Friday, May 15, 2015

Coming back from disordered thoughts: listening to your body

Long post ahead, and some rambling, you've been warned :)

The one thing that this pregnancy has really put into stark relief for me is how very differently I used to treat my body when I was a teen and in my 20s. I never really "listened" to it - it's true, biological, physical needs.

When I was obese: I would stuff myself past fullness, ignoring any cues that I was too full/didn't need any more food. I would never do any purposeful exercise, despite my muscles pretty much begging for it. I ignored all the aches and pains that a 20 year old should definitely NOT have and just kept on abusing my body.

When I lost the weight, I didn't do it in a healthy way and gained a lot of disordered behaviors (or just switched them from the previous disordered behaviors that had made me fat): I would let myself get REALLY hungry, painfully so. I would go to bed, even if hunger pains were wracking my stomach. I'd eat low-cal things and not really give a thought as to nutrition. I'd exercise when I was exhausted or even sick. And there was a really awful time where I would binge/purge - a disordered mixed up with control issues as well as food issues.

It wasn't until I tried Paleo and switched my goal from thin to healthy that I really started to research what a human body actually needs to perform at it's best and live it's longest. I stopped abusing myself at this point. Exercised for strength. Ate to fuel. Stopped depriving. Stopped indulging.

But it still took years of learning these behaviors (and being really strict with myself about following them) for them to become natural. And it took years for me to realize that my body would very naturally ask for these things (appropriate amounts of foods, exercise, water, sleep, etc) if I paid attention. I had ignored the cues for so long, it took just as long to start to listen to them.

Now, pregnant, and listening to my body is more important than ever. It's all so new and the little person inside me and all the crazy things going on need very different things than I needed before - more sleep, more food, different food, different exercise, etc.

And I am glad I put in the time the past few years of working on listening to my body so that I can listen to it now, when someone else's health is reliant on my ability to do so.

But I say this because, for anyone reading this that struggles with weight/health/etc, that it is a long process to get to a good place (and I am not even in the ideal place with regards to all of this, I still struggle! But I am light years from where I was). Don't give up because it doesn't feel natural and it feels like you will be "forcing" yourself to engage in healthy behaviors forever. It takes a long time (I think much longer than the supposed 21 days people suggest) to really make something a habit. And even longer to just know that you can listen to your hunger/thirst/sleep/etc cues and know what you crave is what's best for you.

Now that I am not forcing myself to overeat or undereat, I have begun to trust that physical cues are real. I rarely have a true craving (sure, I always WANT cookies, but my body doesn't crave them, haha), but when I do, it is usually for fish or romaine lettuce - isn't that strange? I've noticed if I've gone almost two weeks without fish, I start absolutely dreaming about sushi (unfortunately a big no-no when pregnant, but eating some baked salmon or cod quells the craving, too). Same thing with romaine - I've definitely craved it when I've gone too long without a salad. In fact, at dinner out with Chris' parents the other night, I could have had any number of amazing appetizers, but I was 100% craving a salad and got the garden salad. I felt so amazing satiated afterwards.

But I will say I've been giving into wants during this pregnancy, too, haha. I've eaten more ice cream in 3 months than I have in 3 years (to quantify that, I had almost no ice cream at all the previous 3 years!). And I know I said I don't want to know my weight just the other day, but curiosity got the best of me and I stepped on the scale today. 134! I was 126 when I got pregnant (I had gained a little from my normal 122 to try and get my menstrual cycle a little more regular). So 8 pounds in just over 3 months. I'm happy with that... especially as my debilitating exhaustion starts to wane and my disgust over vegetables is also going away.

I wasn't sure what a healthy pregnancy would look like, or that it would be possible for me because I still struggle so much with body-image. But I am learning as I go, always reminding myself that bringing a healthy little person into this world is the #1 goal. Also high on that priority list is making sure that little person has a healthy, happy mother who can teach him/her that the human body is TOTALLY AWESOME and should be respected and loved and enjoyed to the fullest.

Namaste, friends, enjoy the weekend <3

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