Drew Barrymore loves working out and feeling strong, but she was constantly “getting sidelined” because of lingering issues from her two pregnancies — even five years later.
The 44-year-old actress had diastasis recti — when the abdominal muscles separate — during her pregnancies with daughters Olive, 6, and Frankie, 5, and her core never went back together.
“I love exercising, but after two kids I kept getting injured because I just did not have a core,” Barrymore, the new spokesperson for EMSCULPT, tells PEOPLE. “My midsection was like a fish tank and I just kept getting sidelined.”
Barrymore says that she would want to work out, but because of the problems with her stomach, she would “be completely messed up” afterwards and have to stop again. “I just could not find that good balance.”
It’s something that she wishes people talked about more.
“Women are having children all the time, and no one’s talking about how their body is forever changed,” she says.
“I felt immediately different. And it looked immediately different, but it just functioned differently,” she says.
The Santa Clarita Diet star says that she didn’t do it for aesthetics.
“It was just about the way it functioned,” she says. “I just want to feel empowered and good about myself, and I really was looking for something that would allow me to be stronger so I could get stronger.”
Now Barrymore has gotten back to working out consistently.
“I love hot yoga, I love physical therapy and Pilates to really help me with my pelvic floor, then EMSCULPT to strengthen my core, and then I love to top it off with dance cardio,” she says. “I love going to the clubs and dancing it off, but now that I’m a mom, that’s not my life, but I still have that person inside of me — she didn’t die! So if I get to go to a workout class and exercise the demons and dance it out to good music, oh my god that’s all I want.”
And it’s all part of Barrymore’s goal to focus on her overall health in her 44th year.
“This is my year,” she says. “I have to take care of myself. I really wanted to get to a place of strength so I could have the second half of my life be more athletic than the first half was. I want to be able to chase my kids around and be a full-time mom and have my career.”
This article first appeared in People.