Ling Wong: I Loved My Body When I Was Pregnant – It Changed Everyday






Ling Wong, MS, CHHC, AADP
Nutrition and Wellness Coach
Thoughts for Foods
Holistic Health

I am 5’3” and currently I weigh 105 pounds. I had a baby about two years ago and now I am still fitting nicely into the clothes I had in college. But it’s not always been like this for me. I had my share of weight problems and struggled with my relationship with food. My journey into pregnancy gave me a big smack on my head and woke me up to my skewed body image and my relationship with food.

I was a chubby kid, got made fun of and had to bend over backward to get accepted in school. I didn’t know better back then about the relationship between food and weight.  I was drinking soda pop and eating big pieces of pastry. My mother had me take ballet classes and I absolutely hated being in those tight-fitting tops and tights. They were never comfortable for me and I was scared of being looked at by others. I never did well in PE classes either – especially when I was in elementary school. Every class was a drag – I was clumsy and again, scared being made fun of by my classmates.

I continued to struggle with my body image all through high school, treating my body as something that was “in my way” and never learned to respect and love it. I diverted all my energy to intellectual endeavors and left my intuition and my sensitivity to what my body wanted behind, believing that I could think my way out of my body image woes.

After the College Freshman 15 (a term used to describe weight gain by college freshmen), I came to the point where I was determined to change things around. I was not happy; I was looking for a way out. I didn’t know anything about nutrition or weight loss. With the new-found freedom in getting whatever I could from the store without my parents’ ok, I picked up diet pills from the drugstore. My first education in calories and weight was from the pamphlet that came with the pills.
I became obsessed with serving sizes and calories. I ate small breakfasts and skipped lunch. I restrained the amount I ate and was very rigid about it for almost a year and a half. I went on to try different diet pills that claimed to take weight off in different ways. Things started to happen and I looked trimmer. I thought things were working and continued down the path of skipping meals and sometimes I craved carbs so much that I would forego dinner so that I could eat a big piece of cake.
One day, my body gave in. Something just snapped and I was hit with this excruciating stomach-ache. I literally dragged myself to the clinic. The nurse looked at me. She put me on the scale and told me that I weighed a measly 96 pounds! What??! I thought – I am the chubby one! The nurse warned me that if I dropped below 90 pounds they would have to put me in the hospital.
I realized I had a problem in my relationship with food. I also had issues with my body image. I got better with my meals and my eating but that was by no means the end of it. For the next ten years, I was obsessed with calories, the latest diet and supplements that would help me burn more calories, curb my appetite and/or reduce the absorption of carbs and fats. I got dependent on herbal laxative. I gained weight, I lost weight and started all over again.
I had good days and bad days. Two extra pounds on the scale could ruin my day. I got distressed if I ate past my “calorie quota”. When I ate out, I could not see food as enjoyment – it all had the number of calories stamped on it in my mind’s eye. I had a sweet tooth, so to satisfy my need of control and my craving for sugar, I would forego a meal so that I could dig into my dessert. My relationship with food was screwed up. 

Honestly, I have no problem eating. I love food. The challenge was what went on in my head. The incongruence would drive me crazy. Nothing good can come from counting calories and thinking about taking this pill and that tea to “counter” the calories  just consumed. 

My obsession with staying thin was further fueled by my involvement in endurance cycling. I could easily burn 1500 calories in one training and, with my calorie conciousness, I never let myself eat enough to replenish the calories burned. Being light means less weight to haul up the hill – good advantage. I soon got myself back down to 97 pounds. My period disappeared.

Then we tried to get pregnant. I went to the OB/GYN and she was very concerned about my weight and my low hormone level. She sent me for a bone scan and I was diagnosed with osteopenia (estrogen plays a role in maintaining bone density). She sent me to a fertility expert, who then diagnosed me with hypothyroidism (probably as a result of low metabolism due to restricted calorie intake). I was still doing things my way, thinking medication would fix whatever problems I had. After a few unsuccessful cycles of taking hormones, which made my life very miserable, and a miscarriage, I finally had enough and sought the help of an acupuncturist.  

I knew I had to work with my body, respect what it needs and stop fighting it. I was treated with acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbal medicine. I followed my body’s lead, gave it the nutrients it wanted and gained six pounds. My hormones bounced back, I got my period. And I got pregnant three months later. This experience was a wake up call – I had to respect my body, listen to it and give it what it needs. 

Getting my body “fixed” also gave me the kind of emotional stability I had not experienced for a long time – I began to see that there is a connection between food, the body, the emotions and the mind.

My journey through pregnancy was what it took for me to overcome my body image issues and my relationship with food. I loved my body when I was pregnant – it changed everyday. Something new and fascinating happens every morning and I was in awe what it could do. Pregnancy set my body image  concerns and my relationship with food free.  I learned to listen to my body and eat what was needed without being enslaved to counting calories. Weight gain definitely was a concern for me going into pregnancy and I was very careful with my weight – gained twenty-three pounds – but I ate well and exercised, so I was confident that I would get back in shape afterwards -and I did, three months postpartum. 

Sometimes the weight gain was stressful but I educated myself enough to know that fluctuations could come from constipation and fluid retention, so I tried to be OK with things and not be stressed out about it.
Pregnancy was a great time for me to get in touch with and listen to my body without being held back by numbers on the scale. I had the right and the responsibility to gain weight! I viewed my body in a completely different way and instead of focusing on numbers, I valued how I felt and what great things my body was doing for me.

Postpartum, I was determined not to fall back into my old pattern. I researched and studied and found ways to help me feel that I am in control of my weight without having to count calories, going on yet another diet, or taking pills and supplements. I have been able to manage my weight without the frustration and restriction that comes with “diets”. I studied holistic nutrition and became a holistic nutrition and wellness coach.When coaching my pregnant clients, I focus on listening to the body, feeding the body nutrient-dense food and trusting that the body will do what it needs to do.

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Copyright Ark Stories 2011


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