Here we go – the big 3-0! The final countdown into the single digits begins!
People keep asking me if this pregnancy has been any different than the others, and I have no clue how to respond. EVERYTHING about this pregnancy has been different than the others.
And once I saw these three pictures side by side, I realized just how different this pregnancy has been!
Here I am pregnant with Wrigley on the left, pregnant with Parker in the center, and pregnant with baby number three on the right. And each of these photos were taken at the same point in my pregnancies.
So why such a different experience between the three? Why do I look so different from one baby to the next? There are three main reasons why, but first some background.
While we were living in California we discovered an approach to eating that focused on protein and produce, i.e. the Paleo diet. Dan and I both used it as a tool for weight-loss, and I essentially used it as a new means to exercise control and restriction through disordered behaviors with points/calorie tracking.
When I was pregnant with Wrigley I had no clue how to eat or exercise beyond calories in/calories out measures. So I pretty much gave up on any attempt at healthy living.
And before and during my pregnancy with Parker, I was “doing Paleo harder” because I wanted to lose my weight gain from my first pregnancy, and didn’t want to gain 65 pounds again with my second pregnancy. But guess what, that kind of mega backfired and opened up the flood gates on my age old binge cycle.
After a few months on this “must Paleo harder” thing while pregnant, I was not in a good place with my health. So I made the move to seek out support and ended up going into treatment for an eating disorder. Which felt so strange because when you think of eating disorders you don’t typically think of pregnant woman. But there I was, ready to face this habit head on.
Through my treatment I learned how to cope with my emotions instead of restricting or binging on food. I learned that in order to be both mentally and physically healthy I couldn’t subscribe to a diet, and I certainly couldn’t live by a yes/no list of foods that someone else set for me – that I instead had to identify what to eat or what not to eat based on how individual foods made me feel. And I had to learn to make choices in the moment, that were not driven by emotions.
After Parker was born I was still trying to navigate life post eating disorder treatment with all my new tools. Most of my time was spent managing old habits to avoid the diet mode to lose the baby weight, and I hadn’t reached the point where I was ready to work on forming new habits. And that was fine because there was still so much progress being made towards learning to live, and not living to diet.
Which brings me to now. The circumstances surrounding this pregnancy have allowed me to actually develop new habits. To not live in the space of creating physical changes, but to instead support the natural changes that pregnancy brings. And to actually form habits that support a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.
I have been able to put all that I learned into action and I can see and feel the difference it has made!
So, the three things that have set me up for my healthiest pregnancy yet…
> Sleep became a top priority. My ability to cope with the normal stressors of the day are completely contingent on how rested I feel, so I have done my best to always choose rest.
> Investing in hobbies became mandatory, as opposed to “as time allowed for them”. I had never thought about my hobbies before I read The Happiness Project. But that book made me realize that I actually have hobbies that recharge me and keep me feeling balanced. I love to read books that have nothing to do with health, write for the sake of writing, and lift weights for fun. Who knew I actually had hobbies?! So I now carve out daily time for those activities.
> Health habit journaling became a key tool for choice formation. I have been jotting down my eats and habits in a journal and checking my choices against weekly goals. With calorie tracking/points tracking aps I never reviewed my choices; I simply labeled the day as good or bad based on whether or not I was able to hit a numeric goal. But actually setting weekly health goals and checking my choices against those goals has been incredibly insightful. I am actually understanding this whole “making choices to feel your best” thing.
These three pieces, along with how insanely supportive Dan is, have helped me let go of the all or nothing approach and to instead work on striking a balance daily. As a result, my body has gained weight at a rate that is right for me, and I have hardly dealt with any pregnancy symptoms that came with my 60 pound (+) weight gains in my previous pregnancies.
So yes, everything about this pregnancy has been different, but that is truly because everything about life right now is different.
I am beyond grateful for all that has led me to this point, and am so excited to see how these discoveries carry on into my future as a mom of three.