Thoughts About Pregnancy: Body Image Issues + Weight Gain
I have always been someone who is very sensitive about weight issues. Depending upon how long you have known me, you may or may not know that my weight has fluctuated over the decades. When I was 10, I was a little heavier mainly because I was not a healthy eater. Reminiscing about my dietary past, I remember all the Pop Tarts, Snickers Ice Cream Bars, Oreos, and delectable freshly made donuts I consumed in a week. I was a kid, and didn’t think much about it at the time. Sure, I had a little baby fat, but that junk food was so delicious. I should also remind you that I lived in Sri Lanka then, and I think my Mom felt bad for taking me out of school in the middle of the school year in California. So, as anyone from the Bengali culture would do, the remorse translated into a healthy commissary allowance. My metabolism was never in my favor either; if I ate something unhealthy, it was apparent.
Fast forward to high school when I was back in Santa Barbara… The airbrushed images on magazines really affected my psyche, and there were times when I tried to eat as little as possible (in a very unhealthy way) to lose weight. I think I was even trying to live on eating apples and water at one point. In college, you could say that I still had some baby fat on my face… I was in acceptable shape in my twenties; I was healthy but not super health conscious.
These past few years, I have gotten to a place where I feel mentally and physically strong. I have a better sense of the foods that fuel my body and I allow cheat days to indulge in carbs and chocolate. Luckily I crave food that is good for my body. Being a yoga instructor has also helped me make a stronger mind and body connection.
Now that I’m pregnant, all my thoughts surrounding body image are not only back, they are magnified. I have been told by my doctors that I am overweight for my height and starting weight. Now, I have to admit that I didn’t get too sick in my first trimester, so the food intake was still normal. By the time my second trimester came around, I was hungrier than I had ever been in my life. Food was always on my mind and I was craving sour food and carbs, SO many carbs. Bagels and cream cheese, cinnamon swirl bread, and pasta were all things that I craved. And I did indulge in these cravings, but not to an uncontrollable extent. I was still staying very active working out at least four time a week and walking everywhere. When I was in Paris I walked between 10,000 - 20,000 step per day. Nevertheless, I apparently still gained a lot of weight. What’s a pregnant girl to do? Below is a picture of me at 21 weeks post-Paris.
The attack of the slow metabolism struck once again. The weight complex had somehow entered my psyche once again; I couldn’t help it! I soon discovered that pregnancy doesn’t give me immunity eventhough I have scaled back on some pre-pregnancy food and beverage habits.
I tried so hard to not let the doctor’s words get to me, but clearly they are if I’m writing about it. I’ll be honest, there was a period of time when seeing a pregnant mama made me wonder if she's on track with her weight and what her food intake is like. It took some mental work, but I decided to change my mindset about these feelings. Keep in mind, I’m still human, so these comparative thoughts tend to creep in once in a while. However, I made a choice to get back to my normal diet of pre-pregnancy of salads, minimizing carbs, and making more thoughtful decisions about what I put in my body. If I have a craving for a bagel in the morning, I will have a salad for lunch. I always have snacks on hand like fruit or nuts. Greek yogurt has also been a lifesaver. I even made healthy bran muffins to curb carb cravings. So far, this change is working and I feel good about myself again. I have also gotten back to a place where I have realized that every body processes food differently. Comparison will get me nowhere, but being thoughtful and conscious of my decisions will take me much further. I have still committed to working out (cardio and yoga) and will maintain this routine as long as I am capable of doing so before and after the baby is born.
My words of wisdom to all you ladies out there experiencing something along the lines of what I expressed, remember:
-You are your own person; try not to compare yourself to someone else. They aren’t you!
-Be mindful of the choices you make - if something isn’t feeling right mentally or physically you can make an active choice to change what bothers you.
-Be open and honest about what you are feeling. You have a support system without realizing it.
-Certain choices are not easy to make, so stay patient, encourage yourself, and stay strong EVERY DAY because there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and you can do this!