Body dysmorphia during pregnancy

In 2004-2005, when I was on the slimmer side, I’d often look in the mirror and think I look bigger than I actually was (i.e., classic case of body dysmorphia). It made no sense … my clothes were three sizes smaller, I was leaner than ever in my life … yet I still saw “fat” … sad/pathetic as that is to say now.

Over time, I packed some pounds on — to the tune of half of my initial 35-lb weight loss. I actually made peace with my body at this half-way stage. I was maintaining that half-loss with very little effort and could eat what I wanted and enjoy. No, I wasn’t thin … but I was happy. Food didn’t rule me. Exercise didn’t dictate my life. It was completely freeing.

Then I got pregnant with Maya. Surprisingly, I handled the 25-lb. weight gain pretty well and the experience was, again, freeing. I wasn’t preoccupied with weight and liked seeing my body change. I loved that the gain had a purpose.

By the time Maya was four months old (April 2011), I’d lost the pregnancy weight. Since then, I more or less maintained, and by December 2012, had gotten three pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight thanks to the re-introduction of Body Pump, coupled with working out with a personal trainer. Muscles began showing and I felt leaner and stronger, even though the scale wasn’t changing dramatically.

Then in January 2013, I got pregnant again.

The most surprising thing about this pregnancy is the fact that I have gained 15 pounds (at 22 weeks) … but don’t feel like I look like I have.

Of course, I know how I feel should matter most of all, but let’s be honest … 15 lbs (pregnancy weight or not) is a LOT of weight to add to a person’s body in such a short period of time — and I’m only halfway there! I’ve heard second pregnancy weight tends to be much faster, but this seems crazy! 15 lbs is the difference of a clothes size or two! And though I’m in maternity wear now, it’s still my usual size … just with a giant belly, looking about 4-6 weeks further ahead than I did with Maya at this point.

It’s a complete mind-@#@!#, through and through.

I have deliberately stayed off the scale most of my pregnancy because, truthfully, unless my doctors have an issue with my weight gain (they don’t) or I am ballooning up (I’m not), the number is irrelevant. But every so often I’ll step on at check-ups and the like, and I have been shocked to see how much I have gained these past five months.

Not to worry … It hasn’t changed anything … I’m still eating the same (which is about 300-500 cals a day more than pre-pregnancy intake  — thank you MyFitnessPal app for keeping me on track!) and working out the same as before … but it’s honestly blown my mind that I’ve packed on 15 pounds because I just don’t feel like I have. I still feel “lean” (subjective, of course!) and strong … but with a giant belly.

It just seems like so much weight … and the fact that I don’t see it is weirding me out. Granted, some of it is baby, placenta, uterus, blood, breast tissue and the like … but still!

I guess what it comes down to is I have never had this experience of “reverse” body dysmorphia — where I see myself as smaller than I actually am. And so that’s why this has perplexed me so much.

Either way, it really doesn’t matter. My body is doing what it needs to be doing for my son, and ultimately that’s all that matters. But it IS an odd sensation to be experiencing the other side of body dysmorphia after so many years of thinking one way. It just might take some getting used to … and I’m only going to gain more in the meantime!

How about you? Have you ever experienced body dysmorphia on either side of the coin: thinking you’re bigger or smaller than you are?

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