Overcoming diastasis recti (part 2)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

I apologize that this post is so delayed.  At the time that I wrote the first post about diastasis recti I had wanted to follow-up shortly thereafter with another post regarding how I was dealing with the issue.  I'll update you on my "progress" and where everything stands right now.

Back when I wrote my first post on this subject in September, I had made great progress with my physical therapist.  I was doing regular core exercises that were specifically geared towards people with my condition.  I was running a ton and feeling great.  I felt like I was getting so much better so in November, I joined CrossFit.  For a while I was modifying all of the workouts that had any ab components because the physical therapist told me that they could make the condition worse and un-do all of the work that I put in (sit-ups, v-ups, toes-to-bar, etc).  After a while it started to get embarrassing and decided to disregard what my PT had said.  I always had to modify exercises and always had to explain to others why I was "cheating".  I was tired of it.

One day, during a class, I decided to just go for it.  I felt like my core was pretty strong so I did a whole workout with a component that included "toes-to-bar" except that I did "knees-to-elbows", which is the beginner version of the former workout.  I did the workout and felt ok during it, but that night when I got home, I noticed in the mirror that my stomach looked worse than it had in a long time.  My lower back was also bothering me.  UGH.  After only one workout, my diastasis looked so much worse than it had in months.  How completely defeating.

Since quitting CrossFit, I have been running a lot more.  I started training with a coach again and do weekly intervals with a "team".  I am back in my element!  The only problem is that I still have this annoying ab separation to deal with.  Besides causing some lower back pain, it looks like I am 6 months pregnant every night, which is terrible for my self-esteem.  Last week my Aunt asked me when I was due.  Seriously?  I had really hoped to wear a 2 piece bathing suit this summer, but that isn't going to happen (maybe ever again).  It is crazy that I am 115 lbs, which is lower than I was before I got pregnant, but I have never felt more uncomfortable with my body.

So now I am back to, what I feel like, is square one.  I need to start doing my core exercises from my PT again.  I need to practice getting up and out of bed in the way that she taught me.  I need to start wearing the brace at night again.  I also need to really be strict about what I am eating.  Sugar and wheat tend to make me bloated, which exacerbates the problem.  One girl in a support group that I am in, mentioned that apple cider vinegar helps with bloating.  I tried that one night when I felt very bloated and it worked within 15 minutes (I put 2 teaspoons in water and pounded it...totally gross).  I know it is bad for your teeth though, so it isn't a perfect solution.

For reference, here are some pictures to detail what I am talking about.

Picture #1

On the left is me in June and on the right is me now.  In both of these pics I am "flexing" my ab "muscles".  From this view, things definitely look much improved.

Picture #2
Same pics as above on the left and right.  The middle pic is from me in October, before starting CrossFit.  I think that I looked much better then than I do now.

Picture #3
This is a current photo of me on the right "flexing" and on the left not "flexing".  Anyone with diastasis recti will tell you that the constant need to suck in so you don't look pregnant is exhausting.

Picture #4
This is a current photo of me from the front "flexing".  I have a faint linea negra, some wrinkled skin, a herniated belly button, and a protruding belly with no ab muscle definition (even when "flexing")!  Not what I would call attractive to look at in a 2 piece!

Picture #5
This is a current photo of me from the front, not "flexing".  Not pretty.  

So, the diastasis recti saga continues.  I am going to try to get back into doing my core exercises and doing everything that I was doing before.  I am still not ruling out surgery in the future to stitch things back together, but since we have not closed the baby window, I don't want to go there, yet.  ;-)  I'll check in again on this topic sometime in the summer.  I'd be really interested to hear from others with the same condition.  What have you done to try to correct it?  Have you just accepted that you will never look the same again?  Does it affect your self esteem?  

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8 Responses to “Overcoming diastasis recti (part 2)”

  1. I don't have the the same condition, but I did have a really hard time adjusting to my post-pregnancy body. So I don't have good advice on the best physical ways for approaching it, however I did have a girlfriend who realy helped me by reminding me WHY I have these changes. Yes, it still affects my self esteem, but she suggested I put a picture of my son on the edge of the mirror where I generally spend the most time being self critical and over time it has helped to change my perspective.

    1. Such a great idea with the picture. Thank you so much for sharing! :-)

  2. It could be the sleep deprivation talking here, but I am finding my post baby body unusually beautiful. Especially given all the struggles I had to get pregnant - my imperfect belly and c-section scar are daily reminders of what I created. I choose to celebrate them. And then, only after celebrating what I am and have made, do I work to improve. Will the abs be flat again? Not likely. But my core can be stronger, my bench press can be better and my push-ups can be flawless. What matters is that I am strong, proud and capable. I think you look beautiful and that you should step back and celebrate what you have achieved and then, and only then, press on towards your goals. Sending you love and light!

  3. I don't have any advice, but I will throw out there that I am very self conscious about my linea negra and to be honest feel a little depressed now that you still have a faint one because I was hoping mine would go away! Ugh!

  4. I used to be so judgemental of friends who complained about their body, when they had what I wanted so badly. But now I realise that it is really hard seeing your body change and not having the time or energy to change it. But looking at my boys definitely helps :)

  5. I recently corrected my diastasis which included a hernia. I did the Tupler exercises--I actually didn't buy the book, but I did buy her splint and worked with a trainer via Skype for 3 sessions to get feedback on my exercises and to answer my questions. Since I had a hernia, it's taken me a long time to heal--I had a complete tear about 2 inches above my belly button--most people would say it's IMPOSSIBLE to heal a hernia without surgery, but check out this site and see that this notion is incorrect: www.beautifulafterthebelly.com
    I am NOT a Tupler trainer, I have no reason to recommend this program other than the fact that it worked for me. I had a diastasis that was 2.5 fingers wide at 2 inches above my belly button, 3 inches wide at the belly button, and 2.5 inches wide at 2 inches below. The widest part is not just a little less than 1 finger width--considered closed for any woman who has had a child. I'm still strengthening my connective tissue there and being very careful about exercise. You can have flat abs again! Looking at your photos-I can see where you gap is and am certain your abs would go back. Anyway, good luck. I feel for you! Diastasis recti takes such a psychological toll on mamas--especially those who use exercise as a way to cope with stress and feel good about themselves! I can't wait to get back to more rigorous exercise myself. Until then, I'm running and doing light weight lifting (NO abs) in order to give myself plenty of healing time. You can do it!

  6. I know this is an old post so I don't even know if you'll see it. I came across your blog because I'm suffering the same thing. I could've written your posts. I am also 115 lbs with a 3 finger diastasis. Husband says I'm hot, do all the exercises, wear the binder, roll to the side when getting up and out of bed, draw in tummy all day long, wear k tape, but to no avail still look pregnant by the end of the day. Hate the way I look naked, but clothes with a poochy belly are not fun to wear either. Self esteem has taken a nose dive despite losing all my baby weight. Haven't ruled out surgery but yet don't really want to do it. Huge sigh. I am seeing a physical therapist this Thursday hoping and praying she will magically have a better solution except I already know she won't as I have read every article and blog in the Internet about diastasis and am doing it all. How have you progressed since this post??

    1. Hi there! I have gotten a few requests for a DR update since my last one a few years back, so as a result, I'm going to post something this week. I will also say that I feel for you 100%. Don't give up!!