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There is a not-so-short list of events in my life that, when I think back on them, I don’t think of the way I felt during them or the special people I shared the moments with, but instead I think about my body. This isn’t because I remember exactly how much I weighed then or what workout plan or diet I was doing during each and every party or special occasion. In fact, I can’t remember most of those details at all. The details I do remember, though, are tied up a bigger feeling — the main feeling that comes back to me when I think about these events: I experienced all those moments thinking I should have been thinner. I had these thoughts when I was 10, 15, and 20 years old. I had them long before I ever wore plus size clothing, and sometimes I still have them today, at almost 27 years old, despite the fact that I’ve done years of self-work when it comes to confidence and self-acceptance. Nowadays, though, this is mostly due to the fact that I’m getting married soon.
In less than six months, I’ll walk down the aisle and marry my partner of 6-plus years and I am excited. But even as someone who prides themselves on feeling good in their skin despite a number on a tag or scale, it’s easy to feel like you have to lose weight before your wedding thanks to popular advertising and societal narratives. I felt it when I was served targeted ads as soon as I announced we were engaged on Facebook. It was right then that I decided I could spend our 20-month engagement battling with the scale and ultimately feeling guilty on my wedding day for not sticking with a diet (they’re literally designed to fail, after all), or I could not diet at all. No scales, no calorie counting, just trying to find a healthy balance that made me feel my best. Sometimes when I tell people this, they seem confused, like the idea that there are other ways to prepare for your wedding than losing weight seems absurd. For me, though, it works.
Here are five ways that I’m preparing to feel amazing on my wedding day that DON’T involve losing weight.
1. Finding An Exercise Routine I Actually ENJOY
About four months ago, I set out to find a form of exercise that was affordable, rewarding, and would help me feel strong. I wanted a consistent way to burn off steam and deal with anxiety (wedding-related and otherwise), and I had crashed and burned when it came to so many expensive gym memberships or workout programs because I was never doing any of them for any other reason than weight loss. I discovered running and began with the smallest of goals. Run by run, I felt my stamina improving and my legs feeling stronger. Now, I actually look forward to running (most of the time, anyway) and how I’ll feel afterward. I’m so thankful that I am going into the final leg of a stressful wedding planning season with a physical outlet that makes me feel great — whether it’s making me thinner or not.
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GOODMORNING 🌟 — I felt like death for most of the past 30 hours, but I’m back and (almost) feeling 100 percent again. I’ve had trouble focusing this week and now I know it’s because my body was run down and needed a break and sleep. Sometimes we just need to stop everything for a day and start again in the morning. — On my to-do list today: three stories, two invoices, two blog posts, and newsletter prep. Will I get to all of it? No! But hey, at least it’s on the list. 🤷♀️
2. Minimizing My Skin Care Routine + Staying Consistent
After four years of working in the beauty industry, I had gotten into the habit of trying dozens and dozens of products—switching them out as soon as a new, shiny one landed on my desk. Somehow I thought that if I wasn’t using the most expensive product available to me, that I was doing my skin a disservice. In reality, though, I was dealing with consistent, painful breakouts on a monthly basis. Recently, I cut my skincare routine down to just three to four products (and stopped using cleanser), and my skin has never looked better. Now, I stick to those products and my routine no matter what, and I’m so much more confident about how my skin looks (and how much money I’m spending on it).
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I don't post anything on real time on Instagram. Ever. I usually spend time once a week planning out 3-5 posts for the upcoming week and writing out the captions. To find the content itself, I usually end up going through old photos to find things to post. Naturally, this means I look through a lot of photos of myself that I initially despised. Refused to post. Photos I thought were hideous or unflattering. Photos I vowed would never see the light of day. — I've thought my chin looked too weak. My knees looked too wrinkled. My arms looked too big. My hair looked too flat. My stomach too visible. My chest too small. I could go on. And on. And on. You know what happens when I look back at them? I like most of them. There's some part of our brains (or maybe just mine) that makes our initial reaction to photos so much more negative and intense than it needs to be. — When I first saw this photo, all I saw was my elbow. My arm looked huge. It's all I could see. Even now, writing this, I'm thinking, "Well, now that I've written this, it's all anyone else will see, too." But another, better part of me is also thinking, "NO ONE GIVES A SHIT ABOUT YOUR ELBOW, OLIVIA." Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that we are too hard on our elbows and chins and stomachs and chests and necks and faces. Way harder than anyone else would ever be. No one cares about any of those small parts of ourselves as much as we think they do. And honestly, why should we? Stop deleting photos of yourself, stop robbing yourself of memories. And if you don't believe any of this, find a photo of yourself from a year or two ago that you remember hating and tell me what you think now. You might be surprised.
3. Limiting How Much Wedding Content I Consume (Or At Least Trying To)
I could admittedly be better at this, but I try to make a conscious effort to minimize the wedding inspiration content I consume on a daily basis. I love a gorgeous Pinterest-worthy wedding image as much as the next person, and these kinds of things have helped with planning what I hope will be our dream wedding. However, they also have a tendency to make me (and anyone) feel insecure and second-guess decisions. I start to think maybe I should have had a photo booth or a bigger cake or a different appetizer hour. At a certain point, when most of your decisions about planning have been made, all this “inspo” just feels overwhelming. So I try to turn it off as much as possible so I can get to my wedding day feeling fully confident about our wedding (and bank accounts).
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An interesting thing happens when you stop demonizing food: It loses its power. I spent so long believing that pizza was BAD and salads were GOOD that it comes as no surprise now that I thought eating pizza made me BAD and eating salad made me GOOD. But guess what? Dieting doesn’t mean you’re more successful. Restriction doesn’t make you healthier. Food doesn’t have a morale value, and neither does thinness. It took me a long, LONG time to believe all that, but once I did... it was like a whole new world opened up. One where I ate what I craved (sometimes pizza, sometimes salad) and didn’t spend most of my days pissed off that “everyone could eat whatever they wanted but me.” I remember feeling so angry about that. Seething. I didn’t realize that it was in my hands all along — that the power to let go of all of that actually came down to just me. If you’re needing a push to let go of all of that today, too, here it is. Let it go. It’s much better on this side of things (plus, there’s pizza here). 🍕
4. Focusing On How I Want To Feel As Much As How I Want To Look
Listen. I want to be beautiful on my wedding day. I have a specific image in mind for how I want my hair to look and my makeup and my dresses (yes, there’s more than one) and, yes, sometimes I get nervous that all of that won’t live up to my expectations in reality. I worry that I won’t like how my stomach looks in the photos, or even that I’ll wish I did diet more leading up to the big day. But whenever those thoughts creep in, I try to remind myself of all those events I had in the past where the moment itself was eclipsed by me wishing I was thinner. I refuse to have this day be eclipsed. So I try to focus on how I want to feel—and feeling confident, happy, and full of joy doesn’t require my stomach to look any way at all.
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🤯 OFFICIALLY JUST ONE HUNDRED DAYS UNTIL OUR WEDDING. 🤯 — INVITES ARE SENT AND VERY EXCITED TO START SEEING THE ONLINE RSVPs ROLL IN VIA OUR WEDDING WEBSITE (S/O TO @theknot FOR BEING AWESOME). 👇 ALSO: ADVICE FOR FINAL MONTHS OF WEDDING PREP??? PUT IT IN THE COMMENTS.👇 FYI I AM WRITING IN CAPS BECAUSE I’M BOTH EXTREMELY EXCITED AND ALSO VERY PANICKED. — 📸: @stephaniepaulaphotography #HowRomuentic
5. Always Going Back To The “Why”
Whenever I get stressed or anxious about my wedding day, when it comes to everything from small details to larger worries about how I’ll look or feel, I make myself go back to the why. At the end of the day, I get to celebrate sharing my life with the best person in the world with every single person we love there with us. If I hadn’t gotten into the habit of making myself do this, I think I wouldn’t be able to feel nearly as good about the wedding as I do now.