Fit, Fat, Fun Pregnancy – What’s Your Pregnancy Style?
Fit, Fat, Fun Pregnancy – What’s Your Pregnancy Style? As I near the end of this, most likely my last, pregnancy. I’m just reflecting on all three pregnancies and the 2 approaches to pregnancy as far as fitness, nutrition, and mind set. I’m wondering if this reflection might help someone in the future.
So I’m currently in the basketball belly phase of pregnancy. You know that one right after “beer gut?” and right before “Oh My God!”. Ya I’m beyond that phase where people tell me I “don’t even look pregnant” (subscript… just look fat). I am definitely pregnant-looking with the belly right out in front on display. And right before the next phase where I madly rush into the shower, avoiding all brief glimpses of my reflection and the alien level of stretching that my body does right between the 9th and 10th month of pregnancy. No matter how many times I’m pregnant, it still freaks me out.
Fitness During 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Pregnancy
First “fit” pregnancy I ran several miles a day including a half marathon at about 6 months pregnant. I switched over to walking towards the end but still maintained a couple miles a day. I definitely took the first approach to pregnancy during this time.
The “fat, fun” second pregnancy, I was doing strength and HIIT training at the beginning. When I couldn’t do that anymore because of sports hernia (probably due to all the running my 1st pregnancy), I half-way committed to something called Battle Rope Training which is actually awesome during pregnancy.
Third “fat, fun” Pregnancy: This pregnancy is a little (actually a lot) different. Pretty much the entire second trimester, I was unable to even walk more than 1/4th mile without terrible pain. I started to get really depressed after a couple months and started looking for solutions. By wearing 2 different support belts, I was able to take my girls for short (2 mile max) walks. And I found PiYo! I made a calendar for 8 weeks and decided I would commit, no matter what, to doing these fairly easy workouts. I’ve kept that commitment for 2 weeks now. It just feels so great to be back sort of active and have that sense of “me” and accomplishment, however small.
Nutrition During 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Pregnancy
First pregnancy, I remember that I wouldn’t eat vanilla wafers because I was afraid of what processed foods would do to the baby. That’s funny now. After the brief nausea period, I returned to eating salads and fruits. I ate a ton of frozen yogurt and fruit when I craved sweets or ice cream.
Second pregnancy, I had a longer period of nausea. Honestly, I have no idea what I ate. I had a very young toddler…so think Cheez-Its. I think I tried to make healthy choices, but I pretty much just gave into the junk and sweets. Third pregnancy. Wow. Once the nausea subsided it was like a candy bar massacre by my bed every night until my body gained 10 lbs in a month. Then the junk cravings ebbed. Now, one of my other commitments is to have a shake like shakeology at least once a day. And to eat one plant-based vegan meal. The rest of the day is filled with junk. And I mean JUNK!
2 Approaches to Pregnancy Weight Gain and Recovery
First approach Fit Women take to Pregnancy: Fight your instincts. Stay Fit at all costs (to your sanity).
I think there are 2 approaches fit women take to pregnancy weight gain and recovery. And I’ve taken both of them. I’ve seen the differences and there are positives and negatives to both. There is the approach where you delve deep into your self-control throughout the entire 10 months. You tell yourself no to nearly every craving and appetite surge. You force yourself to go for a run when you feel like napping. The result is that at your 6 week postpartum appointment, you will receive looks of utter contempt when you walk in with your flat tummy and pre-pregnancy jeans. I’ve been that girl. It’s sort of nice, but I don’t know if it’s worth fighting against God and nature for 9 months. I remember a text that my brother sent me between my salads and 7 mile walks/runs. Sometimes guys say the simplest things that are so profound!
“Lauren, you realize you’re SUPPOSED to get FAT, right?”
Sure I was smiling telling everyone about the joys of a fit pregnancy. But…I was fighting it hard. And it actually felt very unnatural. And actually… it is. In a healthy pregnancy, you are supposed to gain 8-10 lbs just in body fat probably so that when you breastfeed, your body has something to pull from. Otherwise you end up looking like a concentration camp victim in those months after pregnancy. I believe God made the system. When you study all the hormonal changes that happen so that you will have cravings and overeat, you will see that He put some thought and work into the pregnancy process of making you get faaaaaat. It’s actually a beautiful thing. I see women with their cherub like plumb faces and full hips and smile thinking about how God feels about this season of our lives. He is happy about the sacrifice where women are willing to give up who they are for a season and embrace the beauty of baby making.
- You have to hold on so tight to control. Putting so much energy into fighting your instincts. It can be frustrating and feel in ways like self-control bondage. You will probably be in a bad mood…often. Because you are hungry, in a constant state of self-denial.
- You may lose a tooth or two. I actually lost a tooth right after this pregnancy. There was no saving it. The baby had taken what it needed. No matter how healthy and nutritious you eat, not enough calories is not enough calories and it can do bad things to your body. Along those same lines… Your face and skin will age. Ever seen Hollywood celebs or those moms that stay skinny during/right after pregnancy and how they look about 10 years older? This happened to me also. It took many months (and chemical months) for me to get some elasticity back and not look “aged”.
- You will have haters. See my next point.
- You will be full of yourself. I remember taking this pic and putting it up on social media of me holding my weeks-old newborn, of course in a side-profile pose, so that everyone on social media could see that I looked like I hadn’t even had a baby (except for the obvious fact that I was holding a newborn). What was I trying to prove? Well I had denied myself and stayed pissed and frustrated for 9 months!!!! I wanted to show off!! But what is the point of this? To boost my poor self-worth and identity by making others feel jealous, resentful or bad. I see other moms taking these pics and posting them. And now, having been one of them, I just kind of grimace thinking how they will feel when they make this realization later themselves.
- You don’t have to spend so much energy in the months after pregnancy. You don’t have to fight for a restoration in your self-control. You can maintain all of your working out and nutrition habits picking up right where you left off.
- Your clothes and wardrobe. Bye-bye maternity (if you even ever had to switch over to maternity). Hello pre-pregnancy clothes…like within weeks of giving birth. And actually after a couple of months, when you begin to look like that concentration camp victim, you can buy some new clothes fit for a runway model (like Kate Moss).
- You will have confidence. You did something really hard and maintained self-control in fitness in nutrition throughout. (see above point on being full of yourself)
The Second Approach Pregnancy: Give in for a season. Get fat. Have fun. Then fight later to get back to fit.
This is the one that most (even fit women) women choose I think. Let go. Give into the junk cravings and hibernation instinct. Enjoy how awesome ALL food tastes (seriously one time I announced in normal conversation that food tasted even better than when I used to smoke weed! I have no filter when I’m pregnant…ugh), and a season of freedom (most of the time) from guilt. Enjoy resting your body and taking a reprieve from intense workouts (or workouts at all). Step out from under the pressure of a fitness life style for a few months.
- You will gain more weight and probably lose some muscle.
- You will look at those smiling “fit pregnancy” blog posters and feel guilty. Don’t read those.
- You will probably find satisfaction and pleasure in the wrong things: sweets, junk, and the chemical brain release these drugs will give you.
- You will have to strap down for a few months after pregnancy. Two-a-day workouts and a very clean (restricted) diet. Many fit women are able to bounce back to their normal fit bodies within 6 months.
- But… for 6 months you will feel strange in your own skin. For 6 months you will be limited in wardrobe not wanting to continue wearing maternity but not fitting yet into your pre-pregnancy clothes.
- Possibly another negative is for the baby. But as long as you are taking pre-natals and enough calcium, the baby will get all she needs and be more likely to be healthy if you gain too much than all the risks to her if you gain too little.
- You will be on the same journey that most pregnant women are on after pregnancy. You will find community, friendship, and smiles in the doctor’s office at your postpartum.
- You will give your body and person a rest. A season to just have fun and enjoy being a fat pregnant lady. Rest your body, take it easy. And take a break from society’s pressures.
- When you get back to it…You will enjoy the thrill of working out again and shaping your body back into the sculpted shape it once was in. It’s amazing how wonderful working out feels once you are able to again with new endorphin-driven energy. You have your natural energy back and the thrill of working out that you used to enjoy is all the sudden new to you again. You fall in love with fitness all over again.
- And with nutrition. You get the chance to delve back into nutritious eating in a deeper and more satisfying way. It takes a little extra oomph to get back to where you were, and this results in learning new nutrition (and fitness) strategies that might have been left undiscovered had you not been faced with the challenge. After my second pregnancy (where I took this 2nd approach), I became plant-based, vegan. I loved it. I could feel my internal systems cleaning and becoming new.
- You will embrace pregnancy and being a mom. When you let go, you are not resentful of pregnancy robbing you of your fit body. You disconnect your worth and identity from what you look like. You realize that people in your life, especially the new life you created, love and cherish you for the beauty that you are not what you look like. This clean slate experience allows you to enter back into your fitness journey afresh. No longer is there a harmful connection to your worth, but you are merely having fun doing what you love (and cherishing the body God gave you).
There are probably some in between ways to approach pregnancy too. Heck. You could take a couple years off afterward and just focus on being a mom, giving little thought to your nutrition and fitness. I’ve seen some friends do this. For some, it was a vanity-crusher (in a good way) for some it was a soul-crusher causing them to feel depressed. Some just let go a little during pregnancy, and then have a little less work to do afterward. It’s actually just as aggravating (for me anyway) to go this route. And if I just go ahead and give into a craving to eat 3 candy bars a night for two weeks, my hormones adjust my appetite and cravings for the weeks after (where I naturally crave and eat less).
The funny thing is. I’m on track to gain about the same this pregnancy as I did my last. And this weight gain is only different than the first, restrictive-approach pregnancy by about 7 lbs. The result is that I ended up actually a lot fitter 9 months after my second pregnancy than I was 9 months after my first pregnancy. I ended up more humble too, in a better place spiritually.
The fat, fun approach to pregnancy definitely has had more positives for me. But maybe for some, the fit approach would be healthier. I think the approach you choose to take is yours. We are all wired differently and have different hang-ups and issues. You will probably find your own unique approach to pregnancy. It’s between you and God. Only He knows what is best. I just wanted to give some feedback on my experience with both ways.
***But please….whatever you do…don’t take that early, post-partum, side-profile body pose picture. Everyone knows why you are posting it. You won’t get as many of the “I can’t believe you just had a baby!” comments you were wanting. If you are posting one of these or have, I highly recommend taking the FAT pregnancy approach next time if there is a next time. It’s probably what your soul/spirit needs.***
Peace and wholeness,