How to handle the pressure to diet and lose weight for your wedding day.
3 weeks ago we were married in Byron Bay surrounded by friends and family under a HUGE fig tree, and we have just arrived home after the wedding and honeymoon hoo ha!
I’m a Watson!
Our wedding felt very authentically “us” and now that it has been and gone it feels like a huge accomplishment to have celebrated and shared the becoming of “us” with friends and family.
Now that I’m on the “other side” I’ve reflected on how the wedding planning ruffled some old diet and body ‘stuff’.
The process gave me the opportunity to step up to the next level of self acceptance, self worth, and body image.
And with that, I hope I can positively influence the way you can either reflect on the body image lessons from your wedding day OR prepare to reframe your thinking for your big day ahead.
Getting “wedding ready” and dealing with the pressure to diet and change my body
About a month out from our wedding I walked back into my dress makers studio and saw my dress hanging on the far wall waiting for me to try on. It was the first time I had seen my dress take shape since the calico fittings a few weeks earlier, I was SO excited (and nervous) to try it on because it was made just for me!
As I moved closer to the dress hanging against the wall, my smile disappeared, there was something wrong, the dress looked... way too big?!
“Do I have some kind of warped view of my body?!” I thought as I made quick strides across the room.
My mind fast-forward to the morning of our wedding day.
The moment when I would look at my dress hung high on the wall while our photographer staged the “getting ready” moments.
The moment I would feel completely deflated because my dress looked “too big” and I wasn’t the size I wanted to be on our perfect day.
But before I get to how I turned myself around and felt truely confident on my wedding day…
I want to take you back to the weekend, just a few days earlier, to where my body image struggle developed its niggle and my vulnerabilities burst open.
I was at a Christmas party and someone offered a passionfruit pavlova, on a Christmasy paper plate.
“No thanks, I’m ok - I’m really full!” I said.
I was drinking some really sweet champagne at the time and really didn’t feel like the pav.
Half joking, half affectionately that person said to me,
“are you worried your going to get fat before the wedding ha ha?!”
… (ummm awkward, uncomfortable pause) - projection at its finest.
Now, this comment wasn’t meant to be nasty, because honestly, this is often what a lot of us are thinking in those moments. Sadly I think this can be the way women relate and “bond” with one another sometimes.
That wasn’t the end of it…
In the next hour of mingling I was asked if I wanted my champagne topped up by someone else in the group and kindly said I was ‘ok’ for champagne and would have something else.
“ohh dieting for the big day?” she said, as though she knew what was “going on.”
The hurtful part about this is the message we’ve all bought into as women.
An accepted fate that we are are supposed to spend our engagements stressed out, planning a wedding, restricting and exercising like CRAZY to fit into standards of a photo-worthy bride!
It’s clear getting married has been inflated in all of our minds, because of both the history of marriage and the fairytale we’ve all grown up with.
Getting married was the pinnacle of every woman’s life!
Back to the part where I nearly had a bridal breakdown….
The simple truth about the dress was that the seamstress was still piecing the skirt and top sections together. And that actually, the way it was hung up made the dress NOT look like the “mermaid style” silhouette I was expecting!
So the REAL breakdown was my automatic, catastrophic thinking and how it got the better of me that day.
I realise now that it was an accumulation of messages I had internalised over the past few days that feed into my old fears and patterns that could have spiralled well out of control.
Thankfully, I’m now well aware of the ‘old me’ tendencies to FREAK OUT in the lead up to a “big event” so I can identify the signs and change my tune pretty quickly.
My “old perfectionist self” wasn’t about to rear it’s head and ruin this one day of our lives!
What my dress fitting DID show me was that I’m not immune to the claws of diet culture just yet!
I quit the cycle of dieting, disordered eating and exercise years ago. It just takes a pretty significant event, like your wedding day, to really test how strong your self acceptance, self worth, and body image really is!
Of course, I did want to feel beautiful and confident on my wedding day BUT I also wanted to feel natural and authentically myself!
I didn’t want to look back at photos and not recognise the real me.
Chasing perfection on my wedding day
The real shift was allowing myself to let go off the idea that the best version of myself exists “out there.” That if I work hard enough, I could “fix” my body.
As though there is this place to “arrive” and when you do, you’ll be ENOUGH.
I thought I needed to be thin enough, glowy-skin enough, “detoxed” and healthy enough to be WORTHY of getting married.
I let go of the idea of being the best possible self on my wedding day because “best possible” is a perception, a measure of enoughness that only exists in our minds.
This idea of perfection is only a standard that I create and right now I’m making it mean something about how ENOUGH I feel.
I made my perception of a “bigger” dress on the hanger mean I’m not good enough. I decided that “small enough” was better and I had made that judgment within just 2 seconds. There is no reasonability or truth to that.
What I decided was to pick myself up and be more supportive of my myself in the final few weeks before I married.
What I focused on instead so I could feel “wedding ready”
I focused on enjoying the planning and preparation stages with more fulfilling priorities that gave me more freedom. No #wedshred.
Preparing to take 3 weeks off work with my clients so I could enjoy our wedding week and 2 weeks honeymoon, completely.
I broke up my day with a walk/run to a balance the extra time we were spending planning our wedding and time off
I spent extra down time with Nick & did relationship coaching together so we could proactively prepare for marriage.
And I practiced giving myself MORE self compassion when I worried if I should do more exercise, eat more fresh salads, or skip going to Iggy’s Bakery for that week with the girls.
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Well, my wedding day is getting close! The tiny, little details 💅are almost done I can see the end of our spreadsheet (we both LOVE a spreadsheet)! It's been a very fun planning time, yes definitely moments of ahem *BUSY-NESS* but also ALOT of watching the more 'mature' me take care of a would-be challenging time, just a few years ago. . The 'old me' would have seen the lead up to this big event as my focus to double down on the super-clean, plant-based eating coupled with some kind of extreme excercise plan - because that's what's "worked" before! . BUT, in the past 9 months, I really haven't made it a 'thing' in my wedding planning to diet for my wedding #wedshred . What's different this time is that I've chosen to still do all of my usual self things including make salted chocolate chip cookies on the weekend and have coffee with friends and make sure I don't miss out on the free taster brownies (@gemmascoble😉). . It's been an incredibly freeing time to not fall into #weddingdiet panic (although I'm not claiming total immunity to diet culture yet!). Theres a huge difference in wanting to feel good and wanting to lose weight because thinness doesn't equal beauty. A wedding is not about the size of your wedding dress and marriage is not about the wedding. . . . #weddingday #weddingplanning #bridalworkout #bridetobe #intuitiveeating #weddinggown #gettingmarried #nourishnotpunish #lifebeyonddieting
On the wedding day, I focused on the real reason we were getting married and celebrating my husband!
I focused on acknowledging the amazing family and friends that we have in our lives. I soaked up one of the very few opportunities we would ever have to dedicate a whole day to appreciating our relationship and celebrating our LOVE.
Our wedding wasn’t about me being the “beautiful bride”.
I reframed my ego around that idea to be really clear that it was about us and honouring our relationship and who we were becoming.
I decided that I wouldn't let any of my expectations take away from the magic of the day.
I surrendered, relaxed and let go of the outcome of how the day was going to turn out.
Looking back on our wedding in 50 years, we’re not going to remember the tiny details that weren’t perfect. I didn’t want to waste extra energy, or feel anxiety over something I actually wouldn’t have any control over.
I decided I would enjoy the imperfections of the day because they remind us we’re human.
Been dealing with this body stuff too?
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