Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Monday, September 8, 2008

How to Have a Wedding Waist in Five Days

Those were the kinds of absurd promises that showed up in the sidebars of my e-mail inbox in the form of advertisements for the entire seven months I planned my wedding (by the way, I find targeted advertising fascinating and a little unnerving all at the same time).

I have a lot of pet peeves, and quick-fix diet solutions are one of them.

Losing weight is not a mysterious process. It's as simple as this:
  1. Stop thinking of it as a "diet". Period. Our culture is very goal-oriented. We set a goal, work really hard to achieve it, achieve it, and then move onto a new goal. However, weight loss doesn't work that way. You can't "move onto a new goal" once you've achieved your ideal weight. You have to maintain it. If you return to your pre-goal eating habits, your pre-goal fat will return. Therefore, the goal should not be a number on the scale. The goal should be a healthy lifestyle of eating and exercise that allows you to maintain your ideal body. Start thinking of it as a "lifestyle change".
  2. Expend more calories than you consume. Period. Eating less will cause you to consume fewer calories. Exercising more will cause you to expend more calories (but be careful: exercising does not burn as many calories as you might think, and you have to be careful not to justify eating more simply because you're exercising). Also, don't drink your calories. Juices, alcoholic beverages, and other drinks are high in calories. As much as possible, stick to water (and get your fruit nutrients from the actual fruit--there's way more fiber!). Keep a food journal for a while, so you are forced to be honest with yourself about how many calories you are actually eating. Find a healthy friend (or an unhealthy one who is committed to getting healthier) to be your accountability partner. Share your food journal with this person, and plan time to exercise together.
  3. Eat Real Food. Americans don't like to be inconvenienced, and they don't like to give up anything they enjoy. Therefore, decreasing their caloric intake is not something they like to do. One way around this dilemma is to eat fake food. By "fake food," I mean processed food that is made delicious with fake sweeteners and other nasty ingredients that are not good for your health. Examples: Diet Coke, fat free potato chips made with Olestra, margarine--basically anything labeled as "lite" or "diet." Many of these additives have not undergone rigorous, long-term testing. People flock to them because they are low calorie foods and you can continue eating a lot of them and still lose weight. A) You have to remember it's about being healthy, not just losing weight and B) Those awful things do have calories, and if you eat too much, you will still gain weight.
  4. Figure out the underlying causes of your weight issues. Do you eat when you are stressed? Lonely? Confused? Angry? Bored? Pay close attention to your eating habits and try to find substitutes for your unhealthy eating habits. That's the only way to help you maintain a healthy body. Do you overeat in social situations because you're nervous? Do you constantly eat unhealthy food because it's more convenient and your job takes up most of your spare time/energy? Again, be honest with yourself about what's really going on, and figure out strategies for fixing the problem.
When I got engaged, I didn't have my ideal healthy body. I was rarely exercising, and I was going out to dinner and eating too much ice-cream to help me cope with a stressful job that wasn't aligned with my ultimate goals in life.

My impending wedding did motivate me to healthify my life. I was going to see lots of friends and family for the first time in quite a while, and I wanted to be my best self: emotionally and physically. I started going to yoga classes and running more regularly. I also tried to limit my restaurant-eating. I kept up the habit of drinking primarily water and not keeping unhealthy snacks around the house.

I was able to achieve a solid level of health for my wedding. But here I am--two months after my wedding--still doing the same things. Losing weight and becoming healthy is about changing your lifestyle and recreating healthier habits for yourself--habits that you are comfortable maintaining for the long haul.

For more ideas, check out this guide at the Wedding Channel.

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Cate Subrosa said...

Targeted advertising really is freaky. Ever since I got engaged (and changed my relationship status on Facebook) I get loads of ads to do with weight loss that I never got before. I also get lots of wedding-related ads and it took me a whole to put two and tow together but that's another story!

This was an excellent post. I'm doing pretty well with 1, 2 and 3 but I sometimes slip with the emotional thing. I have a weird control/defiance attitude sometimes which leads to a bit of overeating. I normally notice it soon enough and rein it back in though. Somehow I'm always 2-4lb heavier than I want to be, but I'm healthy so I keep it in perspective.

Meg said...

So, I was sitting at the table, slowly eating my inlaws out of house and home (I do love eating on vacation) and my father in law was looking at me in astonishment (I am small, and I had just polished off the rest of a loaf of bread and was working on some left over fruit, with my eye on some cookies) and he said "when will you get to that point where you get all bride-crazy and go on a special wedding diet to fit into your dress?" and I said something that sounded like "mmermmemgoohahsmhtatms" and David translated "She'll probably just order her dress a size too big, in case she feels like eating extra before the wedding."


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