Real: The Only Standard for Women

It is easy for people to develop an impression of someone based on only a little information. We all do it. If clients who have watched some education videos or read my bio come to see me, I notice this flicker of recognition in their eyes, like they know me already. It is actually very helpful because it allows people to trust us and allow us to help them with even more intimate issues. But I also know that they have only seen a small piece of who I am.

The more people know about the work I do, the more assumptions are made. Although one blog will not share every intimate detail about myself, I do feel like some things that I share could really help people understand that I am just a person, just a mom, just a woman with many of the same struggles as them. Yes, I have developed a strong understanding of the body, alignment, rehabilitation and other things related to my field. Yes, I have years of experience to draw from. And yes, I work hard to learn more every day. But I still struggle with the same things you all do. So in light of that, let’s expose some lies and hopefully set some people free.

First, people like to assume that since I run The Tummy Team, I am super thin and have a 6-pack (abs…not Coors Light). I am not skinny and I do not have a flat tummy. I am 5′ 8″ which is relatively tall for a woman. I don’t think I have one close friend that is not at least 4 inches shorter than me. Due to my height, my weight is dispersed. I weigh a lot. How much? I honestly cannot say because I have not looked at a scale since I was about 21. When I was in college, I was a very competitive athlete and very fit. At that time I had an insanely low body fat percentage but still weighed 20 pounds more than almost everyone on my swim team. Maybe it is muscle or dense bones…who really cares. The scale became a very negative thing in my life so I chose to no longer measure my health by it. Even when I am at the doctor or pregnant, I stand on the scale backward and ask them not to tell me the number. The number messes with my head. I am size 12 ( a real size 12, not the junior size 12- why do they do that anyway?). When the size 12 does not fit well, I realize I need to adjust some things.  My belly measurement (at the belly button) ranges between 36 and 38″ depending on many factors. I know this because I demonstrate the abdominal rehab splints we sell. I try to not sweat it.

Second, people assume I am super comfortable with my body. Wrong. I can be very self-conscious of my tummy. Personally, I have had so much healing in this area of my life and this area of my body that it does not affect me nearly as much as it has in the past. But almost every client I see in person checks out my tummy and I imagine every on-line client zooms in to see it when watching the videos. It is human nature to be curious to see if this program “worked” for the teacher. I really try to not let it control me but I am a woman and I have the same body image issues as everyone else. Even when I was fit I did not have a washboard stomach. I have stretch marks, extra skin and a very deformed poorly planned tattoo on my tummy. However, I expose my tummy at every class I teach and give other professionals the opportunity to check my stomach.

Click to Tweet: We cannot allow fear to control us, so look for every opportunity to stare fear in the eye & overcome it.

Third, my diastasis is not completely closed. I had a 6 finger (severely deep) diastasis with a weak inactive core, no pelvic floor strength, horrific posture, no energy and chronic back pain just 4 years ago. My diastasis now typically measures 1 shallow (closed) at the top, 1.5 shallow/medium at my navel, and 1 shallow (closed)  at the lower measurement. However, my posture has transformed, I lost 6-8 inches off my waist, I have a solid pelvic floor, tons of energy, incredible functional strength and no back pain. The diastasis measurement is only one piece of the puzzle. The elasticity of the connective tissue fluctuates. It reacts to your menstrual cycle and if very stressed and damaged, there can be residual changes to that tissue. That measurement alone will never be the measurement of your success or failure.  And often, the more we focus on the number, the less it changes.

Forth, I move my body. It is true that I live what I teach. I am aware of my posture, alignment, how I sit, how I move and how active my core is throughout the day. But I move. I am not in the “rehab” phase of the program. I have a lot of awareness and functional strength for what I ask my body to do, so I can do things without causing damage to my body. I don’t do crunches or v-sits but functional movements within reasonable ranges. For instance, I swim in challenging positions like the butterfly. My diastasis has not reopened because of this, but I would not have been able to do even 2 years ago. It is a process and a journey.

Fifth, I am not a fitness fanatic.  I cannot run, I suck at hiking and I cannot complete most of Bethany’s Fit2B workouts without serious effort and fatigue. Look closely, even in the ones I filmed I am sweating and exhausted. I run a business, have 3 kids and a home to manage. I swim 2-3 times a week and do functional core exercises and stretches and a few other fun things here and there. You just cannot do it all so I choose what I love and I choose to be in my kids’ lives.

I am sure there are other myths that need to be busted but these are the ones I feel people assume the most. I have never intended to misrepresent myself. I have found that especially with the internet where you can present what you want and omit what you don’t, making it very easy for people to fill in the blanks with their own assumptions. Sadly, I feel like people respond one of two ways: put me on a pedestal or be overly critical. This is true for anyone. Very few people hit the mark unless they really know you.

I firmly believe that “the truth will set you free” – spiritually and figuratively. When women assume things that are incorrect and then try to live up to those imaginary standards, they live in a trap. The “never good enough” trap. You will spin your wheels and get nowhere…all the while missing out on what is before you because you are distracted trying to get to an imaginary state of being.

We all have a story. Beauty is so much more about how you feel than how you look. When you feel beautiful, it pours out of you. You are beautiful. Don’t miss out on that truth trying to be someone else. You don’t have to set imaginary standards that are impossible to reach. The only standard any women should set for herself is just to be real. Love yourself, because there is no one else in the world like you.

Thanks for reading.

Kelly Dean, MPT
Founder of The Tummy Team

If you’d like to hear my full story, watch this video:

The Full Story Behind The Tummy Team from Kelly Dean.

11 responses to “Real: The Only Standard for Women”

  1. Jessica Antonucci says:

    Kelly, thank you for your honesty and for sharing your story! It is very helpful to read about where other people started, how far they have come, and what they are making the priorities in their own lives.
    ~Jessica

  2. Kelly, I have goosebumps. Thank you for sharing this! Hugs to you, even though I never met you. 🙂

  3. Dee says:

    Thank you, Kelly, for your transparency. I enjoy your demeanor and they way you guide us through the videos on Beths's site. Most of all, your openness has set me free in this very moment to realize just how far I myself have come in getting functionally strong without having to be perfect in my body. Keep doing what you are gifted to do…you are making a difference in so many lives!

  4. sothisislife says:

    Thank you for sharing. Your truth helps my mindsets, that needed freeing in areas. I love how you share, so much truth there!

  5. Tonya says:

    Your honesty is wonderful. Thank you for being a REAL woman and not hiding who you are.

  6. Unknown says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I love your heart.

  7. TheTummyTeam says:

    UPDATE: Since this blog was written, my diastasis is closed at the top, 1-1/2 shallow at the naval, and closed at the bottom. Healing is an ongoing journey. I was able to heal this by living a core-strong lifestyle. Time and consistency is everything.

  8. Jan Beck says:

    Thank you Kelly. You are a blessing to me! Thank you even for affirming the role that our menstrual cycles play in the healing process. I had been speculating that this was a factor but didn’t have anyone to bounce this idea off of! Your work has truly touched my life!

  9. Raven Chakerian says:

    IT was important for me to hear you say the part about being “sick of hoping” during your journey to heal your core. I actually resisted Tummy Team for quite some time for this reason even though I had been hearing good things. I had tried multiple rounds of physical therapy and even had a surgery and didn’t want to get my hopes up again! I love hearing your story!

  10. Katrina Staats says:

    Opening yourself to those you have never met touches my heart. It helps to know you better. The things you shared about yourself is very helpful. It was all impacting, but especially the last phrase. Your words feed life and truth to your readers. Thank you deeply for letting the LORD use you in the lives of so many. May He continue to give you wisdom and bless you richly.

  11. Angela Hanna says:

    Hearing your story while looking at your face, you are a whole person. I know that your journey, like all of ours, is not over by any means, but you have gone deep and battled in the dark and can now live in such a light it shines on me! THANK YOU!

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