One thing I quickly realized about being pregnant is that I can basically use it as an excuse for everything–
I forgot we had that meeting today? Blame it on pregnancy brain.
I was late for work yesterday morning? Blame it on morning fatigue and my struggle to move quickly.
I almost started crying over a stranger’s well-intentioned remark? Blame it on the hormones.
It’s kind of become a problem. In fact, I find it so easy to blame everything on the pregnancy that it’s become altogether almost second-nature, even when it comes to things like taking care of myself:
Whoops! I just downed three pieces of cake and a huge glass of milk.
(I had a massive sugar craving and am ravenous all the time!)
Whoops! I haven’t exercised in, well, almost my whole pregnancy.
(My round ligament pain starts flaring up, and I might slip on the ice if I go walk outside!)
Whoops! I’ve already gained 30 pounds, and I’m just over 2/3 of the way into this process.
(Every woman’s body is different, and mine just wants to eat all the time! First-timers always put on more weight!)
It’s a dangerous mind game but, luckily for me, I had an unexpected saving grace fall into my lap last week in the form of a work wellness challenge. It might not be saving me from the excuses mentioned at the very beginning, but at least it’s giving me the kick in the butt I need to take the best care of myself (and this baby) that I can.
The challenge is basically this—each week, we get points for exercising (30 minutes), not eating sweets/desserts, not drinking soda, not eating after 8:30 p.m., and drinking 64 ounces of water a day. Then, as the challenge progresses, we are given special weekly challenges to focus on that can earn us additional points. Last week’s weekly challenge was keeping a food journal, which I’ve purposely avoided doing all pregnancy because I didn’t really want to know how many calories I was allowing per day (since I knew I shouldn’t be having more than about 400 extra per day above and beyond my normal amount).
I’ve “discovered” many times that food journals help me control my weight gain (or loss) more than anything else , but I just somehow keep forgetting to do it consistently (or consciously choosing not to because I’d rather remain ignorant).
This time was no different. I quickly discovered that I was embarrassingly beyond what I should be eating per day (sometimes by a couple thousand calories!) and that many of those calories were coming from pretty empty sources. I also discovered that I was going super heavy on the carbs and butter and not so heavy on the protein, which is not exactly what I’ve been counseled to do in this pregnancy. So now, because of this challenge, I try to keep my calories around 2,400 a day, making sure that most of those calories come from nutrient-dense sources (or at least not empty ones!).
Even though I’m definitely not obsessing over the numbers (because if I’m hungry, I’m not going to starve myself or the baby), I’m finally pleased to note that my weight gain is no longer out of control (like the 12 pounds I gained over the month of December), and that it’s inching along forward right like it should be–at between a half pound and pound per week.
And even though sweets will always be my downfall, it’s nice having this extra incentive to reach for a piece of fruit rather than chocolate, and to guzzle down a glass of water rather than (yet another) glass of juice, pop, or sparkling cider.
Basically, this wellness challenge was the wake-up called I needed; I needed a kick in the butt so that I would start taking better care of not only myself, but this growing baby. I’m far from perfect, but I’m at least doing better than I was a month ago, so it’s a good start. I’m still only one for eight on the exercise though…
If you’ve ever been pregnant, what were your best secrets or tricks for staying as healthy as possible?