One of the most common questions I’m asked by my female clients is ‘how can I get my body back after having my baby? I feel so weak and my butt is really flattening out!’
‘THAT’S ME!’ you might be screaming at your screen right now, but don’t you worry – it can be addressed! And don’t worry ladies – this doesn’t just affect you, men can have this problem too!
‘Heart bottom Syndrome’ (a term coined by world-renowned holistic health expert Paul Chek) is essentially the result of a dysfunctional abdominal wall – which is why it’s so common among women who’ve had children. The change in muscle tone through the core and pelvic floor reduces the body’s capacity to stabilize the spine while under gravity. So the body responds by recruiting the gluteus maximus (major butt muscle) to make up for a weakened core.
It’s like letting your 3-year-old help with chores like folding clothes– sure it’s cute that they’re trying, but they are horrible at it and you just end up having to redo it all.
The glutes are power muscles, which means they are designed for shorter bouts of more intense activity – like jumping, sprinting, and weightlifting.
There is another major mechanism that changes the tone and function of your abs, and it involves something you’ve probably heard a lot about …
In order to accommodate the increase of fluids to the inflamed area, any surrounding musculature (like the abdominal muscles in this case) are told to relax, which allows the inflamed tissues more room to expand as they receive the necessary fluid.
Kind of like when you undo the top button of your jeans during Thanksgiving, after eating well past the point of hating yourself.
This process is called ‘reflexive inhibition’, and while it’s a necessary short-term strategy, it’s not something you want to experience long-term… unless incontinence is a hobby.
The longer the inflammation persists, the longer the muscles are turned off. Eventually, your organs start to drop down because they aren’t being properly held in place. And that’s when you’re picking up Depends at Costco because you can’t sneeze, cough, or laugh without piddling everywhere because your poor bladder is being flattened by all your innards.
When I see people in the gym with obvious signs of abdominal dysfunction, doing crunches as if they were on fire and it was the only way the flames could be extinguished… it worries me. Not just because they are wrecking their spine, but they are wasting their time. They are trying to use muscles that are turned off because of inflammation.
You might be thinking, ‘uh, reflexive inhibit…I don’t care! Tell me what to do about it!’ And in my best Wooderson impression I would say – ‘patience darlin, patience!’
There are two things you’ll need to do:
- Reduce inflammation so your abs can be turned on
- Turn your abs on with corrective exercise
For now, let’s just focus on reducing inflammation and in a later post we will learn how to restore proper abdominal function and tone.
Controlling inflammation through diet is probably the best bang for your buck, and one of the best ways is to use a food journal while using a rotation diet. It’s pretty simple – you just rotate your protein sources over a 4-day period.
- Day 1 – Beef/Lamb/Liver/Anchovy
- Day 2 – Chicken/Eggs/Tuna/Turkey
- Day 3 – Pork/Rabbit/Venison/Sole/Halibut/Flounder
- Day 4 – Shrimp/Clam/Scallop/Salmon
I find it easiest to start the day at ‘dinner’, that way you can use your leftovers for breakfast and lunch if needed.
So you’d have beef for dinner, maybe a whey protein or beef collagen smoothie for breakfast (if breakfast is your thing), and then leftover beef for lunch. Dinner would then be chicken and so on.
The food journal will help you correlate certain foods to certain feelings, and this is crucial to the process.
Make sure you’re including headings like:
- Mental Clarity
- Physical Symptoms (Gas/Bloating)
I personally like to be descriptive, as I feel that context is important, but if you’re more of a numbers person, you could also use a number system too – like a scale of 1-5. Ate some tiramisu and needed a nap after? That’s a 1. Ate some liver pate and now you feel like fist fighting a gorilla with sharks for arms? That’s a maybe a 5.
The bottom line is you need to know how foods make you feel.
Rotation dieting also increases food variety. ‘Variety is the spice of life’, my interpretive dance teacher used to say, and the majority of people only eat about 10-15 foods, which limits their nutrient potential.
Foods to Avoid
The other major part of reducing inflammation through diet is avoidance – and here is a short list of things to avoid if you’re serious:
- Gluten/Grains in General
- Industrial Seed Oils (Canola, Corn, Soy – all vegetable oils)
- Soy Products
Most of these are classified ‘avoid in general to be healthy’ – especially the industrial seed oils. If you find that you can tolerate raw, organic dairy with no issues – then I hate y… I mean please enjoy responsibly.
Given the stressful nature of modern living (like getting fewer shrimps than you remember in your entrée at Red Lobster, and sharing a planet with the Kardashians), our ability to handle stress depends on the health of our digestive system and gut bacteria. Sometimes we need outside inputs and smart supplementation to give the body the tools it needs to be healthy.
Some of my favorites include:
Megaspore – a potent probiotic that reduces inflammation and produces antioxidants right in your gut!
CBD (Cannabidiol) – a cannabinoid from the cannabis plant (sorry Snoop, no THC) that has powerful anti-inflammatory benefits.
Proteolytic Enzymes – these little guys help break down proteins and are excellent at reducing inflammation. I like Fibrenza the best.
So. There you have it.
Food rotation using a food journal and some smart supplementation…
In the next post we will talk about some corrective exercises to help improve the function and tone of your abs.
But for now, start using a food rotation diet with a journal, and some smart supplementation… Then you can start crunching your brains out… (uh, might wanna wait for the next post before doing that…)
If you feel that you’d benefit from having some coaching with this, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can see if my online coaching program meets your needs.
Thanks for reading and supporting my dream!