Because of my thyroid, I gained 20 pounds before getting pregnant. And while pregnant, I’ve gained another 30, and I’m seven months in. Which means I’m going to gain more. Gaining this much weight has made me feel out of control. It has made me hate my body. A vessel I’ve had to work hard to love and appreciate following my trauma. A vessel that is carrying my baby.
Weight has always been a challenge for me. During undergrad, I gained a ton of weight from eating and drinking too much in an attempt to self-soothe, so in my 20s, I had to figure out how to lose it, and I did. From that point forward, I kept a tight watch on my weight. I wrote down what I ate every day. I exercised. I weighed myself often. And I managed to stay the same weight for years. It was something I could control. Until my thyroid condition caused me to gain it again. Which made me feel out of control. And now, my pregnancy.
I was doing a good job embracing food in the beginning of my pregnancy. Not restricting it. Letting myself have what I was craving. Eating as often as I needed to and even having treats most days. And I relaxed in my exercise routine, respecting that most days, I was too fatigued. It was a freedom I hadn’t let myself experience before. And I felt joyful.
Of course my clothes didn’t fit, I’m pregnant. Of course I went up a size or two, I’m pregnant. And to fully embrace my growing body, I decided not to weight myself. And not to look when they weighed me each month at the OBGYN. Then, at a recent appointment, the midwife told me my weight. And it sent me into a downward spiral.
It made me hate myself. And my body. It made me feel trapped in my now larger skin. Made me despise myself. Feel uncomfortable with every move. It made me want to self-harm. But I’m pregnant, so I didn’t. And I was forced to sit with my discomfort. To accept myself and my body.
As time went on, I became more familiar with my now larger body. I even started appreciating it for carrying my baby. And I haven’t looked back since. Teaching me self-acceptance. And helping me practice self-love.
If you struggle with self-acceptance, here are some things you can do to practice self-love:
- Go easy on yourself. This is a tough one. Many of us are our own worst critics. I find that when I’m being hard on myself, if I catch it, I can tell myself to let go. It’s something that takes practice, but it’s worth trying. Breathe in “let” and breathe out “go.”
- Try not to have expectations. Expectations often lead to feeling let down because nothing in life really goes as we expect it to. Instead of having expectations, think of how you want to be as a human, and let the rest unfold naturally.
- Stop caring about what other people think. Easier said than done, I know, but taking the pressure off yourself concerning what others think will do wonders for your confidence. The only person whose opinion of you you need to care about is your own.
- Practice positive self-talk. The things we tell ourselves are powerful. You can do a quick exercise by writing down all your thoughts and then observing which ones are negative. Once you’ve identified negative thoughts, replace them with something neutral or positive and try saying that to yourself instead.
- Practice self-care. This looks different for everyone, but do the things that bring you joy. For me, it’s journaling, meditating and walking in nature every day. And I try to add things like practicing yoga throughout the week. Find what brings you joy and make time for it. You deserve it.
Whatever ways you find ways to accept yourself, make sure you practice self-love every day. Do things that show you the love you have for yourself. You are so worth it.
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Photo by Jonathan Borba