How I Got a Flat Tummy in 30 Days!

Want to know how I got a flat tummy in 30 days? Me too! I would love to know when the results shown in the photo below never happened to me in 30 days.

Over the weekend I received an email from a fellow blogger, thank you Sia, notifying me that another blogger was using one of my before and after photos to promote a 30 Day Ab Challenge for a flat tummy. The image was quickly gaining traction on Pinterest.

How I Got a Flat Tummy in 30 Days!

This made my jaw drop. I felt like I had finally made it as a “blogger”. My work was stolen and used without my consent.

And just so we are all clear on my work here, I mean selfies taken on my iPhone in the bathroom mirror.

I know it is probably lame that I got excited about this, but what is it that they say about flattery? ūüėČ

Anyway, as flattered as I am that someone used my photo to promote their fitness challenge, I wish that my image had not been used in this way.

THIS FIRM FLAT TUMMY IS NOT FROM A 30 DAY AB CHALLENGE

I highly dislike the idea of people seeing that picture of my midsection and thinking that by doing a 30 Day Ab Challenge they can achieve those same results.¬†Let’s chat about the photo for a second. Here is the original. As you can see the dates had been cropped out.

Before-After

These two photos were taken 18 months apart. Not 30 days. This before and after photo was 547 days in the making.

In October of 2011 I had just found out I was pregnant. There was no flat tummy happening for numerous months between these photos.

I exercised throughout my entire pregnancy and my diet was very healthy. I also taught several group fitness and yoga classes weekly.

After my son was born I updated my progress monthly but two years ago decided¬†to¬†remove most of those posts for fear of my images being stolen to promote products I don’t use or believe in. My 10 Month After Baby Stats¬†post is still published if you would like to read it.

On a side note, this photo created quite the controversial stir back in May of 2013 when I guest posted on FitLife.Tv. The majority of the comments about my article were not about the article itself but targeted this same photo. You can read all about this in my post The Problem with Body Bashing.

I did not do a 30 Day Ab Challenge for these¬†results. When I workout I don’t ever focus on only my “abs”. I do however work my core and focus on all the muscles from the shoulders down to the quads.

I do NOT think there is anything wrong with my before picture. I love my flat tummy in both photos and I love my tummy now.

HOW TO SPOT A FAKE

I also really dislike the fact that the image was used by another “personal trainer” to promote themselves. There are tons of fitness bloggers on the internet who claim to be a personal trainer yet do not share how they are certified. This is a huge red flag. If a trainer is not forth coming in a Bio¬†or About Section¬†of their blog or website on the certifications they hold do not look any further into buying a program from them or paying for online coaching. This industry is super competitive and trainers pay $$$ each year to keep their certs current and have liability insurance. Legit trainers have certs and will place that information in an easy to find location on their website.

The next time you see a before and after picture that looks a little to good to be true, it is probably because¬†it is too good to be true. Many supplement companies and fitness brands grow because of the success they have with sharing before and after photos. While reputable trainers and fitness bloggers use their own clients before and afters there are many Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook accounts who are looking to promote their at home business by “stealing” someones hard earned before and after photo.

Before you Pin, Share, Double Tap, or Buy when you see another before and after photo determine first if it is from a legitimate source. Please remember, a firm flat tummy happens over time and with consistent effort and dedication both in the gym and in the kitchen. Not from being able to copy and paste a photo of another persons hard work.

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Prenatal Fitness, Diastasis Recti, & Body After Baby

Can I be honest for a moment? This post is for all you ladies who are thinking about becoming pregnant, are currently pregnant, just had a baby last week, have given birth to a child at any point in your life, or for personal trainers who work with any of the afore mentioned demographics.  I think one of the questions we, as women, all ask ourselves at some point is what is having a baby going to do to my body. This might sound very vain and superficial to some but I think it is an important topic to discuss.

I have seen so many women who have had babies, are working out, eating correctly, and to no fault of their own just can not seem to get rid of their baby belly. So what seems to be the problem? The problem is not from lack of motivation or willpower but from the anatomy of the body after baby.

Let me explain…

RELAXIN (THE HORMONE)

During pregnancy the body releases the hormone relaxin. This hormone peaks at 14 weeks during pregancy and at the time of labor. It allows the stretching of the muscles and ligaments to accommodate the growing baby and prepare the mama’s body for labor and delivery.

Ladies, lets just take a moment of silence and be thankful for how awesome our body’s have been made in order to accomplish such a feat.

(Crickets chirping)

Now that that is over…

Here are several things you may notice thanks to this hormone coursing throughout your body during pregnancy.

  • Increased range of motion. This can be a blessing or an annoyance.
  • Lack of stability and balance in pelvis. Your hips feel off or your back is tighter on one side due to shifting.
  • Ribs may easily shift out of place. The ribs are a joint. With the increased range of motion the joints are more susceptible to misalignments. This is quite painful and can cause a pinched feeling in your back or chest and can also hinder your ability to take deep breaths.

If you are an avid gym-goer or enjoy high and frequent levels of physical activity you may also notice that your tummy does not look quite right and appears to be bulging in plank or pushup position.

I want to focus on the bulging tummy. Or the cone shaped tummy. If you have seen this on yourself or a client you know exactly what I am talking about.

This would be the perfect time to talk anatomy. So let’s discuss.

ANATOMY OF THE ABS

If you have had a baby you might be one of the many women who have no idea that their abdominal muscles have separated and are still separated. Did you know that this could even happen? I had no idea until after I gave birth to Caden. As a personal trainer this was nothing I even learned about in my course work (I will discuss why this is important later).

Take a look at the Rectus Abdominis both before and during pregnancy…

Diastasis-Recti-V3-720x484

The Linea Alba, the connective tissue between the right and left half of the Rectus Abdominis, stretches to accommodate the growing baby. For some women the gap closes naturally on its own. For others the connective tissue has become overly stretched and aggravated that it does not heal properly which leaves the new mama with an unwanted belly bulge months and even years after her bundle of joy has arrived. And for a mama who has multiple pregnancies the gap can become noticeably wider each time.

This gap is known as Diastasis Recti. But before I talk about after the baby let me briefly discuss prenatal exercise and things to keep in mind once you become pregnant.

PRENATAL FITNESS: MODIFICATIONS TO PROTECT YOUR ABS

I am a huge proponent of exercising during pregnancy. If you have been cleared by your doctor to exercise and exercised prior to pregnancy this will be a very beneficial section for you to read. If you want more information on the types of physical activity that are beneficial during pregnancy you can read my post Pregnancy & Exercise.

Certain exercises can aggravate and cause the gap between your Rectus Abdominis to become more severe during pregnancy. I tend to shy away from tons of crunches and situps because they can put more strain on the abdominal wall. I recommend planks or some type of plank variation for all my clients when it comes to programming their workouts.

Planks and Pushups are super beneficial exercises to do, but need to be done mindfully. You can place your hands on a bench, table, stairs, or even against the wall to modify this exercise. When you look at your midsection while you are doing this you should see more of a gradually rounding. If you see a bulge in the middle elevate your hands further from the floor. There is no shame elevating your plank. Protect yourself.

DIASTASIS RECTI/ABDOMINAL SEPARATION AFTER BABY

Congratulations! You have had your baby. Here is a simple way to tell if your muscles are still separated (give yourself a few months to heal before you do this test) and movements to avoid if you find you have abdominal separation.

Diastasis Recti/Abdominal Separation Test
  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, and the soles of your feet on the floor.
  2. Place one hand behind your head, and the other hand on your abdomen, with your fingertips across your midline-parallel with your waistline- at the level of your belly button.
  3. With your abdominal wall relaxed, gently press your fingertips into your abdomen.
  4. Roll your upper body off the floor into a “crunch,” making sure that your ribcage moves closer to your pelvis.
  5. Move your fingertips back and forth across your midline, feeling for the right and left sides of your rectus abdominis muscle. Test for separation at, above, and below your belly button.
Signs of Diastasis Recti/Abdominal Separation
  • A gap of more than 2 1/2 finger-widths when the rectus abdominis is fully contracted.
  • The gap does not shrink as you contract your abdominal wall.
  • You can see a small mound protruding along the length of you midline.
Some Types of Movement to Avoid
  • Movements where the upper body twists and the arm on that side extends away from the body, such as “triangle pose.”
  • Exercises that require lying backward over a large exercise ball.
  • Yoga postures that stretch the abs, such as “cow pose,” “up-dog,” all backbends, and “belly breathing.”
  • Abdominal exercises that flex the upper spine off the floor or against the force of gravity such as: as crunches, oblique curls, “bicycles,” roll ups/roll downs, etc.
  • Pilates mat and reformer exercises that utilize the “head float” position, upper body flexion, or double leg extension.
  • Any exercise that causes your abdominal wall to bulge out upon exertion.
  • Lifting and carrying very heavy objects.
  • Quadruped exercises without adequate abdominal support.
  • Intense coughing without abdominal support.

This is just a brief explanation on abdominal separation and I would be happy to go into more detail if you have further questions.

BODY AFTER BABY

I am here to show you that you can totally reclaim your body after baby. In fact you can be stronger! Here are a few pictures of me postpartum. I promise I will post pictures after this baby girl is born too.

Belly Before & After Delivery

2-8 Months Postpartum

If anything I hope this post has encouraged you and shed light on what is really going on with your body after being pregnant. It is not that you are not doing enough, it could be that you just didn’t know what was really happening with your body.

For this reason alone if you are working with a personal trainer please make sure they are educated on how a woman’s body works before, during, and after pregnancy. Their lack of education might be hindering your physical transformation. On this same note I want to caution you about Pinterest/YouTube/Facebook/Instagram workouts. While I am all for inspiring others to live healthier lives it is important to point out that those workouts might not be best for someone who has just had a baby or who has abdominal separation.¬†This is why it is so important to have someone who can coach you on your goals who understands and has training in anatomy/physiology and how it relates to human movement.¬†

For those who have just had or are about to have a baby I highly recommend a Belly Bandit! These are amazing and will help close the abdominal gap after giving birth, allow you to wear your pre-preganacy clothes sooner, and offer you low back support. Seriously go buy one for after the baby is born! You won’t regret it. Just for reference I used a small the first week after I had Caden and sized down to the extra small until I was 6 weeks postpartum.

I also highly recommend the MuTu System for those wanting to heal their core and pelvic floor after giving birth.

You might also be interested in my Losing The Baby Weight Series! Topics include: Pregnancy & Exercise, What to Expect After Delivery, The First Six Weeks, Nutrition, and Exercise.

Additional Reading: 

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My Breastfeeding Story

For the next few weeks I am going to be sharing my experiences as a first time mommy and what has worked for our family during this past (very soon to be) year. Sigh. I can’t believe my baby is going to be year old in June. If you are just joining me here are my previous posts:

Baby Registry Must Haves

On Becoming Baby Wise 

1st Trimester Recap

2nd Trimester Recap

3rd Trimester Recap

Homemade Baby Food Essentials

Feeding The Baby: The First Year

It seems appropriate that after talking yesterday about feeding Caden solids now would be an excellent time to share my breastfeeding story. I knew before I was even pregnant with Caden that my goal was going to be to breastfeed my babies. I approached breastfeeding just like I do anything in my life that I have no clue about, I asked a ton of questions. I talked with my friends, clients, and ob and read tons of articles on the internet. I was in completely uncharted territory about what was going to be happening to my body.

After talking with my girlfriends I learned about inverted nipples, cracked nipples, engorgement, clogged ducts, mastitis, colostrum, supply issues, and a wide array of breastfeeding products. I wanted to be prepared for anything and everything that could possible happen. You can see a few of my favorite products here.

On June 7th, 2012 within 30 minutes of Caden being born he latched on beautifully and I couldn’t believe that I was actually breastfeeding my baby. I was in awe of what my body had done to protect and grow this little miracle baby and continued to be in awe as I watched him nurse.¬†I nursed Caden every two hours during our hospital stay and had no issues at all with feeding him.

IMG_0875

It took a few days for my milk to actually come and in and holy engorgement, I felt like they were going to explode. To relieve some of the  pressure I busted out my breast pump and realized that I had never sat down and read the instructions or had any clue how of it worked. Caden was napping like a champ while I frantically tried to relieve the ever growing pressure that was accumulating more and more with each passing minute. I was so happy and proud of myself when I saw the milk start to release into the bottles. I felt like a woman. Never mind the fact that I just had a baby and had already been nursing him for a few days.

Everything was going so smoothly. I did not experience any cracking and Caden never had any difficulty latching. Six weeks postpartum I began exercising again. My girlfriends had all given me great advice from their experience with breastfeeding and exercising. I was making sure to drink plenty of water and eat an additional 300-500 calories a day on top of my normal intake.

Two weeks later I decided to go for a run and swim and while I was getting dressed told myself I really needed to buy a larger sized sports bra. Later on that day I noticed a huge and painful lump in my right breast.  It felt like a golf ball had been shoved under my skin. I knew from talking with my girlfriends that this meant I had a clogged duct and there was the possibility that I could develop mastitis.

Mastitis is an infection of breast tissue that can be caused by clogged milk ducts, tight fitting bras, and not emptying the breast all the way during feedings. The symptoms include fever, tender and swollen breast, nausea and/or vomiting, and overall fatigue.

I immediately began massaging my chest to see if I could release the clog (this was really painful) and made an appointment to see my doctor. Several hours later I was diagnosed with mastitis. Booooooo. I was told to go and invest in new bras, and was prescribed several herbal remedies, antibiotics, and a lymphatic massage for my treatment.

If you are diagnosed with mastitis or suspect you have a clogged duct I recommend the following:

  • Massage that breast. It hurts but it will decrease the clogged area.
  • Take hot showers with more massage or soak breasts in a hot tub.
  • Apply castor oil hot compresses before feedings to help reduce inflammation and increase circulation to the infected tissue.
  • Apply hot compress poultice with medical herbs: camomile, lavender, valerian, rose hip, hops, and lemongrass
  • Take antibiotics and tylenol to treat infection and reduce inflammation.
  • Use a lactose free probiotic and dab it on nipples to prevent thrush. Once you start taking an antibiotic it kills all the healthy bacteria making it more likely to develop a yeast infection.
  • Rest, rest and more rest.
  • Continue nursing and pumping as often as possible.
  • Schedule a lymphatic massage.

Again I am not an expert this is just what worked for me and was prescribed by my doctor.

A few weeks later I was feeling much better and have had no other issues while breastfeeding, well aside from Caden biting my boobies :). That hurts pretty bad too.

I was very fortunate to have been home with Caden the majority of his first year. In the first few months when I went back to training clients and teaching Josh or my Mom would try to bottle feed Caden but he was not interested. Thankfully I had the flexibility to arrange and schedule client sessions around Caden’s feeding schedule.

In the last month I started to feed Caden more solid meals and he dropped his two middle of the day nursing sessions. These are my last few days breastfeeding and I am relishing them. Next week I start a 2 month treatment program to remove my varicose veins and can no longer nurse once that treatment begins. I know I will miss holding my baby close to me while he is so content and peaceful.

This past week I started using peppermint essential oil on my breasts to encourage my milk supply to decrease and it has worked beautifully. No engorgement or swelling.

I already know my last nursing session will be bittersweet. I am so blessed to have been able to experience this wonderful bond between a mother and her child.

xoxo, Tamara

PS…I had a mini design update done on my blog :). If you are looking for a website designer to work with I highly recommend Aileen Barker. She is fabulous!

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