I am so excited because Emily Felts, a Thin Within veteran, has had some amazing news! She is expecting child #3 and I asked her how she feels about doing a column for us every month (or more often) about how she navigates the waters of pregnancy and Thin Within together. Many of us already know from experience or those of others that Thin Within dovetails perfectly with the concerns of new moms or those who are pregnant, but Emily is going to chronicle it for us as she goes along. Thank you, Emily.
Here is installment number 01.
“Two Pink Lines”
“Wait, we’re getting a baby??!?!” These were the first words out of my six-year-old son’s mouth when we broke the news to the kids that I am pregnant. Honestly, my own reaction had been pretty similar. The morning I took the test, I stood there looking at myself in the bathroom mirror, slack-jawed and bug-eyed thinking….whaaat?!? Can this be real?!? Due to our dual infertility issues, my husband and I had opted out of any form of birth control and prayerfully decided to let God determine if our family needed any more kids. After three years, it seemed unlikely. But God definitely has plans!
Whether a pregnancy is long-awaited, “right on time,” or a total surprise, it comes with a lot of changes and adjustments, both mentally and physically for the mama.
I began ThinWithin in earnest shortly after my second child was born. So this would be my first time to experience a “ThinWithin Pregnancy.” And honestly, I didn’t have a very good attitude about it. Shortly after finding out about this giant upcoming shift, I threw a private party. Well, a private pity party to be exact.
Everything was suddenly turned on its head. My career was just about to start up again. I had just spent 6 months (and thousands of dollars) in Physical Therapy and Orthopedic bills rehabbing my worn out knees, back, and non-existent core. I was having some serious mixed emotions. Feeling like I have to totally sacrifice my body again. And anxious about being able to handle it physically (knees, back, neck, etc…). The day after I found out I just bawled my eyes out to God. Mad as heck at my husband who has to do NOTHING in terms of personal inconvenience for 9 months. And just disappointed and exhausted thinking about starting all. over. again. with diapers etc.
But today, after remembering some of my Thin Within journey and realizing that I’ve never gotten to walk through pregnancy relying on God in this way, it was kind of like an exciting new adventure. I have typically felt really great during pregnancy and not had any issue with gaining too much weight (but have, ahem, obsessed quite a bit about it in order NOT to gain too much). More on my story (here). But this pregnancy is all new.
I’d love to share bits of this journey with my fellow sojourners (pregnant or not!) and pray that my struggles might be helpful to you.
This first month, I’ve felt tired, hormonal and emotionally weak, I found myself inundated with lots and lots of lies. So here’s a few that I’ve been breaking down this month. After I have shared the lies with you, I will share the truth that God has used to refute the lies. I also am going to share some practical tips that help me overcome these mental hurdles!
You are so unattractive.
See Practical Tip #1 Below.
TRUTH: My value is not determined by my waist measurement, how thin my face is or what other people think of me. My worth comes from who God tells me I am:
- I’m a cherished daughter of the One True King.
- I’m lovely because He loves me.
- And he has given my body a gift—to be able to grow a tiny life.
I may look and feel different, but I am still determined in my heart to be His girl. He says a gentle and quiet spirit is very valuable to Him. “Lord, quiet my soul as I fix my eyes on you. You are my Heavenly Husband and the true Lover of my Soul. Let me be concerned for what You think of me and not what others may think.”
If you don’t eat constantly, you’ll feel worse.
See Practical Tip #2 below.
TRUTH: God designed my body to be amazing. The pregnant state that I am in does not negate God’s wonderful system of hunger and fullness, but it does change the rhythm. I must be flexible and give myself tons of extra grace, just as Jesus would do if he were sitting beside me. I may have been used to being a certain hunger number at a certain time. Or a particular amount of food satisfying me. Well now, sometimes I can’t even eat a few bites without feeling bloated and full. But guess what? If I force myself to eat the portion I think I “should” eat, then I end up feeing horrible. I still need to listen to my body and not be judgmental of myself. Maybe kimchi and peanut butter is what my body needs this time when I’m at 0. “Holy Spirit, give me wisdom to listen to my body and to your Spirit’s promptings as I try to eat in a way that honors you and cares well for this amazing gift.”
You’re going to gain weight during pregnancy anyway—so why not just go crazy? It’s a license to eat whatever you want. Eating for two, right?
Whoa there, Nelly!!
TRUTH: I am one mother, eating to sustain her body as God intended as she grows a tiny life. This season is not an excuse to overindulge, but rather a great motivation to take extra tender loving care of my amazing body.
That belly! It can’t be all baby…you are a disgusting freak.
See “Practical Tip” number 1 below.
TRUTH: This is my third child. It is widely known you “show” sooner with each child. My body is making lots of extra fluids these days. My job is to listen to my body’s God-given cues and take all my needs to God, NOT obsess about my weight or what shape my body is taking.
Why even bother trying to exercise, you are gaining weight by the day and feel terrible. It won’t matter what you do.
Ugh. This one takes the wind right out of my sails.
What’s the TRUTH? Even a little exercise and movement is better than none. I will feel better in the long run and probably even the short run, when I incorporate movement into each day. It’s good for the baby. It’s a good stress reliever. Also, it’s true that I’m not an elite athlete and I’m not going to be on some amazing training program while I’m pregnant. I am not going to do this perfectly. But this is a season of life and it too will pass. There will be time to rehab my knees again and focus on certain things that need more attention in the years to come. Right now, I can only do so many things in a day. I will do my best to be a good steward of the body God so graciously gave me. I can appreciate my body for all the things it can do and be gentle with it when I am frustrated and feel like a failure. I choose to do something instead of nothing.
This (type of) food is not good for the baby or your body. You should go on another sugar-cleanse, or Whole30 or…..
My human nature is definitely scratching and clawing to control this situation, my body, the weight it’s gaining, and the way I feel physically.
TRUTH says: I am not in control of the fact that there is a baby growing inside me. I can’t control everything about life or this situation. Whole30 is not my Savior. Neither is Sugar my enemy (I’m not diabetic and have not been advised by my doctor to avoid sugar). My citizenship is in heaven and I eagerly await my ONLY SAVIOR from there. Physical discipline has no ability to restrain the sinful nature. I may be able to restrain myself physically but the issue of my needy, rebellious heart will remain. I do not want to be facing these unhealthy attitudes and coping mechanisms one year down the road when I’m an exhausted mom of a newborn. Let’s stay on the rails with Jesus. Let’s do this pregnancy together with Him. All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. “Lord, please give me wisdom and insight into my body’s needs. Grant me by your Spirit the wisdom and discipline to run, not walk to you, with any other need. Food is for bodily needs. YOU are for EVERY need.
These are tips that I am reminding myself…sometimes I really need someone (myself even!) to remind me.
- Practical Tip #1: I’m trying talking to myself (even in my thoughts) as I would a cherished friend. I am often much quicker to condemn or be unkind to myself. I would never speak this way to a friend, or even think that about her. So when I catch myself in a thought, I am re-wording it to be the kind of words or advice that I’d give to a friend I love)
- Practical Tip #2: Christina had some really great truths and thoughts on SoundCloud (here). One thing that has held true for me is that during this season, due to morning sickness or queasiness throughout the day, I have needed to eat at least a bite or two when I am at a 1. Waiting for a true 0 has proven to lead to more nausea for me. So when I feel the first twinge, that’s when I go for my meal or for small snack if I need to hold off for a meal in the next hour or so.
Emily lives in South Korea with her husband and 2.1 children. She enjoys being the token American in her neighborhood and baking for the Korean neighbors. She is grateful for the chance to lead worship in their small “expat church”. Like most mothers, she’s also good at multitasking–like cooking and putting on bandaids, rubbing four feet while reading two books and driving while chewing gum and talking on FaceTime family back home.
If you are a pregnant mom, won’t you post here and let us know? We would love to have a little support community right here on the blog for you all who are hoping to navigate the waters of your pregnancy (and after) while applying the Thin Within principles. Not only does Thin Within “work” during pregnancy to minimize weight gain, but many women LOVE the way they feel when they do this! EVEN when pregnant!