I have had "MuTu System" and diastasis recti (DR) on my to-blog list for months so today is the day! I want to share what I have learned and experienced so far. This post does contain referral links (i.e. I would earn a small amount if you were to purchase the program through these links) but please know that this info and my experience would have been shared by me even if a referral program did not exist. Thumb promise. (Bella insists thumb promises are more meaningful than pinkie promises because thumbs are bigger.)
To quickly review about this diastasis recti thing I am including the infographic from MuTu System. It's worth a careful read by pretty much all of you because while it's super common for those who have gone through pregnancy it can also happen to those who have never gone through a pregnancy, including men. So Max - you read this, too!
Basically the exercise component of the program entails a 15 minute daily core routine (similar to a physical therapy type workout with both strengthening and stretching exercises), daily walking (30 minutes minimum), and 20 minute intensive workouts that you add in when your DR is healed enough (they start at Week 3 but some might need to wait longer). The 12 Week program also includes information about the food component of the MuTu System.
The biggest thing driving my motivation to buckle down and get serious is that I want to get strong so I can resume a full range of activities - especially heated vinyasa yoga. I miss yoga so much. I have nearly lost the "baby weight" without too much hassle (she says now) (and really it was probably mostly due to having about 12 sinus infections this winter) but I know I am at an all-time low in terms of strength and fitness. That doesn't feel like me and it is messing with my self-esteem and that is not the message I want to send to my kids. For me, MuTu is not about getting great abs back because [modern day notions of] "great abs" are just not in my genetics - EVER! Even in my yesteryear days where I did hours of physical activity every day (dance, rollerblading, walking and aerobic classes & lifting weights at the Y), I still never had any ab muscle peek through. It's not my dealio and will never happen. On the flip side: I will have aggressively muscular calves for life regardless of activity. Again: genetics! I think the whole pre-and-post-baby body image concept was a lot easier on me given that I was never someone who had a naturally muscular mid-section. It was squishy before and it is squishier after and I can generally be fine with that. I also had myself some birthing hips from the age of 16 so not much changed there either. I gain muscle quickly but I will always stay softer and curvier. Plus I will always choose to weigh a few extra pounds over restricting food to weigh less. You will never take away my fun foods and drinks and love of eating out! NEVAH! I do get annoyed at the pseudo-pregnant look I often sport and that is mostly due to my food intolerance issues but I think a weak core is also at play. So there is something of an appearance-driven reason to buckle down with MuTu. It would be great for all my clothes to consistently fit comfortably and to feel more confident about myself. I would love to feel strong. Even the act of regular exercise leads me to feeling more confident - it is often moot about my current weight or shape - it has more to do with my brain registering happy feelings from exercise. Finally, I do fear that I would be at a higher risk for something like pelvic organ prolapse in the future if I don't get my DR fully addressed now. I am REALLY glad I have learned as much as I have about pelvic floors and transverse abdominals while my diastasis recti and associated problems are relatively minor. I have heard of and personally known other women in their 30s who have uterine prolapse. It's not just an old lady problem.
I can state for the record that MuTu works and that it worked specifically for me. I first posted about MuTu eleven months ago and got into a good routine with it and kept it up for several weeks. The initial minor urinary incontinence that I was dealing with post childbirth (snissing, anyone?) stopped very quickly and my ab separation was getting smaller and the midline was getting firmer. Hip hip hooray! But then we were hit with a bunch of sickness and the weather turned colder (effectively stopping my walks) and frankly, I just quit. I put the I in quit, kids.
But it's not all bad because in the meantime I kept up with the active private Facebook group that is just for "MuTu Mamas" and I have learned a ton of useful information. I now understand the physiology of all the abdominal muscles and can visualize how the pelvic floor works and things make so much more sense. I get what muscles I am targeting as I do the exercises. In years past I was often confused by directives for doing kegals or didn't understand why you were supposed to roll to the side before getting up while pregnant - I get it know! And by the way, kegals are just one tiny piece and pelvic floor problems will not be fixed by zoning in on only that type of exercise. I have changed my footwear to be more MuTu friendly and thus better for my alignment and healing. I am more conscious about how I am holding my body and working to undo old-school ballet training of tucking my bum in and sucking in my abs - two things that just further the DR problems. So while I am not thrilled with myself for not making exercise a priority, I am still glad that I was willing to read up and learn a bunch and make minor changes over the past several months.
I would like to touch on the food component of the program. When I upgraded from the Focus program (which is just the core exercises) to the 12 Week Program, I did it for the Intensive workouts and assumed I would ignore the food recommendations. I figured it would be something about restrictive eating or maybe pushing Paleo-type eating or require a lot of measuring or something that was not going to align with my own views on healthy eating. Lo and behold I was wrong to pre-judge the program and the food recommendations are actually just about completely in line with what I would recommend as an ideal diet. This was so refreshing and made me an even bigger fan of the program. Do note that I said their recommendations are close to what I view as an ideal diet - and remember what I said the other day about ideal never being the same as realistic? But even within the food recommendations stay real - wine and chocolate and carbs and fat - these things all fit in a healthy diet. So rest assured that the food advice is solid and sensible. I never in a million years thought I would comfortably put a check mark of approval on the eating recommendations of an exercise program but there it is. However, the former eating disorder dietitian in me must include that if you have a history of disordered eating or an eating disorder I would still encourage you to proceed with caution before adopting a diet that may or may not be quite a bit different from what you are currently eating. It might be worth seeing a dietitian well-versed in eating disorders/disordered eating for dietary advice versus doing it on your own. And while we are on that topic - many eating disorder clinics have outpatient counselors who see people with disordered eating or mild eating disorders - please do not feel like you need to be really struggling before you seek out help. Receiving outpatient treatment early just means things can move quite rapidly with recovery. Many of my former clients fell into the boat of milder eating struggles and I am so glad they were willing to come in to get some help - I really enjoyed working with them! Okay, somewhat random tangent over.
Other good things about MuTu: I can do it anywhere - the gym or at home - and I don't even need my computer (or iPad or iPhone). Once you are used to the exercises you can simply do them wherever and there are cheat sheets you can print off. If you buy the online version you get all the updates to the program automatically. I already mentioned the Facebook page for MuTu-ers to be able to communicate with each other privately - it's another great resource, though it can be a bit daunting and overwhelming at times.
The final piece of the program that I really appreciate is that the owner and creator, Wendy Powell, has a sense of humor and she has made the MuTu System a holistic program. She isn't afraid to bring up the complex relationship between our brains and our pelvic floors. She addresses the disconnect women might experience after a difficult pregnancy or birth and talks about how to get your "mojo" back. She is motivating and encouraging but still real. Also - she is British which delights me as I studied abroad in London a million years ago and like hearing her accent. Her actual workout videos are watchable and non-grating as she is a soothing and pleasant exercise coach who won't annoy you the way some other exercise video stars might. I won't name names here but I might be referring to an exercise video star whose name rhymes with Pillian :)
It really is a solid, well-researched, and effective program. #FanGirling
If anyone else is currently a MuTu-er, you should let me know! I am also happy to answer any questions you might have for me or I can direct you to some great resources if you do have more questions about MuTu or diastasis recti.