stop doing many things I thought strengthened my abs.

Step 3: Change my alignment. Position my pelvis over my heels and stop pushing my rib cage forward.

Step 4: Find my transverse abdominal muscles and start working them (Yes, even my experience and training as a Pilates Instructor failed to teach me this).

Here are my pictures two months later:

Front view: notice the rounding of my belly has decreased

front view october 2012

Side view: notice how the belly is not as pushed forward and my lower ribs are not as thrust forward which decreases the fold of skin in my middle back

side view october 2012

Step 5: Accept the fact that reworking my muscles that have forgotten what to do takes time.

Step 6: Be patient and keep working.

Now onto my latest pictures from December 2012.

Front view: notice how my belly has gone down even more

DSC03391

Side view: notice how my belly is now inside my pelvis and not forward, my ribs are no longer thrust forward and the fold of skin in my middle back has significant decreases to the extent that it is gone

side view december 2012

Now let’s check out the images side by side to compare.

front profile

side profile

During this process I lost a 1/2 inch on my waist.

If you think you might have a diastasis recti, please watch this video on how to test yourself for one.  If you have one, start implementing the steps above, watch this video on working your transverse abdominal muscles, or sign up for a private lesson with me to start repairing your diastasis today.

About christinamroz

Believer that anyone at any age and with any abilities can move their body. Foot & Core Expert. Alignment Nerd. Yoga/Fitness Instructor & Trainer. Mother of 4 active children.
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14 Responses to Where Did You Come From?

  1. Ulrika says:

    I have a question – how much of the improvement in your abs are added strength in the transverse abs and closing the diastasis and how much is your better posture and getting used to activating the transverse abs? Are you completely relaxed and letting everything hanging out in the progressive pictures, if you know what I mean? I’ve never had very good posture and so now when I have a diastasis and weak transverse abs it feels even more like hard work. Is it just about getting used to engaging the transverse abs pretty much all the time or will the transverse abs eventually get so strong you don’t need to actively engage them. I mean before I got pregnant I didn’t think about activating my transverse abs they did their work without my thinking about it. I am so tired of looking veeery pregnant (I’ve seen people in week 30 with a smaller belly than mine in the evening)…

    • These are great questions. I have discovered that I needed to fix my posture first before I started to really work my transverse abdominal muscles. Once I stopped flaring (pushing) my ribs outward and aligned my public bone and the front of my hip bone I saw a lot of improvements. Since my posture is better I’m now focusing on really strengthening my transverse abs. I’m finding they are very weak and I have to actively remind myself to engage them. As I’m working them I’m finding it to be more and more automatic instead of me having to think about it. So I believe that will come for you as well. In these pictures I’m just being nature, so just letting my stomach and my posture be the way it wanted to be. I hope this encourages you. Don’t give up.

      • Ulrika says:

        Thanks! 🙂 I do find too that if I manage to think about drawing my belly back and standing tall throughout a day the next day it feels a bit more second nature. Though if I forget about it that feeling quickly disappears. I also find that when I relax after at day of mindfully engaging my transverse abs I tend to not let my belly out as much. But to be able to totally relax and still have a pretty flat belly the transverse abs would have to be strong enough that the muscle shortens in it relaxed state (compared with now I mean). How much can you pull your belly back? Before I got pregnant I could hollow my belly a lot but now I can pretty much only get it to almost flat in the morning and in the evening my belly still sticks out even if I pull it in as much as I can. Hubs has downloaded an app for me (finally :P) that I will try – it’s progressive and meant to give you safe exercises in 7 levels and keep you from being tempted to do too tough exercises before you’re ready. I’ll let you know if it works. 🙂

  2. Ulrika says:

    Hi!

    I have now started training with the app “Mammamage” and I am really happy with it. Thus far I have only done two sessions on level 1 but I feel confident this is going to help me a lot. I plan on going really slow to make sure I do the work from the foundation out. It’s obvious to me after these two sessions that I tend to compensate my weak transverse abs with the outer muscles even if I don’t make obvious mistakes like sticking the belly out instead of pulling it in. I’ve also realized just how hard it is to really feel the transverse abs after 2 c-sections – they are numb much like the skin.

    I contacted the app creator and asked her if she’s planning on doing an English version and she said it’s absolutely a part of her plans and that I should keep checking her website for updates on when an English version will be available. 🙂

    In my everyday life I do try to engage the transverse abs when lifting, bending over etc. but apart from that I have stopped trying to pull my belly back and instead I’ve focused on my posture and walking tall (though still with neutral posture) and I feel that’s helped me engage the right muscles instead of using the wrong ones to pull the belly back. I’m starting to feel that good posture is more natural and so I tend to not let my belly out as much even when I feel relaxed. I’ll keep working on it. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Christina’s Freedom Session Story | Be Free Photography

  4. Amy says:

    I think I have this as well. I had my 2nd c section when my daughter was born in February 2013. Seven months later, I still have a belly that just won’t go away. I also have kind of a small hard lump under my belly button. It is painless, and you cannot see it…I can only feel it when I press down on my belly button. My belly button has gone back in and everything so I am not sure what it is. The more I read about diastasis recti I think I have it. In doing internet research about the hardness behind my belly button I keep coming up on sites about it. I am wondering if the small lump there is due to having diastisis recti? I am having trouble getting answers as to what it could be from the dr. The obgyn said that the lump would not have anything to do with a c section healing but I did not have a lump there before. They say to monitor it and make sure it is not changing. Anyway, I plan to do more reasearch and try the exercises to get rid of my belly and hopefully the small painless lump will just go away on it’s own.

  5. This site was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something which helped me.
    Thank you!

  6. Baneen says:

    I was wondering if you wore a splint at any time during your healing process. I just found out that I have DR and have been researching the different therapeutic mindsets and it seems that ” to splint or not to splint – is the question!! “

    • Great question. Yes I did split for a time. I was teaching a lot of yoga classes during the time I was learning about what a diastasis was and how to heal it. I used it for ahwile but then discovered that I was relying on the split to bring me core strength instaed of my own muscles, so I phased it out. Splits can work for a short time but are not a long term solution. I hope that helps.

  7. MaryAnn says:

    Thank you for sharing this information. I have had DR for 15 years after my second c section. I was also diagnosed with an umbilical hernia. I have used a splint and tried to implement exercises but after wearing the splint for six months I decided enough was enough since it was clearly not working out. The splint had to be worn constantly but at times I would get too warm so I wouldn’t wear the splint. It was difficult to wea under clothes and was uncomfortable to wear at night. The one thing I had hoped to read on your blog was what type of exercises you had done t accomplish this. Clearly you must not have had DR for long.

    • MaryAnn,

      I had one for 2 years before I realized I had one. The exercises that I did are all on my blog along with my YouTube channel. I have several blogs that talk about my struggle with understanding how to heal my DR with all my background in yoga. I hope you were able to find that information.

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