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

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

On Getting Skinny for Your Wedding Day

I know a lot of brides become obsessed with losing weight, toning, and sculpting their bodies for "The Biggest Day" of their lives. The problem with so many of these discussions is that losing weight is not the same thing as being healthy. For example, if I only ate 10 snack packs a day, I would lose weight. But obviously, that would not be healthy.

Plus, attaining a healthy weight is not something that can be achieved using healthy eating and exercise and then maintained by abandoning said healthy eating and exercise. It's not a goal that can be achieved and then abandoned. It's a process, not a product. It's about changing our lifestyles, not dieting. In other words, it's not about the wedding; it's about being healthy for a lifetime of marriage.

So, this post is for brides (and grooms and all the already-married people who read this blog and the folks who are not yet even engaged) who care about being healthy because they want to live their best life, not because they want to squeeze into a clearance wedding dress that is six sizes too small.

I wanted to share two strategies that I've been trying to implement in order to live a more healthful life:
  1. Drinking Green Smoothies: I know this concept has been around for a while, but this stuff is new to me. Apparently, you can put greens (like spinach, Swiss Chard, etc.) in the blender with fruit, water, etc. and it turns into a really healthy drink. So cool! I posted some recipes on my personal blog if you're interested.
  2. Eliminating Refined Sugars and Flours: This one is so, so hard for me. If given a choice, I could eat just sugar and flour (mixed with melted butter). However, these things can wreak havoc on our hormones and our bodies, so I've been working to at least reduce them. As a vegetarian, it's particularly difficult because many of our meals consist of pasta. Instead of pasta, I'm trying to use quinoa instead (using the same recipes). It's so easy to cook quinoa! The first picture above is garlic sauteed in olive oil with farmers' market tomatoes, roasted red pepper flakes, and salt added and stewed for a while in a pan with a top on it. At the end, I stir in chickpeas and top with basil and Parmesan. It worked well with the quinoa!

What other tips do you have for health-ifying our lifestyles for our weddings (and the many, many years of marriage that proceed the wedding)?

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Carrie said...

I have been really making an effort to drop some weight since about mid-January and I have lost about 10 pounds, by watching my portions and eating less processed foods and less meat. I am getting married in August and while I would love to lose another 15 pounds before then, but I am not going to kill myself to do it. I am going to continue with what I am doing and just be happy with whatever my weight happens to be on my wedding day. Another thing I have started doing more recently is drinking a lot more water. Who would have thought something so simple would have such great results? I have dropped about 2 more pounds, I have more energy, and have pretty much stopped getting headaches that used to debilitate me several days a week. I don't use any of the flavored varieties that are loaded with artificial sweeteners...just plain old filtered tap water. Don't forget to drink water!

Unknown said...

I've lost ALMOST 20 pounds in the past two years. I walk a lot more, go to the gym three times a week and stay very active. I don't eat horribly, but I do eat what I want. I do not keep unhealthy snack in the house. Instead, I eat 100 calorie kettle corn popcorn as a snack probably about every night. Every now and then I'll buy a sugary/fat snack and eat one day. it's all about moderation and moving for me.

Angie said...

I have been struggling with body image so much since getting engaged. I lost 20 lbs. and then gained it all back. Mostly because the way I lost the poundage was not in a healthy way. So my fiance and I have had many conversations about getting healthy and how we can do it together. I don't want to be three sizes smaller, I just want to feel stronger, healthier and happier in my skin. If I lose weight, great- but I want to be in good health for when I have kids so I can pass down good choices to them.

I don't really have a problem with junk food, but I do have an issue with portion control. My tip is to mind your portions.

I serve myself less, I eat slower and I use heartier/healthier foods so I feel satisfied. Oh, and I use smaller plates. Using big dinner plates was so bad for me b/c I grew up having to eat everything on my plate. So smallers plates = smaller portions! Just something that works for me.

Kacey said...

I have enjoyed this blog for awhile now (since getting engaged in August '09), but this post really speaks to my heart. I'm getting married in October, and, like most brides, I am very concerned about my appearance for "the big day" (as if any other day cannot possibly be as important as this one--ha!).

Not to bore you all with details, I will just say that weight has been an issue for me most of my life. Self-imposed juice and vitamin fasts at age 8, anorexia by 12, bulimia by 19, compulsive overeating by 22. For the past few years, I've been reading a lot of eating/meditating books (in particular I like anti-diet advocate Geneen Roth--she writes book with titles like "Feeding the Hungry Heart" and "When Food is Love") and they have helped a lot. In particular the mantra: "breathe in/breathe out" when I'm tempted to eat when I'm not hungry, not eat when I need to, have a stressful conversation with my mother, etc.

When I got engaged, I felt that I did want to be healthier (babies will be the next order of business after the wedding), but all those fears and old habits re-surfaced. I mean, almost 200 people will spend nearly a whole day staring at me, and that is pretty intimidating. When I got engaged last August, I knew that I did want to drop some weight, but that I did not want to subject myself to the unwinnable diet-cycle, so I have started really putting into practice the "mindful eating" techniques from some of these books. Since August I've lost 23 pounds--I only know the exact poundage because I went to the doctor last year for a prescription-check and got weighed, and then went back a few weeks ago for a check-up and got weighed again. Usually I try to avoid scales because they mess with my mind. I haven't cut anything from my diet--rather, I try to slow down every bite so that I can truly savor what it is that I am feeding my body. Some days I eat a lot more fruits and vegetables than others, and some days I just want chicken soup and crackers--I try to honor what my body seems to crave. That way I don't start obsessing about off-limit foods that I have denied myself. I exercise. I meditate and do yoga.

I would love to wake up tomorrow and be "skinny" without having to do any of the work. But realistically I know that that way of thinking can be detrimental to one's health. So I'm content (most of the time) to let myself eat when I'm hungry, eat what I would like, exercise because it feels good to move my body, and not beat myself up for not looking like a model.

ssHUMANs said...

I think this post will resonate with a lot of brides-to-be as well as women in general. I would really recommend the book "Food Rules" by Michael Pollan as a great guide to eating right. Then find some recipes that really are yummy (like the quinoa pictured above) and enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Yum that top picture looks good!

Sarah said...

We joined a CSA! That way, we've already bought and paid for the veggies we're getting every week, and we're forced to look up good and interesting ways to use alll of them. Plus, they're local and organic, and buying them via our CSA, the same price as buying regular produce at our grocery store.

rosemeg said...

Thanks for this post! I feel like it's been such a mouthful explaining why my guy and I went on a get healthy kick after getting engaged. I find the idea that I want to look skinny in photos almost a little patronizing. That would be nice, of course, but we're one of those couples that have steadily put on weight since being together, and the choice to drop the extra poundage is really, truly, honestly about making healthy choices and being at our best physically (or at least on that track) for this new beginning. Thanks for getting it! (That "thanks for getting it" sentiment, by the way, applies to your whole blog. Thanks.)

Of course, despite all my words about it not being about weight, it's a little annoying that the boy has dropped 15 pounds while I've dropped like 3 -- women's bodies really are designed to hold onto that little something extra. You know, for the babies.

I second the CSA comment. Ours started for the season last night (we've been members before, but only in the summer), and we're psyched. You can eat so! Many! Vegetables! without tipping the scale.

As a fellow (and lifelong) vegetarian, I love quinoa, but strongly suggest mixing up your grains, eating lots of legumes, etc. I recently made some chickpea pancakes from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian cookbook, and I'm in love with them -- an easy, perfect, crepe-like vessel to load up with vegetables.

I hope to do some good meal planning over this CSA season and will be chronicling that on my blog, too, if anyone's interested in seeing how two people manage to plow through a full CSA share.

Also, fellow CSA-ers, Deborah Madison's Local Flavors and the Madhur Jaffrey book mentioned above were incredibly useful to me last year when grappling with the CSA hauls. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

Ms Bear Cub said...

So, I live in Chile right now - quinoa's from Chile (for the most part). You know what's SO weird? Quinoa is the MOST EXPENSIVE grain in the store! It's ludicrously expensive here - around $8/~250grams. I may have to get all Inca and grow it myself (I'm sure they couldn't afford to buy it here). It's so ironic. And I love quinoa! BTW, have you tried cooking chickpeas from scratch yet? (ie, not-from-can) I boiled some yesterday, and they tasted SO much better than canned - food for thought! ;)

Emily said...

I started lifting weights (heavy weights, but not too many times) about 6 months before my wedding. It was a welcome return to a workout I loved in grad school but abandoned in my working life. I felt great and encourage everyone to do the same as long as you have a coach/trainer/knowledgeable friend to help your form. It's good for you bones too! It wasn't intentional, but I looked pretty skinny but toned by my wedding day. I think the key is not stressing about it.

Elizabeth said...

Check out the yoga sequence for a wedding day !


Megilon said...

I think the biggest thing for myself was accepting myself. It is much easier to get healthy and work toward a healthier body when you accept yourself where you are. It also makes your wedding less stressful if you aren't worried about being a certain size.

I agree with the giving up refined sugars and flours...it is hard but whole foods are so much better for you.

But treat yourself every now and again. If you love ice cream have a small bowl of ice cream otherwise it is easy to binge.

Marina said...

Excercise was a lifesaver before my wedding. It was miraculous how much less stressed I felt after half an hour at the gym.

julie said...

i wrote a comment this morning and it disappeared!

i'm trying to lose a little weight before my wedding next month. i was hit by a car last january, and my recovery has been slowwww and i've put on some weight - i'm actually the heaviest i've ever been. in addition to feeling pretty lethargic and not fitting in my clothes, i'm really not happy with the way my white satin dress clings to my belly right now.

i'm finally starting to feel a ton better and am kicking myself into gear. i've dropped 5 pounds and 1.5 inches off my waist in the past couple weeks (despite 3 days of illness, a huge gift basket of treats from my students, and a pint of ben & jerry's) by making small changes on both input and output.

+ cut back on wheat, sugary treats
+ eating smaller portions at dinner, and having it earlier
+ farmer's market and co-op shopping is a priority
+ eating at home, with prepackaged not-too-bad stuff from trader joe's in a pinch
+ drinking better coffee on workdays = no need to add cream/sugar
+no more "treating myself" because i've had a bad/hard/triumphant day

+ increased my bike riding beyond my normal commute.
+ changed mindset: there's now nowhere i can't bike, i just do it.
+ doing the 30-Day Shred when the weather is nasty.
+ pushups and crunches every day.

best of all, i feel really proud of myself for sticking with this! it's not that hard to make small changes, and totally worth it.

A-L, said...

The timeliness of this post is almost uncanny for me. When I got engaged 4 months ago I had no intentions of trying to diet for the wedding. Over the last several weeks I've noticed clothes getting tighter and tighter and then last week I went on the scale (which I do every few months) and saw a number that I hadn't seen in about 7 years. And now I'm trying to get myself back into some good habits.

I grew up overweight, and the scale got worse in college. Finally when I graduated from college I did Weight Watchers and lost 40 pounds. My diet was the most drastically changed:

-Smaller portions
-Healthier snacks (i.e. fruits and vegetables)
-More whole grains (they were fewer points for the same "quantity" of food)

But apart from one semester where I took tennis and two different types of dance classes, I didn't change my activity levels.

So I've lost a whopping 1.6 pounds over the past week via diet. But I'm itching to find a way for me to get physically active, and stay that way. For one thing, I'll admit it's vanity as I like fitting into the smaller sizes at the clothing store. But secondly, I want to live the life I've always dreamed of having. Of being able to climb a mountain and not give up part of the way because I feel that I'm about to have some serious pulmonary problems. Or going for a 5 mile jog with some friends. Or some other type of physical activity that I shy away from because I'm not as fit as I know I can be.

So I still have a little over 5 months to my wedding. And maybe I will look the way I'd love to look on my wedding. But if I look exactly the way I look now then I'll be fine. But I hope that my fiance and I will have been able to set up some good, healthy habits that we can continue throughout our lives so that I don't have to repeat this cycle.

Ms. Bunny said...

"It's a process, not a product. It's about changing our lifestyles, not dieting. In other words, it's not about the wedding; it's about being healthy for a lifetime of marriage."


I go through healthy periods and not so healthy periods. Overall I think it's all about balance.

For me, being on an exercise program really helps me. When I'm exercising regularly and working toward something, I find that it has really positive ripple effects in all other parts of my life.

Katie said...

Great post! I've been putting a lot of pressure on myself to slim down for the wedding (I am admittedly, a bit vain). To combat that (and boost my self esteem), I've been trying to refocus that pressure to motivate me to run more. My goal is to finish a 5k by the end of summer--and if I drop a couple pounds in the process, that's just gravy.

rosemeg said...

Ooh! After my uber long comment yesterday, I have 3 more things to say:

1) re: Cooking beans not from a can, I do this in the slow cooker, and there's no need to get into pre-soaking, etc. Just throw them in with water (no salt until they're done) and let them go for 4 hours or so. Way cheaper, lighter to carry home, fewer BPAs, and really easy.

2) I read this crazy thing about growing quinoa the other day, even in container gardening. It blew my mind.

3) I try to remind myself, and I hope the other betrothed out there will remind themselves, too, that the wedding is happening because there's someone who thinks I am beautiful and wonderful and wants to be with me whether I look the way I did when we met or if I've put on...oh, say 35 pounds. Be healthy, yes, and as sane and happy with your body as possible, but, when all else fails, look at your partner and see all that love and, wherever you are in your body goals, do your best to bask in the beauty that said partner sees.

Kim said...

I started a blog about changing my diet after a) my partner went veggie and we found ourself with your pasta-dependency problem and b) I read up on processed foods and decided to learn how to eat "clean." Since the blog is about one "clean food" a day (or one ingredient) it encourages me to not only eat those foods, but discover new healthy ones as well. And to celebrate being healthy, since so much in the advertising world celebrates things that are NOT healthy!

...But I am also a bride and yes, trying to lose weight for the wedding. My tip is simple: do yoga. Not because it will give you a nice butt (it will), but because I found it makes you really appreciate, respect, and celebrate your body more. At any size.

Love, love, love your blog, by the way! My partner is a teacher as well (special ed) and also uses the same pedagogical strategy (figure out what you want the take home to be first) that we see so often in your posts :)

Manda said...

I've been trying to get healthy, mostly for medical reasons, but I have to say the upcoming wedding is good motivation as well!
I'd like to recommend sparkpeople.com. It has an amazing community as well as healthy eating and exercise advice. I've never had a problem with the exercising, but I've had a problem with eating poorly. I never thought I'd be a "calorie counter", but sparkpeople makes it easy so that if you just do it a few times, you can learn more about the foods you regularly eat at least. (and what you should be eating instead!)

Manda said...

p.s. i love quinoa. make sure you do rinse it before you cook it. the first time i made it, it came out very bitter.

Tamara said...

At 5'8", I was at a healthy weight when I weighed 139. I decided, after buying a stellar white bikini for a vacation, that I wanted to be 130lbs., which is DIFFICULT to do when you are already at a healthy weight. I watched my calorie intake using this website... (www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator) and really thought about what I was putting into my body. Whole grain cereal, bread, and pasta, lots of veggies cooked in spray and a tiny bit of EVOO, salads with nuts/seets/feta cheese, lean meats, fruits/yogurt/almonds for desserts. I still went out to eat to my favorite places just only ate half of what was on my place and always asked for the dressing on the side and desserts to share and only ONE glass of wine. I lost all 9lbs. in just FOUR weeks and fit into that bikini great on my vacation. AND, where we went was having a special food and wine festival the week we were there and I only gained ONE pound back on the trip, simply by using portion control and calorie counting. I know that this will be a habit I will keep with me forever, because I love the way I look and I love the way I feel even more! Oh, and the compliments from friends and my boyfriend are nice also.

shine like stars forever... said...

hey sara! have you tried stuffed peppers w quinoa and veggie crumbles?? sooo yum. heres some pics:


Sparkle said...

Just had to stop in to say THANKS for the amazing "recipe" above, we ate it tonight, YUMMY!!!!

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