After having three kids, there is a good chance if you catch me at the pool on any given day you will think I look at least three months pregnant when I'm not flexing. If I'm flexing you will think," Wow, how does Emily have a six pack after three kids?" This literally can change in the matter of one second by just flexing. Keep that in mind when looking at any photo of me including the one below!
On days I have photoshoots, I eat very little in the morning. During my most recent photo shoot in NYC, I had a dozen strawberries, a full container of blueberries and two eggs. I ate nothing else really until after the shoot was over and we went out for a full dinner. To me that is a little. I typically eat three times as much in the mornings on non photo shoot days and a solid lunch.
The reason is I literally have to minimize the physical volume of food sitting in my stomach at a shoot. It is not about gaining or losing fat on my body because if I want to do that it takes much more than one day. It is about a condition called diastasis recti. A more common condition than I originally thought, especially for post pregnant moms. According to the Mayo Clinic, this condition causes the two large parallel bands of muscles that meet in the middle of the abdomen to separate. This is often caused from pregnancy or other complications. For me it was when my abdominal cavity filled with over a liter of fluid as a side effect from IVF medication. That painfully stretched the heck out of it in less than a day. My abdominal muscles have permanently separated from a combination of this and the three full term pregnancies (which I am beyond blessed to have had). This condition does not happen to every pregnant women but it did to me. So this is a blog all about that.
Instead of my abs being vertically lined up together when they are unflexed like they did before kids, they are now completely seperate making room for anything in my stomach to literally push itself forward. This gives me the appearance of being a solid three months pregnant. Now if I flex, that pregnant looks goes away and you see my muscles so it can be deceiving in photos. Flexing on a full stomach is incredibly uncomfortable to do for long periods of time because I am literally pushing my food back into place. That is why I eat less on shoot days. If you ever see me in a fitted top mid day and I'm not flexing, I am going to look pregnant. If I were to lay on my back with my ab muscles totally relaxed, I can put about four fingers between the vertical muscle line when unflexed. This is a lot considering before I got pregnant I couldn't put one finger between them.
Like many things in my life I have found peace with it. It is what it is and I am not going to do surgery for cosmetic reasons. Now if my hernias become an issue (three umbilical hernias I gained during different pregnancies), I will not have an option but for now the hernias don't bother me enough to do anything. At one point, I really didn't like how my stomach bowed out and I did meet with a few plastic surgeons about corrective surgery to literally sew my abdominal muscles back together. After gaining more information, I decided it was too big a risk. I am healthy today and don't want to expose my body to something so intense unless it is absolutely necessary. I know how devastating infection can be on a body from the abscess I had and I just don't want to risk it. I know we all see these post baby body celebrities on the covers of magazines and wonder how do they do it. Well please know, if you see me out and about or in any photos, that I don't look like that all the time. Only first thing in the morning before breakfast or for photoshoots!
For those articles out there saying you can exercise and physical therapy to make it go away, I say BULL SH*T in my personal experience. Maybe you can improve it a little. I don't know the science, I just know my body. Mine is where it is. Trust me, if it could be gone by exercise then mine would be gone. I have worked my core like you wouldn't believe over the years trying to improve it. I can now flex my ab muscles back in to a position of how they once looked before I had kids. However, when I don't flex then the muscles slide completely apart to this very day. I still exercise my core to help keep my spine in the best position it can be in. I do have to mentally remind myself to flex my stomach when doing any lifting at all to help keep my back safe since the muscles are no longer aligned.
As for the six pack part that you can see when flexed (like the photo directly above) that is mainly because I only eat healthy foods combined with the fact that I had a six pack my entire life even as a kid. I am just made to not carry body fat there. Trust me I carry in other areas!!! I also try to eat super clean so only unprocessed foods, no added sugar except maybe once or twice a month when I spurge on sorbet. I eat Vegan with the exception of eggs. I eat to fuel my body and feel the best I can each day. Like everything I do in my life, I realize how easily things can be taken away and the life you get to live today might be gone tomorrow. That being said, I want to have the highest quality of day every day I get to be on this earth. So I eat healthy, I don't drink alcohol, I exercise regularly and I try to keep my sleep schedule pretty steady. I don't need to fuel any disease by putting bad things in my body if I can avoid it. At least that is what I hope the end result is.