The last of the coupled-off friends to get married, I had years of watching what my friends put themselves through to look perfect for their wedding day. One of my friends confided in me that she survived on two cans of Campbell's chicken noodle soup a day. A DAY. Another basically starved herself. And two more, who were two of the most stunning women I ever knew, were putting themselves through cleanses and extreme diets to lose weight before their weddings.
I always thought that when it was my turn to get married, I would all of a sudden have some crazy willpower, drop some weight, and look more elegant and stunning than I ever have in my life.
I was totally wrong.
The months leading up to my wedding were pretty much the most disastrous months of my life. I was working at a high-stress job that was causing me all sorts of health problems, like anxiety attacks so bad that I would lose my vision and ovarian cysts that would sometimes pop on the train home. I wasn't happy at work and couldn't wait to get home to my new house, my fiancé, and my puppy. However, money was tight (thanks to a wedding and adult bills), and being the breadwinner, I was stressed there, too. I felt completely trapped, and dieting was the furthest thing from my mind.
Especially after I quit my job . . . without another job.
You read that right. Three months before I was about to walk down the aisle — with wedding bills, a mortgage, and a slew of other living expenses — I quit my job.
I thought the newfound freedom would allow me to focus on my health and I could get on a schedule that would allow me some gym time. I thought being at home would be easier for me diet-wise because I was free to make anything I wanted since I had an entire kitchen at my disposal. Instead, I spent the months clamoring to find enough freelance work to pay all the bills — forget on time . . . that definitely did not happen — and keep my little family afloat. I went from long conference calls with a PR company I was working freelance with to local events and school board meetings, and then I would hop back on the phone to do more interviews for some magazine articles I was commissioned to write. I even got a part-time job to bring in some consistent cash. All this between wedding appointments, planning, and, you know, everything else that was going on in my life. (Unfortunately, life doesn't stop when you're a bride. Trust me — I tried.) I ate whatever whenever and was on no sort of schedule and sometimes would even forget to eat.
By the time my wedding came, I was the heaviest I had ever been in my life. I had started getting stressed about walking down the aisle bigger than I wanted to be, but there was simply too much to handle to stay focussed on anything other than what needed to be done.
But my revelation came in the car on the way to my first dress fitting. I was with my mom, and she said to me, "Listen, you are going to look beautiful in this dress. Please don't get stressed out or think you have to lose weight."
Without even thinking, I responded, "Mom, I'm too busy handling things that are more important than my weight to get caught up. This is me; this is who I am. This is the woman John already lives with. He knows me, and he is fine with the way I look."
And you know what? I was right.
I put on my wedding dress on my wedding day with the same excitement any bride would. I was happy to pose with my friends and family for wedding photos. I loved sifting through all of the candids after the wedding. I did not feel fat. I did not feel ugly. I did not feel disappointed in myself. I felt like a bride in a stunning Vera Wang dress that cost way too much money.
Life is more than your weight.