I don’t like the word, “diet.” For the same reason I don’t own a scale and only weigh myself at the doctor’s office at my yearly check-up: because it messes with my head. It immediately makes me feel bad about myself and definitely brings on all sorts of feelings of unhappiness and self-loathing.
But you know it’s coming when you plan to get married. The Wedding Diet. Even if I don’t say it out loud, I’m thinking it. And if I don’t say it, Stephen’s saying it. He does not have issues with food or a poor relationship with his body, so he can say “diet” all he likes.
I have made leaps and bounds in the whole food and body image thing over the past few years. I’m mentally and physically healthier than I’ve ever been in my life. Mentally because I don’t count calories or obsess over ever morsel I put into my mouth. Physically because I’m consistently working out, eating real food – and cooking a lot, too – drinking much less than I used to (so not every night – way to go, me), and not eating late-night snacks (that’s a big one).
Still, I can’t help but be pulled into the idea that I need to look my best on my wedding day, and by best I mean, the best I’ve ever looked. Initially, this scares me, because I’m afraid that I’ll fall back into unhealthy habits. Afraid that I’ll become obsessive, count calories, and torture myself. On the contrary, I have grabbed hold of the “Wedding Diet” mentality with fresh, healthy eyes.
When I did the 7-Day No Late-Night Snacking experiment (in three parts: Part I, Part II, Part III), I found that when I didn’t eat a snack, it did feel terrible in the moment. It made me feel so anxious and like I was depriving myself of something I needed. It made me very irritable. The next day, though, I would be elated. I would feel good. So I realized that a little pain now is a healthy thrill later, and that is way better than the reward for eating that snack. So now, when I think about eating that snack, I also think about how I’m going to feel the next day. I never used to be able to do that. I couldn’t see past the beautiful green ramekin with two servings of Cheez-its in it and a glass of wine with a show on like Revenge or Gossip Girl to go with it. I looked forward to it so much. I looked forward to it every day. It was like I earned those Cheez-its and that wine and that show.
But then I’d feel like shit the next morning. I’d hate myself. I’d feel depressed. And by noon, I’d look forward to it all over again.
So now I’m on a Wedding Diet, which I hope turns into a permanent change in lifestyle, because I feel great. People say that getting married is the best diet, and I’m surprised at how true that has been for me. I’ve had every intention to be doing the things I’m doing now, I just didn’t have as much motivation. What is the diet? It’s not really a food thing. I eat everything. Sure, I try to eat healthy and cut out sugar when I can, but I will also happily eat steak and potatoes, burgers, wings, even fried food sometimes (even though I said I was definitely going to cut out fried food – oh well). It’s less about the food and more about how much and when I’m eating it.
FOOD. I try to stop eating when I’m full. No matter how much is left on my plate. This is still hard for me. I always feel like I need to finish my plate. It’s this innate feeling that I don’t want to waste food and weirdly, that I’m never going to eat again. I also have been trying to eat slower. I’ve always been a fast eater. I attribute this to growing up in a family of five where if you didn’t eat fast enough, you definitely wouldn’t be getting seconds if you were still hungry – sometimes not even firsts.
GYM. Obviously, I’m working out a lot. I’ve always been a gym goer, but I haven’t always been so excited about it. I LOVE working out, now that I’ve found what I love. I go to a gym that offers bikram yoga and inferno pilates. Best of both worlds. So on top of going to the gym five or six days a week, Stephen and I are doing a 7-10min ab workout together every day. We alternate each day who has to find a video on YouTube. It’s actually kind of fun, and it’s only 10 minutes out of the day so it’s easy to motivate ourselves. Plus, I’ve been working on creating my own workout.
ALCOHOL. I have become such a light-weight! And I love it! I used to throw back three glasses of wine a night, easy. Now, I sometimes go a whole week without drinking.
LATE-NIGHT SNACKS. Finally, the late-night eating. I don’t eat after dinner. It started with – “I try my best” to not eat after dinner. I did that for a couple months. I wouldn’t want to torture myself, so I’d snack on dried mango or pistachios. And you know that as soon as I’d be conscious in the morning, my first thought was that freakin’ piece of mango I ate the night before that I didn’t need. And was that really worth it? Most times, no. Sometimes, yes. Either way, I tried to be as kind to myself as I could, because making changes is hard, and building healthy habits takes time.
Now, though, as we’ve gotten closer, it’s become a finite decision to not eat anything after dinner. This is probably the biggest and most effective change I’ve made. Sometimes when I think I’m feeling hungry but really I just want a snack, I think about how I’m going to feel when I wake up the next day. I also find that complaining helps. Just constantly telling Stephen, “I’m hungry,” to which he replies one of the following: “You’ve done a 24-hour fast before,” “It’s OK to be hungry,” or he simply laughs and shakes his head and tells me, “You’re so dramatic.”