My, but it has been some time. I never intended to take such a long break, I just suddenly realized that a break was exactly what I needed.
There are many things that I wish to accomplish in a day. Some of them are necessary, some of them I only think are necessary, and some of them are definitely not necessary. I have a hard time discerning what task falls into which category sometimes, and once I commit to something I feel extremely guilty if I don’t see it through or stick to the original plan.
And this is why I found myself completely exhausted by the time I was five months postpartum. I thought I had to run or lift, do the diastasis exercises, write, cook, clean, and do the dozen other tasks that come with being a wife and mother and manager of a home. Oh, and I told myself I had to do it every day. Actually, now that I think about it, that’s not true. I didn’t tell myself that I had to do it. I told myself that I could do it. That it was a completely normal and realistic expectation.
I was wrong. Very wrong.
Man, I’m tired!
On one particular day, I woke up feeling completely exhausted. Yes, my baby, Lia, was about five months old and still not sleeping through the night, but it wasn’t just lack of sleep that I was suffering from. My legs were heavy; the kind of heavy you feel after completing a long, long run. At the start of my day, I felt completely drained and as though I had nothing left to give to my kids. Plus, unintentionally, I had lost more weight than I realized. Between nursing, exercising, and life, I was extending a lot more calories than I was taking in – and I was tracking what I ate in MyFitnessPal so I know I was eating a lot! Still, I was running on empty.
I had many symptoms of overtraining yet told myself that it was ridiculous because I had trained harder in the past. But, I soon realized that the demands on my life now far outweigh the demands on my life back then, and those change in demands required a change in expectations. That is when I realized that I needed a break. Because I am a mom first, and allowing my kids to suffer because I was pushing myself too hard is not fair to them. Or me, for that matter.
A little rest…
So I stopped. I took off my FitBit and stopped tracking what I ate. I stopped running and lifting weights. I stopped stressing out about finding the time to write. I just stopped. And then I started going on long walks and focusing only on the prescribed exercises to heal my diastasis. I started seeing the time spent playing and interacting with my kids as an opportunity to move my body and exercise in a gentle and healthy way. I started reading blogs and listening to podcasts and searching for medical articles to grow my understanding of what it means and what is required to be healthy. I learned that there is a beautiful balance between too little and too much. I sought out that balance.
… And a little healing
And it made a difference. During the past couple months, I’ve made huge gains in improving my diastasis (Thanks, Sarah!). I’ve learned better, easier ways to manage my family’s nutrition. I’ve rediscovered my passion for health. I’ve started waking up with anticipation and actually wanting to do certain things again. I’ve also relearned an invaluable lesson: Checking items off a list and reaching goals are awesome, but nurturing meaningful relationships is far better.
Like I said. There is a beautiful balance to life.
So what now?
Do I have all the answers? And what am I going to do with them?
Well, no, I don’t have all the answers. I don’t think I ever will. But I have learned that it is far better to rely on the experts and what they teach than to try and figure it all out myself. So, I’m going to keep going with that for now. There are a few things that I really want to share with you all – such as whether there’s anything to the whole hype of drinking apple cider vinegar and the effect of food on your blood sugar (and why it matters).
Also, I want to tell as many women as possible about diastasis recti and direct them to the people that can help them. This matters, people! It really does. I’ve shared my story and how I discovered that I had this abdominal separation. Well, I mentioned my diastasis to my OB during my annual exam and she was shocked that physical therapy was helping me. She said that she would have told all her patients that physical therapy was a waste of time and only surgery could help. Imagine being one of the women hearing that news. How devastating!
And not only has physical therapy helped improve my diastasis (Helped, not healed. I’m not done yet.), but it’s corrected my standing posture so I don’t put as much strain on my back and it’s actually retrained my core muscles to fire properly so that I no longer have a dominant rectus abdominus. Yeah, that bulging six-pack muscle doesn’t bulge when I contract my abdominals anymore. That by itself is awesome. So awesome.
Check this out – total vulnerability here for a minute. The picture on the left is the way my belly looked about three months postpartum. And no, that actually is not fat. It’s just a messed up core. Four months into the Diastasis Fix program that my physical therapist, Sarah Duvall, offers on her website, Core Exercise Solutions, I started making real progress. Look at the arch of my back in the photo on the right. See how the curve isn’t as pronounced? That’s what healing looks like, friends.
Please, please remember
Believe me, I could say a lot about this, but not today. Today, I just want you to hear one thing from me and that is this:
No matter where you are, your size or shape, your age or weight, you are wonderfully made and every day spent pursuing your health is wonderful. It may take weeks, months, or years to reach your goals, to heal your body, and that is OK. Ignore all the extremists and nay-sayers; search for that beautiful balance where true health lives and pursue it. It’s OK if you’re not there yet. I’m still healing too.
Blessings to you all!