I don't know that I would have said that I have ever been completely not vain in my life. I've definitely struggled with body image pretty significantly in the past, but for some reason, upon re-discovering running and moving away from the world of "fitfam" where people post photos of their rock hard abs on Instagram every day, I thought that I was past it. I thought I had shifted my mindset more towards health instead of the number on the scale or the way I look in the mirror.
I was wrong.
In general, I like being in control. I like feeling safe with my money. I like it when my dog does what I ask him to do. I like it when I feel like I'm on top of things at work. I like knowing that if I felt like I needed to lose a few pounds, that I easily could. I do not like being bossed around. And I do not like letting things be loosey goosey.
In pregnancy, you don't get that control. Your body is not your own, it's a shared space. And it's been surprisingly hard for me to adjust my mind to acknowledging that. Seeing that number on the scale creep higher than it's ever been in my life really freaks me out.
It also worries me that I can't do the workouts I'm used to doing. I went from running 40-60 miles a week + 4 heavy lifting sessions to running like 2-6 miles a week + maybe 3 light lifting sessions. I often am too tired to workout, or I know it's too hot outside for baby, or I get out of breath really quickly and I know that my doctor said keep everything at a conversational effort.
Part of my worry stems, I think, from things people have said to me since I was little.
- If you eat carbs every day, you're going to be huge.
- You know, I was 103lbs until I had kids...
- Being overweight is inevitable. It happens to everyone with old age.
- Intense exercise & calorie restriction is the only way to combat a slow metabolism.
I'm not sure why women talk so much about their weight with these negative undertones. I really wish it would stop because I think it breeds unhealthy thought patterns in kids/teens/young adults who listen to it. I also don't think it's fair to anyone to make them think they're doomed to being overweight one day. That fear will either force them to become obsessive about fighting it or will make them give up and just let it happen with disregard for health.
I've talked to some of my mom friends in Boulder about my fears of weight gain/stretch marks/loose skin in pregnancy and they've all been very encouraging. They tell me that because I actively make healthy choices that I'll likely go right back to where I was before getting pregnant after baby, both in terms of weight and in terms of athletic performance. I've seen it happen -- people who look/perform basically the same post-kids as they did pre-kids.
But do I want reassurance from knowing that I still have that in my control? Or do I want to just not be worried about it at all?
I want to be comfortable with what happens to my body during/after pregnancy. I want to care purely about getting the baby proper nourishment and not worry about how much weight I'm gaining and how much speed/strength I'm losing. [Side note: I am making sure the baby is growing properly and I'm making sure he's getting proper nourishment. I'm just saying that I wish that was all I cared about and that me gaining the weight that I need to be/am gaining didn't make me feel fearful.]
I don't know what the moral of the story is here. I'm still figuring that out. So in lieu of wisdom from me, here's a quote from @marylauren's Instagram post on the topic:
I think as women we tend to forget. We forget how incredible these bodies of ours are and what is actually happening. Our bodies were made for this wonderful, amazing, ethereal purpose. They know exactly what to do, how to transform, mold, grow and expand to bring another human life into the world. Our bodies know how to create billions of cells, bringing them together, creating perfect little fingers and toes and lips. And that takes a lot of work! Give yourself some credit! If you aren't living as you were pre pregnancy and find yourself at a much slower pace (and much softer around the edges), be kind to yourself! It is ok, it's normal. The whole process really is all so incredible, magical, and if we can get past the very shallowest part of pregnancy, that is our body image, we may just be able to love every changing mark on our bodies and appreciate them for what they are. It did take me a bit to get to a comfortable point. Second trimester has been the best. I'm finally feeling so good about my body and can't wait for the rest of the ride... but just wanted to put this out there just incase you're feeling the same. ❤️ (And P.S. elastic waist pants, giving into maternity-wear and dresses early on helped just a little.)
Leave me a comment below if you've felt a similar fear in pregnancy.