My mother flew into town this weekend to help put the wedding planning into action. Up until this point, I wasn’t sure what to do or where to go to get things in motion, but within 72 hours, we tasted cakes, talked with our #1 caterer, envisioned decorations and themes, talked about favors for guests and went dress shopping. The last item on that list, dress shopping, was the thing I was looking forward to the least. It’s bad enough that I hate trying on regular clothes, but trying to squeeze myself into tight dresses with corsets and lace and big poofy trails was a big source of my anxieties.
As I tried on dresses, I got a bit more comfortable, but looking at myself in those big mirrors with my stomach visible through the white sheen of the silky fabric really hit a nerve that I think most brides can relate to. I wanted to see nothing there; I wanted to see a flat stomach with curves in the right places, not a stomach and big hips. It was exciting to try, but solidified my resolve to get in shape.
As I was trying on a particularly fluffy dress with a corseted halter top, the owner of the shop–an Indian woman who had been hawking around us for the last 10 minutes–approached me and my mom and offered to help tighten the corset. She grabbed the lace and, with a quick tug, pulled the breath out of my lungs and smiled. I sucked in an smiled back.
Leaving the shop, I kept checking myself in every reflective surface. Suddenly, I was seeing all of my imperfections–the drab hair, the second-hand clothing, my stomach and legs, the roundness of my face. These things are probably only visible by me (at least most of the time) but I was disheartened nonetheless. I realized that my path to the beautiful bride I’d like to be is going to be full of self-control, restrictions, dedication and some deprivation. I’m not talking the unhealthy kind–no starving, purging, sweating, chronic cardio or punishment–but it’s going to be a difficult path either way.
So here I sit, now full of exciting new ideas and urgent items on my checklist that need to be crossed off quickly, and I’m trying to envision the next six months for myself. What lies ahead? How will I get myself into a delicate, flowing dress without feeling as though my body is breaking the seams? What do I do to help myself feel prettier all of the time, instead of only half of the time? Where do I even begin?
Well, for starters, I’m going to continue my journey into CrossFit. I can’t afford to pay someone to guide me, so I’ll have to rely upon my own wit and determination to keep myself going. It shouldn’t be hard for me–I have a gym facility at my apartment complex with free weights, bikes, treadmills and ellipticals. I have the time after work to take advantage of the gym, and the time during my workday to take an hour-long walk through the neighborhoods of downtown. Really, the only thing in my way would be my own laziness (which, I will admit, has taken hold of me several times in the past).
Another thing that’s standing in my way is tobacco. I smoke now, but have set my quit date to November 1, and will hold myself accountable to that every day. I’ve smoked on and off since I was 16, and am finally starting to realize the impact of the habit. It’s more than just the fact that it impedes upon my fitness regimen, but also the fact that I can’t afford it anymore, and I can’t afford to use it as a crutch when things get stressful. I’d rather use meditation, intimacy, fitness or other social activities to keep my stress levels low. It will be hard to give up, but fully worth it in the end.
The last part is my nutrition. Although I’ve stuck to the caveman diet fairly well over the past six months, I still drink too much beer (damn you, beer!) and I still make less-than-healthy choices when I go out on the town. The road ends here, though. With six months and counting until the big date, I have to be strict about what I put into my body. That means no drinking for 6 out of the 7 days in the week, and when I drink, having only one or two and then stopping. Sadly, my love of dairy (cheese in particular) is going to suffer as well, as I’m going to start eating less processed foods and more natural, organic items. I’ve never had more of a reason to pay more attention to how I nurture myself, and with such a tight deadline, there’s little room for me to flop and “start again.”
That all being said, I know that the benefits will outweigh the disadvantages. Sure, I won’t be able to party like I used to (goodbye, college days!) and I won’t be able to just come home and lounge on the couch after a long day at work. I won’t be able to enjoy beer tastings with my fiancé and future brother-in-law as often as I used to, and I won’t be able to take cheese and almonds to work with me as a lunch replacement. I will have to spend more time preparing and planning meals, cooking at home. No, it’s not going to be easy.
But the benefits, however, are what I’m looking forward to the most: fitting into a beautiful dress without the fear of ripping the seams or overflowing out of the halter top; breathing easier and more fully without tar and nicotine coating my lungs; a healthier, stronger body with a greater resistance to stress, illness and downtime; a clearer head and heart; higher self-esteem.
It’s funny how a short trip to the bridal shop can set so many fears and anticipations into motion. Really, that Indian woman pulling those strings was the final straw in the life I’ve known thus far. As she continues to tighten the draw, I continue to tighten my resolve. I’m just looking forward to the changes that lie ahead.