This week I spoke with my friend, Andrea Allen, who is a core and Diastasis Recti expert. We chat about what the core actually does, what Diastasis Recti is, and how to know if you have it. Even if you’re not experiencing Diastasis Recti, Andrea breaks down why you’ll benefit from learning to activate the pelvic floor and strengthening your core. So let’s get to it, so you can walk away knowing how core strength helps with all daily activities AND those gains in the gym!
Find show notes at bicepsafterbabies.com/141
Follow me on Instagram!
- Understanding Diastasis Recti (5:43, 9:55, 28:22)
- Can diastasis recti be prevented? (11:46)
- How to check if you have DR? (17:08, 18:22)
- Difference between hernia and diastasis recti (20:01)
- Things to mind with your pelvic floor while being pregnant (21:27, 22:37)
- Powerlifting with pelvic floor (24:39, 25:28, 26:29, 28:22)
- What happens if diastasis recti is being ignored (32:33, 33:43)
- Benefits from doing pelvic floor exercises (35:55)
You're listening to Biceps after Babies radio episode number 141
Hello and welcome to Biceps after Babies radio. A podcast for ladies who know that fitness is about so much more than pounds lost or PRs. It's about feeling confident in your skin and empowered in your life. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke, a registered nurse, personal trainer, wife, and mom of four. Each week, my guests and I will excite and motivate you to take action in your own personal fitness as we talk about nutrition, exercise mindset, personal development, and executing life with conscious intention. If your goal is to look, feel, and be strong and experience transformation from the inside out, you, my friend are in the right place. Thank you for tuning in, now let’s jump into today’s episode.
Amber B 0:48
Hey, Hey, Hey, welcome back to another episode of biceps after babies radio. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke. And today on the podcast I am sharing with you, my friend, and core and diastasis recti expert, Andrea Allen. So I invited Andrea onto the podcast because diastasis recti and core stability, core strength is something that's really, really important, and not something that I would consider myself an expert on. And so my goal is always to bring you guys really up-to-date, expert information about things. And so when I'm not an expert, I'm going to bring somebody on who is and Andrea has had experience personally with diastasis recti. And she's built her business a lot around helping women to identify and heal their diastasis recti in addition to a lot of the other nutrition and workout coaching that she also does.
Amber B 1:44
So in this podcast episode, we talk a lot about your core. And there's going to be some things in this episode that may surprise you that you didn't know about your core, we tend to have some misconceived notions when we talk about the core. And Andrea does a really good job of breaking down what the core actually means, what this diastasis recti is, how do you know if you have it. And most importantly, I think, how we all should be aware of activating and using our core and our pelvic floor while we're lifting. So this is like whether or not you're pregnant, whether or not you ever want to be pregnant or ever have been pregnant, being able to build a mind-muscle connection between your brain and your pelvic floor and your core is essential to being able to become a better weightlifter to be able to lift more weights. If you think about it, especially with our big heavy lifts where we're really trying to transfer a lot of force and a lot of weight. The more rigid and stable and tight we can make the body, the more we're able to transfer that force and that load through the body. So that's why we brace our core. It's why we tighten everything before we drop into a squat. It's why we tighten everything and lock everything into place before we try to stand up with a deadlift.
Amber B 3:03
And so we talk in this episode about how important it is for any woman to be able to know where her pelvic floor is to be able to, as Andrea says in the episode, which I really like invited to the party, invite the pelvic floor to the party, invite your intro abdominals to the party, and be able to really create that nice solid foundation, you're going to become a better lifter and you're going to prevent some of these problems that can come with when you have a weak pelvic floor or when you have, you know weak abdominals or a weak core. So this podcast episode is going to help you if you're pregnant, and want to prevent diastasis recti. It's going to help you identify if you have it if you are postpartum. And it's also going to help you become a better lifter to be able to start identifying how to brace the core, how to activate the pelvic floor, how to properly brace the pelvic floor, I tell a story in this episode about how I wasn't bracing properly previously, my pelvic floor. So we dive into all of that.
Amber B 4:01
Before we dive into that episode, I do want to mention that Andrea is somebody that I really would recommend going to if you are someone who struggles with diastasis recti. As I said, it's not my area of expertise. It's not anything that I'm really good at teaching or coaching through. But I really respect and trust Andrea and she has a diastasis recti program. It's actually one of her newest programs. And so we've linked that up in the show notes at bicepsafterbabies.com/141, since this is the 141st episode, and you'll be able to find all of her information on there. We've linked to all of her social media and then also to her programs. So if that's something that interests you, I highly recommend her using her as a resource and being able to learn from her. So without further ado, let's dive into that episode with Andrea Allen.
Amber B 4:51
I am so excited to welcome Andrea Allen to the podcast. Andrea, how are you doing?
I'm so good. I am super excited to be here. I was looking forward to it all day.
Amber B 5:00
It's gonna be such a good conversation. We've already had such a good conversation before we even hit record and now everybody gets to hear more.
I know we're like chatting it up and you're like, Oh, yeah, I should start the…
Amber B 5:10
I literally was like, I should record this because we're like, already starting to get the good stuff. So awesome. Well, I'm really excited to have you on when I let my followers on Instagram know that I was going to have you on as a guest. They were so excited and I even put up a little question box-like, what do you want me to ask her? And I got some of the questions that I am going to ask you today directly from people who follow both of us and we're really excited for me to ask you some of these questions. So anybody who maybe doesn't know who you are, doesn't follow you on Instagram yet, can you kind of just tell us a little bit about you how you got started on Instagram, a little bit about your story and how you help women?
Yes, of course. So I started my Instagram account when my twins were eight weeks old. It was like a long time ago. And I felt like, you know, I'd had my twins, I graduated public health education. I was a trainer. I taught fitness classes at the time. And I just had a lot of people saying why don't you share what you eat? Why don't you share what you do for exercise? So I started the account that way. And in this process, after my twins, I developed diastasis recti, which is an issue of abs splitting after you have children. Now, a lot of people think that it's rare, it's not. It actually happens to 66% of women but most often for many, it heals within the first like 10 to 12 weeks. But for many women, it sticks around for years and years after and they don't even realize it they just think oh, this is my mommy's belly. This is my mommy pooch. But it's actually an injury. It's a separation of the right ab and the left ab. So when I started, you know, getting back into fitness after my kids, I was like, I am a hot mess. Like, I can't do any activities. I can't run without peeing my pants, my back hurts, my stomach isn't laying right. And I just didn't feel good. So I dove really deep into I would say inner core health. And then I just kind of linked that with being a trainer and understanding the nutrition side of it and understanding, like just typical personal training. And I put it all together in one and was like, I want to help the everyday mom, the woman who struggles with like, Where does she start? How does she get moving? How does she feel good in her body? How does she figure out how to stop peeing her pants and reduce her back pain and have a flatter core not just from starving herself because that's a bunch of bullcrap that doesn't work, you and I both know that doesn't work. And like teaching some balance with nutrition and really interlacing that with, you know, inner core work, and then just full bodywork. So I train online. I run a training program where I do nutrition coaching and workout coaching. And then I have a couple of guides that really focus heavily on inner core work for people who are pregnant or postpartum or have diastasis recti.
Amber B 7:47
That's so cool. And for someone who maybe is hearing the term diastasis recti. First of all, I feel like it's become a more mainstream term than it maybe was like when I had my first baby.
When I had it with the twins, I was googling and it was like a struggle to find anything once I figured out what it was, it was like, I would stay up. I would put my twins to bed and I would research all night trying to learn about this thing that was like this foreign mysterious problem that people had that nobody talks about.
Amber B 8:17
Nobody talks about it.
Nobody said anything. And I was like something's not right.
Amber B 8:21
Yeah. But I feel like we're starting to talk a little bit more about it. But there are so many people a) who, you know, this is the first time they're ever hearing about it. And b) I think even more likely, you know, you can tell me if this is accurate. I think there are a lot of women walking around who have that as a problem and haven't yet identified it. And so if somebody is listening, and they're like, Well, I have a mommy pooch or I have my stomach is my struggle area. What would you say to them? How would you help them to figure out yes, I do have a diastasis recti or no I don't or like somewhere in between. What would you say to somebody who's like that?
Yes. So let me explain really quickly what it is. So everyone, if you think about the anatomy of your abs, you have a right and a left up. That's the six-pack that everyone sees. There are lots of ab muscles underneath there. There are the obliques, the internal, the external, and underneath everything is the transverse abdominals. And the transverse abdominals are like the most underrated core, like, move like the core muscle ever because it wraps all the way around from your spine all the way to the other side. Yet you don't hear very many people talk about it. And if that's undertrained, the core is just not going to do its job very well because that's your most inner layer.
Amber B 9:29
Yeah, can I point out too because before we started hitting record, we were talking about this misnomer of like when people when we say core, most people in their head, they think the rectus abdominis like that the six-pack with the abs like that they think the core is and if you're listening to Andrea like
Superficial, the six-pack is your superficial and your core is your inside that's like I'm actually the tank and that's just the pretty makeup on the outside.
Amber B 9:53
Yes. Oh, good analogy. Yeah.
So that's actually what's doing everything and making the core do what it does is that inside. So with diastasis recti or diastasis, there are lots of ways to say it, depending on who you're talking to, the right ab the left ab basically separate. And there is if you look at it, there's a thin line that runs down the right ab the left ab, and that's called the linea alba. And when you become pregnant, it often pushes out, so it starts to push forward and that linea alba gets stretched out. After you have the baby, for some women, that closes back up, your core does its job, but for many women, the core stays weak, the linea alba stays stretched out and the connective tissue there just never strengthens back up. And then the core is not doing its job, which creates the mommy pooch. So it's not a thing like fat. It's literally a separation of the core. And that's the misconception because I feel like our whole lives we thought, Oh, that's just what happens to mom. No, that's it's literally an injury like it's a problem. It's like saying, like my knees, you have elbow tendonitis, or whatever it is, it's a problem that you can work on. Yeah, so that's number one.
Amber B 11:04
Is it preventable? Is this something that a woman can prevent from happening? Or is it an inevitability of just having a nine-pound baby in your doors?
It's both. First, diastasis recti, men can actually have it if they don't properly support their core. Children, if you actually see the best in babies, if you ever watch a baby breathe, you can see almost a separation when they inhale, because their core is still coming together. Like they're still you know, they have less bones and they fuse together and so you can see it. But yes, you can. You can't necessarily 100% prevent it, but you can reduce the effects of it. So ab separation while pregnant is normal, your abs straight up have to separate to bring out the baby.
Amber B 11:45
Right, where's it gonna go?
Maybe go back, the baby's going out, mom's going out. But if you are a mother of multiples, if you have babies back to back, if you had big babies, or often if you're shorter, because there's nowhere for the baby to go, but out. Those are women who more commonly develop it. Now during pregnancy, you still can learn to protect your core by lifting the pelvic floor and drawing the transverse abdominals during movements. So you can prevent the severity. For example, during my twin pregnancy, I knew nothing, I didn't even know that core was a thing. I was planking and punching and all kinds of things when I was pregnant. And I was not even connecting my core properly and that's when I developed it. After my second two babies, I knew in those pregnancies, how to inhale, lift the pelvic floor, draw the transverse abdominals in, you can kind of imagine transverse abdominals like a core set, you know what I mean. And as you draw in, it's like a rolling pin rolling up from the bottom of your stomach exhaling and pulling the core together. So I knew how to do that. So the severity of my DR in the other ones was way less, it was nothing like my other ones. My back pain was less. I healed faster, my core laid faster, my core felt better, faster, because I didn't know how to connect properly during pregnancy. Now a lot of women think, oh, I'll just deal with it after, I'll just deal with it after and it's like no, you literally just breathing techniques can actually a) help you in your labor, you'll be better pushing the baby out if you know how to connect to your pelvic floor and b) helping you recover faster and then even years and years down the road the same technique helps people heal it.
Amber B 13:24
Yeah, good. Why do you think that more providers aren't looking for this or notifying women? I feel like it's like one of those things that women figure out years after they've had the baby that they have had a diastasis recti the whole time. Why do you think that's being missed or not an important thing that providers are looking for postpartum?
I think it's a little bit of the old-school mentality. I mean, even with pregnancy, they used to say, don't move around, don't lift more than 40 pounds, you know, just do this or that and like they kind of like tabooed exercise. But if you even look at obesity recently, they've come out and said no exercise is actually really good for you and the baby, it actually improves the baby's heart rate. I read a study the other day that said, the baby's lungs and blood pressure get better when the mom moves. Now, I'm not talking about overly moving, you still need to watch your heart rate, that's important as a pregnant woman, especially as you get into the third trimester, you gotta watch that heart rate and every doctor is going to have a different heart rate so ask your doctor. But it does make the baby stronger. It's about doing it correctly and I just think I mean even for me when I found out I had it. I went to my first OB with my after my twins and I told him after I researched all night long, and he's like, oh, if you're peeing your pants, we can just put in a sling and they told me all these surgery things I could do. He did not say a word that I could do literally exercises to fix it. And I stumbled that night across a you know a pelvic floor specialist and I went to her and she's like, you don't need surgery, you just need to turn on your pelvic floor woman. And it made a whole difference. So I think it's part of what they know is surgery and they care more about the labor and stuff but I mean, the simple fact is: Why is there only one appointment postpartum for mom? There's like 17 for the baby? Like the mom's like a hot mess. She's got like, postpartum depression, she feels terrible. She's got night, you know, heat flashes, or whatever they are. And like, she goes once, and they're like, good to go. See you later.
Amber B 15:30
Well, I mean I don't know how long it takes to heal a natural DR for most women. But I imagine it's probably longer than six weeks. And if there isn't another appointment after six weeks, you don't know whether it's healed or not. There's no follow-up for that.
And so some I will get some women who say my OB did tell me that I have DR which is why they reach out and then I get other women who are like, I have a five years ago, I didn't even know this was a thing. Or maybe years ago, my OB said nothing. I asked him about it. And he's like, oh, whatever, there's nothing you can do, you just had babies. So it just depends, you know, it actually makes me sad because I'm like, if you explain to people, you know, giving them resources, I do sometimes get people who say my OB referred me to you and that makes me laugh because I'm like, you're OB, as a legit doctor. I'm like a personal trainer. But I think it's just a little bit of the old-school mentality and maybe even a lack of knowledge for the OB on the actual physical exercise size. What can they do?
Amber B 15:44
Sure, yeah, probably just not something that's taught in medical school.
Like, no, no, they're like, oh, they're peeing in their pants. Put a sling in. No, they're not taught that like a physical therapist is taught in school. No, teach them to, you know, lift the pelvic floor, do some small pulses. They don't teach the same thing. So it gets a little tricky. I feel like everyone should have a pelvic floor appointment with a physical therapist after they have a baby. I feel like it would do every woman good that should be included with the six weeks but I'm just you know, a normal person.
Amber B 17:01
So if a woman is sitting here being like, Well, I have a mommy pooch, how do I know if that's fat Andrea or if it's a diastasis recti?
Okay, so I will give a video for you to link in your show notes. I do have an igtv, where I explain exactly what it looks like, how you can self-check because a lot of people say my OBnever checked for me. And I'm like, no big deal, you can check yourself, girl is not a big deal. So it's literally an issue of laying on the ground, lifting your shoulders, feeling along your midline for a gap. A lot of people always talk about the gap but that's the width between your right arm and your left arm. But something else to be aware of is the depth. And the depth is underrated because the depth is your connective tissue. And if that's really worn down, it does take a little bit longer for your abs to come together. So sometimes people may have a really narrow gap, but it's pretty deep up to their knuckles. And so they're gonna have a harder time making that core connect in but it doesn't mean it's impossible. It just means you have to work at it. And sometimes people say well, how many weeks? Four weeks, six weeks? When can I fix it? And I'm like, that's the beauty of everybody is the severity is different, our sizes, different, our experiences different, our activation of the muscles. I was different, I mean even for strength training, how many times do you hear well? If I follow these macros for four weeks, what will I look like?
Amber B 18:18
Yeah. And it's the same, my crystal ball.
I know I have a woman that today, they were like we know this payoff. And I was like, well when your body's ready. So I just feel like that's kind of a way to check. It's an easy video. And I even explain there that sometimes people don't have diastasis recti, but they can still have weak transverse abdominals. And again, if that core is not doing its job, it's really hard for the inside to look nice if the insides are like a stretchy hot mess, you know, it's not connecting, it's not bracing the core. So that's kind of that way. And then with fat, something to be aware of, is if your this is in my guide, as well, you have to be aware of that. If it feels firm if when you look at your core and you see a domain, they call it a domain or a coning. It's like a bread loaf or a ridge down the center of your core that is most often diastasis recti. Now, there can be fat around it there can be fat over it, but you should still feel some improvements even if there's fat there if you work on the DR but they are kind of two separate issues. So the core may lay flatter but you have to be aware it's not going to necessarily get rid of your fat if there's excess fat there. It's for the core so it can be both or it can be one or the other.
Amber B 19:36
Okay, cool. So if someone is pregnant now and they are wanting to work out and make sure that they do it in a manner that is safe and is as stabilizing as possible for you know the core, what are some things that they should be thinking about about and take into consideration?
Okay, I'm gonna hop back one to you. I want to also explain the difference between a hernia.
Amber B 19:59
Oh great, yup.
So, you know, you can tell the difference between fat or if it's, you know, diastasis. But another one that often gets mixed up is a hernia and diastasis recti. So they're like sisters, they're very similar but a hernia can be anywhere on the core diastasis only runs along the midline. Diastasis normally isn't painful and a hernia is normally a little bit more painful and the color of a hernia varies. So hernias are normally bluish, or purplish. And they will poke out that is actually a protrusion of the intestine from stuff on the inside. So it's a little bit different. So that's something to think about when you have, you know, if you think you have a hernia, you can easily have dialysis because they are related. And as you work on your diastasis recti, if it's a minor hernia, it can improve as the diastasis improves. If it is a really bad hernia, that's literally a hole in the lining, basically, in the connective tissue that does need surgery. But again, if it's minor, it can improve as you improve your DR. And it's normally painful and it has a different color. Diastasis recti isn't a color, it only bulges during certain movements, and it's just right down the core line directly down the center by the belly button.
Amber B 21:17
Okay, yeah, that's a good distinction. Okay, pelvic floor while working out while pregnant? What do we need to be mindful of and think about?
Okay, so I love working out while pregnant. I just think it's so great. And I feel like people fear it because they think it's your problem. And all you need to know is you can do it, you just need to watch your heart rate. And you need to protect your core, you need to take care of yourself. And so the number one thing you can do is anytime that you are fighting gravity. So if you're in a position where obviously you're not stable, straight up if you are working against weight, so if there's any type of progression against weight, if your limbs are moving away from your body, so anything is going distal away from the center of your body, you need to think about what your core is doing, because your course job is to protect yourself. So anytime you do any of those things, you're a little unstable. And all you need to do is remember, your pelvic floor is already a little stressed out. We don't want to see that low down the center or something that coning and so you need to inhale with the movement. And then you're going to exhale as you exhale, you're going to lift the pelvic floor, you're going to draw the transverse abdominals and it basically looks like people say, Does that hurt the baby? No, like even my PT was like, it's like you're hugging the baby, you're giving a nice warm hug. And so it actually helps.
So when you are lifting weights, you are not creating downward pressure on your pelvic floor. Because your pelvic floor if you're like 10 months pregnant, you've already got a bowling ball sitting on it. So the last thing you need is more intraabdominal pressure, pushing that bowling ball down into your pelvic floor. So if you can learn to lift it, like I like to tell people, imagine a diamond. So the premiums are the front, the back of the diamonds, a Kocsis. And then the two bones are the sides of the diamond. Imagine lifting those four points together and up. That's your pelvic floor coming up. So when you lift, when you're working against movement against the position, you want to exhale and lift the pelvic floor. It is going to help reduce any type of leakage while you're pregnant and help really protect it for after you have the baby. So you won't have leakage and it helps with that back pain along the backside. Because the pelvic floor is linked all the way around to the glutes, which are linked to the back, everything's connected and most times when we feel pain in one area, it's because there's something wrong or weakening in another area. So if you are twisting, be aware that you are lifting the pelvic floor drawing the transverse abdominals in, if you are lifting a weight above your head or away from your body, same motion, lift and wrap I call it wrapping the transverse abdominals in. If you are even lifting a heavyweight, you don't want to bear down, you don't want to push down because that's going to cause a problem. You need to lift the pelvic floor, draw the transverse abdominals in.
And I'm just realizing I have free. I have a totally free guide that explains just the breathing that you can link in your notes. It's totally free. I explained the pelvic floor, the transverse abdominals, and then how to put them together just for breathing. So like you were doing any of these moves, and it's just the breathing alone because I feel like if everyone could know how to breathe properly to lift the pelvic floor, oh man, we'd be running with no pads. We would have so much less issues and you can weave it into any activity, any sort of exercise.
Amber B 24:39
Yeah, that's okay. And before we hit record, Andrea and I were talking and she was asking me about powerlifting with pelvic floor and I shared with her that one of the things that I had to learn was how to brace properly while lifting super heavyweights. Because I noticed as my weights were going up, I was having some incontinence and I talked to my husband who said this is what he does all day every day at work. And he let me help me to realize that I was bracing properly. And I think a lot of times when women are told to, you know, inhale and brace and that's what we're told us as in powerlifting, like inhale and brace the core, we do naturally what Andrea was talking, we push down on the pelvic floor, and that was okay. It was okay. I say “okay”, like in air quotes, it was okay until I got too heavyweights, and then it didn't work anymore.
What's your really punishing yourself and your body's like, hold up, this doesn't work
Amber B 25:28
Because it wasn't really okay at any weight. But it was masked until I got to really heavyweights. And what I had to do was I had to go down and wait, actually, I took the weight on the bar down and learn to before I like would descend into a squat, I would take a breath and hold my breath, and brace and I would literally like pull up on my pelvic floor, just like Andrea was talking about before I descended into the squat and then and pushed up. And when I learned to do that, it changed everything. I didn't have any more incontinence with those heavy lifts because I was actually bracing properly. And so I feel like even someone like me who's had a lot of training in exercise physiology. I'm a nurse, like, we've done a lot of anatomies, like I have all this training. And I still didn't know how to brace properly. And so it's so important to things that Andrea is teaching and talking about because they may seem very simple. But like, it may seem simple, but just because it's simple, doesn't mean you're actually doing it. And like Andrea said, if we could have everybody doing it the right way, it would be like it would be magical, what people would be able to do is so magical.
You gotta imagine your diaphragm, like a balloon, like you were saying in powerlifting. It's a balloon, it is fickle, you know, so if you're lifting, whether you're doing powerlifting, or just bodybuilding or even just like lifting a box, if you're going and you're bearing down when you do that, that balloon is going to push down, guess what, it's pushing down the bottom, guess what's coming out the bottom of that. If you are doing a sit-up and you're not bracing your core correctly, guess what the sides of that balloon are going to smush together and it's going to push out the front, which is going to create that coning that domain down the front. So it's about learning to make our core do its actual job. And it is boring like I was saying, I ran into a girl the other day. And she's like, well, I don't really like the pelvic floor exercise because they're boring. I was like, Yeah, they're really boring. I agree with you, but they work really, really well. And if you want to feel better, and if you want your core to do its job, and have less back pain, and less, you know, urine leakage, and literally lay flatter like, literally do its job, sometimes you gotta do boring stuff to set it up correctly. So you can progressively overload even as I work when I have my baby on my own squat. I start with an air squat, making sure my pelvic floor is invited to the party is what I always say, then I will add just a couple of dumbbells, I'll increase my dumbbells, then I'll go to my bar, then I start adding more weight to the bar because I have to make sure at every stage that like you the pelvic floor is invited to the party because otherwise, you just your core is like the whole, you know, center game, you feel like you're gonna feel like crap.
Amber B 28:00
Yeah, yeah. So good. So if somebody does have diastasis recti, let's say that they are aware of that, they know that, how does that impact their weightlifting routine? Like what are some things that they need to be mindful of? Should they continue lifting weights? Is that something that's advisable? Should they take time off? You know, what would you say to somebody who is working through maybe they've started working through this exercise, but it's still not healed yet? What do they need to be aware of?
Yeah. So one thing that I hate it when people say, give me a no, no list, give me a list of things you can't do. And I'm like, that varies by person, because it's what can you do correctly, it's not, don't ever do crunches, don't ever do planks, it does a plank correctly. And don't do a plank until you can do it correctly, you're not banned from exercising the rest of your life just because you have a gap. In fact, sometimes the gap is clinical, the gap, if it's above two fingers, that's clinically considered diastasis recti. Now, my gap is still two fingers. So technically, I still have diastasis recti. But they call it functional diastasis recti. And that's when you learn to correctly connect the core during movements to brace it properly so that you can ease back into those movements. So the first thing you're going to want to do is you're going to want to be aware of any coning of the core, any type of ridge down the center, you're also going to want to be aware, if you are having any leakage, if you are squatting and you're having leakage, you need to bring your weights down, and you need to focus on lifting that pelvic floor and then you can put your weights back up. I mean, if you broke your leg, you wouldn't continue to try to run a race on it, you'd be like, Okay, I need to just take it down, get back into rehab, get faster and faster, and then get back to running and you do have to do that same thing. It doesn't mean you can't lift it doesn't mean there's still not a lot of freedom when you have diastasis recti you just need to be aware of what things are causing pain, what things are causing your core to get out of line, and what things are causing that ridge down the core and the number one thing is to learn how to breathe properly while you're lifting and lift that pelvic floor. So even if you're lifting, make sure that you're breathing with your diaphragm. A lot of times, after we have babies, we get into this nasty habit of chest breathing. Yeah, and you see women when they're pregnant and their chest is rising, and then we never stop. And the pelvic floor is connected to the diaphragm. So the diaphragm is not turning on like your ribs should expand. If you watch how a baby breathes, their ribs expand, if you watch our grown woman breathe, her chest is coming up and down. And so part of that's all part of the issue. So even if you're lifting, no matter what you're doing, start with the basics. Start with, am I breathing with my diaphragm? Am I able to feel my pelvic floor, am I able to lift my pelvic floor, am I able to lift my pelvic floor and exhale and draw my core in while I lift the weight while I'm working against resistance, you know, normally, it's when the muscle is contracting, because you're working against it, that's normally the face, like the effort of the movement, am I able to keep you know, my pelvic floor lifted through the range of motion of whatever exercise I'm doing. A lot of times people say I've lost, I don't know, if it's you know lifted, and I'm, and I'll say, bring your weight down just a little bit. It's the same thing for form. If someone has bad squat form, you're gonna have to say, take some weight off, get your squat form right, and then put it back on. It's gonna make you more effective in the long run and so the same thing with the pub floor. So you don't have to stop lifting. You just have to be aware and adjust when you see. Okay, this is, you know, like the domain, this is a sign that there's a problem and adjust for it.
Amber B 31:33
Yeah. So if somebody has diastasis recti, and they don't identify it, and they don't correct for it, and they don't do anything, what are some byproducts or some things that can happen down the line, if this is not addressed?
So this is a huge one and I think this is what people forget. So first, you can kind of be where some of you might be sitting there thinking like, do I have it? Do I not? Is my core strong? Think about what your core does, you know, if your diaphragm tongue turns on when you cough when you sneeze, or if you were blowing up a balloon? Does your core go out or does it actually draw in? If your core pushes out when you sneeze, it's actually not doing what it's supposed to do. There's intraabdominal pressure, and it's pushing it out. If you sneeze, and it instantly, you know, retracts, then your core is doing what it's supposed to, it's bracing you. And so that's one thing you can be aware of, like, oh, it is weak, maybe I should work on this because, during those things, my core pushes out, it should draw in and you can train your core to draw in.
So oftentimes, when women don't do anything about it, there are a couple of things that happen a) our posture starts being terrible, because when your core is weak, oftentimes there are a few things that happen. One, we start to compensate by pushing our hips forward. When we push our hips forward, our glutes, tucked under our glutes, turn off our back, take the brunt of the work and then our hip flexors are weak. Often when our hip flexors, I mean, our core is also weak, sometimes we will start to push it forward where we create that arch in the lower back. And then it creates tight hip flexors, and then pain and the lower back. So oftentimes, a lot of our back pain is linked to, you know, a core that's weak from your transverse abdominals being weak, or it's not connecting properly. So in our daily posture, it's not doing its job to help us stand straight up, it's starting to fall forward, or we're using our hips to compensate. So that's one thing, your posture starts getting terrible and starts creating pain all over your body, and it becomes harder to build your glutes because you're tucking them underneath because your cores are weak. And then they're not firing properly during squats because they're so weak from daily activities. So that's one.
Another thing is you have to imagine your core like a porch swing or a porch door. If one hinges off, like at first, when you're opening that door, it's going to open okay, but it kinda starts breaking the hinge more. And then as you open that door, more and more, the bottom hinge breaks, and then the doors not even it's like dragging on the ground. And then it's like not even opening and you're like this stupid door and you can't even get out the door anymore. And that's what's happening with your core is like, your lifts will start being bad, your pain in your back will start being bad, you'll have issues like even the front just feeling like you're falling forward even more so with the posture. So it's really important to fix, you know that issue in making the core do its job because then you just are like that broken door that's getting worse and worse. Because as you know, the kinetic chain is real, everything is connected. And when your core doesn't do its job, the pelvic floor, the hip flexors, the back, the lower back, the hamstrings, everything gets all out of whack, and then we feel uncomfortable all the time. And then we can't even do lifts correctly, because we don't have the flexibility, we don't have the mobility, and we start to not even be able to lift as much because even if we come down into a squat, the core is not strong enough to do its job. So then the bat takes the brant of squat and we start to fold forward. So people think I just don't do anything about it, it won't matter. You're not going to elevate your fitness game, if your core is weak, you're going to struggle with seeing physical changes. Even if you do macros, even if your diet, even if you do anything, you'll struggle to see physical changes because the core pressure is pushing out all the time. It's like that hinged door not doing what it's supposed to, it's going the wrong way. So it's almost like the two things that we love about fitness, you know, gains, not, you know, gains in fitness, and then like feeling great and looking great. You get none of the above.
Amber B 35:36
You don't get anything. Done for you.
That's the end of the game.
Amber B 35:40
Awesome. So correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like every woman, every woman who has a pelvic floor would benefit from doing pelvic floor exercises, not just the women who have a diastasis recti.
Amber B 35:54
Can you talk to me more about that?
You can lift more. I mean, you know, when you're lifting, if your core is weak, it's gonna affect your squat, your deadlift, your pull-ups, it's gonna affect everything, the way you run, the way you feel. So like, even if you don't have the issue, it is going to make you stronger in your fitness game. And I don't know about you, but I feel awesome when I feel strong. You know, like, when I can do things effectively, it feels good. And sometimes I hear women complaining about some of their aches and pains. And I, as you know, focusing so much on the core, I'm like, Oh, that's your core, and they just don't even realize that's what it is. So anyone can honestly benefit from literally just like you when you're doing powerlifting, learning to lift the pelvic floor and wrap the core in to do its job and you will benefit in any aspect no matter what your fitness goals are. It will help you. Definitely help you.
Amber B 36:48
I think it's one of those things like you talked about inviting your pelvic floor to the party, which I love. I might still back but yeah, it's like
everything's working but the pelvic floor. Yeah, like it needs to come to work
Amber B 37:01
It needs to come to the party, too. And I think a lot of that is just awareness. Like, it's like creating that mind-muscle connection between Oh, how do I connect? Can I contract my pelvic floor? I don't even know how to do that. And I find it makes me think of the lats which I think are another muscle group that so many women don't know how to actively contract. And we and my friends and it is we thought we called like finding your lats like teaching people to like find your lats, like, find your lats, and you actually use your lats for a bench press or you actually use your lats for a pull-up, it makes all the difference in the world. And it's really just about, you've never been taught to find your lats or to squeeze your lats. Most of us have never been taught to like figure out the mind-muscle connection between our pelvic floor. And when you figure it out, you're like, Okay, squeeze your pelvic floor. And then you can do it. Like, it just changes everything.
It's so funny. We literally train every muscle in the body and the pelvic floor is a muscle. Yes, train everything in fitness. But nobody's talking about the pelvic floor and it all is combined. And that is a perfect example. Sometimes people struggle with feeling while they're sitting. So one thing you can do is I tell people to sit like laying with your back on the ground, put your feet up because then you're not fighting gravity. So it's easier to lift, like putting your feet up on a chair. Another thing you can do to just even learn to like where it is? Where it is to lean forward on and counter again. So you're not fighting gravity, you're leaning forward. So when it moves, your period feels it in the front. And those are just two simple ways where it's like, you're just not working as much against gravity and we'll help you feel like cuz I know that's initially for people. They're like, I got nothing. I feel nothing.
Amber B 38:34
I don't feel, I don't, I don't know what you're talking about. Where's that supposed to be?
It's like a blueberry. Imagine picking up I've heard people say a straw or blueberry or an elevator shaft coming up and then coming down. The other thing is people focus a lot on it coming up. But you have to focus on it coming down too because that can create a tight pelvic floor so it would be hypertonic. And that is bad too, that can create leakage and pain and stuff too. So you do need to learn to lift it and then to fully relax it. So bring that diamond up and then fully bring that diamond down.
Amber B 39:05
Yeah, that's really good. Awesome. Okay, I want to do a little bit of a shift in topics because when I put up on my Instagram, what questions people wanted me to ask. There were a lot of questions about you being a mom and nutrition and running a business and what your workout schedule looks like. So are you cool if we kind of dive into a couple of those questions before we…
Let's go for it.
Amber B 39:27
Okay. So I think you will share that you kind of started to talk about your kids a little bit but we just shared a little bit about you as a mom and some of the things like business and the nutrition and the working out and kind of how you make all that stuff fit together.
So I am big on time blocking. Am I always amazing at time blocking? No. But when I do time block effectively, it allows me to shift my mindset of like, Okay, this is kid time. This is work time. This is fitness time. So that does help me and it's how we get things done. I also use it for business and I actually swear by it. It's a push journal. It's by Chalene Johnson, I love that push journal, I built my whole business of that push journal. And it's not even how much money and it helps me literally have three small things every day that I'm going to do. And literally, I mean small as they should only take me like 15 minutes. So over the course of the day, that's just tiny things. And I do those tiny things every day. It does push things I want to add or build or things for business forward, it just doesn't add a reasonable amount when you try to do too much too fast, it backfires. And that even is in fitness and nutrition and in business and everything. If you overwhelm yourself, like, you know, I'm gonna make a new workout routine, I'm gonna work out four hours a day, I'm going to keep 200 calories, it backfires.
It's the same thing with business. So my husband actually ran a business, he did landscaping, and I did online training. And we actually a few years ago felt like, I mean, we have four kids under seven. But when we had our last baby, we were under five. So we live in a zoo. Like literally our front porch. Matt says, no more crazies. We're all stocked up here because our house is like a literal zoo. And so we had both our businesses. And we just decided our kids were suffering because he was gone all day. And I would do the kids and then he would be home at night. And I'd work all night and then we weren't together. And so we actually sold his business and he actually works for me now. And he does some of the accounting. And we take turns watching the kids. But he does more of the business side. And then I do more of the fun teaching educational side. And I love it. I love what I do because I get so many emails from women who are just so downtrodden, like they just like it breaks my heart, like, they just don't see themselves the way they should. And I realize it's so common like women beat themselves up, we are just constantly telling ourselves, everything we are not doing right. And it's just wrong. It's just wrong because women do so many things, right. So I just love what I do, and helping coach women about, you know, balance for nutrition, and balance for workouts, and healing like a normal person, after you have a baby not bouncing back, you got to bounce forward, like your new woman, we are bouncing into a new life, you know, you gotta bounce forward, and you'll be better. Like, I don't want to go back, I want to go better, you know. And so we spend a lot of time there, and he does the business side of it. And I just, I love coaching people, I love coaching on the mindset of being positive, because I honestly feel like I know you do, if you talk nice to yourself, if you tell yourself, you can do something, you can do it.
If you get rid of the all or nothing mentality in every aspect of life, whether you're talking about business, whether you're talking about a relationship, whether you're talking about nutrition, or macros, or anything if you can give yourself like real space to grow and make mistakes and realize, you know, I'm one of my favorite things I tell my clients is you are generally moving in the correct direction. Tiny steps, that's all you need. Tiny steps in the correct direction. I don't care if you're zigzagging. I don't care. If you take a water break. I don't care if you sit down on a bench, you are still going in the correct direction. And we're just not very good at seeing that. So I just, I love that side of my business. And with four little kids, that is a little bit crazy. That's kind of a roundabout answer. I feel like I went in a full circle for that. But I time block it, which is helpful. And I do my workout in the morning. And we do food prep on Sunday, which does help. But we really, my husband and I really divide and conquer. Like when I'm burnt out hee switches me when he's burnt out, I switch and we really divide and conquer tasks. And we also have a meeting on Sunday nights where we basically say, Okay, what meals are we eating for dinner? We plan out what meals we're having. We get those on Monday, we take turns even cooking, he's a better cook than me. In fact, our kids are always like, Mom, you're a good cook. And I like making eggs. He's better, he's legit, he's really good at cooking. But we still will take turns with those. And we'll eat, so we'll make a meal plan and then we'll even plan for the business like okay, this week, I need to do a, b and c. I need to fix this thing, I need to add this thing and he'll say I need to talk to this affiliate. And so we each layout two or three things each day, those tiny things that we can do. And that just helps us but that little meeting helps us with food prep and with business planning and with juggling the kids. That's kind of how we do it.
Amber B 44:50
Awesome. That's good.
Don't get me wrong, sometimes it's chaos in my house. Sometimes all of that goes to crap and I'm like, Oh, that was a disaster.
Amber B 44:59
That didn't work.
Yeah. So don't think I always have it together.
Amber B 45:03
Yeah, yeah. So you kind of mentioned your workout schedule. But what does your work weekly workout schedule look like?
So I like to be a little bit more into bodybuilding. So here's the truth, I lift weights because I know it's good for my body and it makes me feel good and it makes me functional. I do cardio because I think it is good for me mentally. I struggle with anxiety, I've had anxiety my whole life, I've even, you know, struggled with bouts of depression in my life. And for me, cardio eases that, it really eases that. So while I feel like weights are better for me, physically, I do cardio, because mentally, it's a game-changer for me. So I probably lift, you know, five to six days a week. I like to lift opposing muscles. That's probably my favorite. I just like that style, I have to superset a lot because I don't have that much time. So I would love to take longer rest between but I literally don't have the window for that, you know, I don't have the window to do my squats and then sit for one to three minutes to like really no
Amber B 46:07
hover, no sit for like five to seven minutes. If you're only sitting for one to three minutes, you're not lifting heavy enough.
I know it's true. And you are right, I probably would say I'm a moderately moderate lifter if that makes sense. I don't lift super heavy. I probably saw hypertrophy most of the time, like with my reps and stuff. That's the window that I technically like the best. So I do supersets a lot, simply because I don't have time. And so that is effective for me, I just try to make sure I'm super setting muscle groups that are not like I'm not going to superset a squat like deadlifts. And you're setting things that are different, you know so. So that's kind of my routine. When I do cardio, I love kickboxing. As I said, I do it because it mentally is very satisfying. It eases my mind, it helps me, I actually get my best ideas when I am exercising. In fact, I have three books in my gym. I have a podcast book, I have a workout book, and I have my journal, the push journal, and I will be in the middle of working out and I have pens, and I have a board in there too, where I put stickies and notes. And I'll get an idea of like, Oh my gosh, this is a great post and I'll write it down or this is a great move and I'll hurry in and add it. So I feel like my mind's most clear when I'm exercising, whether it's lifting or cardio, but that's actually when I feel like I'm the most effective in my brain.
Amber B 47:36
I love it. How about how much time are you in the gym a day?
About an hour. So I like to walk. That's the other thing. I will say I walk a lot. So I do an hour in the gym, but I love walking. So I probably walk another, I don't know, 30 minutes a day or so. But it's not overly intense. I just enjoy it. I have A.D.D. and so when I answer my emails, I get bored sitting at my desk. Like I feel like I'm like, Oh, it's over there. And I'm like wandering out and before I know it, I'm like eating candy or something. I will answer my emails when I walk. That's my other little trick.
Amber B 48:11
I remember you like doing a story about that. Like typos or whatever. It's doing voice to text.
So I use my voice to text like a madwoman. And there have been some really bad typos like really bad typos that I've sent people before. And I'm like I'm sorry. And I tried to proofread it, but I walked and answered my email. So I will circle my neighborhood. I don't go fast. I will go on my treadmill and walk, I will go to the park and I am so much faster doing it that way because I do have A.D.D. and I like to move. And so it's a little like a trick of the trade. You just got to read your messages because sometimes you say some dirty things or and you're like what does not even a word.
Amber B 48:53
Siri, I did not say that.
Yeah, like literally I remember I said like safe than sorry, one time and it's sent to the person saints and knows best. And I was like that is not even what I said. So yeah, I do walk a lot and answer emails. So if you are one of my clients, you know, like and I even warned them when they started like if a word doesn't make sense. It rang me back. I tried to proofread. But every once in a while one seeps through and you're like what, what, what?
Amber B 49:21
So awesome. Okay, last question. Before we wrap up, what are some of your current goals and these can be business goals, health goals, fitness goals, whatever, what are some goals that you are personally working towards?
So I should reach out to you on this. I am stuck at eight pull-ups. I cannot get to ten pull-ups. Yeah, I am struggling. And then I started digressing. And I was like, why am I digressing? And so I like, you know, made sure that like I was going back maybe I was like maybe I'm not retracting my shoulders. You know, turning on my lats as we talked about I was like, maybe I'm pulling and I'm stuck at seven to eight. So I really want you to get the 10. I remember seeing a video of you and you were doing pull-ups like on a door at a church I was like that piece!
Amber B 50:06
What do you feel like limits you like when you get to where you can't do another pull-up? What is it that limits you?
So one, I'm crazy about making sure that my, because a common one is your core, will cone when you're doing pull-ups. So I will never do kipping pull-ups because the way that it swings forward puts my core Adeline and so people say well, you could get better if you did and I'm like no, I'm just gonna do.
Amber B 50:26
No, no, no. Kipping pull-ups don't train strictly.
No, that's not what I said I was like, no.
Amber B 50:30
Like, they're like different exercises.
Okay, that's what I felt like. So I was like, No, I'm just gonna stick with my strict. I wondered if maybe I'm not fully retracting and I'm pulling with my arms sometimes. Yeah, I mean, like…
Amber B 50:45
that's super common
Yeah. So I've been trying to do my dead hangs, and it's not my grip. And I've been trying to do shoulder retractions and stuff while hanging. And so it's gotten a little bit better. But I started digressing. And that's when I went back and was like, I got to work on my retractions. I've been doing you know, my negatives, negatives, I think it is a good one. That helps me but I really wanted to get to 10.
Amber B 51:06
Yeah, I mean, once you start getting like once you can do a pull-up or a couple of pull-ups and you want to start getting more pull-ups. A lot of it is just like endurance, it's muscle endurance, how long can the muscle hold on. And the way to train that is just more volume. If a lot of people struggle, it doesn't sound like your struggle, a lot of people struggle with their grip getting out and their grip strength isn't strong enough to hold it. But for you it does, it sounds like you might be using more muscle than you think and that our muscle tires out a ton. The other thing that I will like is the trick that I will say for people who can do multiple pull-ups and want to get more, being able to time the bounce out of the bottom. So when you fully extend at the bottom, you have that like muscular retraction or contraction, you want to time it so that you bounce out and are able to use that muscular recoil to bounce out of it.
I'm pausing at the bottom.
Amber B 52:00
Don't pause at the bottom. I'm not saying don't extend like no,
but I'm almost dead hanging at the bottom and don't…
Amber B 52:11
No, no, don't dead hang. No, you want to fully extend because that's what people will do if they cheat and they won't fully extend their arms. So I'm not saying don't fully extend totally all the way to the bottom. But it's just like a squat, where when you get to the bottom of a squat, it's a lot harder if you stop at the bottom, and then try to go back up instead of bouncing out of the bottom off of the tension created by your hamstrings. It's the same thing for a pull-up. So try that. It's just like a tiny bit of like, when I get to the bottom, it's a bounce out of it and back up into the next one and about bounce up into the next one.
I'm going to, I'm going to try right today. So that's one of my goals. One of my other goals is that this is the first year, I did a very poor job when I started my business. Doing it myself, doing it all myself. Yeah, everything myself figuring out how to do it working crazy hours awake all night, like stressing everyone out because I was doing it all myself. And I was like, I'm done no more. Yeah, I was like I've hired people. And that's been huge. So I'm trying to teach other coaches to coach like I coach. So that then I can do better stuff as you know, we want to come out with a subscription this year for workouts and some other stuff. And so that's probably my big thing this year is I'm like I have to teach the process, I have to teach the method because I think like most people we try to like, do it all ourselves, we try to muscle it up with our arms.
Amber B 53:28
Such a good analogy is that we try muscles instead of using our lats.
Yeah, and now we're like, Why is this not working? This is why I like running around like chickens, my hair cut off because I'm not bringing in people. And so this is the first year that I've really made an effort to bring in a handful of coaches that I've trained and I love them. They're doing a really good job so far so that we can, you know, come out with this subscription and some other stuff for workouts and stuff. So yeah, so good.
Amber B 53:50
Slow down to speed up.
That's what that was, I again, compared it someone asked me and I was like, it's like I had a hot air balloon and I filled out too much air and all the stitches were like flying out as we were flying and I'll then go by God who was like release the air, stitches back up, bring people in, fix it and then expand again, you know, so it's growing pains in any you know, if you run a business, they're just they're too hard. But there they were, you know, it's nice to get over that hump. So, so good. It's a little different and the reason why is because I want to be present with my kids. Sure. Like I spend a lot of time with them already. I'm with them a lot, but I want to be more like I love my little people. They work out with me. They do everything with me. I love them around and I just want more of it. It's awesome.
Amber B 54:39
All right, where can our listeners find you?
I am on @deliciouslyfitnhealthy at Instagram now. The name is a little intense. I know. It's a mouthful. Deliciously fit n' healthy. You can go to my website as well. It's deliciouslyfitnhealthy.com. Those are kind of my main things. I'm on Facebook, but I'm not on there as consistently. So that's kind of those are, I would say my main avenues I Oh, I have a podcast I forgot about that.
Amber B 55:10
Yeah, there we go.
Make It Simple with Andrea Allen. So it's fun. It's new, you know, it's not new. I guess I've been doing it since November. But I actually love the podcast as you know more because you get to like it, so I love lots of information at once. And so like everything in social media, just quick turnover, you got to spit it out fast. And with podcasts, you can dive deep. And I love that
Amber B 55:33
because so much of what we do is nuanced. Like, yeah, I can't condense what like this nuanced thing into like 250 character posts like
yeah, and they're, like, 15 seconds to get it out.
Amber B 55:44
There's a nuance that I have to dive into and explain. And yeah, that's one of the reasons
Yeah. So I love the fact that when I started, I was like, this is my jam, because I really felt like I could teach concepts clearly, for the first time. You know, I love it.
Amber B 55:59
I was so excited when I saw you start a podcast. I was like, Yes, it's about time. So awesome.
It's been a really great time. So I love it. So that's where you can pretty much reach me. The podcast or Instagram is where I like to hang out beside my house.
Amber B 56:13
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming on and being our experts, and sharing your information with my audience. I really appreciate it.
Of course, of course.
Amber B 56:23
I hope that you got something out of that episode with Andrea, if you would do me a favor and screenshot your listening to what you see on your screen right now and share it to your social media and tag me and Andrea, let us know what you're thinking as you're listening to the podcast. Let us know what aha moments you had. Were there things that you learned in this podcast that you didn't know ahead of time? We love it when you share the podcast on Instagram or on Facebook and tag us and let us know what it is that you're hearing and learning as you listen to the podcast. That wraps up this episode of biceps after babies radio. I'm Amber now go out and be strong because remember my friend you can do anything.
Hold up, sister friend. Do you love Biceps after Babies radio? If so, the best way to say thank you is to subscribe to the podcast and leave a review on iTunes. I know, every podcaster wants you to leave a review, but it's because those reviews help the podcast to reach more people. And I do truly want to know what you think. If this particular episode resonated with you, will you also please share it? Either send the link to someone who would find it valuable or take a screenshot and post it to your social media and tell your friends and family why they should listen. Make sure you tag me @biceps.after.babies so I can hear your feedback and give you a little love. And you know, if you aren't already following me on Instagram or Facebook, that's the perfect time to hit that follow button. Thank you for being here and listening to Biceps after Babies radio.