Staying Body Positive For My Wedding

As you know, I've been working out with a trainer as of late to help personalize my routine before my wedding. And while it's been great, it has come with some ups and downs -- the wedding workout process as a whole has... and I want to talk about it.

Before we do, I have to take a step back first and set the scene. It has taken me many years to love and appreciate how I look. Lots of self-loathing, therapy and long talks have gotten me to be in a wonderful, body-positive place. And as a woman, that's not always easy to do. But I've done it. I can say with assurance that for the past 7 or so years, I've truly loved my body and how I look. I love my curves, my legs, my arms -- I just love it all. Are there days where I'm unhappy with my thighs or stomach? Sure, but it never sticks with me for more than an outfit change. 

In these years I've never been obsessed with a number on a scale, about what I eat, or what size I am. I never compared my body to my friends or even worried about fitting into something smaller. It's just not who I am or what I've conditioned myself to think about. Well... not until about 3 months ago.
Fast forward to the beginning of my training: hop on a scale and measure your body and muscle weight and fat percentage to see what we're working with. FYI this is maybe the first time I've been on a scale in 3 years? Maybe more... I've been 150/149/148lbs for as long as I can remember (seriously, since high school lol) so what's the need? I think the heaviest I weighed myself was 155 during my freshman year of college. Outside of that? Status quo. 

150 for me is my home, it's where I live and where I assume I will always be. I like love my 150. I like how my body holds it, how it looks, and how it makes me feel. The number on the scale is not something I ever am looking to change (whether you want to believe me or not). And going into training, it was never my plan or goal to lower that number. I obviously would like to maintain but was ok if it needed to go up because of muscle weight. That has always been my goal: to gain more muscle.

For a lot of people, I get that the number on the scale is what they focus on. It's what my friends, my trainer and (some) readers think I'm focusing on. And therefore only think of success in that metric, but the thing is I'm not concerned about it. Like sure, 145 might be fun but would I lose my butt? My thighs? All the things I love the most? I hope not. 

So the 150 on the scale isn't what triggered my spiral, it was the body fat percentage. Now, when I look at my body, I don't think I have a lot of fat. If you had asked me off the bat if I was under, average or over the normal PBF (idk if that's the acronym, but that's what I'm going with), I'd say I was average. But I get to hop on this dumb scale week after week that shows me I'm actually outside and above the average PBF for my height/weight/age. 

How? When I look at myself, the last thing is that I'm overweight. So why is this number and those around me telling me that I'm close to being overweight? Who the fuck came up with that scale?? For the record, my PBF is coming in at 30%, and the average max is 25%. Since we're getting real personal here's my chart from the past month and a half:

I try and "weigh-in" once a week before workouts, and I understand why I'm doing it. If we do not see results, then we need to edit what we're doing. So I that's what we did. After every weigh-in, we talk about it and learn to edit something new.

My trainer, who is also a nutrition coach, said at the heart of getting fit is clean eating. I eat pretty decent already but to really try and see results we started counting macros so see how close I am to hitting my daily goals. Mentioning that doing it this way allows me to eat the most amount of food and still stay under my caloric goal.

For the first month, I did it on my own. Looking at what I'm eating, trying to cut out and back on starch and carbs, load up on veggies, and double my protein intake. After not seeing a huge change, I decided to crackdown for the past three weeks and started tracking everything in an app and really started to watch what I'm putting in my body. I started reading labels, looking for different substitutions, and put a lot of pressure on myself to stick to it. 

Why only three weeks? Well, I started to really get in my head. 

I want to put a full disclaimer out there that I was in no way starving myself. I was eating more than ever actually -- more protein and veggies trying to hit my daily percentage goals. But I just wasn't happy. I started resenting the process and resenting myself. 

A breaking point was before the 4th of July, I found myself crying in a hotel snack room in St. Louis because all I wanted was a bag of chips, but I wouldn't allow myself to get them. It's dumb, I know... but that's where I was. Never in my life have I not allowed myself food when I wanted it. I was just so hungry, and I ate all my calories for the day and had about 200 left to grab a snack with (this was when we got diverted and stuck in STL for the night, so it was like 1am, I was tired and hungry, and it was a bad combo). It was like I wasn't allowing myself a break, and talking badly/judging my body to talk my mind out of getting the snack I really wanted. Spoiler alert: I just went to bed without anything.

Fast forward to yesterday. I had been working hard, and I started to feel the pressure of the wedding and this new lifestyle get to me. But I knew that if the scale rewarded me for my hard work, I would be ok. That after all this hard work and tears and self-loathing, it would all be worth it. But it didn't. And it hit me all at once during my workout yesterday. I got angry and upset, and I just gave up in that moment. 

Reflecting on it now, I don't even know what I wanted to see. I guess more than anything I wanted all this stress and pressure and tears to be rewarded from a dumb fucking scale that is telling me I'm close to being overweight (I seriously chuckle any time I write that). But nothing really changed. I was not rewarded, but I did have a big wakeup call. 

I understand that this is a long process and not something I'm just going to see overnight. Three weeks of clean eating isn't going to lose me 5% body fat. In my heart, I know that. So why did I get so upset? I think it was a culmination of a lot of things but the biggest being that this process of how I'm going about everything isn't right for me. I'm starting to dig a hole that is deep and dark and lonely, and no one I should ever go down. I was becoming obsessed with all of the things I trained myself to no longer care about.

So yesterday during my workout I talked to my trainer about it -- I more so vented and blamed the world but I just needed to get it out. I shared with him that I was starting to obsess over a number that doesn't mean anything to me. He was supportive, understanding but also brutally honest and a little hard with me. It was like he kind of shook me and told me to wake up from my haze and get back to work lol. 

The new plan? We're stopping the scale check-ins and macro counting. He says it will be harder to achieve my goals in the next month, but I think it will be easier mentally for me, which is more important. I'm going to instead focus on how I feel, how I see myself in the mirror and take my better eating habits I learned from tracking and apply them to my daily routine.

After the gym, I started to think through the whole process and think about what kind of pushed me down the wrong path. Two important things came to mind: 1. What others are saying intentionally or unintentionally that is hurtful to my workout process and 2: That there is an unhealthy pressure on brides as a whole to lose weight for their big day.

Let's talk about #1. Here are things that have been echoing in my mind the past couple months:

"Don't you want to be the skinniest you've ever been on your wedding day?" 

"I hope your dress is forgiving." 

"Are you sure you want to eat this?"

"Why are you even doing this if you're not trying to lose weight?"

"It sure seems like you're trying to lose weight. Are you?"

"How much weight have you lost?"

In reality, there are much worse things that can be said, but these are the things that have just been running on overtime in my head. They are making me anxious and self-conscious and filling my head with self-doubt. So I'm going to write them down and leave them here. I don't need them, nor do I want them. 

I am happy with how I look.

And then there's #2. I think in the age of social media and just all the perceived perfection online, there is an extra layer of pressure to have your wedding, your dress, and your body be perfect. To fall in line, to be Insta-worthy or Pin-famous. To be viral. To invoke envy and jealously from others to make yourself feel better. But filling yourself with hatred and disgust when you don't achieve your goal. It's hard, and I get it. 

Being a blogger, there is always a layer of judgment out there from people you do not know. Critiquing your choices and letting their unwanted opinions be heard. Think of it as having 100 MIL/Aunts/Mom's (the ones that cut deep and annoy the hell out of you even though you DO NOT care about them) at every stage of your wedding process. That's what it's like to plan and share a wedding online.

I am really fortunate that 99.9% of the people who have mean or rude things to say about me or my wedding do so on their own platforms and not on mine. But others like myself are not as lucky! All of this as a long-winded way of saying that people look to change their bodies for their big day to make sure there is nothing to critique on what it meant to be the happiest day of their life. 

SO (gosh, this post really turned into something didn't it) all of this to say that I let myself get into a trap -- or minefield -- with my body, how I look and working out, and it stops today.

I love my body.

With the changes in the weigh-ins and macro counting, I think it will get me back to where I need to be. I need to also remind myself why we're doing this in the first place: to look strong and healthy at my wedding (and beyond!). Not to look skinny, but to look strong. I want to add muscle and definition to my build. I want to be happier and healthier, and there is no better motivation (or excuse) than a wedding! 

The plan going forward is we're going to continue to work out 2x a week like normal. I'm going to do my cardio 4x a week (30-minute interval training) and add in some [solidcore] (which is a reformer pilates) classes on the days I'm not training. My goals are to be active and sweat each day, to consume more protein, and to have more veggies at every meal. 

If you made it this far, thank you. I hope this helps at least one person, and if nothing else, it has been pretty therapeutic for me. 
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