Body Image Struggles During Pregnancy

September 12, 2017

Yesterday, I realized I was 16 weeks pregnant. Yesterday marked the beginning of month five of this pregnancy, which is just C R A Z Y to me. I can still feel the tightness in my chest, the dizziness, the nervousness, the pressure in my cheeks because they hurt from smiling so hard, and the extreme excitement/hyperventilation when I saw those positive pregnancy tests on June 24, 2017.

If you’ve followed me for a long time, you know how badly I’ve always wanted to be a mom. As an extremely indecisive person, being a mom has been the only thing that I have always been 100% sure of. I have always stated that I feel as if it is my purpose in life. Can we have more than one purpose? In my opinion, absolutely. However, my other purposes in life have always been unclear to me. Being a mom? The clearest vision I’ve ever seen.

I have dealt with ups and downs in regards to body image throughout my fitness career, which I have been extremely open about on all of my social media channels. I’ve been underweight, over-exercising, disordered eating (different from an eating disorder), insecure/body body image issues, and more.

I have also dealt with many ups and downs in regards to my health, specifically my reproductive health. I have lost my period many times and luckily regained it back many times, although some times were much harder than others. There came a point after a really tough competition season and really just running myself into the ground health-wise that I realized this wasn’t worth it. I was ruining my hormones and basically ruining the ONE thing that I was sure of in life – wanting to be a mom. Was a super shredded body worth that? Was competing worth that? Was fitness and being the best worth messing up the one thing in life that I felt was my main purpose in life?

NO!

I knew I had to make some changes. I wanted to get healthy and gain my period back for good and take a long period of time focusing on health, first and foremost. That’s not to say you can’t be lean, shredded, or compete and not be healthy, but for me personally, my body was just not having it anymore.

Would I compete in the future? Sure, I never would take it off the table completely. However, I will never completely compromise my health again for that. It’s just not worth it to me.

Anyway, I gained my period back naturally, again. I have done this many times, so I knew what to do. If you’re dealing with this and your doctor is just trying to cover it up with birth control, watch this video – I go into detail of what may help you.

Getting my period back was the first step into focusing on health instead of solely aesthetics. Focusing on aesthetics is wonderful and I always will to some extent, but if it takes over your life or makes you brush extremely important health issues under the rug, that’s when you may need to take a step back.

Fast forward to now – I’m pregnant. Before getting pregnant, I was the healthiest, most balanced I have ever felt in my LIFE. It was such an incredible, yet foreign feeling. I was lean, but not too lean. I was very confident with myself and my body, but I was still healthy and feeling good physically. I have few bad body image days, as I will probably my whole life, but they were far and few between. I wasn’t tracking or weighing every single thing I put into my mouth. I was eating what I wanted, when I wanted, eating out without hesitation, eating dessert, etc. I worked out when I could and when I wanted, but didn’t felt like I had to, I did it because I wanted to be healthy. I felt SO FREE. For the first time in my life, I was completely balanced in all aspects.

I always said to myself that when I was pregnant, I wouldn’t be one of those people that talked about how I was struggling with my pregnant body or seeing my body change. I never understood how women could be self conscious or talk about their body image when they had a miracle inside of their bellies. I always told myself that I would embrace being pregnant and all that comes with it. I would never complain or think badly of myself or my body because I was doing one of the most incredible things in the entire world – creating a human.

Until… I have been going through it myself.

I’m not going to lie, it has been tough. Again, I never though I’d say this but it has. I feel as if the moment I found out I was pregnant, my body changed immediately (even though it wasn’t as drastic as it was in my mind).

My body pre-pregnancy, a few days before I found out I was pregnant.

Seeing my body change much faster than I ever though it would, has been tough for me. I gained weight fairly quickly, likely due to the fact that I was exercising much more and eating much less pre-pregnancy (even though I was balanced, I was likely still eating a low amount of calories due to intermittent fasting and doing much more cardio and exercise than I am now). My stomach and waist, which as always been the smaller part of my body, got wider and much softer extremely quickly (to prepare for the growing uterus). My boobs grew quickly and I already have a ton of stretch marks all over my boobs. My thighs got thicker and cellulite appeared fast on the side and back of my legs. My face looks thicker, as this is always where you noticed weight gain in me first. Clothes don’t fit like the used to, and I obviously don’t look like I did in those same clothes.

Yes, it’s been hard. I don’t have a huge belly yet, so if I’m being honest, I just feel fat. I look in the mirror and don’t like what I see. My eyes immediately go to my stretch marks on my boobs, the new fat I’ve gained (and likely the muscle I’ve already lost), my wide waist, thicker thighs, and more. It’s ridiculous, I KNOW IT IS. I even tell myself that I’m being ridiculous and that I’d never be like this, but I just can’t help it. I’m not confident in this current body and I’m mad at myself for feeling this way.

I’M GROWING A HUMAN FOR PETE’S SAKE, BRITTANY, GET IT TOGETHER.

No, but really. Being pregnant is the most incredible thing in the world. I mean, think about it. The egg meets the sperm, and then implants and immediately starts creating a baby. Week by week, changes are occurring, the tiny bean (as I like to call it) is getting bigger, my uterus is stretching and keeping the baby safe in his little home, baby grows new things each week until eventually baby is complete and I give birth and it’s alive outside of the womb. All of this happens inside of my body and I don’t even have to do anything. My body knows exactly how to do all of this – it’s mind blowing.

So yes, while watching your body change completely and extremely fast can be hard, it’s also a reminder that it’s absolutely worth it. I told my boyfriend Matthew that I didn’t feel comfortable in my body and I felt “gross and fat” and you know what he said? You’re none of those things. Plus, none of that even matters.

My heart.

But it’s true, it doesn’t matter at all. That is the last thing that matters. Gaining weight, being healthy, avoiding things bad for baby, and everything else is all worth it to have a happy, healthy baby after 9 months. Being a mother is one of the most incredible miracles in the world, and I’m so blessed to be able to have this opportunity to bring a baby into this world to love, cherish, teach things to, and raise.

A healthy baby, a healthy pregnancy, a supportive boyfriend/family/friends, love, laughs, and life itself… that is what matters. NOT my body during pregnancy.

If you’re pregnant and going through this, you’re not alone! Just remember, you’re beautiful, you’re growing a human, and you’re damn incredible.

4 Comments
    1. Thank you for writing! Some people are so quick to criticize (like everything else in pregnancy!) if mentioning any negative thoughts or feelings about weight gain. I made a comment last week about losing my thigh gap and someone jumped right it that I should not have any anxiety about that… and big picture I don’t… but feeling my thighs rub for the first time in years still does something weird to my emotions for a minute. Is it bad to say watching the Kardashians helps me feel better? 😂. Really though, stepping away from ‘fitness’ imagery helps me keep things realistic. I hope the joy can keep growing for you (and me!).

      1. Lol it’s so true! I used to never understand how women would feel self conscious until now that I’m going through it. I don’t care how I look, but it’s still hard! Our feelings are totally normal <3

    1. I genuinely don’t know if I want kids now, but if I were to get pregnant, I would always always ALWAYS take into account the health of my child. I’ve seen pictures of new mothers and old mothers posing naked with their baby bumps, and they look absolutely beautiful. I think the fact that women have the ability to give life to another being with the power of their own bodies is beautiful already. Why do we have to physically stamp this idea that mothers always have to look a certain way when they’re pregnant? If you want to stay fit while pregnant, fine. If you want to gain tons of weight and use pregnancy as an excuse to eat all the foods you want (not that it’s ideal on a health standpoint), fine. But anyways, what Matthew said is true! Just do you, and I really look forward to seeing how your beautiful son grows.

      1. Yup!! Baby’s health is MOST important! sometimes you can’t even control what your body does when pregnant. As long as my baby is healthy, that’s all that matters. thank you so much!

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