Mommy Monday: Core Rehab, Part 1

If you've been following me for awhile on my blog and on Instagram, you know that I have diastasis recti (abdominal separation) since being pregnant with my son.

Diagram of diastasis recti - mine wasn't this severe at all, but this shows kind of what happens with abdominal separation!

Abdominal separation is very common postpartum. However, there is a shocking lack of information out there for mamas who have this. In fact, many women have abdominal separation and aren't even aware that they have it (learn how to check for it here), OR they have been told that the only way to FIX it is by having surgery. Which is NOT TRUE!!

When I was first pregnant with James, I was searching the internet for some exercises that I could do while pregnant. That's when I first came across Erica Ziel. Erica Ziel is the founder of Knocked Up Fitness and Core Athletica Inc.. She is an EXPERT in helping women to strengthen their deep core muscles in order to have a safer and easier pregnancy, delivery, and recovery. 

Erica Ziel

Now, Erica has developed the Core Rehab Program for postpartum mamas! The Core Rehab Program is designed for mamas who are interested in "rehabbing" their cores after all that they have been through with pregnancy and delivery. This includes working on posture, techniques for safely picking things up, and how to properly engage your deep core muscles to strengthen your core and help to repair abdominal separation.

Pregnancy can do a number on a woman's body, especially her core. Muscles and connective tissues are weakened, stretched, etc... It is important to strengthen your deep core and connective tissues postpartum in order to properly heal and to feel better. But, if you're like me, it can be overwhelming and even a little scary because

...where do you even BEGIN??

Erica was kind enough to let me do the Core Rehab Program in exchange for reviewing it. And I certainly hope you all know that I will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS be honest in my reviews. I would never recommend something that I wasn't totally excited about or impressed by or that I didn't genuinely believe in. So, with that said, let me dive right in:

THE CORE REHAB PROGRAM HAS BEEN THE MOST LIFE-CHANGING, GREATEST THING FOR ME. And I truly mean that. 

The program consists of six phases, each broken up into two weeks. I am through the first two phases, and oh my goodness, the changes are so incredible. And I'm not just talking about physical changes, although I've certainly seen some. I'm talking about changes in the way that I feel.

After giving birth to James, my back KILLED me. I have scoliosis, so my back has always hurt me. But pregnancy and delivery just really really messed it up. Plus, being on bedrest didn't help because I basically lost all of the muscle tone that was helping to support my back. Add in the abdominal separation and weakened core, and I was basically a hot-postpartum-mess of pain, discomfort, and consequently - stress

My abdominal separation was minor: just about a finger tip and a half wide, and not very deep (only about to my first knuckle). My doctor told me to just take it easy and refrain from doing core exercises or anything other than cardio for two months or so and it should close up. Well, two months came and went and if anything, when I re-checked, it seemed like my separation had not closed up at all. (Granted, I probably hadn't been taking it as easy as I should have been...) In fact, I think my separation had even gotten a little worse. I was very stressed about this and just wanted my body to be fully healed so that I could get back into my regular exercise routine (exercise is SUCH a huge part of my life!!) and so that I could start building up my back muscles again to help with my scoliosis and pain management. 

I had seen some buzz about Erica's Core Rehab Program floating around the internet and social media and I was really curious about it. Then, I saw one of my friends on Instagram, Kristen Suppa (@well.balanced.home) post something about the program. I messaged her about it, and she connected me with Erica, and the next thing I knew, I was diving into the program with so much excitement and hope. (You can read Kristen's story at the bottom of this post!)

Within the first week of the program, I noticed a difference in how I felt. I was standing taller. I was feeling more supported through my core. I was making changes in the ways that I held my baby and in the way that I picked him and other things up from the floor. I was moving and standing and sitting differently. Even breathing differently!

I finally was being given the tools that I needed to begin to heal myself and FEEL BETTER. 

Now, I've finished phase two and I am so excited to say that when I re-checked my abdominal separation yesterday, I can no longer stick ANY of my finger in AND my separation is less than a finger tip wide, which is normal!! I am blown away with how quickly the program has helped me to heal, and I know that these quick results probably aren't the norm. I also know that I still have a long way to go. I'm going to be continuing to work through all of the phases, and I'll be writing a follow-up blog post once I've completed phase six so that I can update you all, so check back for that in a few months! I can't even imagine how amazing I'll feel once I've finished all of the phases!! 

Again, these are my honest opinions. I am not being paid to say any of this, I just genuinely am so excited about the Core Rehab Program and I want to tell all of you about it in case you are suffering from discomfort, or abdominal separation, or the stress of not knowing where to begin healing your core postpartum like I was. Whether you are three months postpartum or twenty years...Erica shows that it is possible to repair your diastasis recti, strengthen your core, and MOST IMPORTANTLY...feel better. 

The Core Rehab Program opens for enrollment tomorrow, on January 3rd. You can sign up here to receive more information and to be notified when enrollment is open. I don't get anything out of your signing up, other than the joy of knowing that you are going to receive the same loving guidance from Erica that I have. 

If you are a postpartum mama who has abdominal separation, OR even if you DON'T have abdominal separation but just feel like you need some help in strengthening your core, please consider this program, because it has seriously made such a difference for me. I could cry I am so thankful for the Core Rehab Program and Erica Ziel. I want you to feel better too. 

If you have questions, feel free to ask! And follow me (@annamcohenblog), @well.balanced.home and @knockedupfitness on Instagram for more daily updates! 

Here's to taking care of ourselves and to feeling GOOD postpartum!! :)

Kristen's Story:

I'm Kristen, and I'm a Mama of 2 little guys in New Jersey. My oldest is almost 2.5 and my youngest is 10 months. I got pregnant the second time around when my oldest was just 9 months old, and unfortunately I still had some ab separation from that first pregnancy. I was nervous that it would get a lot worse the second time around, and I actually reached out to Erica Ziel to ask about her Prenatal Workouts. She was super encouraging and suggested her Prenatal Sculpt Workout DVD and I was consistent with that (especially the core routine- which is gentle and safe for those with ab separation) throughout my pregnancy. I am thankful for those workouts because I had a very quick labor (3 hours from the first contraction to holding my baby!) and a smooth, easy recovery. As expected, I still had some ab separation postpartum, but I believe it would have been a lot worse (and my labor not as easy) had I not been proactive during my pregnancy and committed to those workouts. 

I ended up having a 2 finger gap from a few inches above my belly button, all the way down to my pubic bone, also the depth of my gap showed that my fascia was weak (something I learned about from Erica's tutorials)- the depth was almost to my second knuckle. I jumped on the opportunity to participate in Erica's newly released Core Rehab Program, and I just finished Phase 4. I am thrilled with how my body is feeling. I am a firm believer in doing what you can when you can and practicing patience with yourself during this season of motherhood where the babies are little and you don't get much time for yourself. Easier said than done (and I'm forever working on maintaining that mindset!), but that being said, it has taken me about 6 months to complete the 4 phases, and I am ok with that! The workouts are all under 20 minutes, and usually there are 1 or 2 videos to do each day, so you can split them throughout your day when you find a pocket of time. You stream them from your phone, iPad, etc. or follow PDF printouts, which is helpful as a busy Mama! I'll be starting the New Year with Phase 5, and I can't wait to see how I feel after I complete the final 2 phases! 

This program did more for me than almost closing my ab separation- it has given me more awareness in my everyday movements and posture than I ever had before, and I'm so thankful for that. My gap is now just localized to about 1 inch above my belly button and right at my belly button, and it is about 1 finger or less in width. Under my belly button, my gap is closed! The depth has improved significantly as well- it is about as deep as my first knuckle at this point and just localized to right around that small belly button area, so I am proof that the program can help to strengthen your fascia as well! Erica gives us so much valuable information in all of her videos and her excellent cueing during the workouts and tutorials that I can now truly connect to my core during activities in everyday life, and I just feel stronger and more intentional with my movements throughout my busy days. Of course, the bonus is how much flatter my tummy is and how much better my posture is. My husband even noticed my posture, so that's a win too! 

My advice to other Mamas and Mamas-to-be is that it is so important to practice self care and find some time for yourselves. Erica's programs are designed in such a way that they're very manageable and they will give you that time for yourself, while giving you your body confidence back! 

I love connecting with other Moms on Instagram (you can find me @well.balanced.home)- we all have SO much in common and can and should lean on each other for support when we need it! I'm so thankful to have connected with Anna through this community of Mamas- her Instagram account and blog always brighten my day! Looking forward to seeing her progress with this awesome program, and hope to connect with some of you as well! Happy New Year!