We all have that one friend, don’t we? The one who runs a gimlet eye up and down your body, mentally calculating your body fat percentage and silently judging you if you happen to eat a biscuit (or, as is more likely in my case, three biscuits) in their presence. The one who loudly proclaims that you shouldn’t be eating this or that. Who talks about Friend X who’s still *gasp* going out for dinner even though he’s getting married next year, or Friend Y who’s “just ballooning” (as she should be, she’s giving birth in two months).
Even when that person is lovely the rest of the time, you can’t help wanting to shake them and scream “I am more than just a BMI!” at random intervals. And it’s even worse when you’re planning a wedding. Then, everything you eat and drink is analysed, how long it would take you to get to your goal weight is agonised over, and you can never tell if they’re sad or secretly relieved when you fall off the wagon and have a pizza.
No more, I say!
Last year, I joined Slimming World, because I was worried about my health. I sometimes got out of breath walking to the train station (even writing this is making me cringe), and my eating habits were out of control. So I joined a lovely group, and lost three stone. Which I was (and am) ruddy proud of. Even if there were a couple of people who would give me backhanded compliments and smile as they watched me search for a response to their unnecessarily rude comments.
As someone whose weight has always yo-yoed – I was either eating all the wrong things, or starving myself – Slimming World was great. I could eat lots, but it was good food. My skin cleared up, I could jog along to my exercise DVD without worrying I was going to vomit, and after a while, I noticed that I could run up the escalators when I was running late for my train home (read: every day). It meant I managed to catch the train-that-leaves-three-minutes-earlier-but-gets-me-in-twenty-minutes-earlier-than-the-other-one more often, which was lovely. Then, for reasons I won’t delve into (saggy skin, other things getting in the way, general laxness), I stopped going. Six months passed, and I noticed that bad habits were beginning to creep back in. I was eating more bad food than good, and my commitment to my fitness DVD/hula hooping/that new fitness DVD I bought because I was bored of the old one, was waning.
So, after a chat with my old consultant, who urged me to come back and say hello, I rejoined my Slimming World Group.
To be clear, this is not to do with my wedding. It is because I want to feel as fit and, I admit, as good about myself as I did at Christmas. My skin was starting to get dry again, I was getting more colds (always a sign that I need to eat more vegetables) and I generally felt a bit grim.
The group welcomed me back with open arms, making me wonder why I ever left. There’s no judgement (sorry, American friends – judgment, if you prefer), just smiles, understanding and support. Because of this, I will continue to go up to, and beyond, my wedding. My diet and fitness regime is not about, and has never been about, losing weight for my wedding.
Yes, I’ll be wearing a pretty dress, and yes, I’ll probably have a lot of people looking at me, but it’s just one day. To go to all this effort for just 24 hours seems, to me, a bit daft. Instead this, for me, is about changing my lifestyle, making sure I’m happy and healthy, and with plenty of energy to do all the things I love but got out of the habit of doing when I was bigger – dancing, swimming, skipping, and the like.
The Boy has loved me when I was much bigger than I am, and when I was slightly smaller. He sees me when I’m poorly, wrapped up in a duvet with a nose that would make Rudolph proud. He sees me with my rollers in, with my Spanx on (don’t get me wrong, the first time he saw me in them it was very awkward indeed), and when I’m all rigged out in full on 1950s garb. And, as far as I can tell, he feels exactly the same about me however I am. And really, that’s all that matters.
So, please, if you think you might be that friend who subconsciously weighs their friends, talks about what they weigh to others, what they should weigh, and what they might weigh for their wedding, please stop. Don’t assume all brides want to be at their slimmest for their wedding (I’ve seen pictures of me when I was at my slimmest. Yes, my cheekbones were lovely, but I was also hungry all the time, and bloody horrible to people because of it), and certainly don’t presume it’s your place to say anything other than “It’s your day. Do whatever the hell you want.”
This lady puts it better than I ever could – “My wedding was perfect – and I was fat as hell the whole time.”