I Do, But I Won't - Getting Through The The Wedding Diet Hype
On April 24th 2016 the love of my life got down on one knee, opened a bag of Haribo that had a beautiful engagement ring inside and asked me to "be his wife one day".
What I wasn't quite expecting in the next couple of years during the lead up to the wedding, was the amount of pressure that surrounded me as a "bride to be", especially the incessant voice in my head telling me to slim down for the wedding.
For the first year of my engagement I wasn't too bothered- we weren't having a major day and instead chose to run off to Italy with out nearest and dearest to save on cost and stress. We also decided to do all the fun stuff (the reception) the week after back in England so that we could properly celebrate with everyone. Plus it meant that I could wear my dress twice - therefore I technically got it for half price as I wore it more than once(great as I had just quit my job and become self employed for the first time!). I was in a great place physically. I had finally found my freedom with food and I was no longer worrying about counting calories or eating "healthy" all of the time. I did however still have a nagging doubt in my head that I needed to look different. I needed to be skinner and more toned in order to be happy in the body that I was in.
I ignored it though, thinking that self love would prevail and that I would be able to just do it. No worrying needed. Just get on with it. Tell yourself you love you and it'll be fine.
The first few months it was fine, I was so happy in the stage of life that I was in that it overcame any other emotion, I was ok to be the size and shape that I was and I loved the work I did and the way that I could help people.
But,I didn't really love the skin that I was in.
That was ok though, no one really does right?
I carried on, feeling slightly uncomfortable in who I was and I still didn't love the skin that I was in.
'But I'm getting married! I have finally found someone that loves me, for me!'
It didn't matter. I still didn't love the skin that I was in.
As it often does, life carries on. I soon forgot about the impeding nuptials and instead started focussing more and more on my business. In fact, anyone talking about the wedding would infuriate me. It literally bugged me talking about my big day. Perhaps not what I had imagined, but every single time the wedding was brought up I would feel sick, not because of the commitment or the being in front of a lot of people, but because I kept seeing this image of a bride in my head that I just couldn't become.
I went through my wedding dress fittings without any issue. I found my dream dress at Boho Bride on the first appointment that I made but waited for a few more visits at other bridal shops to make sure it was the one. I never really had so much of opinion on how I looked in the dress, more so how the dress itself looked. It was truly freeing.
I still looked on others to certify my opinions though - hoping someone would cry when I stepped out in "THE dress", waiting for someone to say "it was made for you", imagining feeling like a princess. None of that came though. The movies had let me down once again. I was going through such a mix of emotions on how it should be and how it was, how I should feel and how I did. There's no guide book on life and even though I knew this I thought that surely every persons wedding experience would be the same?
At one point someone asked me what I was doing to "prepare" for my wedding day. I said; "well we need to sort out the straw bales and the decorations for back in England." etc etc...
Then they said; "No, but what are you doing to get ready for THE dress!?"
I took a pause and thought.
You know what? I'm not really doing anything, I'm not focussing on how "thin" I am going to look on my wedding day. Instead I am going to concentrate on marrying the man of my dreams and focus on working with my clients, doing Pilates daily and eating food that I enjoy - I never wanted to spent the time worrying about diets and cleanses and shit like that. I have worked hard enough to feel FREE.
It wasn't until about a month before my wedding that my feelings caught up with my brain and I had my first panic. I had literally done NOTHING to prepare for my wedding day, apart from teaching I hadn't worked out in weeks (read months). I hadn't sought to tone up or slim down and suddenly I realised that if I ever did want to do anything my time was fast depleting. I had about a day of proper meltdown; feeling low, avoiding my feelings and not talking about it, which of course made it all so much worse. I ended up in my husband-to-be's arms, crying, feeling like I was a huge failure and convinced that I would end up looking awful.
"What is it that you're worrying about?" he asked.
Good question. What was I worrying about?
I had been trying so hard to ignore how I felt and becoming more and more bogged down in the feeling that I hadn't really addressed why I felt the way I did.
As with any problem I had I started to write; I put down on paper every single thought that was in my head and suddenly realised that I was chasing something that was not only stressing me out but was physically impossible. In my head when I thought about a 'bride' I imagined a tall 6-foot-something glamorous, skinny gazelle, tanned, toned and sexy. Gliding down the isle as everyone gasped at her beauty. I didn't even imagine my face on this woman! In reality I am 5ft 1 and in the words of Bridget Jones "my legs only go up to here".
After doing a lot of inner work I realised that I thought what was bothering me was the fact that I was the heaviest I had been in over a year. I was by no means overweight, my clothes all still fit me and I was teaching 6 days a week so I was pretty active. Seeing that image in my head I realised that the number on the scale had nothing to do with it, (I have empowered myself by disassociating from the scales- being free from guilt and only seeing it as data and information - more on that another day) it was instead this insane model bride in my head that was making me feel unworthy of the white dress.
Once I realised that my feelings were based on an impossible idea I started to see the whole thing for what it was: ridiculous!
Was I really going to regret being the healthiest, happiest and most free that I had ever been?
Was I going to spend the next few weeks being hangry and moody trying to starve myself into a 6 foot model?
Was Alan going to refuse to marry me if my bum was a bit bigger and I wasn't as thin as when he met me?
Hell to the NO!
The man that loves me is the man that loves me for a reason. He isn't marrying me because of the way I look but the person that I am. Crazy meltdowns and all!
After accepting the way I felt was how I felt and then working to move past it, I didn't think about the way I looked after that realisation day. When I walked down the isle in June this year not one of my thoughts gravitated to "I wish I looked thinner". I focused on how I FELT, and I felt bloody amazing! In not one of those photos do I think, oh my chin is too big, my arms are too chunky etc. Instead I see that massive bloody grin on my face and know that I had the most incredible wedding day - complete with Italian ice cream for breakfast!
I know so many women that crash diet their way to their wedding and some may lose a lot of weight and feel great for it on their big day but more often than not it then gives them a reason to beat themselves up for the rest of their married lives. Thoughts of "oh I wish I could be back at that weight again", "I was so much happier when I was thin". No love! You were happy because you were marrying the man of your dreams. The reality of it was that you probably spent the last few weeks before your wedding stressing yourself out for eating a carb, or counting calories, or not eating with your family because you were on a 'special diet' which consisted of shit shakes designed to dehydrate and starve you. The minute that the wedding was over you probably had the feeling of "yes! I can eat whatever I want now" causing your starving body to rejoice and store all that energy for future use and thus the diet cycle began.
In the grand scheme of things 5 pounds or 5 stone does not determine your happiness. Your view of yourself and the way you look at life is what makes the difference.
Your weight and the size of your clothes won't bring happiness to you. Happiness is there within us always. You just have to remember that you have the power to find it again. Someone else alone can't bring happiness to you. We aren't here to be saved by a knight in shining armour, we ARE that knight. So go out and do what makes you feel good. Move in a way that makes you feel great. Eat what you enjoy and that nourishes your body.
It's all about perspective.
So if you ever find yourself feeling a little off kilter take a step back and think about why...
Are you holding onto unrealistic goals?
Are you concentrating on something that won't really matter in the long run?
Are you maybe just having a bit of a bad day?!
Also, don't be so hard on yourself! This self-love stuff takes a hell of a lot of work but you've got this!