How Pregnancy Helps You See The Beauty Inside You

L9P Community Post: Tina Muir

By now, many in the running world know my story of amenorrhea recovery. I went from nine years without a single period to…well, what will be ten to eleven years without a period, but in the middle there during the recovery process, something special happened. The first egg my body had released in nine years ended up fertilized, and I am now 23 weeks pregnant.

After being a competitive athlete for fourteen years, a professional athlete for five, my body is in a very different place, compared to what it is accustomed to. Rather than pounding out 90 miles a week running and spending most of my day working around my training, now I have the freedom to allow my body to do what it needs to do to help this little girl come safely into the world when she is ready.

Pregnancy is more exhausting than elite run training ever was.

It may be obvious that creating a human life takes a lot of work, but I had no idea just how much it would take out of me. As a proud, competitive, driven person, I thought I could just carry on with daily life as if nothing had changed.

Boy was I wrong.

However, as much as my ego has had to learn to take a step back, and admit that no, I cannot do all that I was doing before, my self image is stronger than it has ever been.

Even in the “best” shape of my life, I wasn’t confident in my body.

Even when I was chiseled and toned, ready to race, I still wasn’t confident in my body. I would look down at my stomach, desperately trying to see through the wool I had pulled over my own eyes, for the six pack, which I could never see. I would look across to other elite runners, their perfect stomachs, their defined arms, and wonder why mine never seemed to show through.

Of course, my body dysmorphia was hiding the fact that I did have the same body as them, that every time I moved my arm, muscles would show. I just couldn’t see it myself.

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Thanks to all those airbrushed images we women are so accustomed to, and feel like we should strive for, it’s hard to be happy with ourselves. We look at others, we look for the areas of our body we feel the least confident about, and we look at the women who have that specific area as one of their favorite parts, and wonder why life is so unfair. We don’t look the other way to see the women on our other side looking at us, striving for whatever we have that they (think they) don’t.

Nevermind the running itself. Nevermind that you don’t actually NEED to look like anything to run your best. In fact, often we need the opposite of what the perfect figure requires; we need calories and fuel to run our best. Sometimes though, that voice telling you how you need to look can overpower the voice of reason telling you that food=fuel.

I started to address this body dysmorphia in my recovery from amenorrhea.

I addressed it while I was putting weight back onto my body, while my muscles faded away as I did not run for three months, and while I was forced to ask myself, “Who am I now?”

But I only truly learned how to look at myself differently during pregnancy, and specifically for me, when I found out I was having a little girl.

Rather than seeing the number on the scale climbing up, feeling fear as the number climbs to new highs I have never seen, when I go to the doctors, a little part of me feels proud that the number is climbing steadily each week. That means I have learned my lesson, and I am looking after my body correctly. She has everything she needs to grow strong.

I look down with pride.

Rather than seeing my belly bulging in front of me, regretting the ice cream I had last night for dessert, I look down with pride, knowing that I am doing the most important thing I could ever do in my life. More important than any race. More important than an accomplishment or achieving the “perfect body”.

I am bringing a human into this world, and I am determined to show her that her looks do not define who she is.

The only way I am going to do that is by showing her that her mother believes in who she is, that her mother loves her own body, jiggles and all, curves and all, blemishes and all. We are all beautiful in our own way, and unless we learn to truly understand that within ourselves, the girls who look up to us are never going to understand it either.

Pregnancy is a wonderful time to change your perspective on what really matters, but it is not the only time.

The time is now.

You have some little girl somewhere who looks up to you.Show her how she needs to love herself. Like the old proverb says, actions speak louder than words. So let her hear you say it, and she will too.

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