My doctor told me he'd like to see me gain around 50 pounds during my pregnancy. While I was willing to do what it took to have healthy babies, the idea of having that much weight to work off once the pregnancy was over was terrifying.
I let my fears about "getting my body back" overshadow one of the best perks of being pregnant — getting to indulge your cravings.
I grew up in a house where exercise wasn't just a priority, it was how we bonded as a family. I've been going to the gym regularly since I was 15, even joining my mother in getting my personal training certification and teaching group fitness classes. Still, like so many women, I struggled with body image and being happy with my weight. Before getting pregnant, much of my self-confidence was tied to my fitness level and appearance and I was desperate not to lose what I had worked so hard for.
During my pregnancy, I monitored my food intake closely, always making sure to get the extra 500 calories per day I needed for my growing boys, but rarely allowing those snacks to come in the form of anything delicious lest I overdo it. Even when I was placed on hospital bed rest and the kind dietitians slipped warm chocolate chip cookies in with my dinner order, I usually passed them off to visitors. It wasn't that I didn't want those sweet treats, because believe me, I did. It was that I dreaded how much work it would be to burn them off after the boys were born. I can count on one hand the number of times I indulged one of my cravings.
If I could go back, I'd say to myself: Put down the Yoplait and pick up the Ben & Jerry's.
I'm not saying pregnancy should be a time to go hog wild and stuff your face like you're a child in a Willy Wonka film. Gestational diabetes is a serious condition and a balanced diet is important to help provide vital nutrients for your growing baby. That being said, nothing will make you forget your poor, swollen sausage feet faster than some hot fudge.
I rarely allowed myself the treats that are synonymous with being pregnant and looking back, I regret it. I'm fairly confident that an occasional bag of cheddar and sour cream chips would have gone a long way in soothing my sciatica while not really changing the way my body looked after giving birth.
Because what I didn't know then that I certainly know now is there's no escaping the fact that pregnancy forever changes your figure. No matter how much weight you gain, the laws of physics are undeniable. When you take something the size of a jackfruit out of your body, there's bound to be evidence left over. Even if the scale goes back to where it was the day you conceived, it's still possible to have stretch marks, loose skin or, in my case, a belly button that looks like it's always frowning.
I won't lie and say I love my body now, but we're working on being on better terms. I've lost the baby weight and then some, but still my soft post-baby midsection still tries to eat the top of my pants whenever I bend over in a yoga class. But I know now that it was bound to be my fate even if I was a little less strict with my diet while pregnant.
My baby-making days are sadly over, so I'll never have another chance to make my junk food dreams a reality. But if you're pregnant and debating whether to treat yourself to a sundae — please, have some sprinkles for me.
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