Diastisis Recti

Many of you mommies have an idea of what this is, or have heard of it.  If you’ve never heard of it, it’s possible that you may even have it.  If you’ve ever had a child or children, even if it was a decade ago, and still have your ‘mommy tummy’, this could be why.

Diastasis Recti is a separation of the Rectus Abdominis muscles that make up that six pack that you so desperately miss- or have secretly  longed for.   It’s technically defined as a gap greater than 2.7cm or 2-3 finger widths in between the Rectus muscles.  It is usually the result of intra-abdominal pressure and loading.   During pregnancy, the growing uterus stretches the connective tissue between the right and left muscle groups and occasionally it won’t return to normal on it’s own.  Nearly all pregnant women have this gap immediately postpartum, some correct on their own, and some do not.  I should note that it occurs primarily in pregnant women and newborns, but can also appear in men.   Pregnancy does not actually cause the separation, but it will make a problem worse.  Women are most susceptible, especially if pregnant over the age of 35 (as I was), having big babies, multiple babies, or multiple pregnancies close together (also me).   This condition can also be associated with or cause pelvic floor dysfunction.

It’s really easy to see if you may have this condition.  You lie on your back on the floor with your knees up and feet flat.  Place your fingers near the belly button area.  Tense up your abdomen and raise your head up, chin to chest.  You will be able to feel some separation between the muscles, it all depends on how many fingers you can fit in the gap.  Right now, I’m about a full 3 finger gap at my belly button region.  I expected this, as I found I had some separation after my last pregnancy and in the 10 months before my next pregnancy, wasn’t able to lose that belly.  I was still 10 lbs over my normal weight when I got pregnant with Owen.  I might add that after my first pregnancy, my body was pretty much back to my pre-pregnancy body, with no belly, at about the four month mark.

There are varying opinions as to whether this can be corrected with exercise or not.  There are even exercise programs you can pay for that claim to make a huge difference in your abdomen and close that gap significantly.  I have done a lot of reading on the subject and the majority of people, whether medical experts, fitness experts or just women who’ve managed to correct this themselves, seems to have a small number of exercises they recommend.   Most are centered around a basic Core contraction or Transverse Abdominis contraction that you practice and hold in order to strengthen your core area.  Once you master that contraction, you can add single heel slides while holding, you can add a knee raise, or use a resistance band around the knees and pull knees apart.   Squats are also said to help strengthen, as long as your holding the initial contraction.  This is only a small sample of beneficial exercises.  I’m not a medical or fitness expert so I’m not going to go into detail about these exercises, nor am I going to link one specific site for reference.  I’m merely going off of a consensus that I’ve noticed among the so-called experts.  I also have a good idea of what will work for core strengthening as I used to teach it on a regular basis, not that anyone could tell.

There is also a consensus on exercises that may be detrimental to the diastasis or even make it worse.  Any type of crunches, sit-ups, jack knife position,  and oblique twisting are no-nos.  Many types of pilates exercises can also make this problem worse.  

I’ve begun doing a handful of the recommended exercises (almost) daily and have been very aware of holding that TA contraction throughout the day.  I’m tempted to try out one of the programs that cost money, although most don’t say what you’re getting besides exercises.  I’ll keep at it and pray that I can even slightly correct this problem.  I really don’t want to look 5 months pregnant the rest of my life, and at six weeks out I have 20 lbs to lose.  I guess the other option is getting a tummy tuck, and I have no plans of doing that in the future.  Best of luck to all you mommies also struggling with your mini keg of a midsection.  Hopefully in the future, I’ll have a positive update for you.

 

 

 

 

Giving Paleo* A Go

IMG_7261

Being home has given me some extra time to devote to cooking.  Granted, most days I’m home with a 2 year old, but I can still make time to get something accomplished.  I’m impatiently waiting for these last 15 lbs to drop off magically and wanted to try something new.  This week I began making a few new recipes…

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m not a good dieter.  I was very strict for a couple months this winter and was able to lose about 10 lbs.  And then I plateaued.  It’s been months since I lost even a few pounds.  I just don’t do well with strict diet regimens or gym schedules.  I prefer to go to the gym when I feel ready, not at an assigned time.  A lot of people really need an appointment or to meet a friend or they won’t go, but I will go on my own.   I feel like hubs and I have fallen into a chicken and frozen steamer vegetable every single night kind of thing.  That’s ok for him, but I need some flavor and variety in my life!  I wanted to start cooking some healthy meals and thought I would give (*modified) Paleo a go.

One of the websites I like so far is Paleogrubs.com .   They have a nice 14 day starter menu for ideas and many of them look appetizing.   They do a great job of simply explaining the basis of a Paleo diet.  It’s also been called the Caveman diet and is used widely by many Crossfit devotees.  It definitely works for those folks… So, the quick and dirty is that it is based off of Paleolithic times when they hunted meat and gathered  vegetables, fruit,  seeds and nuts that the earth provided.   It shuns any modernized or refined foods or farmed foods such as grains, legumes, dairy and sugar.   The rationale behind eating this way is that our modern diet is part of the reason we have a health crisis and is likely to blame for many ailments that are truly preventable.  Returning back to the most basic diet should help restore overall health.

There are so many diets to try out there, I couldn’t even begin to touch them all.  I will never forget being at work and every few months there would be a new diet that’s all the rage.  And everyone wanted to try it.  Most people would drop weight, sometimes really quick, sometimes they dropped a lot, but many of those people would put it all back on and more.  That’s pretty typical of our society in general I think.   There’s Atkins, HCG, juice diets, the South Beach Diet, Weight Watchers.  Who doesn’t like quick results after all?

These diets all work, but not usually for very long.  So I guess when I say I’ll try the Paleo diet, I mean I’ll try some Paleo recipes.  I will still eat yogurt and cheese and the occasional (entire) pint of Ben & Jerry’s.  I have to try out the new flavors, right?  Unfortunately, they aren’t part of the Paleo lifestyle.  I picked out some meals to try this week and went shopping on Tuesday morning.  So far I’ve really liked 2 of the 3 recipes, and my husband did also.

The first recipe I tried was a Sausage and Kale “Pasta” CasseroleIMG_7260Spaghetti squash steps in for pasta in this recipe and it had really great flavor and texture.  I’ve only made spaghetti squash once or twice but it’s so good, and pretty easy.   I need to keep it on my regular shopping list for sure.   When Max went down for his nap I prepped everything.  I roasted the squash so it was ready to shred, sliced my red onion and chopped up some kale.  I put it all in the fridge to pull out later.   I followed this recipe pretty much to a T, using Italian sausage links.  When hubby came home I was able to put it all together in one big skillet, then dump it back into the glass dish I roasted the squash in.   This meal had great flavor, but it could easily be more spicy if that’s what you like.   I had mine with a nice Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, always a nice light addition when the weather gets warm.

IMG_7265
Homeade Gluten-Free Energy Bars

One of the first things I look for when I try new food is what type of desserts I’m ‘allowed’ to have.  I have a serious sweet tooth and I need to tame the beast from time to time.  Ok, most of the time.  I saw the recipe for their energy bars and it sounded simple and delicious.  These bars have 5 ingredients and I had 4 of them on hand already.   They are also gluten-free and very easy to put together, or at least they should have been.

After fighting with my food processor for 20 minutes I realized I was putting it together wrong.  That shows you how long it’s been since I’ve used it.   One thing I will do next time I make them is grind the almonds up first, then add the stickier stuff.  The combination of hard almonds and sticky dates kept causing my blade to jump off.

IMG_7262
The bars before I cut them down the center

I actually started it in my Magic Bullet, getting everything ground up a little and finished them in the food processor.  An extra step, but really no big deal.   This made about 12 bars maybe slightly smaller than an Atkins snack bar and should last me a whole week.  And thanks to the dark chocolate chips they are very satisfying.

There’s nothing more annoying when trying new recipes than a million reviews that say how amazing it is, only to make the dish and find out it tastes like cardboard.  Both of these recipes really turned out great and had a lot of flavor. I’m very happy with the recipes I’ve tried so far and excited to try some new ones later this week.   Give them a try and let me know what you think!

 

Those last 15 pounds

 

belly-2354_1920

It’s time to make a change.  I’m not a dieter, never have been.  When a little weight creeps on, I go to the gym and bust my butt-literally.  That’s how I’ve always done it and it’s worked for me.  Now that I’m in my (eek) very late 30’s, this isn’t as easy as it once was.  I feel like we are in an eating rut and I want to get out of it.  I have a few friends that eat Paleo and I know it has some great benefits.

I’m a little heavy right now for me, I gained close to 30 lbs during my last pregnancy.  Six months later, I’m still almost 15 lbs over my normal weight.  I can attribute this to age, grief after losing the baby, less time to exercise, etc.  The bottom line is that I took the weight off after Max without too much effort-most of that I attribute to breastfeeding.   That’s really the major difference for my body with the two pregnancies, but the second one I also put on about 10 extra lbs.

I spent a lot of time after baby recovering, more emotionally than physically.  The emotional scars of losing her will always be there, I am a different person and mother now.   I am definitely a comfort eater, and I have a sweet tooth like no one I’ve ever known (outside of my mom and sisters).  I will be the last person you hear say, “that’s too rich/sweet for me, I can’t eat very much”.  Umm, no.  I consider this one of my hidden superhero powers.   There was definitely some depression going on here for a few months.

plank-1327256_1280Then I started realizing how uncomfortable I felt in my clothes, getting dressed, going out.  How long was I going to wear maternity clothes?  So I started doing the Atkins low carb diet and easily dropped the first 10 lbs.  Then I plateaued, big time.  I’ve been at the same weight for about 2 months.  I have been going to the gym usually 2x/week sometimes more, working out with a trainer, walking Max to the park constantly.  The only changes I saw were my shoulders and legs started to come back and get some definition back.  That I was very happy about.   My midsection though, I look 5 months pregnant right now!  I need to make a change.

Running has always been my thing, I still love it.  Except when I’m 15 lbs overweight.  I began jogging when I had the time and it felt good.  I ‘fired’ my trainer recently to focus on more cardio.  I was lifting heavy with him for a full hour, and it got my strength back, but I need to incorporate more calorie burning for my body to drop midsection weight.  I only have so much time at the gym and I need to spend it better.  I will still lift weights on my own,  I’ve always responded well to weight training since I’m on the more muscular side.

This week I started trying to focus more on being active and meal planning.   My husband got me a Fit Bit Charge HR for Mother’s Day and I really like it.  I don’t always hit my 10,000 step goal, but some days I hit it by 3pm.   I just wish it was waterproof, that would be easier.  I plan on doing the gym 3-4 days, I did a Plyometrics video yesterday and will probably do a Legs video tomorrow while Max naps.  Definitely running at the gym, since it’s getting too hot already outside for me to run.  I guess I could get up and go really early with Max in the stroller, but not sure how that would go.  He would probably love it actually.  I’ll put it on the list…carrot-1085063_1280

As far as diet goes, my hubby and I follow a fairly low carb diet in general.  Being female, I tend to eat more carbs, chocolate, sweets here and there and it actually drives him insane.  I just refuse to go through life eating chicken and broccoli every damn day.  He can literally eat the same thing everyday for 2-3 weeks and not blink an eye.  I can do it 2-3 days maybe.  I’m not working right now so I decided to do some meal planning each week and see how that works.  I decided to try some Paleo recipes and see how I like it.  Well, I’ll call it modified Paleo, since I will continue to eat some cheese and yogurt.  Because it is no grains, it’s on the low carb side, but allows lots of veggies and fruits.  That’s very important to me while trying to get pregnant, I don’t want to be too restrictive right now.   Although I’m taking tons of vitamins every day, I need to be able to eat lots of fruits and vegetables for proper nutrition.

running-573762_1280I’m gonna work on these last 15 lbs slowly while waiting to fall pregnant (fingers crossed).  I am determined to stay really active through the pregnancy also.  I started trying a few Paleo recipes this week and am really liking them.  I’ll post about that soon.   Because I’m doing a more modified type of Paleo and because it’s not a super restrictive diet,  I don’t expect to drop a bunch of weight.  I believe there are many benefits to cutting out grains in general and I think the running is what will help me out the most.  Everyone knows the last 10 lbs are the hardest to lose, and I am living that nightmare right now.  But with some hard work, I know I can get to a healthier place and feel better.