After what an emotionally taxing start we had to this pregnancy, it is a wonder that I’d be anything but overjoyed with how it has progressed. I should be rejoicing in the changes my body is making to accommodate my growing boy … as any pregnant mama should.
It is one thing to know something logically in your head, but sometimes another to actually live it out, right? Dealing with the changes in my figure is one of those things for me. After spending 3 years trying to get back in shape and physically healthier than I possibly ever had been before, the softening and bulging I’m now seeing hasn’t been easy. It sounds incredibly vane and shallow to have these thoughts go through my head, and again, I know this. But stick with me … I’ve had to take some pretty intentional steps toward overcoming … or at least quieting/shushing/blocking out … those thoughts and in case I’m not the only one out there who’s struggled with this, I thought I’d share. I’m certainly no expert but sometimes just chatting through the real-deal experience with a fellow mama can be even more helpful. Or so I’ve found. 😉
1.I remind myself of what I don’t have control over. My widening hips, bulging tummy (obviously!), swelling shot locations … no control. If varicose veins, ankle swelling, and/or stretch marks appear, I’ll probably research them a bit to see if there is anything I can do for them, but likely those too are just par for the course. I have to remind myself of this. Literally. I also don’t have control over the months that I spent laying on the couch, sick and sad and exhausted. I’m bummed a lot of that happened for many reasons, but I certainly can’t dwell on how it led to a loss in muscle tone and stamina.
2. I remind myself what I do have control over. Once I came to a point in my pregnancy when I felt good … physically … I began a few prenatal workouts. I stuck with Moms Into Fitness (which I’ve loved for years) with the Slim & Fit program, and another called Fit & Sleek Pregnancy. How much these have effected my figure, I’ll never know, but I can tell day to day how they impact me mentally and physically just during the day. If I don’t work out in the morning, I am more sluggish and more likely to eat more poorly that day. My mind isn’t as clear and contrary to what you may expect, my body just feels achier. Mind you, these are not intense workouts. They are 15 minute segments focusing on different areas and I’ll usually do 2 each morning, varying from cardio, arms, legs, barre, core, stretching, etc. And also, throughout the day, I get up and move more often. Or try to. My body is pretty forward in telling me when I need to take it easy, so I listen. But generally, staying active with chores, some work outside and a walk later in the day is totally doable and necessary.
3. Eating choices. Of course, we have control over what we eat. Before, during and after pregnancy. I’ve had to tell myself that just because I’m pregnant does not mean I can fill the ‘need’ for that extra 300 calories with junk. And no, I don’t make it habit of standing in the kitchen eating ice cream. Though, while I was doing this, it was the reminder of two things: 1) don’t be too hard on yourself for giving in every once in a while and 2) if you’re going to have a dessert, make it count and enjoy it. Don’t stuff your face frantically at the sink before anyone can catch you in the act. Dish yourself up a serving, relax with some quiet time and enjoy it. On the flip side, I’ve made an effort to pick my snacks and meals carefully, focusing on portions, protein, healthy fats and vegetables. I’m not kidding when I say this has had to be very intentional for me … I have to think about it and talk myself through it. “No, Lacey, you will not feel great if you have those Oreos, but you will feel a lot better if you have a handful of almonds and a few chocolate chips.” I talk to myself and it helps. 🙂 It has also helped to just not have a lot of indulgent options in our house. I had to refuse to bring home to left-over cake from our Easter celebration, and throw out the last several pieces of my favorite chocolate-cherry cake so that I didn’t polish them off. Eating that stuff honestly does not make me feel well and that’s getting down to the foundation of all of this.
4. Drinking more water. I’m grateful that I’ve had a natural gravitation toward water consumption and a pull away from drinking coffee. I can rarely get through one cup of coffee in the morning before it starts to taste awful and then the rest of the day, it’s just water, and maybe a drink of iced tea or orange juice. Pregnant or not, this is so instrumental in being healthier. And that is continuing to get to the foundation of all of this, too …
5. Getting ‘ready’ each day. This may be silly compared to the practicality of the points above, but showering, wearing clothing that fits, doing my make-up and hair each day really does help me not get down about my feelings of frumpiness.
6. Not focusing on the number. I’ve asked my doctor not to tell me my weight or what I’ve gained, unless it is an issue. If I’m gaining too much, or not enough (though that’s never been a problem for me!), I of course want her to tell me, but otherwise let’s not discuss it.
7. Believing my husband. Believing him when he says he loves my pregnant-ness. This goes wayyyy back to the very true advice to not base your relationship with someone based on their looks, figure, or your physical attraction to the outer package. And certainly not to marry someone based on them. Because all that changes over time and pregnancy is definitely an example of when love and attraction has to go well beyond the exterior. That goes without saying, right? Matt has been amazing at continuing to express his attraction to me when I feel way less than attractive, but I have had to really chose to believe and trust him. He’s never in all our life together given me any reason to not trust him, so now is not the time to let my insecurities get the best of me and let doubt sneak in.
8. Thank God. I do thank God that he gave us women bodies that can handle this miraculous process, and focusing on the unbelievably complex process that is taking place inside me is a surefire way to take my mind off the seemingly negative side-effects and placing it where it should be. On being equally amazed as I am grateful. I pray for how to handle my insecurities and frustrations, as much as I pray for God to guide me toward the right foods and activity level for this intense, yet natural, experience of pregnancy.
9. Realizing what is important. Here’s the foundation that I’ve had to embrace … the motivation for everything I do for my body and put into my body should be for the baby and my health. Pregnancy is not the time to make excuses to eat whatever the body craves or to give in to inactivity. However, pregnancy IS best time get into the habit of listening carefully to your body. Listen honestly to what your activity level should and shouldn’t be. Be honest with yourself over how good that healthy food option makes you feel after you eat it, versus how pooey eating that heaping helping of a hot-fudge sundae makes you feel. This is truly what I’ve had to do … what I keep having to do. This is an ongoing process, pregnant or not, and daily I tell myself that, “It is a balance, should not become an obsession, and remains about health (mine and this little dude’s) not appearance.” Period.
I have no doubt that I’m going to have to talk myself through this issue and these reminders post-natal as well, and I do think that all of these points will remain applicable. They are always worth embracing because keeping healthy, realistic intentions for our bodies before, during, and after pregnancy is definitely worth our time and effort. ♥
You Might Also Like: