Whew. This has been a highly requested blog post, and if I’m being honest with y’all… I’ve been putting it off.
Why? There are a few reasons. For starters, I’m not a doctor or nutritionist. So in a sense, I feel weird sharing the methods I used to “get in shape” for my wedding when I have no idea whether or not they are professionally recommended. So, will you do me a favor and keep that in mind? Not a nutritionist. Not recommending this. Just sharing my story!
Secondly, I’ve never been a dieter. I’ve been lucky to have always had a great relationship with food (probably a little too great at times #bojangles) and was blessed with a mother who all throughout my childhood never, ever mentioned weight/dieting/etc. I really attribute her example to the great relationship I’ve had with food to this day. (Mom, love you!!)
So with the exception of a grapefruit + bacon crash diet I went on for two weeks during my freshman year of college (I’m laughing as I type this, I can’t believe I did that) I’ve always eaten what I wanted, exercised for health, and to be quite honest, never really obsessed about my weight. The thought of encouraging anyone to do otherwise or implying that you should makes me feel icky.
All that being said, I love sharing my personal life with you here on Lonestar Southern. Prepping for my wedding absolutely falls in that category, and so I’m also, in a way, happy to share the process of how I got in shape for my wedding. I did work hard. I did lose weight… over 10 pounds, actually! I did tone up. So let’s talk about it.
But here’s the thing. I don’t just want to talk about the “how” of getting into shape for my wedding. I also want to talk about what I learned from it all. Because there were a few positives, but also plenty of negatives in regards to this journey that deserve just as much attention.
And I hope you remember, if you haven’t already been reminded today, your weight does not and never will translate into your worth, your ultimate happiness or the way others feel about you.
Ok, off my soapbox. Let’s get started!
how i got in shape for my wedding
from our rehearsal dinner
from our honeymoon
9 months out
Once Andrew proposed, which would end up being about 9 months before our wedding, I decided to start being more intentional about my diet/workout regime As I mentioned above, I’ve always been content with how I looked/how much I weighed, but just like most girls, I really wanted to ramp things up for the big day. To be quite honest… it was mainly so I would feel proud of myself for working hard and preparing well. I wanted to prove to myself that I could actually tone up and get fit since it had never been a huge focus in my life beforehand.
Here’s the thing: the months of September-December are, without a doubt, the most tempting months out of the year! This girl has too much of a sweet tooth to say no to fall baked goods and Christmas treats. So I decided to make a few minor changes until the new year, which is when I really kicked things into high gear. Here’s what I did:
- Cut Down On Sugar // A game changer for me was replacing my normal coffee creamer with NutPods. I used to load up my coffee with this creamer, but didn’t realize how much sugar I was consuming every single day through that alone. Taking sugary creamer out of my diet actually helped break my sugar addiction. Not a fun change, but a worthwhile one!
- Tried To Stay Away From Carbs
- Started Pure Barre 3x a Week) // I’d always been a consistent SoulCycle-r, but wanted a fresh regime to really target and tone the muscles in my body. After tons of recommendations from y’all and from some dear friends, I decided to try bar. You can read more about my experience here!
At this point, the wedding felt so far away that I didn’t feel the need to go crazy. My goal was to make it through the holidays, and then bunker down. So until January 1st, that’s exactly what I did.
5 months out
Once January 1st rolled around, I decided to really make some changes. And let me be the first to admit… while these changes were effective, I’m not convinced they were positive.
It was around this time that a well-meaning friend mentioned how much his wife had weighed on their wedding day (totally as a compliment, mind you!) and for whatever reason, this number stuck in my head. All of a sudden, I became obsessed with it. I thought about it literally every day. I created a narrative in my mind that if I didn’t reach this same weight on the day of my wedding, I would be a failure.
Looking back at it now, it sounds silly and melodramatic. But y’all, it’s so so sad to me that I allowed myself to believe this lie, especially as someone who has never really struggled with body image. This desire to lose weight for my wedding went from being a far-off goal to a full-blown obsession. And here’s what it looked like:
- Downloaded the LoseIt! App // I used this app to set a “calorie goal” based on how much weight I wanted to lose. And every single day, I would log in every. single. thing. I ate. If I went over the calorie goal, I’d get onto the treadmill until I’d made up for it. If I ended up being over my calorie goal by the time I went to bed, I’d spend hours mentally beating myself up for it. And while this method definitely was “effective,” in dropping weight, I absolutely hate including this in the post because I do not want to encourage anyone to go down that road. My relationship with food went from positive to insanely negative in the time it took to download an app. Scary.
- Started Bar Method Classes (3x a week) // On the other hand, here’s a healthy change I made. I loved my time Pure Barre, but decided to try out The Bar Method because of the amazing beginner special they had going on. After a month of classes, I was hooked! I ended up loving these classes even more than Pure Barre because of the light environment, the incredibly-trained instructors, and the many friends I’d run into in class. If you’re looking for a way to truly tone your body, I’m convinced no workout does it better than bar!
- Power Walking // As I mentioned above, the true purpose of each of my days became hitting my calorie goal. Ew. I hate typing that out. So in order to achieve this, I started obsessively power walking. Any spare moment I could find, I’d throw on a TV show and power walk on an incline at the YMCA in my neighborhood, on top of the bar classes I was taking. While I definitely over-did it, I did learn that I love this type of exercise.
Now I will say, I straight up stopped counting calories over the weekends. And thank goodness, because I truly think I would have lost it otherwise. What makes me so sad looking back on it, though, was I would feel so guilty on Sunday evenings. I couldn’t even enjoy the break because of the pressure I put on myself to reach that certain number on the scale. All of a sudden I understood what it meant to have a negative relationship with food, and I hate that.
1 month out
When I hit the “one month to go” mark, I was feeling super burnt out, both physically and mentally. At this point, I was getting gentle remarks from my family about the amount of weight I had lost. You want to know the craziest thing about it? I couldn’t see it.
Oh, I could see the number on the scale. But when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t feel proud of myself or like I’d “made it.” I felt this nagging that I could be doing more. That I should be doing more. I still hadn’t reached that dumb number in my head, and so I decided to add in yet another workout. Here’s what it looked like:
- Orange Theory 3x-5x A Week // I was craving more cardio, so I decided to try out Orange Theory. Holy cow, y’all. These classes are so hard, but so amazing! After just a few classes, coupled with the restrictive diet I was on, I was seeing pretty big changes. And while I don’t think I was in a healthy mental place in terms of working out/dieting, I do genuinely think these classes are amazing. If you’re looking to slim down, Orange Theory will definitely help.
- Calorie Counting With the LoseIt! App // At this point, I had figured out what I could/couldn’t eat to hit my daily calorie goal. So every day started to look the same… two scrambled eggs for breakfast, a protein bar for lunch, and a healthy, lean dinner. This was usually a poke bowl, something from Flower Child or Trader Joe’s Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry with veggies and a few slices of avocado.
A Few Weeks Out
A couple of weeks out from the wedding, I finally, finally (thank you, Lord) hit a point where it clicked that that silly number I was trying to reach didn’t matter. AT ALL. I was finally able to see that the hard work had paid off, and that tying my identity to a number I would never reach was absurd and wouldn’t bring me the happiness or satisfaction I thought it would.
Groundbreaking, I know, and as I type this I’m genuinely so surprised it took me so long to reach this point. But I really fell into the trap of subconsciously thinking my wedding day would be a success or a flop based on how much I weighed. And I finally realized I had control over whether or not I chose to believe that. There wasn’t a specific moment that brought it on, just a peace the Lord placed on my heart.
So I stopped counting calories. I stopped weighing myself. I stopped working out obsessively. The final week and a half before the wedding, I finally stopped caring. And so I can honestly tell you, I have no idea what I weighed on my wedding. And there’s so much freedom in that.
For the first time in a while, I was actually able to focus on things outside of myself. I think that’s what I hated most about my journey of getting into “wedding shape.” I was constantly obsessing about me. My weight. How I looked. And wow… talk about a draining, unfulfilling and fruitless way to live! I did it, and I can tell you it’s miserable.
The Wedding Weekend
So can I tell you what happened when we actually reached the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of my wedding? I didn’t think about my weight once. Here I had been, fretting over a number for months and months leading up to the big day, and when it actually arrived, my weight never crossed my mind.
You know what I remember about my wedding? I remember walking into our rehearsal dinner, speechless at how beautiful it was and how many loved faces were there. I remember dancing around to the playlist I had made with my bridesmaids as we got ready. I remember the huge clap of thunder that rumbled during the final prayer in our ceremony. I remember running through the pouring rain to get from the church to the bus that would take us to our reception. I remember our photographer stuffing Andrew’s and my face with mac and cheese before we were introduced. I remember the friends, the flowers, the band… and I remember driving away from the wedding utterly amazed that it had been exactly what everyone had promised… the best day of my life.
That’s what I remember.
In A Nutshell
So, if you were to summarize this entire post into one bite-sized portion, here’s how I got into “wedding shape.” I combined consistent cardio and toning exercises (Bar Method, Orange Theory and lots of power walking) with a “healthy” (restrictive) diet. I’ve worked out consistently since I graduated from college… but it was paying attention to what I was putting into my body that really moved the needle for me.
But here’s what I learned. Living in a healthy, intentional way is great. Living in an obsessive, restrictive way in order to reach a certain number on a scale is not worth it… and at the risk of offending, I think we mix that up sometimes. We tell ourselves we’re being disciplined. We’re making healthy choices. We’re achieving goals. But it’s at the cost of our own freedom. What makes me sad about this journey is I was doing everything in a very “healthy” way. I was getting enough calories. I was being super active. Technically, I checked all of the boxes.
But mentally… I was miserable. My entire days were consumed with reaching a number on a scale. My happiness started to tie into whether or not I reached a calorie goal. And the worst part is that I bought the lie that when I did, I would be “happy.” The bride I had always wanted to be.
Turns out, it was a total lie, y’all, and if I can do one thing today, it’s to remind you of that. To remind you that your worth is not tied to weight. Your happiness is not tied to how “skinny” you are. You will never feel ultimately satisfied and complete by reaching any “goal,” really, weight or otherwise. Just ask a girl who tried.
Hear me. If you gain 100 pounds from here to your wedding day, it will still be the best, happiest day of your life. Looking back, I’m 100% I would have been just as overjoyed on my wedding day if I hadn’t lost a single pound.
You all know my answer to this. It’s only ever been the constant, unchanging and overwhelming love of Jesus that has brought me true contentment. I can’t believe it took me until my late 20’s to realize that applies to “weight” as well. I’m sad that I let myself tie my worth to something deep down I knew would never satisfy, but I’m grateful for the lesson the Lord showed me about how easy it is to run after the things of this world when we take our eyes off of Him and put them on ourselves. Can we talk about how patient He has been with me?!
My Post-Wedding Routine
So here we are… about 3 months after the wedding. And what am I not doing? Putting myself back in that same place. I’m not counting calories anymore. I’m not obsessing over my diet anymore. I’m not telling myself I’ve failed for not working out on a day or for indulging in a dessert with Andrew. I have a choice with how I let myself feel about those things, and I’ve decided to not.
And while I do think a few positive experiences came out of it, like learning to be more conscious about making healthy choices and finding new workout regimes I love, I’m sad that I now pay attention to calories. I’m sad that from time to time I still find myself thinking “maybe if I could get back to that weight…” I’m sad that I can’t go back to the really healthy relationship I had with food before this whole thing started.
But here’s what I am doing… I am working out consistently, but because I enjoy it and it’s good for me. I am making healthy decisions but also allowing myself to live. And whenever I find myself looking in the mirror and wondering “what if,” I try to immediately take my eyes off of myself and return my focus on the Lord.
I can honestly tell you, here I am 3 months after the wedding. I’ve gained back much of the weight I’ve lost. And I’ve never, truly never been happier. I wouldn’t go back to that weird, obsessive season for anything, not even my “dream weight.”
So if you’re reading this a bride to be, or maybe because somewhere along the way you’ve also started to believe that hitting a certain number will make you happy, I want to remind you that it won’t! This is me telling you I’ve been there, and it didn’t make me any happier. (If anything, it made me less happy.) This is me encouraging you to by all means set goals, workout, prioritize nutrition… but don’t believe the lie that I did that that’s where happiness lies.
Soak up the season of being engaged, or whatever season you’re in. Use it to pray over your future marriage, your future spouse. Use it to bless others in your life. Use it to learn more about who God is and how much He loves you. Those are the things in preparation for your wedding that, in hindsight, you’ll be so thankful you did.
I love this verse, y’all. I memorized it during my junior year of college, and I can’t tell you how meditating on it as I walked to and from class truly lightened and brought joy to my heart. I formatted this to fit as a screensaver on your phone, if you’d like to use it! You should be able to tap this photo and save it right to your camera roll.
What a wonderful reminder that the Lord loves us so mightily. And He is the one who satisfies the desires we have with good things. Do you trust and believe that? Have you seen it in your own life?
As always, thank you, thank you for sticking around and reading this post. I’m so long-winded, but I really wanted to share both sides of the coin with my “getting into wedding shape” journey.
And thank you for sharing in every season of my life, both during the times I get it right, and the times I get it wrong.
Love from the Sunshine State,