pregnancy and body image

This is probably one of the hardest posts I have ever written, and I kind of have mixed feelings about posting it because I feel pretty darn conflicted. Despite the fact that this pregnancy was a huge surprise and that we're very excited for it, I have to say that my body image issues have been amped up tenfold. I might not look like the definition of overweight, but I have a lot of muscle, and I am not "thin" in terms of weight. The concept of gaining 20+ pounds to deliver a healthy baby terrifies me.

While I was crossfitting, I gained about 18 lbs of muscle and excess body weight, which it took me nearly a year to shed through running, reducing one-rep max lifts and really putting in more HIIT workouts. I didn't reach my goal weight this year. I'd hoped to lose another 15 lbs to get to a comfortable weight in 2014 before we considered having children. Obviously, however, that didn't happen.

^^^ not my belly. image via.

I've been working really hard to have a more positive mindset about the weight gain, and Ryan's been helping me as much as he can, as well. I know that this weight gain is temporary, and it's necessary to have a healthy, happy baby. I know that I have a say in how much I gain, and that the longer I stay active, the healthier I'll be. I know that I'm doing this for two people now...not just me.

So, I've been working out 6 days a week, but I've been switching things up, too, which I've noticed is helping me both mentally and physically. My workouts generally consist of the following now:

Monday - Long, slow, 2-3 mile run/jog, plus one hour of yoga in the evening.
Tuesday - P90X ab ripper, plus 30 minutes of intervals on the elliptical.
Wednesday - 15 minutes of stationary bike, 15 minutes of light treadmill running, one hour of yoga.
Thursday - Long, slow, 2-3 mile run/jog.
Friday - 1.5 hour swim (generally about 3-4,000 meters).
Saturday - 2 miles on the treadmill - 1 running, 1 of intervals - plus, HIIT circuit with light weights.

I know it might look like a lot, but thus far, it hasn't been too bad. I'm adjusting wherever necessary, and I'm listening to my body's limits so I don't push too hard. I've noticed that it's kept excess water weight at bay for now, and I can feel my body fat dropping even though my weight is staying the same for now.

In terms of eating, I've done a lot of research, and I'm firmly sticking to the idea that women do not need to eat for two. In fact, women don't really need to eat more in their first trimester. When the bulk of development occurs in the second and third trimester, I will add the recommended 200-300 calories to my diet. For now though - I'm conscious of what I eat without adding calories or going insane.

This seems like such a self-involved post, but I swear that changing my mindset to putting the baby above all else has been one of the hardest things in the world to do. I'll definitely be posting some of my workouts here, as well as making this a positive place for body image all around because I think that we, as a society, need to stop putting all the emphasis and value solely upon weight. 

31 comments

  1. Just so you know... I think you're BEAUTIFUL! :)

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    1. You're the sweetest ever :) I'm trying to convince myself of this! xo

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  2. I've never been pregnant but I know this is something I will really struggle with too. All I have to say is you are a rock star for working out so much, and I bet the pounds will drop really quickly when the baby is born because of it :)

    XOXO
    Chelsea
    http://www.anchorsaweighblog.com/

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    1. Thanks for your positive words, girl! I'm sure you'll carry pregnancy really well when you guys decide to have littles!

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  3. First off you are absolutely gorgeous, friend!! I actually think that it's great that you're trying to have a fit pregnancy....I would think it's healthier for the baby ya know because you're eating well and keeping yourself active and fit. :) Looking forward to seeing some workouts here...(and maybe some other smoothie recipes?)!!

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    1. You're the sweetest ever. Thank you! I'll definitely be posting recipes here! I've been trying to eat a LOT cleaner, so I'd be happy to share those recipes :)

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  4. I haven't had a baby in 12 years, but I can still totally understand your feelings. It's hard accepting the fact that your body is going to change in ways you cannot control. The whole 'eating for two' and 'oh, the baby NEEDS pizza and brownies' isn't entirely true and it seems like you've got the right mindset. Exercise is good for both of you and will help you when it comes time for labor. Best wishes for a happy and healthy pregnancy!

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and input, Alison! It's such a tricky change, but I'm hoping I grow accustomed to the idea soon :)

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  5. I think it is great you are working out through the pregnancy, it will make delivery a little easier on you.

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    1. I sure hope so! I hear that working out toughens you up for delivery ;)

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  6. i think you are so justified in having all of these feelings. the rational side of you knows it is healthy and for the baby, but the other side knows it is also more weight than you would like to have. i think you have a great outlook though! keep staying active and eating healthy. it is what is best for you and the baby and then hopefully it will come off quickly post baby. i know that is one of my biggest fears of having a baby too (which is a little vain, but i can't help it)

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    1. Thanks, lady! I think athletes get hit hard, too, because we work so hard to maintain that ideal physique and weight. It's losing that degree of control that I need!

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  7. You look amazing and you're taking the right steps for a healthy pregnancy from what I can tell. You rock!

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    1. Elena, you're too sweet. Thank you, girly, and I can't WAIT to follow your pregnancy journey after your IVF! It WILL work xo

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  8. Sweetie..this is totally not self involved. I was the same way and even though we planned for Savanna I was scared out of my MIND about stretch marks and not being able to lose the baby weight. I've always been blessed to be naturally skinny, I could eat whatever I want whenever I wanted and not gain a pound, and I'm going to be honest here and tell you that I don't work out regularly or as often as I should. I had big plans to stay fit while pregnant but with my HG and being so darn tired all the time I ended up doing nothing but sitting in bed and stuffing my face (thankfully my cravings were healthy ones..carrots and lots of them!) but still. I gained almost 40 POUNDS. But during my pregnancy I never stepped on the scale unless I was at the doctors office. I felt like not knowing would make things easier for me..and it did. I wasn't as worried about the weight while carrying because my focus quickly just turned to delivering a healthy baby. Stretch marks were my biggest fear and I slathered on a pretty expensive stretch mark cream daily. It was worth every penny. In the end, I came home from the hospital after delivering with no stretch marks and some lose flab but pretty much happy with my body and it's ability to do what it does.. Pregnancy was actually opposite for me. I ended up appreciating my body more. Ew. I just realize I wrote a book but the sole purpose of this post was just to let you know, take care of yourself, and appreciate your body. Slather on cream like crazy and try to make your "cravings" healthy ones, in the end I have no doubt that you'll love your body even more then before. Good luck sweets!! xoxo

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    1. Laurie, I can't even tell you how much I appreciate this! I'm trying to get used to the idea that it's just a number and that number WILL go down in time. I'm hoping as I grow more accustomed to the idea that I'm growing a human, I'll stop with the worrying about these things :) xoxo

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  9. I don't think the changing body part is something any woman particularly looks forward to...I know it will make me nervous when my time comes! But yes--like you pointed out, the most important is to do what's best for baby, and exercising appropriately and eating healthy foods is definitely best!

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    1. Too true, Rachel! I've felt insane and horrible for thinking these things, but I've read that a TON of women face severe body image issues while pregnant.

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  10. Ugh... this is where I am. Noah and I are thinking about starting a family soon but I am in the mindset of "I want to lose weight first so I am comfortable gaining some back during pregnancy." I already struggle with being comfortable in my own skin and I worry that getting pregnant will make it worse. Nevertheless, I keep working towards my goals and look to the fact that God has blessed me immensely and as long as I am trying to take care of the body that he gave me, the number on the scale doesn't matter as much.

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    1. Livia, you're beautiful! I hear you on the constant struggle to be comfortable in your own skin though - it's never easy. I think we all need to learn to be more kind to ourselves.

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  11. I haven't experienced this yet but I'm almost positive I will when we start having little Stewlets. Kudos to you though because you have been working out like a champ thus far which will be really beneficial when the baby comes! Keep up the great work! :)

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    1. Thanks, girly! I think it's worse because this whole thing was legit unplanned haha

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  12. girl you look beautiful regardless. and I'm sure pregnant is gonna look great on you girl. :D

    Just letting you know I'm following you. Would love to have you come check me out and hopefully follow me back http://nightowlventing02.blogspot.com/2014/04/have-you-asked-him.html

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  13. Girl, you know what to do in taking care of your little babe and you will do just that. Pregnancy is such a beautiful gift and you are going to look amazing! Xx.

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  14. Love your heart and your transparency!!!!! What a wonderful, sweet, loving, open, and authentic mama you already are!!!! xx

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  15. A lot pregnancy updates drive me insane but I love how you're writing about this experience! You're so real and it's nice to see someone admit their concerns about gaining weight and looking different instead of being sunshine and babies and rainbows. I'm sure you feel those things too, but it's refreshing to get your vulnerable and real take on the whole baby growin' thing :) Ps. You are incredibly beautiful and had a total glow even before you new about that little chickpea!

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  16. This is the exact thing that I myself am terrified of. I worked so hard to lose all this weight and I am so scared of gaining again. I also plan on staying active and logging my calories. I will hope for the best! I think it's amazing and admirable how active you have stayed so far. You are mindful of what you're eating too, which will he a huge help. :)

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  17. I think you are amazing for sharing this. I hope you know you aren't alone and that other ladies feel the same way! You are doing everything so PERFECT and trying to be the healthiest you can be and you are GOING TO BE INCREDIBLE! Seriously! You inspire me.

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  18. Oh my gosh. I'm so appreciative that you're so honest. I'm terrified to gain weight when I get pregnant. I know you weren't looking for compliments when you wrote this, but you look great and I can only hope I have as much motivation as you to stay active during pregnancy. You're doing a great job!

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  19. You are looking great! And your struggles are not just yours. I am sure that every pregnant woman has had to deal with the added pounds in their own due time. I would also agree about the nixing the idea of eating for two. Whoever started that lie needs to eat their own words. If by two you mean me and a little creature who will most likely never grow above 8 or 9lbs, than yes I am eating for two. So the theory of eating two of the same size helpings has always boggled my mind.

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