By Jill Farr
Krista Morgan’s abs are not strangers to the spotlight. The mom of three is a UFE Fitness Pro in addition to being a personal trainer and Sisters in Shape partner and has been on stage several times--and won--sporting a clearly defined six-pack.
However Krista’s midsection has been under a very different type of scrutiny during the last few months, as she’s undergone reconstructive surgery for abdominal separation.
“After having my twins, who are now 9,” Krista explains, “I had hernia repair surgery. It was done with mesh.” The damage was pretty extensive, however, and the hernia gradually reappeared...eventually turning purple and leading doctors to discover a pretty serious case of diastasis recti, abdominal muscle separation common in women who have had children.
Some cases of diastasis recti (you can learn more about what it is through this series of Bellies Inc blog posts) can be remedied through physical therapy, and others like Krista’s may require surgical intervention. Once she had the procedure done, Krista’s doctor told her it was actually worse than initially thought.
“He repaired the hernia patch from before, fixed my diastasis recti, and found another hernia once he got in there,” Krista says. “My abs were all kinds of crazy.”
The fact that Krista’s tummy looked strong is a good illustration of how so much core health in women--especially postpartum women--is sometimes invisible to the eye.
“On the surface my abs were really cute,” Krista says. “But underneath there was all this weakness. I don’t carry fat in that area of my body naturally, so it was easy to get muscle definition and have it look good. Conversely, someone may have a strong core, and just carry fat in that area naturally and not have that flat look. Ultimately your core health is about real strength, not looks.”
Recovery may be slow--”I can’t lift anything over ten pounds right now,” Krista reports--but moving forward at a correct pace and in a manner that’s conscious of what her body needs will be important.
“I don’t want to develop scar tissue, and I want to be sure everything heals correctly,” Krista says. “This is hard for me--I’m not a naturally patient person--but I can start doing some cardio at four weeks.”
“My intention is to focus more on nutrition during this phase; it can be easy to not pay close attention to that when you can train the way you want, so I’m going to put my focus there.”
“Finding new ways--experimenting with things like bone broth in my diet--this is about long term health, so I’m taking this as a challenge.”
“It’s a good reminder for me; I tell clients all the time to put nutrition as the base--cardio and resistance training are building blocks, too, but if you’re not fueling and repairing correctly, you’re wasting work.”
Challenge to her fitness goals isn’t something new to Krista; in addition to working around her hernias, she’s had to deal with L4 and L5 disc compression in her back...a hard pill to swallow for someone who had an identity built around being “The Deadlift Girl”.
“Everyone has their weaknesses, areas where they struggle,” Krista says. “When I found out about my back, it was kind of a crisis--I really have to work on my posterior chain, more than most people--and after finding out I couldn’t deadlift heavy, I had to change my game.”
And change she did.
Researching different ways to target the same muscles led to Krista co-developing a glute-focused program for 24 Hour Fitness...and her results were surprising.
“My body actually looked better,” Krista says. “It goes to show that sometimes those challenges, if you don’t give up, can sometimes give you better results than if you hadn’t been challenged on that level.”
“I had to find new ways to be strong.”
Krista’s goals as a fitness mentor mirror the ones she has for herself; to find happiness, and to appropriately respond to challenges. The metaphorical equivalent of finding a window to climb through, when it seems like a door has been shut, and finding a little healthy self-improvement along with your self-acceptance.
“Everybody has their own weaknesses, body-wise,” Krista says. “I look in the mirror, however, and I’m happy with the way I look. I want every woman to look in the mirror and say the same thing.”
“That said...I never want to quit trying to improve upon what’s been given to me.”