A New Look on Bridal Fitness
As we are approaching the end of a busy engagement season and entering into another wedding season, I have been reflecting back on my own engagement and wedding. More importantly, the focus I tried to put on losing weight, “getting in shape,” and trying to be the perfect tiny bride. *Spoiler alert: I wasn’t!* Did I end up marrying the love of my life, surrounded by friends and family, in a gorgeous dress that far exceeded my expectations? Yes. Was I a perfect size 4? No. Did I learn to handle the disappointment of not reaching my goal weight and dress size? More on that later…
Looking back on my entire journey to wedded bliss, I can promise you there were many ups and downs. There were days I wanted to run to city hall that moment and exchange rings without telling a soul. There were other days I spent hours upon hours on Pinterest dreaming of a gorgeous Fall wedding with all the traditions of a wedding. To say the planning process (which lasted 2 years) was stressful, would be a massive understatement. I was never the little girl who dreamed of the day she would be a bride. Perhaps that is why I wanted a long engagement-I didn’t know what I wanted in a wedding. There was one thing I did know I wanted (besides my husband). I wanted to finally lose the weight I had put on over the years. I wanted to really get my body in shape. I had two years to accomplish this-shouldn’t be hard, right? WRONG! Ladies, believe me when I say, I tried, HARD! I went to the gym every. single. day. I counted calories. I cut out sweets. I planned healthy meals and snacks. I lost almost no weight. I was beyond frustrated.
Fast forward 2 years. I am at my final dress fitting a week before the wedding. My dress wouldn’t zip. My heart sank into my stomach. I was getting married in ONE WEEK and my gorgeous lace wedding dress DID NOT ZIP! After a few probing questions from my seamstress however, we realized this was almost definitely due to Auntie Flo visiting. She told me to come back the day before the wedding for the last fitting and if needed she promised she could make adjustments. The week passed. I ate only salads and drank 50 gallons a water a day. The dress fit. For the first time that whole week, I took a breath. I was relieved. Yet, in the back of my mind I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. I shouldn’t have had to worry about my dress fitting. I shouldn’t have had to get a dress that size to begin with. After I bought the dress, I told myself I was going to lose enough weight to have the dress taken in a lot. That didn’t happen. I was going to marry the love of my life and have pictures of our wedding day. And I was going to be fat in them all. I couldn’t understand why, despite all my efforts, I didn’t lose any weight.
Fast forward almost a year. I continued to eat right and exercise. In the summer I started taking martial arts classes. I still wasn’t losing weight. I had brought the concern up with my primary care earlier in the year, but after running blood tests, concluded there was nothing abnormal that they could see causing this. In August, I had my yearly “lady doctor” visit. It was finally at this visit I got some answers. I was diagnosed with PCOS-Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
First of all, the name PCOS is overly misleading. Ovarian cysts can be a symptom, however, PCOS is actually an endocrine disorder. For those of you who are unaware, PCOS is primarily linked to hormonal imbalances. These imbalances can cause issues such as irregular periods, weight gain (and retention), acne, mood swings, and infertility. If left undetected and untreated PCOS can even lead to pre-diabetes and diabetes, high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol (that’s the bad kind!) and low HDL cholesterol (that’s the good kind!). The risk of heart attack is also 4 to 7 times greater for women with PCOS.
I am not sure if there is a word to describe being simultaneously relieved and in shock. I finally had answers, and the beginning of a path that would finally help deliver the results I had been working so hard to achieve. I began working with my doctor to develop a plan to manage my body’s sensitivity to insulin (which for me was the root cause of everything). I am far from being where I want to be, but I am so much farther than where I was. Since being diagnosed with PCOS and beginning a plan to manage it I have managed to lose over 20 pounds. My clothes now fall off me. People compliment me on how healthy I look. I am proud of myself.
More importantly though, is that now, looking back, I realized I was setting the wrong goals for myself. I wanted to lose weight for the size 4 wedding dress and some pretty wedding pictures. Today, I focus on losing weight AND getting into shape because without that, my health will suffer. And ladies, THAT should be your priority. Engaged or not; married or not-your health should always be more important than idolizing the models in your bridal magazines. It took me a long time to fully realize that my husband honestly and truly loved me for me. We have been together for many years now. He has known me at many sizes and loves me unconditionally. He never fails to call me beautiful at least once a day. It wasn’t until he sat on the couch comforting his wife who was just diagnosed with PCOS, telling me that no matter what happens he will always love me, for the realization to truly hit.
So what do I do nowadays to manage my health and stay in shape? I still take martial arts twice a week. This has done wonders for my cardio, strength training, and confidence. I go to the gym at least 5 times a week. I have also cut back heavily on foods with sugar-especially processed foods, breads, simple carbs and so on. I focus on a protein and veggie heavy diet and try to stay as close to pure forms as possible. I set realistic goals for myself, for example, signing up for a 5k in April that I will be running with the ladies of our fabulous Timeless Bridal Team. I remind myself, each and every day, to take it one day at a time. I surround myself with a strong support team. Until today very few people, including my husband, parents, and sister, have known about my PCOS. Today that changes.
I believe it is important for every bride out there to realize that no matter what you are going through, and no matter what stress you are feeling (or putting on yourself), that you are not alone. I want every bride out there to understand their true worth. We all come in different sizes, shapes, and colors. We all have our own unique story to tell.
Ladies, this is my challenge to you: As you journey toward wedded bliss, remember that your fitness and diet plan should focus on your health and not a dress size. Your husband-to-be loves you for you. It’s time we start focusing our fitness plans on long-term results, instead of just our walk down the aisle.