I was really surprised to hear this; I thought of myself as sort of squidgy and soft around the middle. So I looked at him and said, "Really?" "Yes, really," he replied. "You're very strong."
I've never forgotten that. It totally changed how I thought of myself. It didn't change the way I looked, and I still had some soft squishiness around my middle, but from then on I carried the knowledge that my abdominal muscles - the very core of my body - was strong.
That was great knowledge to have. Sadly, I don't know that any more; in fact, I know that now my abdomen is not particularly strong. And let me tell you, I am not pleased about that. Not at all. 13 months after Bubby's birth, I still have at least a 2-finger width separation of my rectus abdominus muscles (those are the so-called "six-pack" muscles) leaving me with reduced abdominal strength, and that translates into lower back pain and compromised breath support when I'm singing. Not cool. And, in an ironic twist, my former strength may have contributed to my current gap and lack of strength, as I've learned that strong abdominal muscles are more likely to resist the necessary stretching to accommodate a growing baby and will instead separate and move aside to make space.
I want my core strength back.
For the past year, though, I've been afraid to exercise out of fear of making it worse. I know that exercising abdominal muscles with a diastasis recti (the technical term for a separation of the rectus abdominus) can actually worsen the condition, which is obviously the last thing I want to do. So for almost a year now I've done nothing about it. Nothing. And I felt a little helpless, a little powerless, with a sense of inertia about the state of my body.
Helpless. Powerless. Inert. A rather apt description of depression, isn't it?
A sign for me that the adjustments my naturopath has made to my diet and lifestyle are proving effective is that I no longer feel helpless, powerless and inert. I feel like I have found my feet, put them solidly underneath me and am ready to get to work. I've started healing my brain and my spirit: now it's time to heal my muscles.
I've started a board on Pinterest on core health and to it I'll be posting Youtube videos and websites with tips and exercises that I have found and am using to try to close that gap. I'm doing my exercises - gently, carefully, progressively - every day. I'm hopeful that I'll start to feel an improvement fairly soon, I just need to be patient.
Even more important, though, is gaining the feeling - better, the knowledge - that I am not controlled by my body's weakness. Just as I can shape my hormonal and gut health through nutritional choices I can shape my body through exercise. And my goal isn't to return to my pre-pregnant state - that's impossible - but to find whatever health, strength and vitality I can for my post-two-babies body, just as I will claim whatever satisfaction, happiness, confidence and stability I can for my parenting-two-children spirit and mind. In all ways, I want to be stronger. I will be stronger.