Wedding weight woes: Just say no to the battle with the scale
There isn’t much that I love more than a wedding. I got married over three years ago, but I can still be found covertly recording "Say Yes To the Dress" on my DVR every Friday night. It’s a sickness, really, but there is something so alluring about the romance of it all. Beautiful dresses and flowers, reluctantly adorable men in tuxedos, and the promise of eternal love and commitment. It’s all so picture perfect, isn’t it?
Therein lies the trap.
“Picture perfect” is all about appearances, and appearances — for many women — are inextricably tied to body image. When it’s our turn to be the bride, many of us take what should be a happy celebration of our connection with our partners and turn it into a referendum on our bodies and our sense of style. We find ourselves fixating on tired, old insecurities as the big day approaches.
As a personal trainer, I get a lot of calls from women trying to lose weight in advance of their weddings. They want to be able to pull that corset tight and fulfill the dream of how they should look in their wedding pictures.
I get it.
By all rights, it is the one time in our lives when it seems like everything should fall blissfully into place, and for some women it does. I have seen clients and friends drop weight without cutting out so much as a single serving of Manchego. When it happens that way, fantastic. But what if it doesn’t? If a woman maintains her regular, real-life weight, should her day be any less celebrated? Should she feel any less blessed, beautiful, and loved?
Many of my clients who start exercising madly before a wedding end up disappointed because their goals are set too high, or they don’t have the time or energy to make the changes necessary for significant weight loss. The struggle to lose weight is something they face every day, whether there is a wedding on the horizon or not. I wish they could see the wedding as a reason to let go of that struggle rather than a reason to fixate on it. There are much better things to focus on as you anticipate the big day; the day when you get to have everyone you love in one room, supporting you and wishing you well.
As my own wedding approached, I lost weight completely effortlessly for the first and only time in my life. Frankly, it was a bizarre feeling. The war I waged my entire adult life was suddenly no war at all. The stubborn 10 pounds I could never kick suddenly lifted off and floated away. I felt like an idiot for wasting decades and incalculable amounts of energy battling myself over pounds that could be lost in a blink under the right circumstances.
But my momentary reprieve from the weight loss Ferris wheel proved to be a mirage. After the big day, every pointless pound steadily crept back on like a dear old friend coming over nightly for a glass of wine on the couch and a few hundred old episodes of "Say Yes to the Dress". I went down; I went up. And the funny thing is … it didn’t matter one bit to my husband. He loved me down, and he loved me right back up again.
Weddings can bring that magical lightness of being, or they can bring enormous pressure and frustration. The brilliant truth of the matter is that the husbands-to-be are always in love with their women just the way they are. They proposed marriage that way, and they want their brides to be the beautiful people that they have adored from the very beginning.
So I tell my clients: We will do everything we can to help you look as sexy and stunning as possible. But the best way to ensure that you will look happy and healthy on your wedding day is to be happy and healthy, strong and fit, to exercise and get lots of fresh air, to celebrate the upcoming day and put your focus on spending the rest of your life with the person you love. It has absolutely nothing to do with losing weight or dropping a dress size. It has everything to do with confidence and joy.
Letting go of the pressure to lose weight is easier said than done, but if you are taking good care of yourself, your beauty will shine brightly in the photo on the mantel, from this day forward, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.
Nikki Ringenberg does not like needles. As in seriously doesn’t like them — so intensely, she explains, that when she got pregnant last year, she decided to deliver naturally.
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