Sarah Bergeson, CROSS TRAIN Coach
My Sad Abs
I make a lot of excuses for my abs. I have a slight diastasis recti (abdominal separation) from my pregnancies that can worsen when I try to do too much ab work. I also have a tailbone that curves out instead of in, making it impossible for me to balance on my rear without discomfort (imagine balancing all of your body weight on your elbow) to do exercises like the V-up. I’ve also always found ab work kind of boring. I don’t ever get really fired up on the mat like I do when I’m squeezing out those last few concentrated bicep curls or that last intense low stationary weighted lunge. I suspect it’s because I’ve always had kind of a weak core. Ab work has never been super easy for me, even in the pre-baby days when, I’m not ashamed to admit, I had a beautiful washboard belly you could bounce a quarter off of. These days, the old gut is more like soggy cardboard than washboard and I feel like I’m finally ready to change things for good. My goals are:
1. Increase strength and stamina in my core
2. Improve appearance of belly and lower back, firming and tightening
3. Reduce waist measurement
4. See more definition
5. Heal (as much as possible) diastasis recti
6. Feel excitement rather than dread when it’s time to hit the mat
7. Eliminate the little roll of flesh that needs to be tucked into the top of my jeans when I sit down
To increase actual strength and stamina, I’ll continue on with the traditional core work I already do (crunches, bicycles, superman, planks, oblique rolls, ball work, etc.) but with renewed gusto. To help heal my DR, I’ll wear an abdominal brace while I do all the work. To reduce size I’ll focus on tightening up my diet, really making an effort to stick to whole, unprocessed foods, cut back on alcoholic beverages (sad trombone), and eliminate sugar. And to see more definition, I’ll do daily core work with planks and standing core. For inspiration and to reduce the dread factor, I’ll set my sights on the fact that our apartment complex has a swimming pool and the boys are already begging to swim every day. Bikini weather approaches here in SoCal. Time to hit it!
Things aren’t going well. First off, I’m just not doing anything I said I would. I’ve been eating whatever I want and having a couple drinks in the evenings with my husband to wind down from the day. God, abs are boring. Sooooooo, no progress. I promise I’ll try harder next week. I swear.
Total and complete disaster. First off, everyone is sick. My 5 and 2 year olds are miserable and coughing non-stop. My little guy, Ole, can’t sleep because his nose is all stopped up and I’m up with him 2, 3 times a night. Also, my mom came to visit, which is wonderful, but I’m skipping the gym to hang with her and eating Chinese take out. And pizza. And tacos. And we may have had some of those caramel filled Hershey’s Kisses. It’s possible we finished the bag in one night. Sigh.
Ok, I’m back on track. Some of the girls I hang out with have asked me to teach an hour long class. I’m preparing for that by hitting all my classes and doing extra ab sessions. Also, I’ve been wearing a brace that wraps around my waist and hugs my belly together so that when I do crunches the muscles can’t gap. Most importantly, though, I’m changing the way I eat. Total overhaul. Inspired by a fellow instructor, I’m going to start eating “clean”. That basically means no dairy, grains, alcohol, sugar, or anything really processed. So, mostly protein, veggies, fruit, and nuts and seeds. Here goes nothing!
Weight 137, 135, 132, 130, 129
Holy smokes! If I had known cutting a few things out of my diet would have this affect on my body, focus ability, and energy levels, I would have done this years ago! So, I sort of forgot to keep updating weekly with pics because things got so busy. I’m really not exaggerating when I say my whole body has changed! I’ve been teaching my classes and eating pretty clean. And the biggest thing, I’ve lost almost 10 pounds! The more work I do in my kitchen, prepping and cooking, the more abdominal muscles (and everywhere muscles) I see. I have definitely lost inches off of my sides and am able to comfortably wear things I was always tugging down before. Even though it’s still not my favorite thing, my core continues to strengthen as I work it more. But the biggest factor here is food. I do still have drinks, but I’ve cut way back and I steer almost completely clear of sugar and processed foods. My abdominal split has healed to the point where I’m sometimes comfortable doing ab work without my brace. I feel incredibly good! But the real takeaway here is that you can work your abs till you’re blue in the face, but it’s in the kitchen where you’re going to have the greatest impact on your abs. Eat clean! Get abs! My happy abs!