Fitness Magazine—April 28, 2011
As I lay on an exam table at the Women's Sports Medicine Center, I asked Marci Goolsby, MD, the lovely flat-ab'd doctor I got to visit, about diastasis recti. She had me do a half crunch on the table and pressed with two fingers just below my sternum. "I don't see anything," she said, explaining that when someone's rectus abdominis muscles are very separated, they pop out like an upside-down V and the space between them is often visible. "We'll know more at your ultrasound." (When I told Dr. Goolsby that my comment about having "stretched out" abs landed me here, she countered, "Ab muscles are not like ligaments, which can lose their elasticity when stretched beyond their limits. Muscles are more likely to retain the ability to be firmed back up.") It felt perverse to hope the ultrasound would uncover that I had a severe case of diastasis recti. Still, I thought that it would let me and my pooch off the hook a little.
Theoretically, I asked Dr. Goolsby, if your connective tissue was all loosey-goosey, couldn't that explain why your belly won't stay in? She dismissed it as unlikely.
As I hopped off the table to head to my scan, Dr. Goolsby pointed out that my posture is lousy. She didn't say it that way, but she demonstrated how I should stand. "Remember ABC," she said. "Pull in your abs, tuck your butt, and put your chest out with your shoulders down." Ta-da! Flatter-looking abs. It even felt more comfortable for my back.
The radiologist slathered some cold gel on my belly and gave me a guided tour of its inside. "Your muscles look pretty good, actually," he said, estimating that there are 12 millimeters between my recti. The norm is around 10, so the verdict is, I can't blame separated muscles for my apple shape. "And you don't have a lot of visceral fat," he said. "From where I'm standing, you have great abs."
After two workouts, I'm already feeling tucked in, so there may be something to this. In the meantime, it doesn't feel half bad to be scientifically declared beautiful on the inside.
This article originally appeared at fitnessmagazine.com.