Overcoming Body Issues in Motherhood
Motherhood is an exciting chapter. There are so many aspects that are pleasant, but it is normal to be anxious and stressed during this journey. Left unhandled, that stress can manifest itself into toxic habits.
For example, when I was a teenager, another time when my body was dramatically changing and hormone levels were out of control. I had an eating and exercise disorder. Already a thin girl, an innocent goal of losing 5 pounds turned into something ugly. I weighed myself daily. To settle my grumbling tummy, I chewed and swallowed gum, or slowly sipped a soda. When I exercised, I pushed myself to the point of exhaustion. My inner strength was based on my ability to tolerate what I was putting myself through. Even with the numbers on the scale going down, I never looked any different in the mirror, or saw how I was depriving my body of nutrients and running on fumes was destroying my health. It got to the point where my family and friends spoke up. My road to recovery was bumpy, but made possible with my strong support system. After many, many years, I thought those days were behind me. It truly came as a surprise when those insecurities returned while in the 2nd trimester of my pregnancy.
All my OBGYN said was, “You’re measuring a little big.” Up until that point, I had a nauseating 1st trimester, and was more than happy to finally enjoy food. Knowing I was providing nutrients for my baby, I ate healthier than I ever had in my life. My baby was healthy, and I was excited to see my belly grow. I felt pretty healthy. It was then I felt “big.”
I uploaded a dieting app, tracked my food intake and weighed myself daily. I started to watch a lot of prenatal workout videos. I even started to measure my belly. This went on for about a week until my husband stepped in.
I gloss over the healing process - not to ignore it, but to emphasize that there is hope, and people who care. In fact, this is one of the reasons I became a Baby Boot Camp Owner. Eating disorders are common, yet they can feel like a private battle that no one could possibly understand. If you understand, then here are some tips that can help!
- Stop comparing your baby bump. Our heights, weights, health histories, activity levels, diet, stages of pregnancy, and fetal positions in the womb result in all kinds of beautiful, healthy bellies.
- Some people will lovingly or jokingly refer to your growing body. If bothered, speak up. Never dwell how their comments make you feel.
- No seriously, stop comparing yourself to other moms. We all experience pregnancy, childbirth, and healing differently, and it’s very easy to edit our lives on social media.
- Figure out your triggers. They may be people, objects, or places. Minimize or cut off exposure as part of your life-long healthy lifestyle.
- What you eat and how you exercise should never be viewed as punishment or a source of shame. Enjoy your food, make exercise fun, and practice moderation! Don't forget to congratulate yourself.
- Embrace a positive village. Find support in family, extended family, friends, co-workers, local meet-ups, and/or therapy. Pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood are not things to be taken lightly. There is always someone who will understand, listen and help. Just ask one of your Baby Boot Camp sisters or owner!
By Heather Osoy, Owner and Instructor of Baby Boot Camp Sacramento (Oak Park), CA