As some of you reading may know, I’m getting married to my amazing fiancé in just a few months.
I have made a conscious effort to make my engagement and wedding my own – full of excitement and happiness, and as stress-free as possible. This is something I know I have to put effort towards, because I know myself enough to realize that events (especially ones centered around me) cause me a great deal of anxiety. I’ve made an effort to make it my own, which for me, means ignoring all the messages about “how to” plan a wedding, and things like magazine articles and emails of what a bride “should do”… including this one that arrived in my inbox:
SUBJECT: BRIDAL BOOTCAMP
I opened this. And I cringed. SO. HARD.
I wasn’t sure at the time why it bothered me, but it did.
So then I saw another cringe-worthy social media post – the #sweatingforthewedding hashtag.
Nearly every woman with a sparkly new diamond on her finger has thought about this – how to look best in her dress. So why was I cringing at these social media movements? I then had a thought: a year or two ago, I would have probably added that hashtag to social media posts. I would have researched diets, cleanses, and the like to help me consume as little calories as possible. I would have probably bought another studio membership to a place that promised the greatest caloric burn with every workout.
Now before I go on, let me clarify and say to all the women and men who are working to better themselves in any way, any day – that is amazing. You deserve to feel comfortable and confident in your body. Everyone should have that feeling!
So, again, why do I cringe at this?
Let me start by saying: The person you love just proposed to you. The person you are today. At whatever size and weight you are currently. At whatever level of fitness you are currently. Like the awesome husband in this empowering article. Why are you all of a sudden motivated and eager to make a huge change?
Other than that obvious point, if you are truly trying to be your best healthiest self, here are a few pitfalls I’ve found with the #sweatingforthewedding movement in particular:
Planning a wedding should be joyful, not stressful.
A traditional wedding in 2017 takes a lot of time and planning. And most people say it’s the most stressful time of their lives! Stress takes a major toll on your body and can lead to weight gain in and of itself. Therefore, I will not add a restrictive dieting protocol and constant, intense exercise on top of the existing stress.
And even if you argue by saying you enjoy diet and exercise, realize this: calorie deficits and exercise are LITERAL stresses on the body. They will PHYSICALLY stress your systems, regardless of how you think it makes you feel.
Dieting is a big one because it’s so emotionally charged. If you become stressed over wedding planning AND are worried about your caloric intake for the day, that can lead down a bad road. For a lot of people, turning to food at times of stress is an easy relief. When I used to restrict foods and get stressed out by every day life, that often led to a binge-eating fiasco, which became an over-exercising, guilt-induced week of self-hatred. And then that cycle would start all over again, because the negative self-talk would stress me out all over again.
Exercise is a literal stressor, too. HIIT classes, cycle classes, body building programs – ALL of them are stressing the body! Those are obviously not inherently bad, but if you are stressed, taking a day to go for a long walk instead of a run, or a yoga class instead of a Zumba class might be the healthy option that ultimately leads to your health and fitness goals. Burning as many calories as possible does not need to be the goal for you to see positive outcomes with a workout program. If you are just adding stress on top of stress, it could do more harm than good. So know what’s right for you and your body, what fits into your schedule, what makes you feel good, and THAT will be the most successful exercise program for you.
Not to mention another stressor when wedding planning – Money! Weddings are expensive enough. I will not subject myself to $30 SoulCycle classes daily, “bridal bootcamps”, or expensive juice cleanses just to drop a few pounds before my wedding. My time, money, and sanity, could be saved by free YouTube yoga flows, going outside for a run or a hike, exercising in my basement, and sticking to my usual meal routine.
It’s ONE day.
Of course I want my wedding to be the most beautiful and wonderful day of my life. And yes, the pictures will be there to let the moments stand in time forever. And I plan on looking healthy and happy and looking gorgeous in the most expensive dress I’ll ever buy.
But keep in mind, this is one day of your life.
When I’ve dieted in the past for a particular day or event, or been stressed over exercising and food, I notice I’m not present in my own life. You’re only engaged for so long – you should enjoy it!
Because of this, I’ve decided I will not starve myself, overtrain, and let what I look like on one day affect the 9-12 months leading up to it. Instead, I’ve taken small, consistent steps towards a lifestyle that reflects my health, wellness, and happiness.
What I will do in these next few months is continue to focus on a healthy relationship with food. I’m still a work in progress, but I know what foods make my body feel good and which ones don’t. And I know what’s going to keep me full and satisfied and what doesn’t. And I know that sometimes I want cake, and I’ll eat it when I do.
To me, it’s about giving your body what it needs and balancing that with your goals. It’s about loving yourself enough to nourish your body and not fill it with ‘junk’ and then punish it with restriction.
That also means exercising in a reasonable way for your fitness level. Sure if you want to add a few classes at the gym to get in better shape, you should! Go to the gym, get outside, dance in your kitchen, whatever works! Get healthy, fit, and strong if that’s what you want to be. But do it for YOU. Do it for life. Don’t let just one day define all your health and fitness goals.
So whether it’s #sweatingforthewedding or #summerbodyseason or whatever hashtag is “motivating” you – don’t let an event or a season determine your goals. Be balanced, healthy, and fit for life.
Because what happens after the wedding?
If I were to put all my effort into focusing on looking perfect on my wedding day, what would I probably do after the wedding? …I know exactly what I’d do (because I’ve done it in the past for other events I’ve attempted to lose weight for).
Eat ALL the foods!
And after the wedding is probably where a lot people start to “let themselves go” because of this mentality. It starts by binging at the reception, and letting yourself eat and drink whatever you want on the honeymoon, and resting from all the workouts you did leading up to the wedding. And then the vicious cycle starts between binging and restricting.
I, personally, do not want to get back into that cycle. Not only is that mentally draining, but it’s physically not good for your metabolism, body, or well-being. Instead, I’ll eat what I want to eat leading up to my wedding, maybe lay off the inflammatory foods a few days before (or maybe not), and then eat and drink the same way after I say “I do.”
As I mentioned, I want to be fit and healthy and well for my whole life. Not just a single day. There will be plenty of amazing days I’ll get to spend with my husband after the wedding where pictures will be taken. My wedding day will not define me in that way – I want every photo of me and every action I take to be a reflection of who I am. Of where I am on my health and fitness journey.
It’s YOUR day.
Not only is it just one day of your life, it’s YOUR day. It’s the greatest day of your life. Will you truly be more happy if you’re five pounds thinner? I know many people are inclined to say “yes” right off the bat. But really…think about it. Will you?
The diet culture makes you believe you will be happier, more beautiful, more confident, more loved if you weigh less. Being lean is coveted and gaining weight is BAD. But anyone who has ever lost weight knows, your goal number will continue to decrease as your weight decreases. You will never be truly satisfied with your weight or your body image if you tie it to your self-worth. But just know that you can be at a healthy weight without having shredded abs. You can be at a healthy weight and have a roll when you sit down in a pair of jeans. You can be healthy, happy, and confident in various shapes and sizes.
in reality, only YOU can create or take away from your own happiness. And if you allow your weight to be a defining factor in that, you are only you taking away from your own happiness. If you love yourself for who you are, your physical self will be a reflection of that love, happiness, and acceptance.
And that means if you pick a dress you love and that gives you confidence, it really shouldn’t matter if you have an extra “roll” in it, or if your thighs are rubbing together (nobody sees that in your dress anyway!).
Your closest friends and family are there to watch you marry the love of your life. They are not there to judge you. They will call you gorgeous and think you look stunning in your dress. Especially if you look and feel happy and confident on your wedding day. Talk to yourself the way your friends and family would talk to you. Love and accept yourself on your wedding day, and every single day of your life.
So intsead of #sweatingforthewedding — #namastereal 🙂