Last week, I went to a plastic surgeon for a consultation. This is something that when I first began my weight loss journey was downright appalling to me. It was cheating. People who got tummy tucks were cheating! They were passing GO and collecting the $200 without making it through the built-up Boardwalk & Park Place. They wanted the fast fixes and learned nothing in the process. These people. They were scum in my book of slow, pain-staking weight loss.
But there is one thing I have discovered in this life. NEVER and I mean NEVER make such a strong opinion about things that you do not understand, experience or research. NEVER! You cannot see the reasons and the thoughts of other people. You can only control your judgment and opinions. And when you don’t, those words they come back to haunt you.
This is today and I hate the way this looks. I have fought for so long and so hard to get to where I am, but this never catches up to the rest of me. I have done all of the tricks with waist trimmers, sweat enhancers, core workouts, special core workouts for diastasis recti (like “drawing-in” the umbilicus & activating the transverse abdominis), and compression.
What it all really comes down to is this… After many years of being overweight (morbidly obese by BMI standards), not being active, eating what I wanted to eat, having an undiagnosed thyroid disorder that doctors did not test for because I just need to eat less and get active AND four children… I have a 5 cm diastasis recti that cannot heal naturally.
I recently did a journal article review for my advanced physiology class on “The Effects of an Exercise Program on Diastasis Recti Abdominis in Pregnant Women” published by Chiarello, Falzone, McCaslin, Patel & Ulery in 2005. If you do not know already, “diastasis recti abdominis (DRA) is a frequent consequence of pregnancy. It is a separation of the two bellies of the rectus abdominis muscles along the linea alba with widening and fibrous division of the linea alba…Causative factors for DRA appear to be either hormonally mediated or result from the mechanical effects of pregnancy on the abdominal musculature. During pregnancy increased levels of relaxin, progesterone, and estrogen soften connective tissue, weakening the linea alba. Together with the mechanical strain placed on the anterior abdominal wall by the enlarging uterus, this weakening can result in a DRA. As pregnancy advances, the rectus abdominis muscles become stretched and elongated around the enlarging uterus” (Chiarello et al. 2005). Basically, DRA is over-stretched abdominal muscles.
In the journal article, a handful of different studies were reviewed and the numbers for women who had DRA by their third trimester were between 66-100%. One study remarked that 85% of women having at least a 2-finger width separation. (Many of times you will hear this expressed in terms of a centimeter width or a certain finger width between the abdominal muscles.) Now, there are varying definitions of how much of an abdominal separation is normal/abnormal. This particular journal used the amount of over 2.7 cm is considered abnormal.
The seriousness of DRA is that this may persist for years and without the woman’s knowledge. It can present itself as simply lower back pain due to the abdominal muscles role in the body for posture, trunk flexion/rotation, respiration, and parturition.
And that brings me full circle… The separation I have cannot be fixed by non-surgical means. I should not have gossiped or looked at women who have walked this path in disgust. They were simply on the path I was not treading at the moment. I never bothered to educate myself or even ask them why they were doing what they were. I did not actually care about their reasoning. I only cared about the external view and hated them because they were taking the “easy way” out. There’s nothing easy about surgery. There’s nothing easy about living in pain. I was wrong to pass judgment and here I am now… Living a life with daily back pain and fatigue even though I do all the right things. I run marathons, eat well, care for my health, and I am stuck.
I hope this provides some clarity. I hope this helps you see more than I did. Another person’s actions HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. What they do is for them. For their struggle. For their well-being. If you truly wish to know why then ask them and just listen without internal pre-judgment. You may learn something that down the road may prevent you from a moment of pain, guilt, and shame.