A belly is a sensitive thing. Talking about it, touching it, assessing it for diastasis recti … all of that nudges at a woman’s emotional, spiritual, and physical core. For every gal who wants to flaunt her flat abs in a bikini there are many more who would rather cover up, and not just for reasons of modesty or self-comfort. They hate their tummies.
Scars, diastasis recti, personal history of abuse or bullying, fear of being touched, or a constant sense of failing to measuring up to the current media standard in air-brushed bellies are all topics that have come up as the members of Fit2B begin connecting to their cores and learning how to unmuddle their middles.
I like to tell them it’s okay to be a navel gazer right now.
“Belly button integrity” is a term that Kelly Dean taught me to use when analyzing navels. Your umbilicus says a lot about your core. Is it an innie or an outie? Does it frown or smile?
You see, the more I learn about the human body — even after 20+ years of studying it and applying my exercise science degree — is that it is connected. The way a person’s left foot turns out says a lot about their left hip which might actually be bearing the brunt of a childhood whiplash injury. The position of your belly button — your umbilicus or navel — tells a core rehab professional a lot about your abdominal wall, the state of your connective tissue, and your diastasis recti.
“I’ve been here a couple of months but I still have much to learn. I have a belly button phobia. I think they’re cute but the thought of touching mine is too much. My belly button is sensitive and I have never poked at it! When I learned that people are feeling for how closely their stomach muscles come to meeting in the middle, I had to check mine. It was a little upsetting to feel in there like that. I knew how widely mine was separated but I was not about to feel how deep the separation was!!!
“I used to play soccer, run cross country, and stay very fit, and loved ANY kind of exercise. Then I started having kids and stopped completely. I haven’t exercised in about 12 years. I walked a little but I knew I shouldn’t exercise because things would get hurt and feel terrible when I’d try. I knew I didn’t know enough to do it right and didn’t feel comfortable with programs that weren’t actually gentle, purposeful and educational.
“Fit2b is exactly what I’ve needed to get back into things. I’ve been starting VERY slowly so I am certain to do it right. Just figuring out where all my muscles are again and how to use them has taken time. The first time that I was brave enough to smoosh around, I was 3/4/2. Second check: 2/3/1. Third check: 1.75/3/closed. This week: 1.5/2/closed. I checked about every week but haven’t really watched a calendar.
I am thrilled about my belly button. It has gotten waaay tinier in the last couple of months. I thought the huge saggy belly button was permanent! There has been LOTS more progress with my posture and therefore my body!
“Although I still have the heebie jeebies for several hours after checking near my belly button, I do like its appearance better. Fellow omphalophobics if that’s a word, close your eyes for this: I guess I shouldn’t check IN my belly button, but I did a couple of weeks ago and I fit four of my fingers horizontally inside my belly button, and then today when I put two fingers in the same way, expecting to add a finger or two depending on progress, the two fingers were all that would fit and it was a tight fit. It’s more like a finger and a half. I didn’t expect that at all!
“While utterly creeped out, I was also amazed by the healing power that God has given our bodies, if only we are in tune! I don’t really [understand] how my belly button itself got smaller [just] because the muscles beneath it grew closer but it certainly did. I know we aren’t measuring belly buttons here though so that may be irrelevant. In the I LOVE fit2b section, I might add that I don’t think of the exercises as rituals that will produce magical results on their own but as lessons on how to use my muscles in a careful way. I use them to wake up my muscles and be mindful as I do the real work that makes me stronger throughout my day: Caring for my family and our home!”
—Fit2B in North Carolina, Charissa W.
Isn’t that a great story? You’ve just read one story about how one woman’s core lifestyle change has also changed her belly button. We have so many more here on Fit2B. Keep reading and learning! (Here’s the link to my story!)