How Pregnancy Has Changed My Relationship With Food, Exercise & My Body

As I write this post, I’m 6 months pregnant and enjoying a giant bottle of water and brownie. My idea of balance these days 🙂

I knew pregnancy would be an interesting experience and I was eager (and maybe a little nervous) to find out how my body would handle it. Every body is different, every woman is different, and from what I hear, every pregnancy is different.

As a full-time Pilates professional (and a woman) I had my concerns. I wondered how I’d feel gaining weight each week and not being able to be as active as I am used to being.

6 months in, I am able to say that pregnancy has certainly changed my relationship with food, exercise and my body…for the better.

being pregnant

5 ways pregnancy has changed my relationship with food, exercise and my body…

1.  I actually listen to my appetite and what my body is craving.

I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. Crazy. Yes, I know this how we’re supposed to eat, nutritionists tell us that all the time, but you know as well as me it’s HARD! I’ve always struggled with actually listening to my hunger signals because for so many years what and how I ate wasn’t dictated by my body but rather my mind. And usually dictated by how I felt about the shape or percieved size of my body that day. These days I’m not as worried about how I look in clothes so I am able to listen to my body without the external factors waging war in my mind.

I also pay attention to my cravings because that’s what pregnant ladies are supposed to do right? If I want a brownie, I’m having a brownie! And equally so, if my body feels sluggish and tired I know it’s time to fuel up on veggies, fruit and other life-giving foods.

being pregnant

2. I exercise because of the way it makes me feel and what it does for my body, not for the end result.

I want to stay fit throughout this pregnancy so that I feel good. Simple as that. I want to continue teaching and moving without pain. I want to feel strong when I go into labor and I hope for a relatively quick recovery. There are so many symptoms of pregnancy that are beyond my control, but exercising makes me feel strong, confident and proactive in the process.

I am not exercising to lose weight. I am not even exercising to keep my body “looking” a certain way. I don’t work out until I’m dripping sweat, I work out gently and listen to my body. Right now it consists of regular Pilates (sometimes 10 minutes, sometimes 60), yoga and walking.

Pilates Pregnancy

I am not exercising to lose weight or change my body. I am exercising knowing that the scale will continue to rise and my clothes will continue to get tighter & tighter. So exercise has come to mean something all together different to me. This is the way I’ve always wanted my relationship with exercise to be. Pilates started the process in me (changing my motivation) and pregnancy is furthering it. I’m thankful for that.

Being Pregnant

3. I focus more on what I should eat rather than what I shouldn’t.

Simple as that. I’m growing a baby and I really want to nourish that baby. As previously mentioned, I also want to continue feeling as good as I do right now for as long as I can through this pregnancy. And food matters. Food directly affects the way I feel. At times in my life, I’ve focused primarily on what I shouldn’t eat because of the calories, the sugar, the carbs, you name it.

As you know I’ve worked hard to change this mentality and that’s a big part of The Balanced Life’s message, but pregnancy has helped me to embrace that even more. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had plenty of junk since I’ve been pregnant. I’ve had more fries than usual, more sweets, more chips, you name it. But on a given day I’m also focused on making sure that I get plenty of greens, at least two servings of fruit, greek yogurt, lean protein, etc. And when I focus on that I’m much less concerned about the basket of fries I enjoyed the night before. During this time, I’m much more concerned with what what I should eat and much less strict with what I shouldn’t. At the end of the day, I feel more balanced and more satisfied.

being pregnant

4. I wear tight clothes with confidence.

I love showing off the bump! And this surprises me. I’m bigger than I’ve been in a long time. In fact, I’m bigger than I’ve ever been. The scale has never seen such heights and I still have a long way to go. But I have more confidence in tight clothes than ever before. It’s crazy. I was the girl in 6th grade who always had a shirt tied around her waist to hide her God-given ghetto booty. And I’ve never been one to feel super confident in tight, slim fitting pants. And it’s ironic that at my biggest, I’m finally okay with it.

Being pregnant

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have days where I feel like a whale and get scared about the way body will handle all of this, but I accept that as a normal pregnancy concern and treat it as nothing more than that.

It’s clear to me why this shift has taken place: the expectation to look a “certain way” has lifted.

As women we have expectations of how we SHOULD look if we’re going to wear leggings without a long, loose fitting shirt to cover the lady lumps & bumps. We have an expectation in our minds (thanks to the media) of how one should look in form fitting clothes. And I realize now that I had an expectation of myself that I never quite measured up to in my mind. Now that I’m pregnant, I am not expected to be skinny. I’m expected to have a little extra weight on my body and that has allowed me to embrace my body, lady lumps and all. It’s been an eye-opening realization to experience the freedom that comes with losing these perceived expectations.

being pregnant

5. I give myself grace and allow myself to rest. 

As women, we often find it hard to give ourselves grace. We’re so hard on ourselves, constantly feeling like we should do more, and more and more. Whether it be exercise, errands, chores or social commitments, we often have trouble saying “no, I need to rest and that’s okay.”

Pregnancy has given me permission to give myself the gift of grace and allow myself to rest without feeling guilty. I am growing a life, and in order to do so well, I need rest. So somedays, the workout is skipped, the phone isn’t answered and the sheets don’t get washed. And I don’t feel bad.

being pregnant

I haven’t felt like a million bucks every day and I know full well that it may get harder in the weeks to come, but I have been intentional in embracing this process and embracing my changing body because I know that without that intentionality it would be easy for things to go the other way.

Now the real challenge will be maintaining these practices and beliefs when I no longer have the pregnancy to use as a reason why. My hope is that I will embody and embrace these changes as a way of life, even when I no longer have “an excuse.”

For those of you who have experienced pregnancy, in what ways did it change your relationship with your body?

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PS – You may also enjoy thoughts on the mama pooch , healthy pregnancy essentials and Balanced Beginnings: embracing pregnancy through prenatal Pilates.

18 Comments
  1. rose 7 years ago

    robin – i have not started having children yet, but this post gives me hope and excitement about pregnancy. all of your concerns and worries are things i am starting to think about more, and your perspective and balance is inspiring. thanks for sharing – this was a joy to read!

    • Robin Long 7 years ago

      Hi Rose! I’m glad this gives you some hope and positive outlook on pregnancy. There are so many question marks going into it that it’s been good to experience them with an open mind. I will say that I’ve had to be very intentional in embracing this time, rather than being hard on myself. I’m thankful for your comment and thoughts 🙂

  2. Katie Proctor 7 years ago

    Robin, this is such an inward-thinking post and I love it. Blogging is such an amazing space to speak your mind and be true to who you are and how you feel. I love how honest you were with yourself and your readers. While I have never experienced pregnancy, I can certain relate to food-exercise-health relationships in my current state. Be well!

    • Robin Long 7 years ago

      Thanks Katie! I always hope this website will be a place where women can be REAL and honest so I’m glad you enjoy it too. It’s so easy to “put on a perfect facade” on the internet so I think it’s important for us ladies to keep it real 🙂 And I agree, many of these thoughts/issues come up regardless of pregnancy. Thanks for reading! xo

  3. Catherine 7 years ago

    i loved reading this!! this is so cool. it really is a struggle to find this kind of acceptance and peace around our bodies when we don’t have “pregnancy” (or whatever it may be)as a way to allow it…so the trick is to figure out how to achieve that mindset without a baby on the way! i imagine you’ll love your body even more after pregnancy and that critical voice will be much quieter–knowing that your body has changed and looks the way it does because of your baby. it’s kind of cool to think about:) and inspiring for sure!
    catherine

    • Robin Long 7 years ago

      Hi Catherine! Thanks for the encouragement. You’re so right, this all relates to pregnant bodies and non pregnant bodies – so it’s been eye opening to experience the shift when I have an “excuse” so to speak. Definitely motivates to keep working toward total acceptance and ditching those limiting beliefs. Hope you are well!

  4. Michelle 7 years ago

    Yes! Robin, I too wore a sweatshirt around my waist all through jr high and HS because I wanted to cover the junk in the trunk 🙂 it wasn’t until AFTER college that I learned to really embrace and appreciate my body and all of its junk…i think pregnancy allows the chance to do it all over again. Thanks for your honest reflections!

    • Robin Long 7 years ago

      Hi Michelle! My sweatshirt followed me to high school as well! I remember having certain shirts that I thought were perfect to cover things up 🙂 I hope you’re feeling well and embracing this special time!

  5. Rebecca 7 years ago

    Love this post! Pregnancy definitely forces you to re-accept your body and how it’s going to look for 9 months (and then some :)). You’re right – every pregnancy is different and everyone carries their bump a little differently, so it’s hard at first not to compare. Enjoy this time. And the brownies! Congrats!

  6. Sandy 7 years ago

    Hi Robin,
    A great post. I am pregnant now as well (38 weeks and counting!) and have continued to exercise with pilates, yoga and walking. The limitations that your body must pay attention continues and the realization that there is a life inside of you is the most important thing – I think that is part of what brings us outside of ourselves – we (and our ego) take the back seat for this little baby. For the first time in my life I don’t finish exercises and I don’t push myself and if I need rest, well, I’m going to rest. I too love showing off my mama’s belly and all around try to appreciate everything that I eat and feel and do so my baby has a good role model at the very beginning and foundation of his life. What a great experience and a great blog post. Thanks for sharing

    • Robin Long 7 years ago

      Hi Sandy! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Such great words…and I can certainly relate to many of your experiences and love what you said about how it “brings us out of ourselves.” And yes, I agree that it’s important to establish the idea of being a good role model from the very beginning – you said it best! I hope you’re feeling well and hanging in there these last few weeks!! Keep us posted on your little one’s arrival!

  7. […] love how Robin described her relationship with food and how it has evolved since her pregnancy. I want to leave you with a reminder that you should […]

  8. Emily 6 years ago

    I just recently started following your blog. I am not pregnant, but I really hope to get to this mentality someday soon. I am going to save this post to refer back to!

    • Robin Long 6 years ago

      Hi Emily! Welcome to the community 🙂 I hope this comes in helpful for you when you enter that chapter of life! It really is all about keeping a healthy perspective. It would be so easy to be critical and frustrated with all of the changes that take place in the body. But with the right perspective it can be a beautiful and enjoyable experience.

  9. Grazyna 5 years ago

    Appreciating the time and effort you put into your site and detailed information you offer.
    It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that
    isn’t the same outdated rehashed information. Fantastic read!
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  10. Ruth 4 years ago

    Hi Robin! I’ve been following you for a while and have participated in your 4×4 last year. I’m currently 4.5 months pregnant and thought I would check out your pregnancy posts and prenatal workouts. I love this post! It articulates so well what I have been feeling as my body changes and how my approach to exercise is changing as i continue through my pregnancy. I feel so encouraged by your writing. I’m planning to purchase your prenatal series this week. Thank you for what you do! Bless you!

  11. CammyBMuta 3 years ago

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  12. LonPMikrut 3 years ago

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