I honestly thought that I was going to be ‘that’ woman who would stack on the weight during her pregnancy. This is my first baby so it’s all new to me (I’m due is 6.5 weeks) and in the early days I reverted to some old default thinking of mine where I thought if I ate whatever I liked I would open up the flood gates and start eating for two (or three!). In my mind I was convinced that I’d get fat, have the baby and never be able to lose the baby weight ever again.
Being pregnant or not, this thinking reminded me of how many women feel (and how I used to feel day to day) when we have been dieting and have been in control for so long. When I speak to my clients about being an intuitive eater and breaking up with dieting, so many of us have the same fear that I had around taking a more flexible approach which was opening up the flood gates (involves eating everything and anything in sight), getting fat and never being able to lose the weight.
I had an image (read: fantasy) of myself in the early days of pregnancy that I would get up early, go to the gym then come home for a green smoothie, and then I would enjoy having veggies, salad and protein for the rest of the day. I thought I would feel amazing and great all the time and full of energy. This couldn’t have been further from reality. Instead, I struggled to get out of bed, all I craved were carbs and sugar, and I ate my way through the day to just survive. This eating triggered a sense of being out of control. This was very familiar to me and reminded me when I felt like this I would be on the couch, eating for comfort, not putting myself out there, hiding from the world and gaining weight. It took me back to some dark places in my life where I didn’t feel good about myself and it’s places that so many women are currently in now and don’t know how to break free of.
Regardless of where you are at, these are my top tips to turn around any fear around getting fat:
- Stop striving to be perfect. Women put so much pressure on themselves to look and be perfect and it is simply exhausting. We feel that we need to be the perfect partner, daughter, mother, friend, employee etc. Women’s bodies are so closely linked with their identity. Most women see their body as their total being and if they are overweight many think that they are a ‘total failure’, and forget that inside their body is a valuable human being. I find that women are constantly worried about their body, weight and their looks. This constant worry and anxiety can be exhausting which can be a precursor to emotional eating.
- Break up with dieting and the need to be in control. Oscillating between the in control and out of control side is the number 1 thing that will hold you back from success. Whilst you have these 2 sides fighting against each other, you will live in an internal conflict. You are either in control or out of control. Once you are in control, it’s inevitable that the pendulum will swing to the out of control side. This sets up a patter of dysfunctional eating and being – you will be strict for a period of time, and then you will do the opposite of binging and eating everything in site for a period of time. The answer is all about relaxing the in control side, and by doing this you will achieve a natural state of equilibrium. The secret is – we deal best with a balanced, flexible and sustainable approach.
- Self Acceptance. When we are off track it’s so easy to beat ourselves up, however, self-criticism doesn’t work, it actually leads to emotional eating. We need to let go of the ifs and whens. You are worthy now, even if you are not at your ideal weight. The key is to not wait to accept yourself when you are at your ideal weight, it’ s around how can you accept yourself right now (warts and all!). We can only change what we accept and this sets us on the path of transformation.
If you also have this fear around getting fat, the worst thing you can do is clutch to strategies that will keep you in control (they may work in the short term but in the longer term you end up putting back the weight and more!). Being in control also sabotages your weight loss efforts. I know it’s a leap of faith for many of you, but breaking up with dieting and accepting where you are at right now is the game changer and the path to freedom.
As I progressed in my pregnancy I let go of my old default thinking, trusted my body and let go of the perfectionism. I haven’t ended up putting on that much weight (yes there is more around the bum and thighs!!) but it’s no where near what I thought it would be. It’s a great reminder for me around letting go, trusting and accepting 🙂 The most important thing is that I have a beautiful baby boy inside of me and the best thing I can do is to be a great role model in these areas.
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