Setting goals can be a really great way start your health and fitness journey. I have found, however, that when they have an end day they lose their relevance shortly after the event. I have heard of and seen countless lose an extreme amount of weight for an event only to put it all back on (and more) shortly after.
This post isn’t having a go at people that go down this road. Indeed, I was once one of them. If an event was coming up I would pull out all stops to look a particular way for the event. I would deprive myself of the foods I enjoy and overexercise. Looking back on those events, sure I thought I looked great on the night but I just didn’t enjoy the lead up. For me, the lead up to an event is even more exciting than the day itself. Often there is so much anticipation and joy in the days leading up to a wedding, a birthday or a social gathering. Why would I want to add guilt to those exciting days?
There is a social pressure to look good for particular events. Companies pride themselves on promising the body of your dreams in a mere six weeks or sometimes even less than that.
There is a difference, I believe, between being “healthy” and being “skinny.” There have been so many times in my life that I have been really skinny but not healthy. Health encapsulates the physical and the mental. When I get too skinny my mind is usually in overdrive. It analyses my eating patterns and ensures it doesn’t change so that my body doesn’t change. This is not a great head space to be in.
This month I had a couple of weddings. One of them was for my first cousin. I remember when her sister got married at the end of 2013 and the way I went about preparing for it. I was training so hard and eating so cleanly in the lead up. In fact, I lost so much weight in the weeks before that when I put on my dress on the morning of the wedding it was too big (safety pins to the rescue). I remember being in disbelief and feeling so bad for the bride who already had enough going on.
Seeing physical results is addicting. You see change and it makes you want to see more change. There is always something that can be improved. There is always something that could tone up. There is always something to get rid or gain. It is horrible.
Who sets the standard for what we should look like? Is it the media? Is it Instagram? Or is it us?
For this wedding I didn’t do anything different. I found a dress in my size that fit my body as it was on that day. I didn’t buy it any smaller in the hope that it would encourage me to keep my diet clean. I just didn’t stress about it. The night before the wedding I reacted badly to something I ate. My stomach was bloated as anything on the day of the wedding. Usually this would have been something that made me extremely self-conscious and seek out another outfit. This time I just accepted the situation at hand. Sure I wasn’t feeling my best but I got on with it and made the most of the celebration. At the end of the day who was going to come up to me and say “Gee you’re looking a little rounder than usual today.”
I have to say, I was extremely proud of my mum when it came to this wedding. In the past I have seen her lose an incredible amount of weight the week before an event. This time she took a different approach. She knew what designer she wanted to wear to the wedding but still wanted to enjoy the food she loves in the lead up to the day. She started a program. She tried new foods, planned out her meals and started getting up earlier to get a 30-minute workout in before work. She ate desserts at birthdays, she indulged at Christmas and leisurely strolled on weekends.
When it was time to buy a dress for the wedding she had two options. Both absolutely gorgeous dresses. I was so delighted to hear that she went for the more comfortable dress that would allow her to eat, drink and most importantly breathe. The diet and lifestyle changes she made were SUSTAINABLE. She continues to do what she was doing even though the wedding is over. Sure she is treating herself to a gelati, cake or both in one container but she is loving it. She is working WITH her body not FIGHTING it.
When it comes to giving nutritional advice and lifestyle advice, I will only do so if I am asked to. It is near impossible to change someone who doesn’t want to change. It is okay to want to tailor in your nutrition and lifestyle before an event but I do recommend seriously thinking about how you want to do it. Changes that are long term take time. It happens a bit at a time, not all at once. It does mean, however, that you will never have to think twice before an event because your body will be the one you always take care of and that you LOVE.
I have found that eating well most of the time, allowing myself to have chocolate and treats, giving myself “me” time and moving my body every day that it hardly ever fluctuates. My clothes fit me and I don’t feel the need to make any changes before an upcoming event. It also means I don’t look back at old photos in a particular dress and feel sad that I no longer fit into it.
For me, it is so special to look back at photos and look like me in the pictures. Some of my photos from five years ago don’t look like me at all. I hope that when I look back at the photos from the past couple of weeks that I feel proud at the genuinely happy girl staring back at me.
The beautiful bride, her new husband, my gorgeous mum and dad.
Bruno and I at wedding number 2.