I’ve had two kids and it’s reasonable to say that those two pregnancies knocked my body around somewhat! I had always accepted that I had shit core strength (excuse my language, but I think the crudeness is apt) and it’s a bit alarming to me to realise now that I shouldn’t have accepted that as a fact!
After I had my son, my body bounced back really quickly. It probably had something to do with the fact that I had been extremely fit and active (except with poor core strength) before I was pregnant, and I kept up with the exercise before he was born. But when I fell pregnant with baby girl, it was a different story. I felt pretty fit – I was walking about 3km every working day, but I had neglected so much of my body. At around 5 months pregnant, my belly button caved in. Literally. It turns out I had (and still have) Diastasis Recti, which, to put it blunty, means that at 5 months I suddenly had a gaping hole where my abs should be. Thus the caved in belly button.
My daughter is 14 months old now and believe me when I say that it’s a shock to the system when you’ve always considered yourself reasonably healthy and slim, to suddenly notice that you have a gut – and an ugly gut at that. No matter how many people will laud the “changes” that a woman’s body goes through during childbearing and birth, it sucks. Stretch marks, split abdominals, stitches from here to there (I’ve had a c-section and a vbac – there are scars all over!). Those women who escape totally unscathed, I bow down to you. You may just be blessed with great genetics, but you get my forever envy!
About 4 months post partum I decided I’d start exercising. It was time to kick the mummy tummy in the guts and chase it away with clean eating and regular exercise. I was excited and more to the point, motivated! But it turns out it’s hard to exercise when you are looking after two kids. And eating clean? Try clean eating while breastfeeding!! I double dare you. I stayed motivated for about 6 weeks and then said “goodbye” to a fitter, healthier me. I’d closed my DR gap from around 3 finger widths to 2, but I couldn’t make anything else shift.
Fast forward to now and I’m motivated again. I’m also back at work! This might sound counter productive, but stick with me here. Work = kid free time. Which really equals a holiday from the house, which equals TIME. I now have time to exercise. It’s not a huge amount, but 30 minutes each day is actually practical. Again, I bow down to the parents who can actually juggle staying at home and looking after kids, with dedicated exercise and clean eating. Truly. You are AMAZING. On the weekends I try to do my exercises to heal and strengthen my core and I end up with children climbing all over me. I wait until the evening when the kids are asleep and it seems like the failsafe to wake my kids up is to start exercising.
The other big thing which has changed about my exercise motivation is the exercise program I’m doing. During my search on how to “heal” my caved in belly button, I discovered that a) you shouldn’t do certain exercises because it will make that mummy tummy worse (good bye crunches, hello squats!!), and b) there were some very good programs available which targeted this problem specifically. I signed up for the 12 week MuTu System program and it has been nothing short of amazing. I confess I still don’t eat well (still breastfeeding here), but the changes which have happened in such a short amount of time with this program have been amazing. My tummy is looking flatter and while my belly button still has a strange hollowness to it, it’s not quite as odd looking. And a fancy side effect of being on this program is that my back aches and hip aches have disappeared. My core strength is improving, but I suspect the real reason is that this program focuses on alignment, and for a long time (since before I had kids), my body has been poorly aligned. It’s such a work in progress, but I’m so excited that suddenly things are changing and that I can change things.
So I’m on the road to a stronger me. The stretch marks will never disappear and I’m always going to have a gnarly looking scar on my abdomen, but hopefully my belly button will look “normal” once more and I will feel happier about myself.