This a direct and honest PSA about something that has been presenting itself in big ways in fitness lately and something that has been big in my own life, from which I have healed without surgery or intensive years of physical therapy and even without the magical ways of Tony Robbins. Shocking, I know. What is it?
AHHHHHH. Yes, it sounds terrible. No, it's not about your rectum, it's about the separation of the six pack muscles and the weakening of the connective tissue in between. And, if you listen to the hullabaloo online, then you’ll be convinced that it’s a near death sentence to a woman.
So. yeah. Um. Let’s all take a breath here and get the facts straight.
Isn't it interesting that when it comes to women’s health issues we as a society either are completely silent about them OR we freakin’ get “hysterical” about them? This is exactly what’s happened with diastasis recti. While we’ve brought necessary attention to a once silent and super neglected women’s health issue, we’ve also ushered in a total panic and fear-based approach to its treatment.
I get emails and messages every day from women who are scared out of their minds about having diastasis recti and who’ve been told by doctors and bodyworkers a whole bunch of limiting and frightening things. They are led to believe they won’t ever be able to do a plank again, that they might bust a gut if they so much as lift their child, or that they’ll never be able to engage in activities that they love. And then, after hearing that junk, they are then given instructions for its treatment that are LITERALLY impossible to apply unless you have a degree in anatomy or a part time job worth of time available to fix it. Plus, all the treatment is boring and clinical and not even that effective, which means most women won’t stick with it consistently and thus will surrender to a forever status of a broken belly.
I have a MUCH different take on diastasis recti and a wee bit of a rant to go on concerning it’s treatment.
Listen up to two very important points:
1) Diastasis Recti is extremely common and extremely simple to address. Most - literally like 99% of - women who have had a child have diastasis recti these days. It’s true. And here in 2016, we’re finally talking about it and women are finally being exposed to the fact that their bellies made need some help recovering after giving birth, aside from the former lame and demeaning vanity focus of just getting “our bodies back after baby” like a svelte celebrity. I’m so extremely happy about this attention and this switch of focus, I can’t even begin to gush enough. I mean, when we discuss the full function of a woman and we fail to discuss her need for a strong pelvic floor, we are missing a very important link to her overall actualization. It’s like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. You can’t expect a homeless person to become mentally sound if he/she doesn’t have food or roof over his/her head.
The same goes for a woman postpartum. You can’t expect her to claim her full power and behave dynamically if the anchor to her nervous system is completely numb or disengaged or injured. As much as we may think we can tend to our emotional selves, if the animal in us - our nervous system - is not healthy and fully functional, then our emotional selves and automatic reactions (aka, behavior) won’t be able to fully develop. So, for a lot of women who are feeling like caca after birth and are getting lots of support emotionally, I highly suggest that they also dig into how fully recovered their pelvic floors are - or are not.
You’d be surprised what happens when the basic foundation of our health (our spines) are given the support it needs to lend to a woman the experience of a pain-free, fully mobile, strong, and resilient physical self. I’m not being grandiose when I say that it can and does change a woman’s life. Oh, and it takes a mere 3 days for you to learn my method of proper abdominal and pelvic floor engagement and then a couple of weeks to create dramatic improvement in the overall integration of your midsection that will absolutely change your life in only positive ways. IT'S NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL.
2) The treatment of diastasis recti DOES NOT mean necessarily that you’ll magically have a flat belly forevermore, nor will your separation go away entirely. Let’s face it: You are a woman, you have a uterus, AND you had a baby - your body is supposed to have a bit of a pooch AND shit changes in your belly area when you've grown another human being inside it. Having a minor pooch is, um, NORMAL and not a reflection of your value or your strength. I have an extraordinarily strong core and I still have a wee pooch most days. I mean, screw it. I originally had a 6 finger separation and a hernia and looked like I was 5 months pregnant all the time, but today? Holy moly. Today, I have absolutely 100% healed my core and am in awe of how it functions and appears. I have erased decades of chronic and debilitating pain, which is so incredibly miraculous for my body. I can do amazing things physically that are more impressive than even my days as a professional ballet dancer. Most days of the month I can wear close fitting shirts and clothes and feel like I own my skin. I don’t pee on myself. I play with my kids. I have energy that I never knew I could have. I stand powerfully, which aids me in behaving powerfully. I end my days having exerted myself fully and wholly to a purpose beyond my wildest dreams, all fueled by the simple truth that my nervous system is supported and my pelvic floor is strong.
The rest, SCREW IT. As long as I am functional and dynamic, I’ll accept the rest as what it needs to be. If we believe otherwise and if we place our success and our level of strength on a totally flat belly, then we’re agreeing to a really bizarre system of subjugation of women and minorities. If we dial it back here, you will see that the emphasis of a flat belly developed in our culture’s history during a time when we (ignorantly) felt the need to differientate between social classes. You see, as modernization happened, it was no longer as evident who was doing the manual labor and who was riding high on old family money. This was threatening to the powers-that-be, aka white people in big old mansions. And, so, tadaah, fashion to the rescue. Tight corsets for women became a standard of wealth, as did a retreat from the normal curvature of the spine. Straight backs, flat tummies all equaled wealth and a last grasp on the all-important related social status. Backs with beautiful curves, booties with beautiful shapes, and loose clothes that allowed for movement all gave immediate evidence of a person who was of a lower class.
And, so, here we are in 2016 STILL LIVING OUT THIS IDEA but having no real idea that we are agreeing to it. By shifting your attention away from the focus on a flat belly to the function of an integrated pelvic floor, you are being an activist in your own small, but important way. Not only does it mean that YOU give yourself the gift of a nervous system that can adapt and react to modern stress dynamically and powerfully, but you also give the gift to the world of saying NOPE to the ruling order of what it looks like to be a woman who is well.
STOP THE MADNESS.
Now, the trick here is that a lot of us badass women have said poo-poo to the world of fitness because we know it’s underlying message is total bull hunky and because we simply don't have the time to address it. And we don’t want to participate. And, so, we just write off fitness and decide to accept our bodies as they are. However, this is not the most active response AT ALL. You are suffering from a medical condition and accepting that limited function of your body is as much co-opting oppression as is, say, becoming a body-shaming gym rat. You can engage in strength conditioning without compromising your rights and values as a woman. You can. Ahem. Right here. :)
Did it take work for me to be functional and dynamic? Yes. Did I have to completely relearn how to work my core? Heck yes. Did I have to put time in and invest some level of care to my healing that wasn’t always totally enjoyable? Triple yes. Are you going to have to engage in the icky world of fitness? Yes ... but you can do it with me.
Join me. Love the Pooch starts Oct. 31st. It will require 20-30 minutes of your day for ONE WEEK only. It’s so much more than you think it will be. And I’ll guiding this first group through in a very hands-on way and I’d love to have you with me. It’s $2 a month, so I’m not even gonna sell it it to ya. Your activism and your function as a dynamic human being is invaluable and I’m here to serve it. If you want in, I know you'll signup when you're ready. I'll be here. :)
By the way, I had this course originally named Lose the Pooch because, sadly, it got more folks to pay attention. I know. Confession. Welcome to business and trying to get good work "out there" in the hands of people who need it. But, I’m not playing by those rules anymore. Love the Pooch. Not lose it. Love will do the magic, that much I know.
See ya Monday. Oh, and invite friends. You can do that by sharing this blog post or sharing the youtube video below or both.
(Grab your spot. Space is limited)