In my second trimester, I was so happy about the way I looked that I bought a hot new outfit: a black tank top with spaghetti straps, snakeskin-print capri pants and silver strappy sandals. The secret to loving my body? Exercise. I used a burst of energy in my fourth month to step up my aerobic workouts.
I felt fit, strong and sexy. But it wasn’t always that way.
For the first few months of pregnancy, as I developed a little pooch, I worried that people might think I just needed to lay off the Häagen-Dazs. When my husband admitted that he noticed some pregnancy-induced cellulite on my thighs, I broke down in tears. Despite his assertions that he thought I was sexier than ever, it was hard to feel comfortable — much less sexy — in my own body when those first pounds showed up.
Since I’ve spent most of my life worrying about my weight, this reaction shouldn’t have surprised me.
“Women who were hyper-conscious about how they looked and how people viewed them prepregnancy are likely to become even more sensitive while pregnant, especially in the early months,” says Adrienne Ressler, a body-image specialist at The Renfrew Center in Coconut Creek, Fla. Her advice: Hold on to a positive self-image by viewing yourself with “soft eyes,” meaning to consciously appreciate, rather than criticize, your body. Name-calling is definitely out. Instead of referring to yourself with words such as huge or waddling, find complimentary adjectives, such as glowing or graceful.
Exercise can help you feel good about yourself and your body, too. “By toning key body parts such as arms and legs, expectant moms can feel more comfortable wearing sexy new clothes that will boost self-esteem,” says Elizabeth Trindade, creator and owner of Strollercize, a pre- and postnatal workout program based in New York, and a mother of three.
How to begin? Fit Pregnancy asked personal trainer and yoga instructor Teri Hanson Fit Pregnancy's fitness editor, to design an arms-and-legs workout to help you get ready for summer. “These exercises helped me to feel sexy because my arms and legs looked great while my breasts and belly were changing,” says Hanson, whose daughter, Shane Elizabeth, was born in February.
Hanson says she was surprised by how much pregnancy affected her ability (and desire) to do her usual routines. That’s why she developed a program that can be done at home with a chair and a few light dumbbells. “Weight lifting can be strenuous when you’re pregnant,” she says. “These moves allow you to continue to work out even as your body grows, to help maintain fitness levels, and to feel better about yourself and your changing body.”
Exercise helped me turn the corner. As soon as I was able to increase my workouts, I began to enjoy my new body. But I have to admit: I celebrated the day when my belly finally extended beyond my breasts, telling the world (in not so many words): “It’s not Häagen-Dazs — I’m going to have a baby!”