Planning a wedding can be a roller coaster of emotions, and not just because of the budgeting, guest lists, and venue hunting.
Body image concerns and diet culture often sneak into the process too.
I remember the morning of my wedding so clearly. It was pouring with rain. I'd just finished getting ready for my wedding. I'd put on the veil. This is the moment I looked in the mirror for the first time.
But when I saw my reflection, I felt so deeply disappointed. Despite months of meticulous planning, exercising, and curating, I didn't see the image of perfection I had imagined.
But what did I do next?
And what can you do to enter your marriage - or whatever your next life phase is - knowing you have so much more to give this world (and your partner) than your appearance?
Grab your headphones, get comfortable, and let's get into it. Your journey to a confident, self-loving wedding planning starts now.
Ps. the perfect dress is the one that makes you feel beautiful and comfortable just the way you are. Right now.
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Why? Hello there you wonderful people, and welcome to another episode of no Well, miss Wankery podcast. I am your co-host, lindy Cohen, dietitian, human, mother, author, person who creates piles of laundry in my office for no reason I cannot joined by it and I'm joinedJenna:
Hello, thank you for having me spending time with me, as we love to do. Lyndi , I am very excited to chat today because this is a topic that I have suggested, because I really want answers and I think there's a lot of people that would also want answers on this, too. I did. I don't want to congratulate myself I'll leave that to you, no less but I did recently get engaged to my beautiful partner, Duane , and I'm super excited about the whole thing and he's very lovely. We love him.Lyndi:
We love him a lot. Yeah, we like him, like him enough to live with him forever and ever.Jenna:
Correct. It sounds a lot when you say it like that, but yes, yes I do, with all his piles of dirty laundry included. But as someone who has been on the intuitive eating journey and like learning to accept my body and be okay with my body, I've been feeling so good. Then, the minute the engagement ring hit my finger, I just felt very uneasy about the whole thing and I'm like very into the planning stages and all that now because it's been a little while ago. But everyone's like, oh, when are you going to go start dress shopping? Or when are you going to make an appointment to go try? And I'm just like, oh, that sounds like something that I'm avoiding, like the plague.Lyndi:
What's the voice in your head saying?Jenna:
to you. Okay, a lot of things. Trying to tell it to be quiet, the voice in my head is saying like that I always have these images of people trying on dresses in bridal shops with like huge clamps on the back of them, like they just you know what I'm talking about Like the dress couldn't possibly fit them. They are so small and I'm just like stupid thought what if the dress doesn't even do up on me? Not a clamp, that? And then also the issue of I see in all these wedding Facebook groups, people like they buy these dresses a year before they need them and their body changes so much. And then it's like if I've put on weight, then how horrific I will feel. Or if I lose weight, am I trying to lose weight? Should I be buying? I've got a thousand questions. I'll dump them, do you?Lyndi:
feel that you, and sometimes can be a little bit of an uncontrollable urge, because you've been dieting for so many years to go, I could just lose a little bit of weight. That little voice that rears and goes hmm, you know does. Do you notice that still?Jenna:
a hundred percent and I also. It feels so easy to default because it's like Everyone loses weight for their wedding. Basically, I would say the proportions of people that are not their average body weight at their wedding would have to be Hi.Lyndi:
Well, can I tell my story? Yes, I got married in 2016. I was 26 at the time and quite young, I think, by today's standards anyway and I Did lose weight for my wedding. It was intentional, it was. This was before. I was very much on boarded with whole body image and intuitive eating. I Don't think I went crazy, though I don't feel like I. I mean, I definitely got to a point where I weighed the least I've ever weighed, but I wasn't like obsessing, I wasn't counting, I wasn't religiously weighing myself. I think it was a combination of me also just feeling really happy and excited. This is I've never been the kind of person who's like, oh, I just lost weight without even thinking about it. There was a consciousness behind it, of which I partially regret, because I did get to my wedding day. Here I was like the the lightest I ever have been. I remember the moment I was dressed in my gown. I had my veil over my head. It was the first time I got to look in the mirror once I was dressed as a bride. I think we have this idea that on your wedding day, this is the prettiest you'll ever be. You are peaking. That's the pressure, and so I looked in the mirror. I wasn't excited by what I saw. I didn't like my hair and my makeup was just not what I wanted and I totally regretted my dress decision. I didn't look in the mirror and thought you need to lose weight. There was definitely not a thought about that. But I remember looking in the mirror, going this is it. I put in so much effort. I went to these facials, I got do you? I looked after my hair, I did all these kind of Rituals that we're told we need to do to glow up for our wedding and I store. I stared myself in the mirror and I thought this can't be my peak, can it? I was able to push that thought aside and I Remember an active decision in my brain going you look how you look right now, whether you'd like it or not, you are about to marry the person who Makes you feel so brilliant, who you're excited to be with, and that is so much. And we're not gonna let how you feel about how you look ruin your day. And I didn't think about it again and I just had an awesome day. I lived the day. I did not. I even like I didn't even reapply makeup, like I did not put new lipstick on, my lips were chapped like like crazy, with frizzy hair. But that was having the best time and I think I loved that. I Looked back at the photos once the photographer sent them and I pulled myself apart. I Was the skinniest I had ever been and I found so many flaws with how I looked. I thought don't really like the way my arms looked. I hated how my dress made you know certain parts of me look and I Lay in bed and I thinking about how much I regretted so many decisions I made For months, maybe years, after I got married. Now the reason I am telling you this is because it there is a moral to the story. Yeah, you're freaking me out. The moral is, firstly, your wedding day is not the pinnacle of your life. It does not need to be the best day of your life and you do not need to be the prettiest you'll ever be. In fact, I think it's quite a curated image of how you look. You probably will look lovely and everyone else would agree you're gonna look really lovely, but you definitely don't have to be the prettiest you'll ever be on your wedding day, and letting go of that pressure is very important. Ideally, you're able to be the most present you can be on your wedding day. You might not even have the best day. Therefore, all you can aim for is to just be really present and in your body, and I think if you can do that, that is an incredible thing to accomplish on a day. That's incredibly overstimulating, overwhelming and just a lot to take in. And the other thing to know about this is, even if you did lose weight, if we're not dealing with how you see yourself on a fundamental level, on all the things you've been told you need in order to be a good woman, a good wife, a pretty wife is what we've been told our whole lives. This is what we need to aspire to be. We can't underestimate how every single Disney film ends in the princess getting married and then her life ends yes, and she's beautiful and she's transformed, and her princess transformed and that's it. These messages are constant to us and even at this pinnacle, this moment I had reached where I dedicated my soul into doing this, I still found so much wrong with myself. So the internal work is what we need to do, irrespective of whether you lose weight or gain weight. As a result, you get your wedding day and you like how you feel in your body. That is so much more useful than being the thinnest you've ever been and loathing how you looked.Jenna:
Yeah, that's actually true. Like if I keep spiraling into this path, then if I enough, I do lose weight, I'm still not gonna be happy with the end result. Exactly.Lyndi:
So the question is then how can you spend this time becoming the most content and comfortable in your skin that you possibly can be? What, if that is the goal, so that you go? I really think that in life there are these chapters in life, and I think there is the single life and then, if you two choose to get married, there is a whole new chapter, and once you do get married, I do think it's the end of that old chapter. You know, even if people get split up from their partners, that's another chapter afterwards. We can never go backwards. So from that day you are moving forward into this next chapter. What baggage do we wanna leave behind in this old chapter and who are you going to be for this next chapter in life? You get to decide do you wanna be your thinnest version of yourself or do you wanna be the most comfortable in your skin version of yourself?Jenna:
That's actually such a good question because I feel, since I've met Dwayne, I've already started moving so far forward into not dieting and accepting the way that I am Like I feel like meeting him and someone that hadn't been on a diet their whole life, spending so much time with them, which is I'd never spent time with people who hadn't lived their life on a diet. I didn't know anybody. And then when I met him, like he's already taught me so many things and I suppose it's like taking that and I was like continuing to build on that so that when I have children I'm even further down the path. Exactly we don't wanna take this step back right now.Lyndi:
Who does Dwayne?Jenna:
wanna marry and I was also thinking about this as well because, like he wants to marry me, the person I am right now, when I haven't had teeth whitening treatments or extensions or keratin or spray tans or $400 facial treatments.Lyndi:
It's so expensive being a bride.Jenna:
Oh my God, all these, these are all the ads that I'm getting served. I don't really need any of these things. That is a thought that I'm trying to keep repeating on my brain, like Dwayne still loves me when I'm on the couch wearing my pajamas or my dressing gown. So I'm keep trying to say that. And even though it is this Basically performance, if you're standing in front of everybody everybody that's there is going to be people who already love me. Yes, indeed.Lyndi:
And who would you be losing weight for? Who would be impressed by your weight?Jenna:
loss. I don't know your mum, I don't say my mum, but no no, my mum.Lyndi:
Yeah, it's probably who I lost weight for.Jenna:
Yeah, my mum or people on social media when I post a photo who I don't even know? Yeah, exactly.Lyndi:
I feel like it's not worth compromising this, and I know all this and I will say as well, I can also hold the other side of the coin, which is to say I totally understand what it's like to want to turn up and put your best foot forward and have a day where you feel bloody gorgeous and radiant and everyone's just not just saying, oh, you look so beautiful, but like you feel, and I think that's what we need to achieve. So I'm not anti getting beauty treatments that make you feel good. What I don't want you to get to, the point, that is, you do these beauty treatments, you go to a lot of effort and you get to this point where you stand there and you look in the mirror and you go I haven't reached it.Jenna:
Yeah, this is it Like an unachievable goal, exactly.Lyndi:
And this is like you know, they talk about how beauty standards disconnect us from our current self. So it always there. You know, beauty standards are always telling us if you do this, this fitness regime, get this beauty treatment, you will one day become your perfect self. But at the same time, you're constantly aging, you're getting older, so you're also getting further away from that perspective and that self, and at one point you become older, so you can never attain the self because she's now in the past. So she's either in the future or she's in the past, but we can never actually exist in that self. I understood is a Instagram and she shared that in a real and it just it's stuck with me and I think it's so spot on. So here's the question is how can you simultaneously do things to look after your body, to look good? You know you're also in the pursuit of wanting to look your best, but without compromising your sense of self, all the good stuff you've done. When it comes to food and I let's speak practically about what would those actions look like? What are the things that you could do that aren't going to compromise your intuitive eating?Jenna:
And I think that's where I'm struggling a little bit because, like, I haven't been doing this for 10 years, so it's not all rock solid. So I feel like if I made any real changes to how I'm eating or if I increased my exercise, I would be doing that from a place of not a good place, like because I'm going for walks and walking my dog and doing pilates and things that I enjoy. But then I already had the thought yesterday of I should go back to like high intensity things but I don't enjoy that. So it's like all of these areas are not really rock solid enough for me to make changes. If that makes sense, okay, let's flip.Lyndi:
I totally understand that. It can be simple things like prioritizing sleep, and it is called beauty sleep for a reason. If you go back to episodes 72 and 73, we're talking with Dr Thierry. She's a dermatologist and she makes that very clear point that, fundamentally, sleep is the cornerstone of beauty, of health, of well-being. It's so essential. It's one of those things that we don't really equate with how we look, but it's so important. So, when we're talking about adding in things that make us feel good, that make us thrive, I think your brain is defaulting to what's going to help me lose weight? Yes, and the things we need to be asking ourselves is what is going to make me feel good? Because you can still aspire to want to feel really good, very vibrant, very energetic and glowy as hell On your wedding day, but when it intersects with wanting to lose weight, that's when it becomes problematic, and in my book I have those three questions for that very purpose. So if you ever have this feeling of, oh, I want to add in healthy habit, would I still choose to do this if I didn't lose weight? Would you still choose to do HIIT training if you didn't lose weight? No, I hate it. I hate it. Would you still choose to sleep? Yes, I love sleep.Jenna:
It's my favorite part of the day.Lyndi:
There you go. So then the question is when you notice that urge to go OK, I feel like I need to change something. Get a list, start writing down a list of OK, I could do this, I could do this. And you go through one by one Like would I still do this if I didn't lose?Jenna:
weight, all things other than food and exercise, which is, like you're right, where my brain defaults.Lyndi:
Exactly so. It could be like you giving yourself permission to go get a facial. You know, listen, do I really think that's going to be the most impactful thing to give you the best skin? No, but I think it's a really fun thing to do that you finally can give yourself permission to do it in the lead up to your wedding that you sometimes otherwise can't, or what is it that? We know things like drinking water is like. That's awesome for your skin health. We know eating all these diverse range of foods is really good, so maybe your goal is more diverse foods. Would that help you lose weight? I don't know. It's certainly not the point of doing it. For some people it will, for some people it won't. But will it make your skin look glowy AF? Yes, my friend. Yes. Will you feel better as your gut microbiome be better? Will a whole host of other things be going your way? Yes. So let's bring the conversations back to what things can we actively do, can we pursue that's going to make you feel and look your best? That isn't about weight loss as the goal. Any ideas or any thoughts?Jenna:
that come to mind, the probability sleep is the one that stands out the most to me, because so often at night I'm like, oh my God, it's 11 o'clock and I'm not asleep yet, and I know that I struggle to get up in the morning, which then impacts the rest of my day, but it's so. I always talk to my therapist about this. It's like I know I need to get more sleep. I know that I can't wake up as well in the morning, but like there's a disconnect between the obvious action of I know that's something I need to change and actually changing it.Lyndi:
Yes, and your brain's very active at night and you're creative, so you're probably extremely creative at night as well, with your monkey mind going crazy, yes. So then I guess the question is, how do we change that relationship with enjoying going to sleep early, because I think you enjoy sleep, but I don't know if you enjoy the act of going to bed early.Jenna:
No, because I always my brain is racing and I have a million things to do. I'm trying to pick a time in the night where I stop doing things that stimulate me further, like things that require thought or require action, because then it just keeps me going Like that's what. That's my current plan.Lyndi:
I think it's a really good goal to have. It sounds like it's really a work in progress. It is a work in progress. I am also at night out. I use my husband as my benchmark. At 9pm the guy's asleep. I'm like how, how do you switch off your brain? Like incredible annoying. But I use him as my benchmark. So he goes oh, I'm going to sleep, I'm so tired, I do not have that feeling and I go. You know what? I'm just going to follow suit and I walk my bum out of the TV room and I walk myself into my bedroom. I start my very elaborate skincare routine and 20 minutes later, there I am lying in bed and the goal then is I need to have a book. I need to have a book or I need to have my AirPods with me so I can listen to a meditation. If not, I'm going to get on TikTok and scroll like a crazy human. So I think you know we're just workshopping how to get on this one habit, but I think this is what we end up doing when it comes to health. So generally, I talk about this so much in my book. Your weight is not the problem. The purpose of your weight is not the problem. We are creating a hierarchy of healthy habits. Sleep is very much at the cornerstone, at the bottom, and I want you to pick one and I want you to nail it. If sleep is the cornerstone of health, like, we cannot think about any kind of adding anything else into your list until we get this sorted. And if it takes us months to get this sorted, it takes us months to get this sorted, but this is going to make a huge difference in how you feel. So what if all your mental energy into changing and fixing and transforming yourself seems we always have that energy? What if it went into this one thing and you experimented with different ways of trying to do it until you got to the point that you were like, hey, I'm smug with how much sleep I'm getting, or does that one not sound fun enough?Jenna:
No, I think it does, because you're right. Sometimes, when you've got work and family and friends and all these things, then when you're trying to squeeze in a thousand ways to change yourself, all the time it's a bit much, whereas if you're just like I don't need to worry about that. The way that I eat is healthy enough and the way that I move my body is healthy enough and I don't need to put pressure on myself for those things. Right now, I'm just purely focusing on my sleep.Lyndi:
Yes, one thing, and it's incredibly hard to do, especially for an ADHD brain. I think it's very important. So my question to you is and this is the same thing we apply when it comes to exercise how could I make this act enjoyable? How could I make exercise enjoyable? How could I make cooking enjoyable? How can you make going to sleep more enjoyable for yourself? What bread crumble you need to drizzle crumble for?Jenna:
yourself to make it enjoyable. I probably need some type of nighttime routine that I enjoy. That doesn't feel like a chore. If I like tea, do I ever make myself tea?Lyndi:
No, so maybe your sleep routine starts with the micro habit. The macro habit of going to sleep starts with the micro habit of having tea. So we start there. That is the only thing you now need to do for the next few weeks Make yourself tea, start there. Once that's integrated into your life, you're like, okay, cool, now I've got this sweet little habit, then we can start building on top of it. But just going to sleep earlier is a huge habit in and of itself.Jenna:
So how do we break it out? Okay, I'm going to go tea and then I probably, as you said, a skincare routine. I don't even really do that, so then sometimes I'm going from a million miles an hour to clean tea to lay in bed. It's like I'm obviously not going to fall asleep. There's literally I'm slammed on the brakes of my day, obviously not.Lyndi:
There are also apps you can use to block yourself out of social media, because if you're like me and you're on Netflix at the same time, you're like viciously scrolling through social media. Why do I do that? It's a phone addiction. I think we all do it. We watch with one eye and so if you feel like that's you, it's incredibly over stimulating and we're locking ourselves out of our phones, out of those apps For those times. I think it's a very useful thing where we take willpower out of the equation. I think that's a helpful thing to try.Jenna:
Okay, I'm going to try that. The final question to wrap this up is to do with the wedding dress shopping. So in my brain I keep being like well, all the dresses have these thigh high splits, but I don't love my legs, so I don't want a thigh high split. And then I also don't love my arms, so I really don't want armless. So in my head I'm like what do I do with these feelings? Do I listen to them and get a dress that covers the areas I don't love, or is that just feeding into it? And I need to? You know what I'm saying. Do I have to do you dress to? Always? I've always told you cover the parts of your body you don't like. But is that helping me?Lyndi:
I've recently been watching Trini, from Trini and Susanna. She's got a YouTube channel, which I really enjoy, and she's like ladies. Things have moved on since 90s, when I was doing stuff with Susanna and we were telling people to dress for their shape and we were telling people to cover up bits that they don't like, and she's agreed. Everything's moved on, even for her, and she was the pioneer of that time and she apologizes. No, we do not need to dress for our shape. At the same time, you want to wear something that's going to make you feel great. I regret shopping for my shape. I regret it. I went shopping with my mum and she convinced me that this dress and I had agreed in my default that this is the dress that was most flattering on me. This is the problem and this is the conundrum I had, staring in the mirror, going this is not my style, this is not me. Who is this person staring back at me? And I think it was that disconnect between what I would have picked and what I would have picked if I thought my body was good enough to wear that dress. I think that is the thing. So my question to you is what would you wear if you had whatever body, if you just like, what would be your dream thing, and that might not be the dress you end up wearing or feel comfortable in. But who is that bride? What does she look like? Draw the picture in your mind, because that's the essence of what you're going to need to attain. It might not be the exact cut, but maybe it's like a sexy edgy bride, or maybe she's a super classic kind of regal bride. But who is she? Let's get a sense of her. And then, once you know that, then we go into the shops and we start trying on. I actually worked in a wedding dress shop. Would you believe it? No, I wouldn't. It was a summer gig. My cousin owned a bridal shop and so I'd go to these bridal expos and I'd help brides find their dresses. So a note about clamps they don't keep every dress in every single size. They can't possibly. So the clamps are to clamp it to anyone. So you could be a size eight trying on a size 16 dress, and we're trying to make it work. So everyone uses clamps. I, you know, very rarely do you get a bride where it fits perfectly, because once you buy your dress, they then will edit it, they'll tailor it to suit your body, so clamps are a given. That is an essential, irrespective of how your body looks. Okay, you will go in for your shop fitting and you're going to go to lots of different places to try on lots of different styles of wedding dresses, and I want you to try on stuff that you do not think about, and I want you to just try on the full gamut of things. You may end up getting the dress that you, you know, didn't think you'd like, but when you do get your dress, I feel like I want you to have a feeling of oh my goodness, I'm so excited about this product. I can't wait to buy it. I really love it, and you will lie in bed at night dreaming and thinking about this, so there certainly shouldn't be something that you feel you're going to postpone or you don't want to do. This is a very fun process, and when you get your dress, you are going to be damn excited about it. You won't lie in bed at night agonizing that you should look better in this dress. You will already feel awesome in this dress.Jenna:
Okay, that's probably a kicker, like when I actually I'll be finding something that I already feel really great in.Lyndi:
Yes, exactly. And and notice, if you do go to that and go oh, if I lost a bit of weight, this would look really good. No, we're going to buy a dress. That already makes us feel awesome. So, irrespective of how your body looked on the day, you feel great. I have a friend who she's like a size six, size eight and she wore her dress. It was like a silk slippy dress and she kind of walked away going. I don't know why I got that dress. It just it didn't make me feel that amazing on the day, but for anyone else looking at her, you're like you look bloody amazing. So we just have to just keep in mind it has to. It can't be contingent on you standing in a certain pose, which is why she bought that dress. She didn't account for the fact that, like we eat food and our stomach is not the same as early in the morning and also contemplate that as you're standing there staring at the mirror, Notice am I sucky in my stomach? Notice am I only looking at myself from, like, posing, perfect posing. Do the sit down test? Sit down in your wedding dress, because you're going to need to sit and you're going to eat your wedding food If you can, if you're not too nervous or that stuff. Please do eat and enjoy your wedding day. You just have to go into the shopping with the right experience. Ideally, you don't wear makeup. That's what we tell people. When you go in for bridal fitting, take the right underwear with you, but very often you probably won't wear any underwear underneath your wedding gown. So just keep that in mind and be mindful of the people who you go with. So I went to a few dress shop fittings without anyone and I really enjoyed that. For me, that made me feel really comfortable, and then I could bring my mom along, who I was maybe a little bit more self-conscious about how I should think, and sometimes I think even having too many people around you can make you feel a bit. You can't trust your intuition and your gut and what you really want, but sometimes it's brilliant. So just even thinking about that energy you have when you go shopping.Jenna:
Yes, I was thinking about this because so much I would be wanting people's opinions. But then I feel like people would be scared to give me their opinions because they think I would get offended. So then I was thinking how we would navigate that, if there even is any point Other people you know what I mean.Lyndi:
People are the people's enjoyment to be there. So just have a think about that. And also, ultimately, even if people are like I love that dress, but you didn't, you know you're not going to get that dress probably, Please don't get that dress.Jenna:
Wait for the one you love. I won't be getting that dress and there is so much to think about and I think just even me reframing being like I just need to get a dress that I feel amazing in now is enough to actually want to get an appointment and go because it's for someone that started their whole life to the concept of go get the most expensive dress you'll ever probably buy. On the quote unquote most important day of your life. That's happening in 10 months time. That is a very triggering thing. You'd be like I won't even be the same person in 10 months, but maybe it's okay if I am the same person in 10 months.Lyndi:
It's absolutely okay if you are the same person and it's okay if you're not. You're allowed to change, you're allowed to stay the same. But what are you going to feel good in right now? And dress fitters are very good at molding dresses to fit your shape. That's why they leave alterations to the last few weeks. So if there was any fluctuation, you gained weight. You lost weight because you're human. Things happen. They know how to play within that realm.Jenna:
Okay, they can fix it. That also makes I couldn't think of anything worse For me.Lyndi:
I feel like I would crumble if I got there and it didn't do up or something I don't have the skills in my tool kit to cope with that Anytime that movie in your mind plays, I want you to notice that movie playing in your mind and I want you to decide we're not going to watch that clip anymore because that's not going to happen.Jenna:
It's not going to happen, and even if it did, I would cope with it at the time. There are lots of other dresses out there. Okay, thank you for this pep talk.Lyndi:
I hope everyone listening to this got something from it. If you know someone who's going to get married perhaps you're not yourself please share this with them so that they can also get that feel good vibe on their wedding day and not be like me staring at the mirror having a disconnect with who you are. Of course, you know that reviews for the podcast makes such a big difference, so if you could hop on to wherever you're listening to and just give us a nice review and subscribe, we love having you.