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Diastasis and Tummy Tucks vs. Abdominal Rehab: One Mom Shares her Story of Both!

Every day I talk to women all over the world who want to – not just tone or flatten their tummies – but fully heal their cores with the right exercises for diastasis recti. Occasionally, someone will detail their journey in writing to me like T.A. has done here. I am sharing her story and photos with her permission, but due to the graphic and intimate nature of her story, she’s asked me to hold back her name. T.A. first wrote this to me…

“Had a tummy tuck almost 10 months ago. Tried Tupler before. Have had a great recovery, but looking to increase my ab work and not looking to blow out $7000 of work. 8 kids most over 8 1/2 and one was 9# 7oz. Hernia and diastasis repaired and giant scrotum impression removed from my tummy lol! Looking for safe exercises. Can you help?” Then T.A. sent me this montage of pictures…

Warning: surgical pictures are included!

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If you have a diastasis recti (split in your abs) should you do rehab or get a tummy tuck? One more who did both tells all at fit2b.us

Of course, I’m biased, so I wrote back to her and said, “My site [Fit2B Studio] was literally MADE for you! I put all the routines together with clients like you in mind. Those who have put their bellies back together (or are on their way) and don’t want to ruin them again! You’ve come to the right place!” She joined right away and has since shared her whole journey which is {slightly edited for flow} as follows:

Her decision to get a tummy tuck

“In August of 2010, I got motivated to get in the best shape possible. At a party for my daughter’s engagement, I got the chance to waterski. I was still able to do it even though I was almost 50 and had not skied in more than a decade. When I had to drop off because I knew I would be too tired and sore the next day, I decided that day to get in shape. I did not want another chance at really having fun cut short because of my fitness level, or lack thereof.

So I started with three to four days a week going to my health club and getting on the elliptical. Twenty minutes grew to 45 minutes. After a few months of that I added weights and machines. Then I googled ab rehab and found Tupler Technique. I had to wait several months to find the money, but I ordered the book, video and splint. I did what I could without the splint until I had the funds to buy it. Once it came in, I dropped from a size 9 to a size 5 jeans in two weeks because of the improvement in my tummy. I lost 25 pounds over the course of 6 months.

I still had a three cm diastasis. Did not know enough to measure what it was when I started. That is why I use the jean size change. I had a tummy tuck a year ago. It got rid of most of my stretch marks, fixed a hernia, and finished what Tupler started because I just was not satisfied with my results… when I closed the gap, my skin sagged really bad. It looked better puffed up than it did after my tummy shrank. The smaller my tummy got, the more wrinkled it got. After working that hard, I hated seeing myself in the mirror more than when I started…”

Her advice for anyone considering a tummy tuck

“I suggest you start by getting as fit as you can and closing your gap as much as you can using a splint and fit2b. Track everything that goes in your mouth using myfitnesspal.com or a similar site. That way you can evaluate your eating and get insight on what to improve. Getting enough protein is the key for most moms to lose weight while building muscle. One gram per pound of body weight per day is the current rule of thumb.

Cardio and strength training with a strong core did much more to bring me to this point than surgery. I would not recommend the surgery to anyone without trying six months to a year of core, strength, and cardio training first. It is best to be within 10 pounds of your goal weight. And a high fitness level will make your recovery so much easier.

Eventually, after getting in better shape, losing [most of any weight you have to lose] and being completely done with childbearing, consider the surgery. Start learning all you can about it by haunting realself.com and makemeheal.com. Research doctors in your area while you are on those sites. You will be able to greatly improve your abs with a splint and tummy safe workouts.

“Consider the surgery if you are not satisfied after giving Fit2B a good hard try. Give it a year or two before you go the surgical route. Excellent nutrition will make a big difference in fitness and in speedy recovery from surgery.” – T.A.

And for the record, I highly recommend trying to close a diastasis using exercise over surgery any day. Oh, and please don’t ever do crunches again. I still will not do them. I paid too much money to risk tearing myself apart. The sutures are done with “fishing line”. They are permanent and do not dissolve. I do not want to break them. I joined fit2bus after googling safe tummy exercises about a month ago. I have not been able to find any trainer or doctor around here that does not think crunches are the gold standard for ab conditioning.”

How she paid for her tummy tuck

“The surgeon I consulted with over a decade ago got it approved, but when I learned how difficult the recovery was, I decided to wait until my kids were older. Last year, when I went back to interview the same doctor, he said he would not even bother asking insurance to cover it anymore. They stopped doing that years ago. All the surgeons said that. Of the $6,800 it cost, insurance did pay about $250 after meeting my $500 deductible when my surgeon submitted after the fact when he had confirmed the size of my umbilical hernia. We paid half upfront and financed the rest interest-free for 12 months through Care Credit. I was very blessed and thankful to have a husband who worked hard to pay for fixing what insurance should, but does not cover.”

Life after her tummy tuck

“Yesterday I went paddling around with my hubby in a kayak and played and walked up and down the beach with my kids. I am not tired, sore, or exhausted like I would have been before. We are here celebrating two of them graduating college, and one from high school last week. I am up for the fun and can go the distance with any of them.

The scar after a tummy tuck is very significant. For people who have only diastasis and not the horrific stretch marks like I did, they should try even harder than I did to succeed with only your method. Getting rid of most of my stretch marks has been nice. The scar has faded to white. Very glad I had the surgery but would recommend exercise therapy over surgery if stretch marks are not such a big issue.

It is not too late for you. Get up and get moving. If you don’t kick your butt, it is going to kick you. So you might as well get the first lick in! It is worth it to be able to enjoy life with your kids.

I feel surgeons tend to gloss over how big a deal a tummy tuck is and I put [it in the] pic in to make it plain. I am still very glad I did it, but I researched and knew what to expect. I feel it was totally worth it. Feel very blessed that my hubby and I went for it. He is delighted too. We are both taking care to exercise and eat right. We feel better than we did when in our 30’s and we are in our 50’s.

I have been living this lifestyle for almost 3 years. Now I do 10 minutes of elliptical and an hour of weights three days a week and walk or do the elliptical for and hour two or three other days a week. I feel better at 52 than I did at 32. Maybe even 22. I am at the beach watching my son skimboard right now and I am wearing a bikini! At age 52 and after birthing 8 kids, my hubby pulled his phone out to take a picture of me in it yesterday because he liked what he saw.”

Update: 3 years after my tummy tuck

 T.A. Posted this exciting follow-up story with a link to view her fitness modeling competition pictures!

“Fearing that I would rip open what I paid dearly to have fixed, I scoured the internet for safe ab exercises and found Fit 2 B! Love Beth. Love this page. Refer people here on a weekly basis. Got inspired to push myself a little harder last fall and ended up getting back down to high school weight. Launched into serious weight training and got in my current shape. I am in a competition bikini with a spray tan, so don’t look if you aren’t into that.

She’s also the “IronMan” mom model in a bikini for this calendar! How fun!

I’m going to keep competing because it was on my bucket list since I was 22 years old, and 33 years is a long time to wait to do something you really wanted to do. I placed 2nd in Masters Over 45 and 3rd in Novice Figure. As I went to get my number pin, I was still debating whether or not to go for it in my head. I was shocked almost to tears when I got the number “9”. I have 8 living children and one miscarriage that happened at 10 weeks when I was 42 years old. it triggered a despair and depression that lasted 6 years and brought on the 40 pounds of weight gain. When I saw that 9 I felt impressed that God knew my number, and it made me want to go for it. So I did, and loved it, and want to share with all of you that you should go for your dreams!

I have not done a single crunch to get like this. I just put into practice all Beth’s admonitions of “tummy tight” and “engage your core” when working out or going about my daily life. And for the record, I no longer “leak” during workouts or have episodes of recurrent back pain like I did before the surgery. I love you all and wanted you to know this is possible even when you are old, perimenopausal and have lots of kids.”

So, what are your next steps with your diastasis recti?

If you’re not sure where to start, here are my three pieces of advice:

  1. If you’re not sure if you have Diastasis Recti or not and would like a step by step tutorial on how to check yourself at home, please visit my “How to Check for Diastasis Recti” webpage.

    How to check for diastasis recti
  2. If you’re considering surgery, see a specialist, physical therapist or physio to try reducing the gap and building strength prior to surgery for a better outcome.
  3. Go through our Experts on Diastasis Recti eCourse for just $79.95. Inside, world-renowned experts join their voices and combine their knowledge to teach the world about diastasis recti prevention and non-surgical treatments. OR you can enroll in the Fit2B Monthly Membership for just $15 per month!

Experts on Diastasis Recti Course from Fit2B.com

 

13 thoughts on “Diastasis and Tummy Tucks vs. Abdominal Rehab: One Mom Shares her Story of Both!

  1. Alyssa Sampson says:

    Thanks for sharing your story, TA! What a great contribution to this community and congratulations on reclaiming your core and taking charge of your life!

  2. DB says:

    I love what you said about hubby and cellphone- Isnt that the HUGEST compliment??!! Yay for you! Congrats on all the hard work.

  3. Connie miller says:

    Oh my gosh – I read you story and wow! I am recovering from tummy tuck #2. First one in December 2012 and the second one April 2014. I am also 52 years old. I just recently discovered Tulper technique and am going to start it tomorrow! Your story is so inspirational – thank you for sharing. I also do not want to ruin what I have had done. I have been doing some hard ab work to fine tune after the surgery with crunches and planks. I don’t think I will be doing the anymore!

  4. Annie says:

    “One gram per pound of body weight per day is the current rule of thumb.”

    I cannot eat anywhere near this amount of protein right now, because I have a CBS mutation (two copies) and problems with ammonia because of it. It’s worse during times of stress (ammonia-cortisol connection).

    Any suggestions for me?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Beth Learn
      Beth Learn says:

      It’s hard to get enough protein for sure! Especially since so much modern food seems to have literally stripped it out! I do a few quirky things to get more into my diet, but that rule of thumb is more for weight lifters and elite athletes who are really pushing their bodies hard core. I go by about half my body weight in grams. More if pregnant. I add gelatin to my coffee in the mornings for 6 extra grams right there 😉

  5. Pingback: How to have a STRONGER, more FLAT stomach! - Fit2B studio

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