Family Living Wellness

Real Talk: Pregnancy Body Image

img_2545I have a confession.  I don’t love being pregnant.

There are some women that LOVE being preggers.  They love their growing bellies and softening bodies.  They love feeling womanly and whatever.  I hear almost daily about how they envy me.  They tell me that seeing my belly makes them miss being pregnant.  They are jealous.

I am not one of those women.

I should clarify…physically, my pregnancies are fine.  I don’t have aches and pains.  I haven’t had any complications.  I am able to stay incredibly active.  I FEEL aok…and often have to remind myself that I am in fact pregnant…ok well, these days maybe not so much since my belly is ginormous now.  But all in all, my pregnancies themselves are pretty smooth sailing…but mentally, I struggle with being pregnant and all that it entails.

With my first pregnancy I pretty much had daily panic attacks as I watched my body grow and change.  I felt insecure, bloated, swollen and FAT.  Yes, I said it. I felt FAT.  I know, I know…I’m not fat, I’m pregnant.  It’s different…blah blah blah. Rationally, I know that the changes are to support a growing life inside of me…but deep down in my gut I can’t help but feel helpless as each day MY body slips further and further away, morphing into an unrecognizable shape.

Perhaps the way I feel while pregnant is due to the fact that I’m not a super cute pregnant woman.  Or at least I don’t feel that way.

There are some women that gain ONLY in their bellies.  They are super thin and gorgeous and seem to only get the “good” side effects of pregnancy – flowing locks of hair, amazing nails, glowing skin.  I know many of these women…and I know that they also struggle with their changing bodies.  BUT, despite the compliments people give me…I know I am not one of those women.

I gain weight.

A good amount of it.

In places other than my belly.

With my last pregnancy, despite eating healthy and staying active, I gained 65 pounds by the time I delivered.  Yes, you read that right 65 pounds.  That’s enough for TWO healthy pregnancies.  I was huge.

But here’s the thing.  I felt great.  I had a ton of energy and was super healthy and active up until the day I went into labor.  I ran 3-6 miles, 3 times a week until I had to switch to power walks around 32 weeks.  I strength trained 2 times a week, did yoga 2 times a week and continued dancing through most of my pregnancy.  I ate healthy (with the occasional trip for FroYo), and was active throughout the day.

Yet, every day my body continued to expand.

I was told…it will slow down.  Maybe you won’t gain at the end.  None of those things happened.  I gained and gained and gained some more.

After Avery was born it took almost 15 months of hard work to REALLY get back to a body I was comfortable in.  My ‘bounce back’ was more like a slow, long, hard, uphill roll.  I had to bust my butt to get my body back.  It took time.  It took work.  But it happened.

Some part of my weight gain was due to going from living life as a professional dancer, personal trainer and fitness instructor to being a normal healthy active person.  I started working out for an hour a day instead of 3-4 hours a day.  I started eating a healthy well-balanced diet instead of a low-calorie no carb no dairy no food with any flavor diet.

Those lifestyle changes were responsible for some of my weight gain…but some of it was just how my body responds to pregnancy.  (Like a blow fish!)

Since becoming a mom, I have tried my best not to slip into my lifelong disordered eating habits.  I really want my kids growing up with an appreciation for REAL food and staying active.  But I also want them to have a healthy relationship with diet and exercise, and in order to do that, I know that I have to reframe my mindset.  Being in the entertainment and fitness industry, it is really easy to become obsessed with body image.  It’s easy to feel insecure and to compare yourself to everyone else.  Spending years in front of a mirror as a dancer scrutinizing every inch of my body, how it looks, how it moves, ingrained years of unhealthy thinking that I struggle every day to override.  Over the past three years I have tried really hard to reshape my relationship with exercise and diet from one of deprivation and obsession to one that is healthy.  Opting to exercise in a way that makes me feel strong and energized instead of beat up.  Eating foods that are nutritious and satisfying, instead of restricting and scrutinizing every bite with guilt.  Trying to be a better role model.

Because of that, going into this pregnancy, I have been able to (with some modifications) maintain my workouts and keep my diet relatively the same.  However, I still have gained “more” than expected (which the nurse practitioner was kind enough to point out last week when my OB got called to the hospital for an emergency).  I’m almost 33 weeks and have gained 38 pounds.  Far less than with baby #1, but still on the high end.img_2387

Last weekend I shot a series of prenatal fitness videos for my website.  Watching myself in the playback was humbling and devastating at first.  The last time I had seen myself on camera in a fitness shoot, I was at my physical peak.  I had probably starved myself for at least a week leading up to the shoot, and probably still felt fat on the day of.  Needless to say, seeing my very LARGE pregnant body in spandex on camera was not super uplifting.  I had to remind myself why I was there.  I was there to help other women stay active and fit and strong.  I was there to inspire women that even if they don’t look like a supermodel while pregnant, they can still embrace their strength.  I was there to educate, to motivate, to inspire.  Besides, I can’t change what I see in the mirror…I am pregnant…I am going to gain weight…and this too shall pass.  BUT, I can change how I feel each day…and weight gain or not, moving my body makes me FEEL good physically, even if I’m struggling mentally.

I am so excited to move past my own insecurities and release the videos we shot.  And I’m even more excited to have you follow along my journey postpartum to getting my body back to where I feel GREAT.

A large part of why I started this site to begin with goes back to my struggle postpartum to feel like myself again, and a desire to help other women who may be going through the same thing.  I’m really excited to be able to share my journey this time around.  The reality.  The struggle.  The successes.

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  • Reply
    September 14, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    Great real post. Loved it

    • Reply
      September 14, 2016 at 8:37 pm

      I’m glad you liked it! Always nice when I take the risk to post something honest and real, and people enjoy it. Thanks!

  • Reply
    September 16, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    I really felt so happy to read this! It resonates with my own internal chaos regarding pregnancy, post baby weight, and being a healthy parent role model. Thank you!

  • Reply
    September 17, 2016 at 5:08 am

    Well, I deleted my post!
    I’ll be reading more of your blog!!
    So my inspiration —
    Feeling beautiful and attractive comes from being energized snd energizing, being strong (which one of my instructors says “is the new skinny!), and keeping an open mind!
    I was so surprised to learn that my idea of being thin without much fat was actually not so attractive to men I knew who said a little round was youthful and healthy….. Ok! I’m in!

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