yesterday at Pensacola Beach for our family reunion!
So my expectations for my post-baby body this time around were entirely distorted. Not because of the social meeds and the pressure to be a #snapbackshawty, but because I had already birthed a whole human and I actually did #snapback in about 2.5 weeks. I gained 50 pounds with Gia (who is now 6) and lost 25 of it in the first week. The rest came off quickly and easily over the next couple of weeks and I found myself 5 pounds below my starting weight without any additional effort beyond my normal walking routine (2-3 miles per day) and moderate diet (I discuss what I eat below). I chalked it up to the breastfeeding… and youth and genetics and God! #AmenSomebody
Fast forward 6 years, I’m up 50 pounds again and I’m packing my hospital bag with my going home clothes– clothes that would fit me if I was 6 months pregnant (cause that’s what my ‘What to Expect’ app recommended). But as I sat in pain on the side of the hospital bed, still recovering from a c-section, I quickly realized that I wasn’t able to squeeze my ass into any of them situations. Unlike the first go-round I still looked entirely pregnant at discharge and my belly was still very round and very, very jiggly. I decided that it was due to the repeat c-section and my slightly more advanced age. But as the weeks went by and my tummy was still looking very pregnant, I knew something else was up. Again, I’m aware my expectations were jacked, but I was going off of my first pregnancy!
I thought back to when I was like 4 months pregnant with Max. I remember sitting up in the bed (from laying on my back) and my tummy turned into a dome! It went full-on triangle– with this funky ridge popping up straight down the middle. I knew that this meant something, but didn’t give it much thought until I was about 4 weeks postpartum. I did my Googles and came across a common condition called ‘diastisis recti’ (DR).
It’s the separation of the outermost ab muscles and arguably the reason for most stubborn mommy pouches! Whereas your muscles used to support your innards, now your weak connective tissues are doing that job, and not that well. So the goal here is to heal the connective tissues while simultaneously strengthening the transverse abdominis (your natural girdle), so they can again support your internal organs, the right way.
If you feel you may have DR, do the self-test real quick–
- Lie on your back with your knees bent, and the soles of your feet on the floor.
- Place one hand behind your head, and the other hand on your abdomen, with your fingertips across your midline-parallel with your waistline- at the level of your belly button.
- With your abdominal wall relaxed, gently press your fingertips into your abdomen.
- Roll your upper body off the floor into a “crunch,” making sure that your ribcage moves closer to your pelvis.
- Move your fingertips back and forth across your midline, feeling for the right and left sides of your rectus abdominis muscle. Test for separation at, above, and below your belly button. –source
If you have more than a 2 finger gap, you probably have DR and I started with nearly a 4 finger gap–
2 mos post partum– couldn’t even suck it in!
and I’m down to a 2 finger gap (at the widest near my bellybutton)–
4.5 mos post-partum– more pics HERE
There’s still some DR going on, but it’s improved tremendously in just a short time! My inner girdle is working, y’all!
It’s important to note that all the crunches and planks in the world will not fix this and will actually make it worse (increasing the pressure in your ab cavity). And obviously there’s no waist trainer or skinny tea in the world that can save you. So where does that leave us?
If you have DR, you should do your own research to figure out best practices and what makes sense for you and your body.
I am doing a combo of–
1. Targeted exercises
like elevators, heel drops, etc. They take like 8 minutes out of my day and I don’t sweat (yay!). To be honest, I haven’t done this as regularly as I should, but I’m working on it! Check out Mutu Mamas
or get on Youtube– just be careful as I’ve come across a lot of misinformation out there! If you really want do it right, make an appointment with a physical therapist that is an expert in post-partum recovery.
2. Belly binding,
not waist training, tho. My binder doesn’t compress, it holds the muscles in place so I can better execute targeted exercises. I’ve been binding since 4 weeks postpartum. Do your own research, there’s a lot of scams and knock offs out there. A reliable source of info is the Tupler technique
3. Posture correction– it matters so much for core strengthening and my posture is shit.
4. Walking–I walk errryday, minding my posture. Sometimes I motivate myself by walking to our favorite brunch spot and reward myself with cranberry mimosas!
5. Intermittent Fasting
— I didn’t know til recently that my natural habit of eating for the first time of the day around lunch, was a thing! It’s called intermittent fasting
and I’ve been doing it unknowingly for the last 10 years! I’m usually super busy in the morning with the kids, the blog and then with ‘not-doing’ (reading and meditating), that I usually only have a cup of black or green tea (no sugar or cream) and maybe a cup of beef bone broth (
the amino acids happen to be great for re-building connective tissue as well!) before lunch. Then I eat regularly for the rest of the day– whole foods, usually organic… no ‘low-fat’ or ‘no-fat’ anything. I eat what I want, in moderation. I do my best to limit fried stuff (my weakness) and bread, but I don’t restrict anything. The combo of the morning fast and low or no bread somedays really works for me. It’s important to note that on days where I wake up hungry for whatever reason (breastfeeding probably), I eats!
I just listen to my body and that’s super important. Most days, like today, I don’t get hungry til like 1pm. Obviously, this may not work for you. Talk to your doc before trying intermittent fasting!
6. Adjusted expectations— I’m not 27-year-old Nikki. I’m not even 30-year-old Nikki. I’ve had 2 kids and I’m 34. My body will never be what it was pre-Gia. I’m only 3 pounds above my starting weight and I still feel and look different– I’ve got extra rolls when I’m sitting and when I’m not #instagramflexing, and that’s okay! I’m being gentle with myself and loving this new me–jiggly tummy, c-section ridge, flapjack titties and all!
7. Decide who you are–
This is the most important one because it sets the tone for the rest of the day. Before my feet hit the ground in the morning, I ask myself, ‘how would I feel if I was already who/what/where I want to be?
‘ (insert your desire in the ‘who/what/where
‘ place). A good feeling automatically bubbles up in response. And I do my best to stay there, walking in that feeling as I go about my daily activities. That good feeling isn’t even a feeling… but the version of yourself that’s already experiencing the joy, wealth, health, perfect weight etc. And she’s right here, right now. You’re tapping into her world, feeling as she feels and those feels are the first sign you get that you’re moving on up! That good feeling is that new reality, it’s how that version of yourself feels and lives her life!
So, become the version of yourself that is already thankful that you are ______, already! Be her now and you’ll see that manifest in your thoughts, beliefs and actions. If you decide that you’re already the healthy weight version of yourself, you’ll see that eating cleaner and desiring to work out will be automatic and effortless!
Remember, you don’t get what you want. You get what you are. You become what you are, already. If you want to see success, you have to be it, FIRST! If you want to be healthy, BE HEALTHY! It’s simple but we make it difficult.
p.s. DR is super common. I talked with all of my aunts and cousins at the reunion about it and almost all the mommies had it! Even my mom!