What you can learn from my story to change your own.
Have you or do you feel fearful or incapable of doing the physical things that bring you joy?
I lived that way for years.
Life after having my first son was a fear and panic of searching for answers and guidance from doctors and physical therapists about my diastasis recti.
Things that I heard and experienced after my first baby:
- My Dad’s sport doctor: I couldn’t support having another baby without having surgery first
- OB: I was fine. I can just get a tummy tuck when I am done having kids
- Pilates instructor: CrossFit is going to make it worse
- “Worst case they have ever seen” from many professionals
- Online programs can help me - tried doing a few
- It was just saggy skin and my stomach was fine
- My first pelvic floor physical therapist helped me modify CrossFit for a few months while she did some body work on my stomach, but I still left without a full understanding of what was going on in my own body.
After my second baby, I was almost ready to fly to Chicago to see a team of pelvic floor physical therapists when I found someone 20 minutes away from me that GOT IT. No one had ever spoken to me like Nancy did. She said I haven’t even become close to exhausting all of my rehab options. Even if I did need surgery this would help me prehab for that in so many ways. So, I put in work doing “boring” rehab every night at home along with modifying at CrossFit. It really helped me connect to my deeper core and have a new understanding of my whole pelvic floor system. I changed breathing patterns and got rid of some back pain by changing movement patterns. Nancy did an amazing job of progressing me in CrossFit and always asking me what other movements I wanted to progress to doing. However, certain movements were still off limits and I avoided using my abs in certain ways. I had spent so long looking for guidance that when I finally found something I felt I could fully trust, I went ALL IN and was satisfied….for a time.
I felt VERY safe and strong in certain things at the gym; but, at the same time, felt very fragile, restricted, and incapable of many things I wished I could be doing. Some days I even felt like a caged animal. I tried to embrace that because I didn’t want to injure myself further, so I stayed safely in the cage. Especially because I already felt like I did way more damage working out after I had my first son since I didn’t have a clue what was going on in my own body.
Once in a while I would wonder….what IF I stepped out of my cage and just did some kipping pull ups even though my stomach coned? I tried it once, and I got pain at my hernia site that would last a day or two. Then, I knew it. Nope, not a good idea to be doing these movements. Everyone was right, so back to my modifications and no direct core work and nothing that shows ANY coning/doming.
But actually I have found that doing “unsafe” diastasis exercises the past 8 months actually made me better.
It all started with a coaching consultation with Antony Lo. It completely changed my entire belief system and my new pelvic floor physical therapist, Nancy, was right along with me for the ride. Make sure you choose a professional to work with that has an open mind. No single person is always going to have all of the answers for you. During the entire session, I felt extremely challenged and slightly terrified by many of the exercises he was having me work on. For example, I hadn’t done a strict L-sit pull up since before having kids. Clearly, I had all these issues healing my abs, and I would be too weak to do an activity such as this one...or so I THOUGHT.
Antony told me we were going to do one and instantly I was fearful I would hurt myself; my hernia would blow out; and I just didn't think it was physically possible. My core was way too WEAK. (These are the stories that had built up over years of trying to find answers, talking to other people, reading stuff online, and working with different professionals. I can see this now but at the time they didn’t feel like just stories. It was my reality). I approached the bar with a million thoughts swirling around in my head. However, in a matter of about 2-3 minutes, without training these for over 4 years, Antony got me to do a strict L sit pull-up.
I had just done something that completely broke all of those beliefs that were in my head for all of those years.
It’s funny because even talking about this right now makes me smile. It was THAT moment that I began to feel empowered again. It had been years since I felt that way. The moment I had my son, I felt like my empowerment was striped little by little every month….continuously….for 4 years.
After this consult I ran home to write a post, which you can go read on my blog. I had to process it all, call some friends, cry a little….but couldn’t wait to get into the gym and play and be free. I had permission to move like an athlete again, and I wasn't doing anything bad or wrong by doing so. My rehab phase was needed; all of that helped me; but I just stayed in the safe zone too long.
….Then I realized a few weeks later that my hernia pain was gone even though I was doing WAY more at the gym than I ever was.
...then a few months later I realized that my stomach was actually tightening up a little more from the extra loading and when Nancy felt it...she was said it felt better in an active position.
...I could do more at the gym and felt like I was getting stronger, rather than hurting myself
….THEN I realized: -that biopsychosocial model is VERY real. If someone looked at me from a posture, structure and biomechanics model …....they would most likely freak out and tell me to stop moving in these ways.
I tell you my story because I want you to understand what quality care really is. This is also why I have a 4 page document on how to find a pelvic floor physical therapist as my free download on my website! Unfortunately, women getting ANY type of care postpartum is rare, let alone QUALITY care.
I want to teach you how to keep searching and never settle for one answer. But, most importantly, how important it is to find someone that really listens to you. When I actually listen to my client’s “stories” it becomes apparent that I am often the first and only person that has actually listened to them. Then, I try to challenge what stories others may have put into their minds and make something else their new reality. Your coach or PT should be challenging YOUR beliefs, along with challenging their own biases and beliefs.
What are the things you think you can’t do right now? Is that really true? Has anyone ever challenged those beliefs and then supported you through the process? It changed everything for me, and I want the same for you.
Please reach out if you feel like you need help!
All My Best,