You really can experience incredible benefits from just minutes of focused activity per day, whether you’re trying to get flat abs after pregnancy or become a calmer or more powerful human being.
I have been very keen on the concept of “training” lately, the reality that everything you do at every moment you are alive IS training. You are, right now, either forming or breaking a habit. There’s really no in-between; “maintenance” is an illusion.
If you are sitting cross-legged right now, you are training your hips to become just slightly off-kilter and for the muscles on your right and left sides to either grow or atrophy at slightly different rates. You are training to be lop-sided.
The same is true for your mental state, and by extension, your hormonal state. Much of your hormonal balance physically shifts when you become angry, scared, stressed out, happy, in love, and so on, and the longer you stay in these states, the more of a “chronic” condition these become. Your body learns how to stay more efficiently in the state you intend for it.
But what is truly amazing is that it doesn’t take much of an effort to shift things in the other way — to train the mind, the hormones, and the muscles to become something new. In essence, you just have to fake it until you make it.
When it comes to the postpartum condition, you know that the muscles of the abdomen become something other than flat during pregnancy, and they sort of stay that way for weeks and months after pregnancy. That’s because pregnancy TRAINS the abdomen to become good at holding that watermelon belly.
So the work of postpartum involves retraining the abs to lie flat, as well as reshaping all of the musculature and even the skeleton back to its original shape.
The consequences of NOT deliberately doing this training are written all over many mothers’ bodies: the “postpartum pooch”, as it’s known, persists from having the muscles never retrained after pregnancy. Likewise, working out with bad form, allowing the transverse abdominus to “pooch out” during a workout will guarantee that you’ll never flatten out the stomach.
The awesome thing is that it only takes a few minutes of intensity to swing a habit the other way. So, retraining the core involves just 10 minutes a day of high-focus activity (plus a little added self-awareness and perhaps some external help from a belly wrap).
Watch this highly inspirational TED talk, where Harvard social psychologist Amy Cuddy explores the measurable (and scientifically measured!) reactions that short bursts of postural training have on the body.
In the very near future, as I work on my own diet/fitness system for postpartum moms, I’ll have a lot more to say about training! For now, I want to make sure I catalog the great work of others who have had this same insight.