Stephanie Bruce is a professional runner, hoping to qualify for the next Olympics. But recently, the athlete took some time off from training to start her family — and she started with a bang. She gave birth to two sons who were born 15 months apart, keeping her out of running shape for a few years.
When she was finally recovered and ready to start running again, Stephanie noticed something strange was happening with her post-pregnancy belly.
For starters, the skin around her lower abdomen was extremely loose, no matter what exercises she did to tighten her core. Strangest of all, Stephanie noticed that she that she’d developed a deep cavity near her belly button. She calls it a “grand canyon” right in the middle of her stomach and she’s not exaggerating; the runner can quite literally stick her pointer and middle fingers a few inches into her abdomen.
As it turned out, Stephanie had developed diastasis recti, a condition in which the abdominal muscle walls separate during pregnancy to make more room for the baby to grow.
The result left Stephanie frustrated and embarrassed. She couldn’t run quite the way she used to, seemingly making her Olympic dreams that much more difficult to attain. On top of that, she was embarrassed over the state of her stomach, especially since she has to show her midriff often while running.
But rather than shelve her dreams and hide her post-baby belly, Stephanie decided to embrace her “grand canyon” to help empower other women struggling with diastasis recti. So, Stephanie took to social media and proudly shared photos of her body. She posted her sagging stomach, stretch marks, and the cavity in her abdomen.
While some critics called her post-baby bump “gross” and hated on her “over-sharing,” we’re sure others were inspired by her bold body acceptance.
Regardless of what people think, Stephanie is back in fantastic running shape and continues on her mission to rebuild her abdominal wall. In fact, she just qualified for the Olympic trials! And as far as the look of her stomach, she has this to say:
“It doesn’t matter what you look like, it matters how you feel and how strong you are,” Stephanie told Inside Edition. “Just be confident in who you are and be comfortable in your own skin.”
We don’t know about you, but we’re seriously inspired by this mom in so many ways. Not only is she one step closer to her Olympic dream after giving birth to TWO kids in TWO years, but she’s confident enough to empower others with her story. Honestly, we don’t know which part of her incredible story is more admirable.