This year is my wedding year! And since Google somehow knows everything about our lives, I’ve been suddenly presented with more online ads about weight loss, diet or workout plans, and other ways to physically prep for the big day.
With a constant stream of messages like that, it’s no surprise women feel pressure to change their bodies for the big day—or for any big event. But I think it’s very harmful and I think we owe it to ourselves to not make weight loss the focus for any of it. At the very least, let’s put it on the back burner.
Let me tell you why I feel this way—then tell you what I recommend instead of pursuing weight loss before the big day, or ever.
Why I’m Not Losing Weight for My Wedding Day
Here’s my philosophy:
When it comes to your body and your health, if it’s not sustainable and you can’t do it for a lifetime and be happy in body and mind, it’s not worth your time.
I’m not going to try and change my body for my wedding day for the same reason I don’t engage in restrictive eating, fitness “challenges” I don’t enjoy, or detoxes or reboots anymore. It’s also the same reason I no longer make my eating or exercise choices based on what the scale says.
I spent too many years counting calories, being afraid of certain foods, shaming myself for not eating “clean” enough or not working out hard enough, and using special events as excuses to set unrealistic expectations for my body…
only to end up exactly where I was before, miserable and still not liking the way I looked.
Now, I choose to apply that mental energy towards something else—cultivating love and respect for how I look and the person I am right now.The Best Pre-Wedding Diet is NO Diet (Try This Instead): Click To Tweet
Pursuing a New Dress Size Will Not Heal You
It makes me so sad this idea is prevalent: that we must go to extremes to appear “better” than we are during big moments in life, like on our wedding day.
So many women I’ve talked to about their relationship with food and their bodies struggle with some sort of shame or disorder around eating because they were taught at a young age that they must eat or look a certain way.
What I’m saying here is: food and body shaming, even in its smallest forms, doesn’t NOT make us better. It’s damaging.
It’s far better to START with loving and accepting ourselves as we are right now. Even if there are issues to work through, self-kindness is the place to begin for real growth.
And don’t get me wrong: I’m all for making choices that benefit your body, eating nutritious foods, and getting regular exercise—if that makes you feel good. But from what I see, most people take it to the extreme or do these things from a place that is not loving or kind but restrictive and punishing.
I also know this to be true:
When I look back on my wedding pictures, I want to see ME. My whole, balanced, imperfect self.
I want to see my mentally happy self who loves tofu and broccoli but who also loves cake and chocolate—who has found the right balance of both that makes her feel good each day.
I want to see the me who loves exercising for stress relief and strength and a healthy body but not as a way to punish it or “make up” for something I’ve eaten.
When I look back on my wedding pictures and video, I want to see myself and the man I chose to marry (who also loves me just as I am) having a blast with the people we love! That’s what’s most important.
Focusing on the Scale is Bad for Mental Health
Trying to lose weight, especially through restriction or intense exercise, for the big day will just put extra pressure on us, mess with our psychological wellness, and add to our stress.
- Dieting is harmful, unrealistic, and generally not sustainable long-term .
- Crash diets (which are especially unsustainable) lead to weight cycling, which studies show actually have adverse affects on health .
- Choosing exercise that makes you feel good is far more sustainable than doing it solely for appearance .
Let’s make choices for our wedding that match the person we are right now, including caring for the body we’re in now.
You are already complete. Seriously—and I’m willing to bet your future spouse agrees.
Dieting Breeds Food Shame
Feeling guilt or shame related to food choices isn’t good for anyone, and it actually contributes to poorer body image and disordered eating patterns .
There are no true “good” or “bad” foods, and morality is not dependent on what you eat or how you look. The problem is that our society does tend to view foods this way, leaving many of us with an unhealthy relationship with food, full of guilt and shame.
Let’s eat what feels good, absolutely (and that includes a whole range of foods), but not let that toxic guilt or shame creep into this special time—a time meant to celebrate love and happiness and an exciting future.
The day I picked out my wedding dress, I went out to get ice cream with my family to celebrate. I really enjoyed both the ice cream and that special time with my loved ones. It was a beautiful memory that would have been clouded had I felt bad or obsessed about my eating choices, which is how it used to be.
Freeing ourselves of food guilt and shame is one of the best things we can do. Don’t let it get in the way of living your life and planning your wedding.
Dieting Encourages Perfectionism
Repeat it with me: things will never be perfect. And they don’t need to be.
Fancy marketing will tell us we need to have the smokin’ bod, the tiny waist, the perfect hair and makeup, the dress that glitters with a thousand angels’ tears, and every dream we’ve supposedly had about the “big day” since we were six (for the record, I didn’t even think about weddings until my late 20’s).
Remember what all this is actually about: sharing the commitment between you and your partner with people you love.
The rest is really just noise compared to that. By all means, let’s choose what parts we want to have fun with (personally, I’ve put an ungodly amount of mental energy into our wedding food… because I love food)…
But there’s absolutely no need to do it all or look a certain way when you look your partner in the eyes and say “I do.”
Opinionated People Don’t Hold Your Best Interest
Everyone and their dog has an opinion about how a wedding should go. Some of them are more vocal than others. The truth? You will never please everyone.
And I’m sure you know this, but then there are those people who try to have a say in what you should do with your body before the wedding—like that you should lose weight.
I’m going to be optimistic and assume these people think they’re helping, but really they’re perpetuating a problem that leads to food and body shame, perfectionism, disordered eating, and a tumultuous relationship with food that is hard (but possible) to mend.
That is a deeply, deeply personal topic that no one should have a say in but you.
The Best NO-Diet Wedding Plan
Instead of trying to change our bodies or fit a certain dress or suit size, let’s focus on doing things before the wedding day that will actually nourish and care for our bodies, make us feel good about ourselves, and enjoy what matters most.
Here’s what I’m doing, and what I encourage you to join me in doing. 🙂
Read About Intuitive Eating
This concept completely changed my life, stopped my binge eating for good, and helped me start appreciating my body for how it looks and feels now versus trying to change it.
Yep, it all started with me deciding I was DONE with actively trying to lose weight.
And by doing that, combined with pursuing health and balance in how I eat and move and live, my body has landed at a healthy place that had nothing to do with dieting and everything to do with respecting my body just as it is.
We’re all natural born intuitive eaters, and getting back to that state (a healthy relationship with food) can be life-changing, especially during a time when you might feel pressure to change the way you look.
Give Your Mental Health Some Love
Life is hard even without wedding planning thrown in.
Care for YOU in the way you need it most. Below are some probable options:
- Say “no” when you know you really need to and before you’re already overwhelmed.
- Eat wholesome foods that make you feel good and give you energy.
- Enjoy that cookie or ice cream without guilt.
- Give yourself time to move your body for that serotonin boost.
- Spend time with people who will build you up (or take a break from people and hang with your dog—speaking from personal experience, it’s awesome).
- Make or buy yourself an awesome cup of coffee or tea.
- Ask for help and support when you need it. (What family members or friends can help you with extra planning details?)
- Go for a walk. This is one of my favorite ways to think through problems and clear my head.
These are just examples. Ask yourself, what do I truly need right now? If you’re like me, some days what I need most is a hug.
Practice Love and Respect for Yourself
This one is not always easy, but practice is important. No matter what you do, no matter who you are, no matter how you look, no matter what you did today, you are a human being with worth and are deserving of love, respect, and happiness.
If you find yourself in a tough or overwhelming place, pause a moment and notice your thoughts:
- If you could verbalize the thoughts you’re having towards yourself, what would they say?
- Would you say those things to a dear friend or family member you love?
- If the answer to #2 is “no,” what would you say to them instead? Probably something compassionate and loving, right?
- Practice saying those things to yourself, even if you aren’t completely on board with them yet.
We are our own worst critics. We’re evolutionarily wired to see the negatives, and it seems most of us turn those negatives onto ourselves.
Practicing more positive self-talk can help us learn the grace of being a human, not needing to be perfect, and appreciating ourselves for just being us.
Spend Extra Time With Your Partner
After all, this day is really about the two of you and how you’ll spend the rest of your lives being a team.
After the wedding is over and the guests have left and the gifts and wedding pictures no longer hold excitement, it’s just the two of you. And that other person is marrying you how you are now because they love you that way.
Spend Quality Time with Good People
Connection is huge in health and wellness. If you’re like me, you might isolate yourself when things are stressful. But sometimes we crave connection and don’t realize how much it can help.
Find little ways to be around people who build you up and take you out of your own head for a while, even if it’s just for a bit.
Steal Dog Hugs and Kisses*
Because pets are awesome, and sometimes they are better than humans (oops, is it just me who feels this way?).
*You may replace dog kisses with cat cuddles or affection from any other animal you love. It’s all good stuff.Click To Tweet
Letting Go of Unnecessary Wedding Details
If you’re overwhelmed with everything related to planning, what to-dos can you cut out completely? Party favors, the guest book, photo booths, extra flowers, and traditions you don’t care about (bouquet/garter toss, cake, etc) are some common contenders.
In the Bridechilla Community Facebook group, this is called the F*ck It Bucket. (If you aren’t a member of the group yet, I highly recommend it.) Throw it in the bucket!
Practice Mindfulness Every Day
Being more mindful means being more with the present moment, the world around you. This can be hard if you’re overwhelmed or all up in your head with anxiety. That’s why practicing being more mindful can make it easier to ground yourself, slow down, and breathe more deeply.
I like to do this five senses technique that’s really helped me reduce anxiety during the day. Other ways to increase mindfulness include:
- At least a few minutes of meditation
- Mindful walks around your neighborhood (taking in the different colors and sounds around you)
- Pausing to take a few deep breaths before checking your phone or email
- Picturing yourself “zooming out” mentally to remember the big picture of life and remember you aren’t alone
- Taking breaks from work to sit quietly
- Turning off your phone for a set period of time
- Giving yourself time to really focus on your food, no matter what your eating (noticing the tastes, textures, and aroma of the food and enjoying it fully)
Making Time for Self-Expression
This is a big one for me. I need ways to express how I’m feeling so things don’t get bottled up. This could be through daily journalling, therapy or talking with a loved one, or any time of creative expression you enjoy.
Here’s what doing this has cultivated for me, and what I hope it will for you too before your wedding day:
- More self-love and appreciation for what you have now.
- Letting go of the need to be perfect, to have a perfect body, so you can embrace what matters most.
- Increased mindfulness to help reduce anxious thoughts and worries.
- The reminder that you are more than enough right now, and your wedding will be amazing no matter what because of what it represents.
The Best Wedding Diet is NO Wedding Diet
I wrote this because I’m really sick of seeing all the dieting mumbo jumbo directed towards people preparing for their weddings, especially brides. I hope this can serve as a refreshing alternative.
The only diet we need before our wedding is cutting out things that don’t serve us.
I hope you’ll consider joining me in no-diet world before your wedding—or at any time, if a wedding doesn’t apply to you.
This is my wish for you and every person getting married: a cultivation of self-love strong enough to know that you are so much more than a scale or a dress size… and that you know far better what is right for you than anything society says.
- R. W. Jeffery, L. H. Epstein, G. T. Wilson et al., “Long-term maintenance of weight loss: current status,” Health Psychology, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 5–16, 2000.
- P. Rzehak, C. Meisinger, G. Woelke, S. Brasche, G. Strube, and J. Heinrich, “Weight change, weight cycling and mortality in the ERFORT Male Cohort Study,” European Journal of Epidemiology, vol. 22, no. 10, pp. 665–673, 2007.
- Tylka TL, Homan KJ. (2015). Exercise motives and positive body image in physically active college women and men: Exploring an expanded acceptance model of intuitive eating. Body Image. 2015 Aug 14;15:90-97.
- Kuijer, Roeline G., and Jessica A. Boyce. “Chocolate Cake. Guilt or Celebration? Associations with Healthy Eating Attitudes, Perceived Behavioural Control, Intentions and Weight-Loss.” Appetite, vol. 74, 2014, pp. 48–54., doi:10.1016/j.appet.2013.11.013.