I was born and raised in Newport Beach, California. I have been involved in athletics my entire life, participating in soccer, swimming and high jump throughout High School. I played NCAA Division 1 Soccer at UCLA. I coached youth soccer and continued playing recreationally after college and up until my second pregnancy at age 31. In 2003, my husband and I started running to keep in shape and participated in several races as a way to stay fit. We have participated in a half marathon, marathon relays, and various trail runs, including the Dipsea Race (the oldest trail race and one of the most difficult races to get into in the country). In 2009 we both qualified for the 100th annual Dipsea Race.
I worked in a variety of jobs prior to becoming certified as a personal trainer in 2005 (sports management, sports marketing and finance). I chose to become certified as a personal trainer after the birth of my 1st child and used my certification to teach Baby Boot Camp. I have been working primarily with pre and postnatal women since 2005. During my personal training education, I was briefly educated about Diastasis Recti. I learned enough about the condition to know that I did in fact have a diastasis, but not enough to know how to properly check the width of the separation or how to treat it.
After having my second child, I knew my diastasis was fairly significant. I began training for a run shortly after my son's birth, and during the two and a half months leading up to the race, I noticed that I had very little core strength and started experiencing some lower back pain. It also seemed that no matter how much I exercised, I just could not get my belly to firm up or decrease in size. I began to see a giant football like bulge in my belly when I got up from a seated or laying down position which is a sure sign of a Diastasis. Looking back on this experience and seeing pictures of myself while pregnant, it is clear to me that I developed a significant Diastasis after my first pregnancy if not before.
After having my 3rd and final child in 2010, I began to seek out information on how to successfully get rid of a Diastasis. Back then, every fitness professional, doctor, or medical/fitness expert I spoke to said not to do oblique work and that some core exercises may help, but that if I really wanted to close the Diastasis I would have to have extremely invasive abdominal surgery. I am a firm believer that surgery should always be a last resort, so it was frustrating that I couldn't find anyone locally who specialized in treating Diastasis Recti. I ended up investing a lot of money in pilates, yoga, and bar based classes and tried to do what I thought were proper core exercises including crunches and planks. Although I was getting stronger, the size of my belly and my lower back pain was actually getting worse. Again, I kept hearing the words Tummy Tuck and Abdominoplasty.
Amidst my frustration, I recalled that during my internet searches for Diastasis Recti rehabilitation, I often came across the name Julie Tupler, RN, and the Tupler Technique®, but she was based in New York, and it just seemed like too much of an effort. After more research, I was impressed by the fact that she was really the only fitness and medical expert out there who had done the research and had proven results. She also was the only one that had actual client photos and testimonials to back up her core based training program for healing a Mummy Tummy without surgery, so I decided to enlist in her program.
I will admit that at first, I was a skeptic. There are so many exercises and programs out there, and they all seemed to make my Separation worse, so why was hers any different? However, once I began, I immediately saw an improvement. For the first time since my 1st pregnancy, my belly button started going from an outie back to an innie and I lost 1 and ½ inches off my waist in 2 weeks.
If I only knew then what I know now..I am certain if I had done the Tupler Technique®
1. My Diastasis would not have gotten larger.
2. My belly and my skin would not have stretched to the point that it is at today.
3. My weak core would not have caused me as many issues as it did during and after pregnancy.
When I learned that Julie was licensing her fitness program and training individuals in the Tupler Technique®, I made the decision to become a licensee in 2011 so I could provide a nonsurgical approach to people in the Bay Area. One of the main reasons that I didn't try the Tupler Technique® to begin with was because I didn't have someone locally who could guide me through it. Determined to educate and prevent women and men who suffer from Diastasis Recti and the ill effects associated with having a separation, I am honored to be able to provide individuals with a choice. The Tupler Technique® program has been the foundation I use to positively change my body, the way I exercise and live my life.
Cheryl Williams Bjornson lives in the SF East Bay with her husband (former Dallas Cowboys, NFL Tight End, Eric Bjornson). Cheryl is a NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist, an AFAA certified personal trainer and is a certified provider of the Tupler Technique® since 2011. She enjoys being a stay at home mom to her 3 young children, volunteering with a variety of charitable organizations and at the local school, hiking with her dog, running, playing tennis and golf, the outdoors and coaching her daughter and sons in youth sports.