January 14, 2011

Pregnant Not Fat

I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who sent their well wishes after the announcement of my pregnancy. I truly feel blessed to be part of this loving community.

As I approach week 15, I am noticing some interesting changes to my body. Besides the fact that my breasts have gotten out of control, I am starting to show a little pouch in my belly. I look like I overindulged during the holiday season! As I was talking about this issue with some of my friends, they lamented about this period in pregnancy before the “baby bump” shows, and you just look a bit chunky. One of my friends was so sick of the odd stares that she finally proclaimed to her office friends, “I am pregnant, not fat!”

I wish I could say that I don’t care what others think, and that I am just so happy to be pregnant that my new lumpy body doesn’t bother me. But I am not that secure with myself or my body. I grew up until about the age of 12 rather thin and once puberty hit, my body shape shifted. I have been watching what I eat ever since. Maybe being in the performing arts for most of my life exaggerated my hyper awareness of body image; unfortunately, I feel I am in good company with this issue.

Needless to say, feeling and seeing my body change throughout the beginning of my pregnancy has been hard. While these changes in the pregnant body are completely normal and healthy (and essential!), they can be difficult for us to accept. To help me embrace my new body, I have taken on the personal challenge of finding ways to help improve my body image.

So far, I have found:

*I feel best when I avoid sugary, fried foods which often make me feel heavy and bloated. Healthier foods make me feel more energized and remind me I am feeding my baby good nutrients.

*I feel great when I keep up my activity level. I try to maintain a regular schedule of yoga and cardiovascular exercise. I have adjusted the intensity of both my yoga practice and my cardio exercise to honor my pregnant state, and started to wear a heart rate monitor to make sure I am not over doing it with my cardio work.

*When I eat healthy and exercise I feel like I am not just taking care of me, but also taking care of my baby. This time in my life is not just about me. I am now responsible for the health and well being of another life.

*I remind myself that this thickening of my waist line is the baby growing healthy and strong inside.

*I have decided to avoid stepping on the scale unless I absolutely have to. I do not want to get wrapped up in the number that appears.

*I am trying not to compare myself with others. We all have different body frames and metabolisms, and we all started pregnancy at a different place.

*If I miss a workout, yoga class or indulge in a few cookies, I do not beat myself up. Nobody is perfect, and I deserve a break or treat every now and then!

*It is ok that with certain pants, I need to unbutton the top button when I sit down. I have never minded expanding my wardrobe in the past and this is a very valid reason to do a little shopping!

I know that this subject may seem a little taboo and even shallow to talk about, but it is very important to address this issue. Opening up about this brings to attention my own insecurities and eating/exercising habits, and I am finding ways to surrender to the idea that my body will change. However, some women have a very hard time letting go, and embracing their new bodies. In fact, there is pop-psychology term called Pregorexia; Anorexia that Dangers Pregnant Mothers and their Children If you feel you are at risk for developing this issue or already are struggling with it, I highly encourage you to seek help and support.

For those that have also struggled with the body image issues, I would love to hear about it and hear what you did to help yourself overcome it. Our community gains strength when we help each other through this huge life and body change.

Additionally, a while back I wrote a blog, How Much Is Too Much Weight To Gain During Pregnancy In this article, I explain the overall weight gain distribution during pregnancy (provided by the Mayo Clinic) and also offer nutritional tips from Nutritionist Stephanie Clarke MS, RD from C & J Nutrition. I hope that it can provide some insight for all of us!

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