I’m having middle age, midsection issues. My resting belly has pretty much had the same shape as it did with both pregnancies – I looked like I was shoplifting a watermelon, despite years of working out, and in particular, the previous almost three years of Pure Barre and endless planks and crunches and sit-ups, which I’d finally mastered just before the pandemic shut everything down.
When you cough or do a sit-up, should you look down and think “What in the HELL is that?” or “Is your stomach supposed to do that?” – the safe answer is “NO”.
I’d noticed that occasionally when I coughed, or moved a certain way (like a crunch) that my upper abdominal muscles would briefly make a dome-like shape. It weirded me out, but I have so much other health crap going on that it was the least of my issues.
Which really, why, because we’ve seen this so I should have given it a bit more thought…
At least when that damn alien baby popped out, Ellen Ripley could have been stitched right back up and she would be done with it. Relatively speaking.
I can’t even do a damn crunch yet or the thing will get worse. And I don’t have a cool story to explain it other than I had monster babies that stretched my abdomen past its limits and apparently I fucked up all those years of crunches.
It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling with menopausal weight gain, which was compounded in 2020 by what I call my “pandemic baker’s dozen” – the additional weight that it LOOKS like I put on courtesy of all the baked goods produced in the first four-five months of lockdown. (I technically only gained about 3 pounds, but whatever. It appeared around my middle like a life preserver, only it.)
In late July, the Peloton my husband and I gifted ourselves for our May anniversary finally arrived, and we both began to exercise in earnest. He dropped about 5 pounds, I think. I lost 5 and then gained 6, and despite all the working out (and the two years of Pure Barre before lockdown), I still had my food baby.
Getting frustrated, I joined a Facebook workout group, which recommended ignoring the scale and going by the change in your measurements and how your jeans fit.
Of course, this would require that I actually take my measurements. Or go back to wearing jeans. (I put them on once a week over the course of lockdown to make sure they still fit, but somewhere during the course of the day I longed for my leggings or joggers and I would end up back in them.)
It also suggested taking “before” pictures, so that you could compare to the after. This was a horrifying thought, and take them I did, committed to the process as I was.
(And just to be clear, no matter how much progress I make none of you will ever see the full before pictures.
I was scrolling through the Facebook page once I had recovered from the trauma of the measurements and photos when I saw a photo of another mama who had a belly shaped like mine. Someone asked her “do you have diastasis recti?” It was followed by a lot of responses with women who also had DR, commenting that their stomachs looked just like that.
Diastatis recti is a condition that happens when your abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy and remain separated after giving birth. It’s a post partum condition.
Only – my baby is now 182 months post partum.
Fast forward to my ob-gyn appointment where my doctor recommends some pelvic floor physical therapy. In the process of the PT assessment, along with some other muscular imbalances we are working on correcting, I was indeed diagnosed with a one-finger separation of the rectus abdominus above my belly button, and three-finger separation below it. Yay me, ever the overachiever.
Along with some of the weirdest physical therapy treatments I’ve ever experienced in my life (a story for another day), my PT taped my tummy. The hope was to see if the support of the tape would make a difference and simulate my abs being back where they should be. Hashtag waffle belly.
Mmmm…waffles…no…not for me.
Regardless, I think it would take some industrial strength KT tape to make that happen, and I don’t know where all the belly fat was supposed to go once you brought the left and right side back together.
So for now, I’m stuck in the middle of my weight loss journey. I never thought about how frustrating it would be to have most of the usual core exercises put on the “do not attempt” list, and all the baby step exercises are making me impatient, even though they shouldn’t, not really.
I mean, I know that ultimately, abs are made in the kitchen.
Unfortunately, the abs I have were made from sourdough English muffins, Welsh cakes, and home baked sandwich bread, crumpets, a 9 pound-3 ounce baby, a love of reading and a reluctant exercise routine.
For now, my exercise routine is back on track (kinda, mostly), my posture improving, my abs ZIPPED up tight (when I think about it, which is constantly, apparent in the concentrated expression in my eyes and brows), and baking habits pretty much abandoned.
I’m going to kick this middle age spread right in its metaphorical ass.
Which is about as big as my midsection, but we’re not going to talk about it.
A one word prompt. Five minutes to write about it. No editing. (*blinks*)
That is the idea behind Five Minute Friday!
(I do edit when the timer goes off. It’s who I am. )
This is today’s free-writing post – the prompt was “Middle”.
Because I’m no stranger to embarrassing myself, you can read all about how I broke my left foot here.
Or my most-read post, my advice for wearing a boot after I broke my RIGHT foot, here.
Or if you want to way back, this is probably the funniest sponsored post I’ve ever written, fully under appreciated by the sponsor, but c’mon, honestly, consider at the topic. One day I’m going to write about this again, because look, I’m a mom and we give up any sense of propriety or self-consciousness after the first time we poop on the delivery table.