Abdominals at any stage of post-partum
All too often, as moms in our postpartum stages, we look in the mirror and think, “Ugh! Where oh where is my pre-baby belly?” It has been a topic of personal interest once again, since reading Dr. Lacy Le’s blogpost regarding surgery.
Although I had two singletons, I still have a lower degree of diastasis…and yes, I do know that the prevalence of diastasis after carrying multiples is even higher but I am also fairly sure I am not over exaggerating by saying we all would like to do something about it—yesterday!!
I am a firm believer that we need to improve our daily diet and add more exercise into our everyday lives, first, before resorting to surgery…or even worse, just living with our bodies unsatisfied. (I would definitely read Dr LacyLe’s guest blogpost as a reminder of self-esteem, accepting our bodies and roles as mothers).
Ok, let’s talk nutrition!
Take a long hard look at what you are (or aren’t!) eating. Get a cute little journal, use an app, or put a magnetic pad on the refrigerator and start taking careful notes of what you eat and drink. Some other aspects I always recommend that clients jot down are, moods, area of home you are eating in, are you standing or sitting, the time of day, and anything else you may feel is important. Do this as thoroughly as you can for one full week.
Next, highlight in one color all the veggies you had eaten, another color for all the fruit, and go on to highlight in this manner your grains, proteins and liquids. If there is alcohol of any kind, I would use a different color there as well.
Doing this will help you to see if you are eating too much or too little, not enough water, too many alcoholic drinks (think excess, and empty calories!) Are you eating off of your child’s plate or maybe some foods you eat have hidden sugars. How about those veggies? If we fill up on these nutrient dense foods, we are less likely to over eat at one sitting. Don’t forget the processed food category too (I am sure I don’t need to elaborate on that one!). Try it! I know you will find something that could be easily changed, leading to a slimmer belly!
- ¼ cup mango cubes (I love them frozen!)
- ¼ cup mashed, ripe avocado (MUFA)
- ½ cup mango juice
- ¼ fat-free vanilla yogurt (my favorite is Greek yogurt)
- 1 T freshly squeezed lime juice
- Sweetener to taste
- Blend together, add ice to desired consistency! –one serving
Remember, we are all different and not every body is going to react the same way. Most importantly, we need to choose more nutrient-dense foods, eat more home cooked meals, drink more water, fill up on veggies, be mindful of added sugars and keep alcoholic beverages to a minimum. A cleaner diet makes for a great starting ground for a flatter stomach! –watch for part 2!! The exercises!!!
Here’s where things can get a bit complicated…why? If we are not doing an abdominal move properly, we can make our diastasis even worse. If you think you may need additional one-on-one help, find a local personal trainer. Or even post a question here! There may be another mom of multiples with the same question!
Let’s get it started
First, perform 25 jumping jacks, and then jog in place for approximately one minute. This should get your heart rate up a bit, and your body limber enough to do some abdominal work! –remember, this is not a magic potion, and it is not possible to spot reduce. We are merely trying to retrain our abdominal muscles (mainly our transverse abdominal, AKA our internal girdle), to come together even if it is just the slightest bit more. Note: If you are experiencing a weaken pelvic floor, as many of us do after pregnancy, jumping exercises may cause your bladder to leak uncontrollably…do a modified jumping jack, or simply raise your knee up and clap your hands under your knees; alternating until you feel an increased heart rate and a bit warm.
Begin on your back, hands down at your sides, bring your legs up, knees at a 90 degree angle…so, ultimately the “table” is your lower leg area. This position will engage your core!! Feel it!! Proceed by tapping your right toe to the ground, bring it back up to table top, and proceed in a fluid movement by tapping your left toe to the ground. Repeat, 10 times per each foot. Finish this move by bringing your arms up over your head, and placing your legs out straight on the floor and do a full body stretch. You’re breathing throughout this all in a normal rhythm; do not hold your breath at any time!
Come back into your table position, and place a small weighted ball (you can use an orange or one of your child’s balls too!) in between your knees, squeeze the ball to hold in between your knees while you do a slight crunch, shoulders rounding up off the floor, hollow out your stomach by pressing your belly button into the floor, and bring your shoulders back down in a controlled motion. Repeat 10 times. Once again, finish with a complete stretch as previously noted.
The third move will take your legs out of table top by placing your feet on the ground, keeping knees bent. While holding your right leg, up and parallel to your left thigh, perform a bridge. Hold for a beat, and bring your hips back down, keeping your right leg up. Repeat 10 times, the switch legs for 10 more. Note: With this move, you will also feel your glutes!
Roll over on your side for a side plank. Be sure your arm alignment is underneath your shoulder. Feel your core engaged as you did while in table top position. Hold as long as you can, up to 60 seconds. Note: If this is too difficult, or you have had a recent C-section, it is best to bend your knees, so you will then be lying on the side of your lower legs. Repeat on the opposite side, and remember to engage your core, press your belly button into your back. End this cycle, once again lying on your back and performing a full body stretch.
This is a great start! Try to do this three times per week. I have even done this while I am tub-side with the kiddos. They love it when mommy is exercising (or “eckersizing” as my 4 year old calls it!) during bath-time because it means they have more playtime!