Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dear Diastasis Recti...Thank You and I Love You!

MY BEFORE AND AFTER
So, here it is.  My Diastasis Recti in all its glory.  Although my "before" wasn't taken that long ago, it seems like eons have passed since I took that picture. Oh, Diastasis Recti, what would I be doing today if it weren't for you...




WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?
A few months after my youngest child was born in 2010, I knew something was wrong.  I had never heard of Diastasis Recti nor did I know that such a condition even existed.  I had been eating a super-clean diet for a couple of years and I was thankfully bitten by the fitness bug shortly after my son's birth so I couldn't figure out why my body was not snapping back into its former shape...like it's supposed to.  I mean, we see it all the time, right? Those celebrities that do the (apparently obligatory) swimsuit cover shoot merely weeks after giving birth so they can show off their post-baby bod and nearly-perfect abs.  Why was my stomach a blubbery mess while their abs were as tight as a python's grip?

TURNING TO THE INTERNET
I was working out regularly (as regularly as I could with two small children) and doing every abdominal exercise I could think of.  I talked to my OB-GYN about it but I was told to "give it more time".  I was patient.  I really was.  But I knew something was wrong.  I met with a nutritionist to see if my diet was the culprit (since my belly button stuck out like a pop-up turkey timer after every meal).  I was told to avoid dairy and gluten so I followed orders for months but nothing changed.  I met with a gastroenterologist because I swore there was an alien inside of me and I demanded an ultrasound to prove that I wasn't crazy.  Unfortunately for me and my sanity, no alien was found. I was stumped.  What was going on with me and why was I still looking pregnant over a year after giving birth?  None of the doctors that I met with ever mentioned Diastasis Recti as a possibility.  Of course, the only logical next step was to consult Dr. Google.

I HAVE A WHAT?
What the heck is Diastasis Recti and why in the world did it take a Google search for me to discover this condition?  Okay, so here's what I learned: During pregnancy, our abdominal muscles get stretched.  A lot!  Sometimes, the connective tissue that holds everything together gets stretched too far, or even torn.  What you're left with after pregnancy and hours and hours (and hours) of labor is stretched-beyond-repair connective tissue that isn't strong enough to hold everything in.  So our guts just sort of fall forward, allowing you to appear pregnant even when you're not.  Isn't that a wonderful gift? What was more disappointing to me was that all of the core exercises that I had been tediously doing were probably making the injury worse!

THINK YOU HAVE DIASTASIS RECTI?
Click on the link below to watch my video on how to conduct a self-check for Diastasis Recti.  


Self-Check for Diastasis Recti


MY JOURNEY IS JUST BEGINNING...
If you're wondering why I'm wearing a bikini in my "after" picture, I'll explain. You see, I realized that in order to measure my progress as I began to heal my core, I had to come up with a goal to reach.  I knew I would consider my efforts successful if I was willing to wear a bikini.  In public.  That "after" picture was taken on the very first day I realized that I could chase after my kids on the beach, in a bikini, without fear of having my former flabby belly hanging out for the world to see.  It represents my success.  I'll be writing a lot about Diastasis Recti in future posts because it's a condition that I'm very passionate about.  So many women have it but don't even know it.  And if you don't know you have it, you could be making it worse.  There's a lot of misinformation out there and it's important for me to differentiate between fact and fiction.  Discovering that I had Diastasis Recti was very upsetting to me.  Especially since much of the literature that I read informed me that corrective surgery was the only option (which I later learned is ridiculous). What I didn't know at the time, however, was that discovering my Diastasis Recti was the beginning of a wonderful journey for me in following my dream of becoming a Certified Personal Trainer.  For that reason alone, I will always love my Diastasis Recti.  

39 comments:

  1. Inspirational! I first realized my DR after my third baby almost three years ago. I have since given birth to my nearly 11 pound son six months ago and I am ready to not look pregnant anymore. You have inspired me mama. Thanks for sharing. I have the mutu program and will be starting TOMORROW

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    1. Congratulations on making the first step toward healing your core! The Mutu Program is great, both from a healing perspective as well as an educational one. Learning how our bodies move and stay balanced is so important! I wish you the best of success with your healing!!!

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  2. Is Mutu the reason for your success? I have the program, but need to stick with it. I had DR after my first daughter and it quickly improved with Tupler. But it wasn't fully healed and I got pregnant again. Now my DR is much worse and I'm hoping that I can stick with Mutu and heal it. It's something that I feel bad about and I want to heal it so badly for looks and just so that the area is healthy and healed again.

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    1. My success comes from hard work and dedication. Mutu was a part of that but, more importantly, I made my body a priority and I worked at it every day, no exceptions. You can do this! Stick with the program, eat a clean diet, and make your body (and your success) a priority. It can be done and I wish you the best of success! Go for it mama!!!

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  3. Oh my gosh!! I can't even tell you, how much I can relate!! This could be my post...with the exception of the results. Congrats to you and your accomplishments!! I'm still working on mine, but am very hopeful!! I guess I'm gonna have to try my MuTu again ;)

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I know, isn't it funny how we can all share such similar stories? I'm happy to hear that you are still working on healing your core. Don't give up! Keep working at it and you will heal! By the way, my first attempt at Mutu wasn't pretty. I got frustrated and gave up. But, after educating myself, I realized that the program is spot on and I added it back into my daily exercise routine. It can be done and I wish you the best of success!

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  4. Great results! I would love to see my DR heal. Besides the Mutu system, what core exercises did you perform that were safe?

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    1. I used the Mutu system as a foundation for healing my core. That program has great stretches and alignment guidelines. Since I am a very active individual who loves to exercise, I started simple with heel slides and heel drops. Then I started doing planks (which you should only do if you can keep your core engaged). Basically, I did whatever I could that didn't compromise my core stability. That will be different for everyone. I avoided any exercise that created a belly bulge or anything that was too advanced. Best of luck with healing your core. It can be done...stick with it!

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  5. You are an inspiration! I've been doing mutu off and on for a year but haven't seen results. I've been reluctant to give up running and weight training in exchange for Wendy's suggested daily walks. Do you think that's what's holding me back? I've also neglected the stretches. I'm really active and petite and eat clean most of the time. Just can't seem to repair my core and get it to where I don't look prego. Sounds like you worked out while doing mutu. What was your routine like?

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    1. Hi Kate! I continued to exercise while going through MuTu but I was very careful not to do any exercises that created "the bulge". So, modifications were needed but I still did cardio and I still lifted heavy weights. My routine changes from time to time (to keep things interesting) but I generally train upper body on Mondays and Thursdays, lower body on Tuesdays and Fridays, and cardio on Wednesdays and one day on the weekend (rest day on the 7th day). I do MuTu and several other core-related exercises almost every day after each workout. Even if I'm short on time, I'll throw in a quick plank or something similar. I'm all about enjoyment so if you enjoy running, I wouldn't give it up. Just make sure you're keeping your core engaged at all times. Oh, and get back to those stretches...they're kinda important! :)

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  6. Wow - this is EXACTLY my story! I KNEW something was wrong when my naturally flat stomach (even after 3 babies) would simply not flatten after number 4, three years ago. All last year, I trained for a marathon, putting in 45 miles per week and because my stomach refused to cooperate, I stepped up the crunches BIG time and was so depressed when my stomach seemed to get worse. And you're right, NO ONE ever mentions DR. I found it by accident a few weeks ago. I immediately ordered Tupler because that was what I found and I went for it. Just started wearing my splint 3 days ago and started my exercises today. I'd love to hear more about the MuTu program. My husband and I have been low carb for about 6 months and went total paleo (albeit with a few cheat days) on Jan 2. Haven't seen much result from the diet yet. I suppose that could be because we were already doing it pretty much? Anyway, so glad to find your blog. You look amazing - I aspire to be there one day!

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    1. Hello momto4! 4 kiddos...kudos to you! :) I only have 2 kids so I think moms like you are superheroes! It's frustrating to know that most of us have gone through so much since no one was telling us about DR. I remember doing every ab exercise under the sun in order to shrink my waist and it was all for nothing. But, DR awareness is growing and I hope that we can spare all the new moms out there from the nightmare that we went through. You started Tupler? Have you read my latest blog review where I compare Tupler to MuTu? I've done both programs and I believe that MuTu will provide better results (http://lucyfitpt.blogspot.com/2014/03/Mutu-tupler-diastasis.html). If you stick with Tupler, I wish you the best of success. If you go with MuTu...I'll see you in the MuTu Mamas group (you'll have to read my blog post to know what that group is all about). :)

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  7. I'm 3 months postpartum and my formerly flat belly looks exactly like your before shot... this gives me so much hope!
    I was in the best shape of my life before having my daughter, had a very healthy pregnancy and have lost all of the baby weight... but when I look down at my belly I don't recognize myself. I've got a 1-2 finger separation and my belly looks 5 months pregnant.

    I know everyone is different, but how long did it take for you to get from your 'before' to your 'after' photo?

    Thank you!

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    1. Hi nomdekt! Yes, there IS hope! :) I still have a 2-finger gap and I doubt it will ever 'close' completely but my tummy is flat and I no longer look pregnant. As for the time it took for me to heal my core, I don't remember exactly how long but it took awhile. Well over a year (maybe 18 months or so). Have you looked into MuTu System? There's a link to that program on my website (www.LucyFitPT.com) and I even blogged about my experience with the program. I highly recommend it as one of the best programs available to help heal Diastasis Recti.

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    2. Yes! I have signed up for the program and started last night. I'd love to read your blog about your experience doing the program, could you paste a link to it?

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    3. nomdekt, here is the link to my MuTu experience...best of luck to you! Be sure to sign up for the MuTu Mamas group on Facebook! http://lucyfitpt.blogspot.com/2014/03/Mutu-tupler-diastasis.html

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  9. Hi there! So glad to have stumbled upon your blog/website when looking for help with diastasis recti! My son is 13 months old and I recently realized that I have DR - though I exercise regularly and eat pretty well! My dr says I have about a 2 fingerwidth/3 cm gap, and I am definitely interested in the Mutu program! I usually do Pure Barre 3-4x/wk (probably have been doing so many ab exercises that have not been helping!) and then run 2x/wk. I am bummed about the possibility of stopping barre, but will do it short term if it helps me heal my core. I would love to be able to return to doing it, though. Do you know anything about barre and diastasis recti? I engage my core while doing it, but your hips are also tucked under, which I know the Mutu program says isn't great! Thanks for any help you can give - crazy that it isn't easier to find info about all this!

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    1. Hi Katie! I'm so glad to hear that you're interested in doing MuTu. It's such a great program and you can integrate it with your other workouts, like I did. I am familiar with barre workouts and I really like those types of exercises. The key with any type of exercise is that you keep your core engaged at ALL TIMES. No exceptions. The MuTu program will help you teach your body how to activate your core on its own, which is very important. If you really enjoy barre, I wouldn't necessarily give it up unless you can't activate your core. Do what you enjoy! But, be sure to pay attention to the specifics of the MuTu program. If there's a particular exercise that compromises your core stability, it should be avoided entirely. Best of luck to you...and if you end up getting MuTu, be sure to join the MuTu Mamas group on Facebook! There's a ton of support in that group and you may find someone else who has extensive experience with barre workouts.

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  10. Hey Lucy,
    Thanks for sharing your story. I have been doing MuTu religiously for a month and was getting discouraged with the lack or results. I read somewhere in the comments that it took you about 18 months ...I guess I have a long way ahead of me! Was your connective tissue also weak or was it strictly the gap? Did you take any supplements to help strengthen the connective tissue such as collagen or gelatin? Thanks!

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    1. Hi Mel! Yes, when it comes to healing your core, patience is key! I know...that's easier said than done. Have faith in the program and keep at it! To answer your question, no I didn't take any supplements or gelatin. Diet is a key factor in the APPEARANCE of DR so keep your portions small and avoid any foods that cause excess bloating.

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  13. Hello Lucy, I found the information here very useful however looking at the pictures it seems really hard to believe that you were able to achieve such a flat belly with exercise only. Where has all that skin gone that appears on the first picture? Please do not find my question disrespectful. Excess skin can just not disappear like that no matter how much exercise you practice. Your comments would be appreciated. Thank you. Pilar

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    1. Hi Pilar! I don't find your comment disrespectful at all but I can assure you, I have not had any surgery. Perhaps you can't see it very well in the picture but I do have loose skin above my belly button. I did find that the majority of my loose skin tightened-up as I strengthened my core but some skin decided to stick around. It doesn't bother me so I would never consider having it removed. No surgeries, injections, or magical creams were used. I have healed my core and flattened my belly using MuTu, daily exercise, and a proper diet. A lot of sweat and tears went into my healing! Lol!

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    2. If that is the case everything has been worth it because you look absolutely stunning. Thank you Lucy

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    3. Thank you! I agree - it was definitely worth it! :)

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  14. Hi Lucy,

    I am 6 months PP right now with my first and I recently discovered that I do have little DR (of 1 cm gap) but I still have like 6 months preggo looking tummy. Could you please share the mutu's program which you followed and the healthy diet which you follwed so that it could be so beneficial to me. Thanks a ton for sharing this. I am so depressed on seeing my belly everyday and I cant live looking like this forever :'(

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    1. I completely understand your feelings and frustration! I was once in the same boat! I wrote about my experience with MuTu System here: http://lucyfitpt.blogspot.com/2014/03/Mutu-tupler-diastasis.html?m=1

      Please let me know if you have any questions. I encourage you to seriously consider the MuTu program as it's the only program that I recommend to my clients.

      Best wishes to you!

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  15. Hello lucy..
    Thank you for sharing your story and answering all the questions..
    I was looking for the right answers since i have the same problem and have found them here ..

    Im 8 months PP , i have been doing (p90x) program for 5 months , i lost most of my pregnancy wight but sill have the belly, i discovered DR recently and realized that i was doing the wrong abb exercises for what DR needed to be heeled.
    The questions is , if i still want to continue doing the p90x system where i reached amazing results on the rest of my body and not do the p90x abb workout and instead do the mutu system abb floor workout , is that ok ? And which mutu system should i chose if i only wanted that?
    Thank you very much.

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    1. Hi Ritaj! Yes, you can combine MuTu with any other workout program --- as long as you don't compromise your core stability. You should avoid any movement that causes your belly to bulge out. If you choose to do MuTu along with another program, I would suggest that you select MuTu Focus. I followed Focus while continuing with my training. Focus is strictly the core stretches and exercises and does not include any of the other exercises. Hope this helps!

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  16. Thank you so much.
    Really i cant thank you enough 🌹

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  17. Wondering if I could ask your opinion Lucy? I corrected my DR almost to 1cm from about 8cm doing the mutu 12 week programme back in 2014. I was so proud of what I achieved (I was 4 years post partum after 4 kids at that point!). Now 2 years on I have gained about half the weight back (6kg in 6 months) and my DR seems to be expanding again to be around 4-5cm :-(. Could this be due to heavy weight lifting which I started about 3 months ago? I've been doing stronglifts 5x5 (barbell squats (worked from 27kg to 66kg in 3m), barbell deadlift (started at 42kg now at 92kg) barbell rows (39kg) bench press (33kg) and Bb military press (22kg). I guess weight gain could be some muscle but my belly looks 6m pregnant again and just want to cry at the sight of it. My arms and legs look strong and toned but my belly is so weird and distended most of the time. I eat very clean - whey, almond milk, eggs, turkey, chicken, salmon, salads, vegetables, berries, natural yoghurt, almonds, walnuts, pecans, seeds etc. but maybe too many calories at 2000kcal per day? (I weigh around 71kg and I am 180cm). Any advice would be amazing. Should I stop lifting and go back to start of mutu program? help!!! I love heavy lifting but I will stop if i am trashing my body. Maybe I can reluctantly adapt / swap to bodyweight stuff or kettlebells ....???

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    1. Hi Liz! The return of your DR could be the result of multiple factors. Without assessing you in-person, I'd say that the "appearance" of your DR could have grown due to the weight gain. But, it could also be the result of the heavy weightlifting. When you have DR, impeccable form is a MUST! Anything less could be putting unnecessary strain on your DR.

      I love weight training and if you do too, I would suggest staying with it (perhaps lightening up a tad to ensure proper form). But, I would also suggest revisiting MuTu and adding those stretches/exercises back into your routine.

      Hope this helps. Best of luck to you!

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  18. I am a mother or 3 and my youngest is 17 months and I have this pooch that I figured out is DR but I also have an umbilical hernia. Will the exercises address the hernia or is there no way around the hernia except surgery? All of this is really upsetting and I feel like my husband is not attracted to me and Lord knows I do not like how I look. I have been scouring the internet trying to find how I can get my stomach back to normal because as of right now we do not have the funds for surgery or even doctors visits. I am a stay at home mom and my husband is the only income provider. Thank you so much for being honest and writing this blog. I am so excited to read the rest of your journey.

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    1. Hi Alexis! Since I'm not your doctor, I cannot specifically advise you on your umbilical hernia. But, I highly recommend MuTu System (https://mutusystem.com/?affiliate=226) as your guide in healing your Core. This is the program that I used to heal my Core and it's the only program that I recommend to my clients. I understand your feelings as I was there myself. Please look into MuTu and join the MuTu forum. That can be a huge source of inspiration and support!

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  19. Hi, I have the Mutu system and am on week 2 so not started the intensive workouts yet but I really would rather just do my own strength training workouts with either weights, a machine or bodyweight. I'm so worried I'll make my dr worse though. Can I ask what ab exercises you did alongside the mutu focus?
    Thanks
    Lisa

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    1. Hi Lisa! Congrats on choosing MuTu! I hope you are enjoying the program! In the beginning of my healing program, the only Core exercises that I did were those outlined in MuTu Focus. At that time, I avoided all other Abdominal exercises. As I developed core stability and strength, I slowly added in some Planks and some traditional core exercises (as long as I was able to keep my core engaged throughout the entire movement). If you're just starting your journey, I suggest that you stick with MuTu for now and not do anything additional until you e regained stability.

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    2. Brill thanks for that! I'll stick with just the Mutu then for now, did my first intensive workout from it last night and it wasn't too hard so it'll be a good build up to tougher workouts when my core is stronger. I haven't worked out in years!

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