The Psychology of Eating Podcast Episode 75: Follow Up – What To Do When You Dislike Your Pregnant Body
Anastasia is a smart and loving woman who finds herself in a fascinating conundrum. She’s always wanted to be thin, and when she finally lost the last bunch of weight to get there, she was stressed about keeping it off, and then she found herself pregnant. And as hard as it is to admit, she feels disgusted with her “fat” pregnant body. Anastasia knows she should be seeing things differently, but she simply cannot stop the self-attacking thoughts. Tune in to this fascinating episode as Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating helps Anastasia with some great insights, powerful coaching and a no nonsense approach.
Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:
To see Anastasia’s first session with Marc, click here
Marc: Welcome, everyone. I’m Marc David. Here we are in the psychology of eating podcast. And I’m here today with Anastasia. Welcome.
Anastasia: Thank you, Mark.
Marc: Yeah, it’s good to see you. So for those of you who are new to the podcast or even if you’re returning, this is a follow-up session. Anastasia and I met, I’m thinking it’s about 10, 11 months ago now, maybe even a little more. And this is a follow-up session just to check in and see how you’re doing since the last time we spoke.
So how about if you just give viewers and listeners just a little bit of catch of in your primary concerns that you had wanted to work on? And then we’ll just kind of check in around it.
Anastasia: Yeah. So I’ve had a big life change since we last spoke. I had a baby about 5 1/2 months ago. So that’s been amazing and wonderful. I guess the main issues that we talked about before were just body image issues. I really struggled with body image stuff when I was pregnant. And then in lot of issues with my mom and a little bit with both parents, but more with my mom just around taking care of herself and being available to help me with the baby and just be around. So that’s continued to be really tough.
Marc: Which part? The mom part? The parent part? The body in this part?
Anastasia: I guess out of all of that stuff, the body image part has been the easiest. I definitely am changed. I’m wanting to get back in shape and everything. But I feel like now… I was telling my husband this. My goal before having this baby was to be as skinny as possible all the time, like my whole life, maybe since I was 11 or something. And I always felt like I was a little bit overweight until a few years ago. Maybe four years ago I, for some reason, got really thin. And then I got pregnant and putting on baby weight.
So now I’m trying to shift. And I feel like it’s kind of more natural. I want to be strong for my baby. He’s pretty heavy already. He’s already 14 pounds and just a real wild man, just a strong little baby. So just being able to have the strength to hold him and take care of him because I was getting some back pain and neck pain. So I just want to be strong for him and healthy and look good for my husband. It’s not about being ridiculously thin all the time.
But I think it’s a process. And I always have to catch myself on it. I’m still wearing all my maternity clothes. But I just want to be healthy about it.
Marc: So what has changed for you in relationship to your body image? And here you are just a lifetime of wanting to be skinny. So what, if anything, has changed, even if it’s subtle? What’s different?
Anastasia: I guess after the baby I decided that… I used to spend so much energy stressing about everything I ate and trying to exercise enough and worrying about what I looked like all the time. And I don’t really feel like that’s a fair place to put my energy anymore because literally it was kind of a full-time job. And I’d rather be available to my baby and my husband and do better things with my energy. So I think that’s something I need to remind myself of.
So this is interesting. I found out I have a dairy sensitivity. So I have a gluten sensitivity and a dairy sensitivity, blood test confirmed and everything. So it’s a little bit off topic. But I’m just trying to eat with that in mind. I was really good about the gluten. The dairy has been a little tough, not that I was a real milk drinker or really much of the cheese eater. But it’s another major limitation. So I’ve been adjusting to that because I had this cough for like four months. And I finally asked my doctor to test me for dairy. And it came back that I was really sensitive. And I stopped dairy and the cough went away.
Anastasia: So anyways with the eating, I’m just trying to eat healthy. But you’re super starving when you’re nursing, too. So, yeah, just trying to shift to that and, like as you talk about, having a higher goal than just being skinny.
Marc: It’s a journey. It’s a process. And when we spoke, I remember you were obviously pregnant and excited about that. And there was this part of you that was, “Okay, I’m ready to get rid of the baby weight and have my body back.” It’s kind of a strange thing for some women to have this little alien inside your body. It’s a little nother human being growing inside of us.
So on the one hand, there’s a little bit of a natural discomfort in that process, for sure, I’m just saying as an observer of such things. And on the other hand, for somebody who’s been dealing with body image issues for a long time, when my body starts to change beyond my control, that’s a strange experience.
And I’m almost getting—forgive me if I’m stating the obvious here—but it feels like motherhood is kind of pushing you into more maturity about your body.
Anastasia: Yeah, yeah.
Marc: It’s asking you to grow up because, as you said, being skinny previously was a full-time job. In now you have a different full-time job.
Anastasia: Yeah. Yeah. It’s so funny, you reminded me of I felt when I was pregnant, I would make these little plans in my head like, “Okay, so after the baby is born, I’m going to start doing yoga three times a week and going to the gym and doing all this other stuff to get the baby weight off.” I already had a plan of how I was going to do it, which there’s no plans once you have a baby at all. And I was kind of obsessed about it. And I’ve really had to let that go because it’s not about me anymore.
And I have a great husband. And he thought I was super hot when I was pregnant. And he thinks I’m super hot now. And he thought I was super hot when I was skinny. He just loves me. It’s not about how much I weigh or what size clothes I’m wearing. So that really helps, too.
Marc: It really feels like motherhood is going to push the pedal to the metal on you focusing on not your body really. And it doesn’t mean you don’t care about your body. It doesn’t mean you don’t take care of your body. Of course you’re going to care for it. Of course you care about how you look. But it’s always a matter of degree. It’s always a matter of, “Okay, what percentage of my life force and goes into any particular aspect of my life?”
And now it’s almost like life has forced your hand. You’ve made this decision to have a child. But now life is saying, “Okay, you only have X amount of energy. You only have X amount of hours in the day. You only have X amount of brainpower. What are you going to use it for?” Sometimes for a lot of us, having a child is the fastest accelerator for our personal growth.
Anastasia: Yeah, I don’t think there is a bigger thing.
Marc: Yeah. So you’ve had a boy. And do you think at all about how you’re going to raise him in terms of his relationship to his body and his body image? Do thoughts like that ever come into your mind?
Anastasia: I think not as much as if I’d had a girl. And I’m really grateful that I had a boy.
My husband is in great shape. And he has a little baby weight, too, now, just a little bit around his tummy. And he was like, “I think I need to give up bread or soda.” He only drinks Diet Coke, maybe one a day. And he eats pretty healthy. And I’m like, “Babe, why don’t you just buy a size bigger pants?” He’s like, “My pants are tight.” I’m like, “Why do you need to give up something? You eat really healthy. I love your body. You look awesome.”
I don’t know. So I was just thinking guys care about it, too. And I just want my little guy to just love his body and feel strong and healthy, and not obsess about it. So, yeah, I think there’s some languaging things I need to change, too, because sometimes I’ll be playing with him and I’ll say something like, “Your fat mommy,” or, “On my fat belly,” or something. And it’s like I shouldn’t say that around him. Now he doesn’t get it because he’s so little. But once he starts really understanding words, I don’t want to say those things around him. So I need to change that. I don’t know if I answered your question.
Marc: You did. Yes, you really did. And I was just trying to point out and you were kind of confirming that, yes, when we become parents—in this case, you becoming a mom—it’s asking you to grow faster and asking you to look at your relationship with your body in a different way because it’s not just you. And it’s not just you and your husband. It’s now you and your husband and the small child who is impacted by your thoughts and your feelings and your beliefs and your judgments and your energy.
And even if you never said a bad word about yourself, but you’re sitting there hating on yourself, we pick up on these things, especially kids. Little creatures, they are so sensitive. They pick up on so much. And I just think of this as a great inspiration for you to keep doing what you’re doing, which is keep facing yourself.
And this is going to be a daily practice. It’s a daily practice of, “Okay, how am I showing up for my kid today? How am I showing up as a mom? Am I being too stressed? Am I being too crazy? Am I taking care of myself in a good way? How am I communicating to my partner? How am I communicating to my child? What am I saying to myself?”
All these things matter more now because if you’re draining your energy, you’re draining valuable energy right now because we were chatting before we came on air that, “Hey, baby teething last night, I didn’t get a lot of sleep. So am I going to spend my day after not having sleep hating on my body? Or am I going to spend it as best I can just trying to manage my energy and manage myself?”
So it’s a great opportunity. Having new life is such a great opportunity for you to begin again.
Anastasia: I love that.
Marc: And I also find it fascinating and fortunate for you that you have a husband who is okay with the various expressions of you are, the various body types that’s somebody who really loves you. And it’s also somebody who doesn’t have the same obsession that you have because I think a lot of times we believe that my judgments about my body are clearly the judgments that other people have about my body and with the same intensity because, “If I’m judging myself, then you must be judging me for the same thing.” And it’s not true.
Anastasia: Yeah, that’s major projecting, huh?
Marc: Right? [chuckles] And if somebody was hatting on you for how your body looked, they shouldn’t be your friend. Or they shouldn’t be your partner, for goodness sakes, nor probably would they be.
Anastasia: Right, yeah. And it’s a little interesting. I think I kind of got caught up in the Southern California you have to be skinny and perfect and beautiful thing a few years ago. I lived in Portland for 10 years. And then I moved back here. And then I just kind of got swept up into a little bit. And it’s just a bunch of crap, really. But you can get swept into it.
Marc: Yeah, I think that’s a really good point. It’s not just me and my relationship with my body. We live in a context. We live in a culture. We live in an atmosphere. We’re kind of swimming in a certain kind of water. And I think in general when we tap into media and we tap into the web and the images and the pictures and the magazines in the TV, we’re getting the kind of messages that say you need to look a certain way.
But also certain locations. Like you said, it’s the Southern California thing. So as soon as you land there, nobody has to say a word to you. All you have to do is look around and see those people. And you’re feeling their worldview. And I think it’s true. If you’re at a party, it’s hard not to not want to party. If you’re in a room full of sleeping people, it’s hard to not want to fall asleep. So we tend to take on the characteristics of our environment. So it takes a little bit of attention, I think, and consciousness to not get caught up.
And it’s not easy. But it’s worth it. It’s the kind of work worth doing because otherwise we’re in a constant state of internal [dissatisfaction] because we’re never good enough. And that is something you don’t want to teach to anybody or any kid to think that, “You’re not good enough. You’re not good enough until something else happens.” You’re not going to tell your baby, “Baby, you’re not lovable until your body fat is gone.” You’re not going to do that. Why would you do it to you?
Well, congratulations on just having a whole new life and a whole new self-expression and a whole new reason for you to kind of up your game and be a better person, a better woman, a better mom, a better person to yourself. It’s like you have every great motivation and inspiration to do that now.
Anastasia: Yeah, yeah. And it was time. I really needed to shift. And I feel, like you said, it is a process. And I really feel that like one step forward, two steps back sometimes, or two steps forward one step back. But, yeah, I just want to continue keeping what is important at the forefront and keep working at it because I want to be a good mom and a good wife and good for myself and everything.
Marc: Well, Anastasia, great job. Congratulations.
Anastasia: Thank you.
Marc: You did it. You’re a mama. And you’re on your way.
Marc: Okay, I really appreciate you taking the time.
Anastasia: Thank you so much.
Marc: Thank you. And thanks, everybody, for tuning in. Once again, I’m Marc David on behalf of the Psychology of Eating podcast. There’s lots more to come, my friends. Take care.
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