What started as almost a 1-minute jog turned into a strong 2 miler. What changed the outcome? Being able to master my mindset.
When I first hit the pavement the Midwest winter chill hit me full force. My lungs and nostrils were burning and it hurt to breathe. My hands felt as if they were slowly dying. The negative thoughts started coming in hot.
“What are you doing?”
“Just turn around now.”
“You’re not going to last long.”
“It’s too cold to run.”
“You need more layers.”
“Try again another day.”
These thoughts almost convinced me to turn around. They almost won.
I chose to talk back to them instead.
“It’s cold right now, but maybe after a while, I’ll get used to it.”
“I’m sure I’ll warm up throughout the run.”
“You can do this.”
“You can do hard things.”
“Push a little bit more.”
“Hang in there just a moment longer.”
“It’ll get better.”
“You may not get another sitter to go for a run in the next few days.”
I continued to play a game with myself and convince myself to run “just a bit further,” to see if the run improved.
I challenged myself to run to the upcoming traffic sign. Once I got there I told myself that I could at least make it a few more blocks. Once there I convinced myself that I could keep running until the grocery store up ahead.
“Then you can turn back,” I kept telling myself, although secretly I knew I planned to keep pushing myself further.
Before I knew it I was a mile in.
My body warmed up, my breathing regulated, and I felt strong and capable.
As I turned around and made my way back I thought about how I was able to overcome those negative thoughts and how thankful I was because my run ended up feeling so great. Those thoughts almost won though. I was so close to turning around barely a minute into the run.
Starting really is the hardest part.
No matter what you’re starting, remember that. Challenge yourself to keep going and to stick with it just a bit longer to see if it eases up. Most of the time it does and you’ll be thankful you persevered.
I stepped out of the shower and there it was, staring back at me in the mirror.
My first reaction was denial, “That’s just part of my linea nigra,” I thought.
But it didn’t make sense that it would veer off to the right around my outstretched belly button and grow wider in width.
At the time I’m writing this I am less than two weeks out from my estimated due date. I really thought since I was so close to my due date that I dodged the pregnancy stretch mark bullet, but I was wrong.
At first, I contacted my two sisters to let them know about this new discovery of mine.
Here were their responses:
My younger sister, “Really?!?!?! That’s exciting!!”
Exciting? Not the word I would have used to describe the finding… but then she made a good point, “It’s part of pregnancy though,” she reminded me.
Then my older sister’s response really hit home, “Think about how many women would love to have a stretch mark from pregnancy.”
Wow. So true.
There are many women who have not been able to experience pregnancy that wish they could and would love to have a stretch mark from being able to experience carrying and birthing a baby.
This really got me thinking that many of the things that we may be complaining about or dislike about our bodies are the same characteristics or aspects that another person dreams about having.
Now I wasn’t making a huge deal about the stretch mark, I was just hoping to not have to have them. It’s part of pregnancy though like my sister said. When you really think about it – it’s amazing when women go through pregnancy without having a stretch mark when you consider how much the skin stretches throughout the process. I mean you’re body is adapting to grow another human!
This moment made me check my mindset regarding my body throughout my pregnancy journey. Whether you are pregnant, trying to lose weight, trying to bulk up, or stick to a workout regimen learning to love and accept our bodies is HARD.
We live in a society where we are constantly told we aren’t good enough, skinny enough, good looking enough, and that we need/should look a certain way or fit into a certain size to fit society’s “norm.” If you scroll through social media it’s easy to focus on all of the celebrities and models posting their half-naked perfect bodies everywhere – it’s a challenge to not compare ourselves!
Although it may be easy to fall into this comparison trap, we don’t have to accept this. We can choose to make a commitment to love ourselves and our bodies despite what society and social media are telling us or showing us.
I’ve been using these exercises and strategies throughout my pregnancy because there are A LOT of changes happening with my body and I know that after this babe is born my body will not be how it was pre-baby. They have helped me and I hope they also help you along your journey to self-acceptance.
Here are the 5 strategies I used to change my mindset to love, honor, and accept my changing body.
1) Reframe your self-talk.
We are often our own worst critic. The self-talk that we use towards ourselves and our own bodies are things we would NEVER say to someone else. Learn to be your own best friend by being aware of what you are saying inside your own head. If what is being said is harmful and detrimental to yourself and your path along accepting your body then change it and reframe it to be helpful instead.
If you find yourself looking in the mirror and think, “My thighs are huge.”
Recognize that this is hurtful to accepting yourself and change it to something more effective such as, “My thighs are strong and powerful.”
This simple reframing technique changes your perception of what you are seeing in the mirror.
Try it out for yourself with a common hurtful phrase you say to yourself in the mirror. How can you change that statement and reframe it to benefit you? Notice the difference in how it makes you feel after you say it.
2) Be grateful for what your body does.
We easily criticize ourselves and our bodies for what we see or would like to see in the mirror. Instead, focus on what your body DOES for you and to be grateful for that instead of tearing it down.
To start, print off a photo of a silhouette, like the one shown on the left, and spend time focusing on each body part.
What are you grateful for regrading each body part? Spend time really considering what each body part actually does for you and what you appreciate about it instead of criticizing it.
This activity was brought to my attention by a former co-worker of mine named Brittany. She has a variety of awesome body-positive activities.
3) Do what feels good for you.
We are constantly bombarded with headlines and social media with certain workouts to try or exercise regimens to follow. However, what works for one person does not work for another.
Instead of doing what you think you “should” do, be in-tune with your body and do what feels good it. There are many different varieties and types of exercises so try them out and find what works best for you. Instead of signing up for a membership to that gym or that class that you feel like you should do, find what exercises and activities actually bring you joy and make you feel less like you’re working out, but more like you’re having fun! Your body is a powerful vessel, so use that to your advantage instead of torturing it by doing something you dread.
It doesn’t matter what the exercise is – it could be kickboxing, yoga, Zumba, water aerobics, CrossFit, running, or group training exercises. As long as you are enjoying what you are doing and it feels good to you mentally, emotionally, and physically stick with it. If you enjoy the exercise that you are doing, you will be more motivated to stick to it!
If you are able to change your mindset and workout to feel good about yourself, rather than to decrease the number on the scale or to fit into a certain size, you will notice that you are more motivated to work out and it will become more of a habit rather than feel like a chore.
One thing I really noticed throughout my pregnancy is that working out benefits me on many other levels. While pregnant my goal while working out is definitely not to decrease the number on the scale. I’ve worked out every day just about throughout my pregnancy journey and as I decrease my intensity, increase modifications, and see my weight go up each week at my doctor’s appointment, I still am able to feel good about myself after each workout because I’m doing it for myself – not to reach a certain number in weight, size in clothes, or for other people.
4) Use food as fuel.
Similar to finding a workout regimen that works for you and feels good for you, food should be used as a way to fuel your body in a way that feels good to you instead of something to restrict yourself from. There’s so much research out there that shows that “fad diets” are not sustainable. You may see some short-term changes, but they will not last long-term.
Many people become frustrated after committing to a diet and seeing results to only have them become reversed soon afterward. I know for myself if I avoid certain foods or tell myself that certain foods are “not allowed,” I want them even more. The cravings intensify and I may end up indulging in these foods at an even greater rate than I would if I simply allowed myself to enjoy it in the first place.
Moderation is the keyword in food consumption here. Instead of counting calories – focus on the amount of food you’re eating instead. Let your portions do the talking instead of the calorie labels. Besides, we are humans who are designed to consume food, not just calories.
Tempted to eat that cheesecake at the potluck? Do it. You can allow yourself a piece instead of avoiding it like the plague and being tempted to consume the entire cake later on. Just remember to eat what feels good for you and your body and use it to correctly fuel your body like gasoline in a car. Your body is your vessel so nourish it properly.
Food is not the enemy, it’s our perception about food and our relationship with it that’s harmful.
5) Talk to others for support.
We often may feel alone about our body insecurities. We are alike more than we are different though! Everyone experiences negative self-talk and body image issues. The difference is that some people have been able to work through this and have learned to love themselves and their bodies. They have built strategies to ignore that negative voice in their heads and tell themselves more positive messages.
Instead of feeling like we have to endure our negative self-talk and negative body image by ourselves we should open up and talk about it. This will not only help you but also help others to realize that they are not the only ones either!
Most of the time the people we think “have it all together,” with no problems are the ones who may be struggling the most. Honesty is the best policy and connecting with others for support is the best way to overcome our challenges. We can connect with others by showing our vulnerability and being open and honest about our struggles. There’s strength in numbers.
Again the 5 strategies/exercises to overcome our negative self-talk about our bodies and learn to accept and embrace ourselves are:
Reframe your self-talk
Be grateful for what your body does
Do what feels good for you
Use food as fuel
Talk to others for support
I hope you can take away one tip to use on your journey towards self-acceptance because we only get one body in this life so let’s treat it with the love and respect it deserves.
We are all living in uncertain and stressful times right now. Although these times may be hard, it also is what makes us stronger. If we can get through the tough and difficult things, we will come out on the other side fostering resiliency, courage, and strength.
“Your strength comes from embracing the challenges in life.”
When we feel we are experiencing stress it first appears as physical symptoms. We may feel our heart race, our breath quicken, our palms become sweaty, mind racing, and other symptoms that send a signal to our brain that something is not ok. Our brain takes these signals to be something dangerous and sends them to our “lizard brain,” otherwise known as the amygdala, where the flight, flight, or freeze response kicks in. This is a defense mechanism to protect us when our body and brain believes that we are in danger.
However, what if we aren’t in danger? The world we live in is no longer like it was back in the caveman days. We can leave our homes without the worry of being mulled by a tiger or lion. We can use our phones to check what the weather will be before we go on a trip without being swept away by a tropical storm. Yes, there still are dangers in our world, but it’s much less than it used to be.
Although we may physically live in a safer world, our psychological makeup is still wired to see the danger in places where danger might not be present. Often when we feel pressure or experience something stressful, such as tryouts in our sport, a big game, an interview, or an important test, our bodies react the same way as we would if we encounter a tiger. These two do not compare though in actual danger. The danger we are experiencing is perceived danger, not actual danger. We may not be able to change our physical response to these experiences, but we can recognize when this stress response is occurring and change how we perceive it so that we can use it to our advantage before our lizard brain kicks in.
New studies have discovered that stress may actually be good for us. If perceived in a productive way, stress actually strengthens us. It enhances our focus as well in a time where it’s needed most. If we can learn to embrace the stress and pressure in a situation, like a high stakes performance, we will come out on the other side on top.
Let me tell you a story about butterflies…
When a butterfly first begins to emerge from its cocoon, it must struggle in order to strengthen its wings. If someone frees the butterfly from its cocoon before it’s ready, the butterfly will not be able to fly. This is because the butterfly’s crucial tempering stage will not have occurred and they will not be strong enough. Essentially, the butterfly finds it’s strength through the struggle.
What does this mean? It means that we are like butterflies! We NEED to struggle in order to find ways to overcome, adapt, and rise from the stress we are enduring so that we can come out stronger. If we are “saved,” then we will not learn the valuable lessons that come from the struggle.
This is why helicopter or lawnmower parents are actually damaging their children’s grit. They are interfering with their child’s experience to embrace the struggle, to persist, and to come through it, in the end, stronger than before. These are valuable life skills for kids to learn that will propel them forward in their future. Life is not easy. We will suffer and we willl fail. We will endure challenging and stressful times. However, the sooner we experience this the sooner we develop the tools to get through these situations in a way that strengthens us instead of destroying us.
The same goes for athletics. In the world of sports there is a lot of stress that coaches, teams, and athletes experience physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Your athletic career may be full of ups and downs, highs and lows, and goods and bad times. Remind yourself during those lulls in your career that this is preparing you. It’s strengthening you to become even better than you were before. We need challenges to rise. No athlete, team, or coach had a perfect career. They all experienced struggle. They all experienced stress. They all experienced pressure and have failed. It’s all about how you view it and how you push through it.
View your struggles and challenges as being in your own cocoon. It will become the very thing that will strengthen your wings, in the end, to allow us to fly forward. Just like a caterpillar turns into a beautiful butterfly due to the stress and struggle it encounters – we must learn to become our own butterfly by finding the beauty in the struggle.
Stress isn’t inherently bad. It only becomes harmful when we perceive it as a negative thing. If we can change our perception and see it as a productive thing – we get stronger and we build from it.
“If we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.”
As I near the end of my second trimester and am about to begin my third I have noticed significant changes in my body. If you have had a child already or currently pregnant I’m sure you can relate! The tossing and turning at night, the backaches, the tightness in the hips, the decreased range of motion, and all of the other joys of motherhood that us expecting mamas appear to face.
The BEST part for me though is to feel the baby move! Although I have heard as I near towards my due date that these baby movements won’t feel so pleasant, I have currently been trying to soak up every little squirm, kick, and twirl I can. 🙂
I have found within the past few weeks that I have officially moved into the beginning stages of discomfort. I thought it would be best for me to share these discomforts of pregnancy through this blog to see what other mamas have experienced or to offer any insight I can for future expecting mamas. This is all coming from my experience though since that is the only experience I can actually speak on. Your pregnancy journey may be completely different from mine, you may find that you can relate to what I’m saying, or you might not relate at all – and that’s OK! That’s the beauty with pregnancy – we all have our own journey and stories to tell.
I will be breaking down the discomforts I have been noticing and what game changers I have discovered that have eased my discomfort so far. I’m currently 26 weeks along these are what I have found useful. Maybe you can pull something from this for yourself or your friend or maybe you don’t. Either way, I appreciate you taking the time to tune in. 🙂
Top Pregnancy Game-Changing Items:
1. New shoes:
No matter what kind of physical activity you decide to do throughout your pregnancy, you might notice that your shoes pre-pregnancy might not fit as well. They may feel rather snug, not provide as much support, or you may feel aches and pains in your legs that you didn’t feel before. During my pregnancy, I have been trying to continue running, which looks very different than pre-pregnancy. My first few runs were awfully painful and I encountered IT-band issues, ankles locking up, and tight hips and calves. I decided to purchase a new pair of kicks and WOW has that been a game changer! Some things to keep in mind when purchasing new shoes during pregnancy are that your feet may grow due to swelling and from the added weight so consider going up a size. This will also provide more room for your feet. I also purchased Brooks due to their arch support and wide toe box to ensure that my toes had enough room during my runs. I have noticed that my runs are less painful and I can run longer.
2. Body pillows:
I’m not sure how you have been sleeping but since I hit the 5 month mark my baby bump experienced significant growth, which led to an increase in tossing and turning at night. I struggled to get comfortable, took a while to fall asleep, and would wake up often. In the morning I would wake up feeling I aged 50 years overnight. My hips would ache and be sore, my back felt like it was broken, and it took a lot of effort to hoist myself out of bed. For my birthday my husband purchased a body pillow for me and that has been helping me with my sleep. At first, I almost returned it because it was big, bulky, and difficult to get used to. I struggled to learn how to sleep with it and so did my husband. As my belly grew so did my need for that pillow. Now I couldn’t imagine sleeping without it. I find it helpful to prop the lower part between my legs for added support, which have been assisting in my hip pain. I also like to push the long side against my back if I’m turned away from it for added lumbar support and to help avoid rolling over on my back. If I am facing it I like to snuggle up against it and prop it under my belly for added support as well. I still wake up and toss and turn, but it has decreased significantly and I wake up feeling less achy. There are a lot of different types of body/pregnancy pillows so choose one that will be right for you. I chose this one because I didn’t want one that completely wrapped around me since I still enjoy cuddling my hubby at night and didn’t want to create a divider between us. The photo above is the one I purchased on amazon.
3. Foam Roller:
I have been committed to staying active during my pregnancy despite the aches, pains, discomfort, and modifications that I encounter. My workout regimen may not be what it used to be, and that’s ok. I’m learning how to embrace my new pregnant body and how to workout within my new limits. One thing that still occurs though is sore muscles. Whether it’s tight IT bands and calves, tight and sore upper back, or tight hips my foam roller eases these aches and pains tremendously. Start off slowly with your foam roller though and take your time to ease into it! You have a pregnant belly now and you want to be careful and mindful where you roll to avoid causing any discomfort to your baby. I have found that even sitting for an extended period of time takes a toll on my back and after a few minutes on my roller I have an increased range of motion throughout my spine.
4. See a Chiropractor:
I recently saw my Chiropractor and THANK YOU LORD that he is still open during COVID-19. Yes, I did expose myself and my baby going there, but the back and hip pain I was experiencing were unbearable and foam rolling only was providing temporary ease. I felt safe at my chiropractor’s office due to the new regulations in place such as spacing out clients so they aren’t exposing each other, wiping down everything thoroughly between clients (even the pens,) wearing a mask and gloves himself, and pre-screening others before they come in. Since the state of emergency has been set into place that put a dent in my pregnancy self-care plans such as prenatal massages, pedicures, and prenatal classes. As your baby grows, your uterus expands to the point where your protruding abdomen affects your posture, which creates changes in your pelvis and increases the curve of your back. Your spine curves more than it did before and it adds a lot of stress on your hips, spine, and back area. This can lead to many of these areas becoming out of place which will lead to aches and pains. Seeing a chiropractor puts these concerns at ease and promotes body functioning health. Other benefits of seeing a chiropractor during pregnancy include:
Maintaining a healthier pregnancy
Managing symptoms of nausea
Reducing the time of labor and delivery
Relieving back, neck or joint pain
Preventing a potential cesarean delivery
Before seeing a chiropractor though I’d suggest asking for reviews from current and former patients of the chiropractor, completing a screening and assessment with the chiropractor, and checking in with the chiropractor’s experience and comfort level with adjusting pregnant women.
5. High waisted leggings:
Before pregnancy, a comfortable pair of leggings was a must-have. They are even more in need during pregnancy. Gone are the days of dressing up in my cute jeans and work pants, which now are exchanged for comfort. Stretchy pants all the way! Thank goodness I have no reason to get dressed up anyways seeing how we are all held up in our homes for the most part. This means I get to lounge around in my high waisted leggings all day every day. Anything tight around the bump is very uncomfortable so I highly recommend purchasing some good pairs for comfort. They also work out very well to work out in.
As I mentioned earlier, backaches come with pregnancy, especially as you move closer towards your due date. This lack of mobility from my spine and added pressure has led to a lot of discomfort. I have found that yoga has assisted with the fluid movement of my spine tremendously, as well as the tightness I have been experiencing in my hips. I have a free account at this online website where I can select the intensity, style, and length of a yoga class. They even have prenatal and postnatal yoga classes, which have been feeling wonderful as my body changes and grows. They even have a great deal going on if you want to purchase the subscription during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the free account, you still have access to a wide variety of classes, except the ones marked with a plus sign. I highly recommend checking it out to increase movement and ease aches and pains you might be feeling.
7. Loosely fitted shirts:
I said it before and I’ll say it again – comfort is key while finding clothes to wear during pregnancy. As my body grows and adapts for baby my clothes become tighter and tighter. What once used to be my comfy t-shirts are now a struggle to get on and off and are now uncomfortably tight in the chest and tummy area. They also are shorter and expose by expanding baby bump, which isn’t the most comfortable at times. I have tried to stick to loosely fitted shirts and even purchasing shirts up a size to allow for more room. For cuter clothes I went to Old Navy and found flowy shirts that are PERFECT for my growing bump. You don’t always need to look at maternity clothes – bigger sized flowy shirts work great and you can continue to wear them after baby. Win-Win!
There you have it – my go-to items to make your pregnancy as comfortable as possible. As I said, you might have other items that you prefer and might even have tried some items I mentioned that you disliked. Each journey is different. 🙂
I would love to hear what some other key items are that you found were game-changers during your pregnancy. So please reach out and share!
This is the title of an article that came across my social media newsfeed the other day. It drew my attention since I have been experiencing mixed emotions with being pregnant during these uncertain times.
I’ve been told by other mothers that although it is important to have a birth plan, it is also important to be flexible because the plan usually doesn’t go accordingly. This pandemic is already demonstrating the importance of being able to adapt because just like many things with labor and pregnancy, there was no way to prepare for what is the new norm in the world now.
At first, I thought that this pandemic would pass sooner rather than later. Some might call me naive, I’d call it hopeful and optimistic. Not even a week into this craziness and I can already tell that the later will be happening. At 23 weeks I’m almost nearing the end of the second trimester, which will lead me to the start of my third trimester. Like the article I mentioned above, the third trimester is when my doctor appointments are scheduled every other week rather than once a month. After that, they will be every week until the arrival of this beautiful baby. These appointments, although also at times scary and nerve-wracking, were also full of excitement to see baby’s growth and to hear how things are progressing. Now some of that excitement is gone. Instead of the excitement the panic and fear sets in that, I will be leaving my home, where I’ve been isolating myself from exposure, into a hospital that is exposed. I find myself torn between wanting to keep myself and my unborn baby safe, to wanting to see the doctor, but afraid of who and what has been exposed. After all – hospitals are where people go when they are experiencing symptoms.
Every day I see the numbers of infected individuals increase around the world, in my country, in my state, and even in my county. By the time I’m going to the hospital, those numbers will increase even more. I would say the worst part of this is that there aren’t any answers. Yes, many people have told me that being pregnant puts me more at risk, but if you do the research there aren’t really studies to prove this. I understand wanting to error on the side of caution but the unknown is what gets to me the most. No one really knows how COVID-19 will affect expecting mothers and the growing fetus so we also do not really know how to respond to it.
In the past few days, I’ve been thinking more into the future than trying to find daily activities to get through each day in my house while my husband is at work. I’ve thought of baby showers that will now be canceled, the shortage of essentials that my baby will need such as thermometers, baby wipes, and other staples that are now limited, and the baby classes and massages that I wanted to enjoy that I will no longer be able to. I had breastfeeding classes, a tour of the birthing center, and labor skill classes all on my agenda that now are in limbo.
Since we also don’t even know how long this pandemic will last it has me anxious about the arrival of my baby. I always envisioned a relaxing stay at the hospital and inviting all of our family and friends to visit to welcome our new addition. However, with all of the quarantining, social distancing, and small groups of people that are required this has me concerned. Is my baby going to only know my husband and me until others self-quarantine for 14 days before they can greet our bundle of joy? It’s not ideal, but if it’s what safest for the baby it’ll be what’s needed.
I am a woman of faith though and I full-heartedly believe that God has a plan. God gifted my husband and me with this beautiful baby and he has something in store for it. I intend to see what that plan is. Obviously I hope that the plan is that we bring this baby safely into this world, despite everything that’s going on. I need to continue to trust and pray that he will help me relieve my stress and anxious thoughts and take each day as it is. Trust his plan, that’s all I can do while keeping myself and my baby as safe and healthy as possible.
My husband has said that everyone else is worried for me and baby because I am not worried enough myself. I am worried though, I mentioned all of my worries and concerns earlier. I choose not to focus on these worries though because they are out of my control. Worrying will not serve me and my baby will feel the stress, which is also not helpful. I continue to choose to have hope and faith in the future instead.
One way I help myself focus on the positives over the negatives is to be mindful of when my baby moves. Every time my baby moves I am reminded of the strength, power, and determination my baby has. My baby is ALIVE and I choose to continue to be alive to the best of my ability rather than to isolate and avoid. I’m not saying I am going to put myself out there into big groups of people, but I choose to not over-worry and to not be overcautious because it mentally and emotionally doesn’t help me.
I also know through my training and expertise as a mental performance consultant that if we allow ourselves to fall victim to our negative “what if” thoughts that they will continue to grow and take up all of our focus and will lead to anxiety. This anxious thought will consume us and impact how we act and dictate our decisions moving forward. I choose not to be consumed with doubt, worry, and anxiety. Just like in athletics, if you are unable to be self-aware and to buy into to these anxious “what-if” thoughts it will only end up being detrimental to your performance. Just as I teach and remind athletes and teams to be aware and re-construct their negative and anxious self-talk, I must do the same. I want to provide my baby with a healthy environment that is as stress-free as I can make it, especially in a time where the world is experiencing more stress and unknown than normal.
To all of the expecting mothers out there during this challenging time – you’ve got this. You will come out of this even stronger than before, which will be important for your baby to witness. Your child will also become stronger from this experience as well. Even your relationship with your partner will become stronger as you navigate the path of parenthood together during these uncertain times. Parenthood is full of uncertainty and challenges. Think of this pandemic as just another one of those things that parents overcome together for the sake of their child.