Body Image And Fitness Expectations During Pregnancy


I have been running away from my body image issues for as long as I can remember.  Since I was a child, I felt fatter than the other girls in my class. In my 20’s, I was 40 pounds overweight and was incredibly embarrassed.  I went to extremes to lose excess weight.  In my early 30’s, I was a new “fit” self, holding myself to a higher standard, terrified to gain anything back.  But here’s the kicker, I never felt “fit” enough.


I was a Personal Trainer at an all women’s club and I really enjoyed helping the women I was working with.  I began to understand the complexities of the body images that affect all women regardless of age.


But I couldn’t understand my own. When I became pregnant with my first child, I was thrilled.  My husband and I struggled for over 3 years to have a baby and the thought of my changing body didn’t even cross my mind.  I was fit and strong.  I believed that if I worked out hard enough and watched what I ate, I would keep myself from “letting myself go”.




I pushed myself pretty hard.  I’d strength train for about an hour and I’d do cardio for 45 minutes to an hour every day.  I wanted to keep from getting “pregnant fat”.  I’d indulge occasionally but for the most part, I kept my nutrition in check.  Emotionally, being so strict took a toll.


The truth was, physically, I felt good.  I had energy and I really didn’t feel the typical aches and pains that we associated with pregnancy.  My pain was deep inside.


I struggled with my changing body. Being weighed at every single appointment was a huge trigger.  Although, there was one month that I didn’t gain any weight at all and that was a big win for me, the thought of stepping on the scale was something I dreaded.  

I needed to push harder to get the same result. Only, that was a one-time thing and it didn’t matter how much I tried to keep it off, the weight kept coming on steadily from that point on.

My biggest regret is being embarrassed to the point I didn’t document my pregnancy.


What I failed to understand was that regardless of how fit I was going into pregnancy, my body needed to gain weight. It’s physiologically impossible not to.  I had tricked myself into believing that I could beat the odds.  By the end of my pregnancy, I had gained 50 pounds and was in a rush to get it off.


Don’t get me wrong, I loved my belly and I’m blessed.  My body image issues clouded all logic.  I was so afraid of gaining weight that I was unknowingly putting mine and my baby’s health at risk, and for what

Earlier this week, a video went viral on social media with a woman at 6-months pregnant working to extremes to maintain her 6-pack abs.  What’s more upsetting is that a major publication had picked it up and marketed it as healthy pregnancy fitness.  It’s far from.  It not only perpetuates an unrealistic body type during pregnancy, but many of the moves were not ideal for core and pelvic floor health.  She does mention that her doctor is giving her the okay to continue training in this manner, but for someone who isn’t trained in prenatal fitness can come with emotional and physical risks to others.

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And what may be ‘right’ for another woman’s body, may not be right for you.


 How To Care For Your Body-Image During Pregnancy: 


Setting expectations realistic fitness and body-image expectations will take the emotional pressure off during pregnancy.  Your body needs to change on the inside as well as the out and that doesn’t mean that you have to walk through this time dreading your body’s appearance.  This is such a short time in your life and in the grand scheme of things, running marathons or going 100 burpees in 60 seconds really doesn’t matter.  What matters is your overall health and wellbeing.


Set and maintain boundaries like unfollowing social media accounts that don’t make you feel good about your body is an excellent step in the right direction. Every pregnancy is different, but when it comes to comparing your body to another women may not be supportive to your mental health


Shutting down comments made on your body can be tough (but necessary) when it comes to a loved one or family member. I remember my mom asking of I was going to eat a hotdog in a disapproving tone. But comments like these are, for some reason, “the norm” when kinder things are more pleasant on the ears, that “you’re really eating for two, aren’t you?” or “You must be having a boy because you are getting big!”


Yes, I got these. All of these.

In situations like these, even if well intentioned or meaning in good fun, if they hurt, you can say something like “please stop making comments about my body.” And that’s it. No explanation needed, unless you want to give one.

Going to the point of over exertion during pregnancy isn’t going to determine your level of health.  Sure, these videos on social media may look impressive but can come with serious consequences.  Unfortunately, those are the stories we’re not told.  There are risks and rewards.  What’s worth more?

Body image is emotional for all women but during pregnancy, women tend to struggle the most.  There are women who will go to great lengths to maintain their physique or performance.  Is the fitness industry to blame or does this come from a deeper place?

What do you think?




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