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Pregnancy, A Changing Body & Self-Acceptance

By Emily Saunders

I have received countless questions over the past 15 weeks about how I will or do feel about my changing body and gaining weight during pregnancy.  Honestly, it’s something that I always thought I would have a really hard time accepting, but now that it’s happening and with the mindset I have adopted over the past few years I am truly embracing my changing body.

I think that many women who suffer from infertility feel terrible complaining about anything involving pregnancy and I feel the same way.  Morning sickness sucked but I was thrilled to be experiencing it at the same time… I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense.   I am looking at my rapidly changing body in a similar manner.  It’s quite different and difficult for any woman to pack on pounds, but it’s worth it in the end and offers a wonderful reward.  At night a stare at my body sideways in the mirror in awe…. Is that REALLY me and my tummy?  I’ve actually decided to make this fun and during my good friend Doug’s (who has lost 280 pounds!) weekly weigh ins I now allow him to weigh me to make sure that I am gaining weight weekly while he is losing- so far no issues there :)

At Jillfit we stay away from the “all or nothing” approach and I am truly trying to live in that mindset throughout pregnancy.  My non-pregnant self is incredibly diligent, disciplined and committed to the fat loss lifestyle and I must say that some of that has fallen by the wayside.  I still exercise regularly and am eating a healthy diet but I am nowhere near my “normal” routine or eating habits, but I trying to be ok with that.  I aim to exercise for 30 to 45 minutes most days of the week and my current goal is to get as many vegetables into my body as possible even if they are covered in ranch dressing, butter or cheese… Ok, I might be exaggerating a little bit but there is no way that I could stomach chicken and broccoli for dinner right now- it’s just not going to happen. :)

How in the world have things changed so much in 15 weeks?   Well, a big part of it is hormones, but more importantly I learned about two years ago to give myself a break and to really listen to my body and what it needs.  If I don’t feel like working out, I’ll take a walk.  If I can’t stand plain veggies with lemon, I add some butter.  We have to learn to accept ourselves at each and every stage of the journey–not just when we feel we have reached a point of perfection.  There is very little value in absolutes–the “right” or “wrong” way to be fit and healthy–and once we accept that, things get so much easier! Definitely harder said than done, but it’s a practice.  Are their pregnant women out there eating better and working out harder than me?  Yes, of course there are.  And I am ok with that. Right now I am doing what is right for my body and my baby right now–living in the moment.  So far this journey has taught me more about accepting things as they are, and accepting those things that are out of my control–much more so than anything I have experienced thus far in my life.

I will have plenty of time to eat super clean, sprint, and push huge weights after the baby arrives and am looking forward to the journey, but right now I am truly enjoying this time.  I sleep A LOT, rest A LOT, and spend a lot of my energy planning for our baby who will arrive in just over 5 months.  I cannot wait to hold that bundle of joy and the miracle that is taking place inside of me is well worth the changes that I am experiencing on the outside.  I have stopped comparing myself to others and am all the more happy and comfortable in my own skin because of it.

Quick note from Jill: One of the best ways to start down the self-acceptance path is to understand the idea of “active acceptance” which means that we can be ok where we are, but also strive for more. You don’t need guilt to motivate us–we’re going to do (or not do) whatever we want anyway. I think there’s a misconception that if you give yourself the benefit of the doubt and actually LIKE yourself right now, that it automatically means you will give up and stop working hard. Um, no. Doesn’t work that way. In fact, research on guilt shows that when we give up the negative self-talk we are actually MORE LIKELY to get more done, be productive and happy. Holla! :)

Embrace your bodies and yourselves- BE YOU and you will BE HAPPY! ox Emily

Related: Body Dissatisfaction

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