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Lauren’s Wedding Planning: The Weight Diaries


We’ve gotten a lot of requests recently to tackle the really horrific crap that is (increasingly? it seems?) permeating the culture about women and body weight at weddings. We’ve talked a lot about the underbelly of the wedding industry, and how they are willing to do just about anything in order to sell you more stuff. And preying on your insecurities and body image issues at a sensitive time in your life, to sell you wedding weight loss products? Well, that’s almost too easy. When I was planning my own wedding, I was delightfully impervious to this nonsense (I was raised without a TV, or much access to popular culture, and I chalk up my ‘oh-my-god-I-love-my-body’ image to that). But today Lauren is here, by request, to talk about how being engaged finally allowed her to kick her body image issues to the curb. Because what is engagement really, if it’s not an invitation to change our lives forever?

Laurens Wedding Planning: The Weight Diaries | A Practical Wedding

There is a lot of crazy losing weight crap about weddings. You know this. It’s everywhere. Magazines, TV shows (reality TV shows, barf), the emphasis is on 1) how much the wedding costs and 2) what size the bride got down to in order to fit into her dress. I actually heard an audio clip on the radio the other day promoting one of these stupid shows. The bride-to-be was adamant that if they “didn’t lose this weight to win the prize, they were NEVER going to be able to afford the wedding of their dreams. And then what would we do?” It disgusts me that a show exploiting desperate couples because of their body image issues is on the air, and that there are couples who are so incredibly desperate for a completely over the top wedding in order to have a “perfect” day, that they would sign up for it.

Now then, I have struggled with my weight pretty much my entire life. I understand that there are people who don’t and it’s hard to understand the chronic anxiety that comes with trying on pants or, god forbid, bathing suits when you haven’t woken up one day and just … not fitted into your clothes. Yeah, that’s a real special moment when you have to keep the button undone and wear a big sweatshirt because your muffin top has finally said “Enough!” The anxiety of that ever happening again induces IBS, and increases the days where I look in the mirror and am more than disappointed with what I see. So, you’d think my wedding would be putting me in a salad-eating, two-work-outs-a-day frenzy, but it hasn’t.

Here is what happened: Kamel asked me to marry him (hooray!), and my first, or even fifth thought, was not about my weight. It was not about what I was going to weigh in a year, and it was not about what I weighed right then. A few months went by and I started to think about my arms. My arms and I have always had a wary relationship. Basically, I don’t trust them. I’ve never been able to do a pull-up, and no matter how many push-ups I do, they never change shape. They just are what they are. So I figured, well, it can’t hurt… I’ll buy a ShakeWeight. They sold it at Walgreens, I had walked by it dozens of times on my way to retrieve large amounts of candy. The infomercials had snared me, and no amount of ridicule from Kamel was going to stop me from marching in there and snatching it off the shelves. I had made a promise to myself not to tell a soul, but instead shock them with my amazingly toned biceps in a years time.

Laurens Wedding Planning: The Weight Diaries | A Practical Wedding

Sometimes, I can’t help myself, I believe the hype regardless of the sexual innuendos, and Kamel’s chronic secret videotaping of me while I, uh, worked out. In the end, the ShakeWeight really didn’t last that long. It ended up being a pain to use, and I felt like it wasn’t, um, effective? Ya think? And it wasn’t until after we went on a weekend trip to somewhere that had a pool and sunshine, that we really got serious about changing our lifestyle. I say we because a lifestyle change involves the other person when you’re about to bind yourself to them for eternity. Ahem.

Ever since I was 18, I’ve been losing and gaining weight pretty much every year. When I was a freshman in college I stopped eating anything but english muffins and cereal because the cafeteria grossed me out. So, I lost about 15 pounds. Then I got over it, and found the soft serve machine and gained those 15 pounds back plus 20 more. For the next 2 years I struggled with those 20-25 pounds, and finally when I was 20 I had stopped gaining and losing and gaining and losing and was just at a weight I could depend on. This lasted until I was 22, when I started to fluctuate again. Finally, I went on Weight Watchers (after doing everything else I could think of including changing birth controls, working out twice a day, and giving up peanut butter!). And that worked great. It taught me a lot about nutrition and portion size, and what foods keep me full, so I wasn’t a crazy hungry person. It stopped feeling like a sacrifice. It was an education. But, things changed, I moved, I started working at a bakery (hello free pastries!), and I fell in love with Kamel. We ate out all of the time, we split desserts because it was a “special occasion” every other weekend, we went to movies, bought candy, stayed in with snacks, etc. Temptation was everywhere and guilt was chronic.

So when I say WE made a lifestyle change, I mean it. We came back from our weekend in bathing suit land, and signed up for Weight Watchers online together. We started working out consistently together at least 4 days a week, and we cooked and grocery shopped together, looking at labels together, and keeping each other on track… together. The wedding was a kind of incentive, because no one wants to feel uncomfortable on their wedding day, in front of all your friends and family, memorialized in a million photos. But this was about our life. This was about being around for a long time, not getting winded walking up stairs, and not feeling gross after eating an entire bag of Doritos. Wiping crumbs off the front of my shirt and spiraling into guilt filled panic just doesn’t scream sexy, ya know?

Laurens Wedding Planning: The Weight Diaries | A Practical Wedding

In the last 8 months, my weight and my body have been the least of my concerns. Have I lost weight since we decided to live a healthy life? Yes. Do I feel a million times better, physically? Yes. But the best part about what happened to me after deciding to change our lifestyle is that I am no longer tormented by my body. My weight is not what stresses me out about the wedding, it is not a factor in what dress I chose, or how my daily life works.

There are so many issues that come up during engagement. Family issues, money issues, time issues. There are discussions about children, about where you want to live, jobs, mother in laws, etc . So why not health and lifestyle? I’m setting up the groundwork for the rest of my life, and at least for me, my physical and mental up-keep is hugely important, and it’s important that Kamel and I are in this together because it doesn’t get easier. When I’m 50 and achey and it hurts to roll out of bed, I want Kamel there next to me encouraging me to go for a walk and eat my broccoli (with cheese). And I know he will. Getting into shape and being a healthier version of me is not about the wedding day, it is not about fitting into a one-time-wear dress. It is not about measuring perfection. It’s about being able to chase my kids around one day, about healthy bones and teeth, about reducing our risk for diabetes (yes, it runs in the family) and heart disease (that one too). It’s a choice about awareness that we’re making together.

Laurens Wedding Planning: The Weight Diaries | A Practical Wedding

Photos by: APW sponsor Allison Andres Photography

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  • mags

    Great post Lauren!

    My man and I have a strong focus on being the best version of ourselves for our life together and that includes eating healthily and working out.

    I want to be fit enough to dance a million horas on our wedding dancefloor!

    • http://quiltonthetracks.posterous.com Margaret M.

      Well, I was not fit by most standards on my wedding day and I danced my ass off. I didn’t even notice my body, frankly, after a while. Just putting that out there.

      • Manya

        You know, isn’t that a beautiful thing… getting to a mental space where your joy is so transcendent that you aren’t even noticing your body? Love it.

        • http://quiltonthetracks.posterous.com Margaret M.

          I’m not sure I would do the horah, but then, I’m afraid of heights. :)

  • Cass

    Thank you. This sounds kinda like my story. Except instead of weight watchers, I got a trainer at the gym, and finally started getting the sleep I knew I desperately needed.
    And when I went for my first fitting of my dress, I looked in the mirror, and finally, for the first time in my life, thought I was beautiful.
    I had positive feelings about my body.
    For the first twenty-something years of my life, every time I looked in the mirror, the feelings were negative, or at best, neutral.
    Getting married has been a catalyst to help me see myself in a positive light. And of course, my FH has been there supporting me the whole way.

  • Zoe

    I completely agree that messages about wedding and weight have gotten completely out of control. It’s so harmful for women.

    And I’m really happy for Lauren that she’s found a lifestyle that leaves her at a weight she’s happy and healthy with.

    For me, this post was a big dose of shame.

    I come from a… ehh… troubled background with food and weight. For my whole life. I was thinner when I met my husband, gained a little through our dating/engagement years, and then gained even more quickly after the wedding and I’m left feeling crappy with myself.

    I know — I KNOW — this was not Laurens or APWs intent (and I hate comments that bitch about posts on websites the readers visit often or for free– like what right do I have to complain? So this shouldn’t be read as a complaint, just more of how it made ME feel) but this made me feel really bad. Like changing food and eating habits that are so tied in with self esteem, former eating habits (I gained most of the post wedding weight after trying to diet, then bingeing), stress, etc is SO EASY and there is just such a simple solution and if you do it you’ll be happy and thin and never have to think about your weight again. Guess what? I’ve gone on such plans. I’ve called them lifestyle changes instead of diets, because, you know, that’s what you’re supposed to do. I’ve joined groups with food rules, seen both permissive and strict nutritionists, etc. EVERY DAMN time, I say, this is the last time, I swear. This time, I loose the 20 lbs for good, and I’ll be happy and healthy and leaping for joy. And I do loose weight. And then life gets in the way and I gain it all back. And feel like shit. And these aren’t crazy fad diets either — they’re the very definition of sane, and I just can’t do it. I’ve done ‘non-diets’ of just eating whatever I want and hoping it all balances out. I’ve tried almost everything. I have and always will be super active and athletic, but I simply eat too much to be at the weight I want to be at.

    I feel bad after reading this, because its like, see, if I could only get my shit together and loose weight, I could be like Lauren and have my body be the furthest thing from my mind. Like it’s supposed to be. Like normal. But I suck so I can’t and I don’t. It’s freaking easy not to be tormented by your body when you’re thin. But what about when you’re NOT thin? When you’re at your heaviest weight, do you DESERVE to be tormented by your body?

    • http://www.theweddingschedulizer.com/ Holly

      I have to say Zoe, when I was reading Lauren’s post there was a niggling little voice in my head going…..but it’s ok for you Lauren, you’re actually a healthy weight! And then that just reminded me how I felt about my own weight, and that actually I am overweight, and it’s my own doing and actually I think I should feel a bit bad ,not because of the WIC and all that, but because I am not a healthy weight, I am fat, and I am damaging my health.

      • Zoe

        But here’s the thing, REGARDLESS of weight, we don’t deserve to feel bad about ourselves.

        The subtext, of Lauren’s message (at least to me, and I know she didn’t mean it this way) was you deserve to be happy when you’re thin.

        • Zoe

          And one more thing:

          I’m really not loving equating thin with health.

          I’d actually consider myself really healthy right now, but it comes with 20 extra lbs. That everyone, including APW, is telling me to feel crappy about.

          • KD

            “Thin” is subjective! We’re all our own worst critics- so maybe it’s just about that. Not belittling yourself for 20 extra lbs.

            If you’re healthy you should feel good about yourself 20 lbs or not.

            I think the take away from this shouldn’t be shame, but encouragment that if something is making you unhappy you CAN do something about it. or not!

            You can choose, but here it worked for Lauren, and we should support her and encourage her to truly make this a permanent lifestyle change.

          • Kate

            I agree. It’s a sad day when you read a story with the same narrative on APW as one they just had in Brides. “I felt bad about myself, but then I joined a diet program and now I’m healthy!!!”

            The thing is, accepting your body as it is RIGHT NOW is so vastly countercultural and difficult. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from following the fat-o-sphere, it’s that it’s a long, long, hard, hard process with many steps of “I felt bad about myself, but then I joined a [lifestyle change] and now I’m healthy!” along the way.

            So I believe that this is where Lauren’s at, and it’s brave of her to talk about it, even if it’s not the radical message we might hope to hear.

          • http://betterinrealife.com Lauren

            Just to be really, really clear. There is no weight number given in this post. Wherever I feel the best physically is where I am. There is no ideal. This was about establishing a lifestyle after a gut check and some outside guidance, this was not about getting down to my “perfect” size. This has nothing to do about a number or a judgement on body shape.

          • Class of 1980

            Zoe,

            Look, I’ve been there. I think you need to divide this issue in your mind.

            Your value as a person stays the same, regardless of what you currently weigh. Your value does not rise or fall according to the number on the scale.

            Look at weight as just one of many elements of health. It’s not the only one. Balancing everything required for good health isn’t that easy for most of us.

            It’s a challenge to consistently get enough sleep, exercise, and all the right kinds of food every single day in addition to everything else we do and the stress of modern schedules.

            And as you said, there is a wide range of healthy weight for different people. Plus, there is no such thing as losing weight “once and for all”. And boy, don’t I know it!

            Love yourself and just do the best you can in the present day. That’s all you can do.

        • Amanda

          I do not think at all the subtext is you deserve to be happy when you are thin, and I do not believe it was meant this way at all. On the contrary, the way I understood , it is more about having a healthy lifestyle and being comfortable with yourself. There are all kinds of different body “structures”…. which does not mean you should feel that you suck…

        • Rachel

          To me the subtext of Lauren’s message was not that you deserve to be happy when you’re thin, but rather that you deserve to be happy in your body. As someone who used to be morbidly obese, and who is now still overweight, but a lot less overweight than I used to be, I can say with complete confidence that what changed, and what allowed me to finally start to make changes that worked, and that LASTED, was learning to respect my body first. As long as I held onto the attitude that I didn’t deserve to be fully happy with myself until I lost 80lbs, I could NOT successfully lose the weight, or keep it off.

          To me, it’s a taboo for someone to say they’re happier when they’re thinner, but I give Lauren props for more or less saying that. Most importantly, she’s not saying she’s happier because she’s a size ___ and that’s the magic number, she’s happier with her body because she can run up a flight of stairs without feeling winded, because her body allows her to do the things she wants to do without hurting, or feeling awful, which is an incredible freedom that everybody should have a right to experience.

          I’ve read before that people who are truly happy with their bodies will take care of their bodies, and that means they will neither overeat and deny their body exercise, nor starve themselves or overwork themselves. I think there’s truth in that. Medical conditions that prevent it aside, most people will settle to a happy, healthy weight once they’ve reached a point where they’re TRULY happy with themselves.

          I’m not sure how you’re interpreting Lauren’s post saying that you should be happy at the weight where you feel healthiest to mean that there’s something wrong with your weight if your BMI or some arbitrary calculator says you’re 20 lbs overweight. If you say you feel really healthy and fabulous, then who’s telling you you’re 20 lbs ‘overweight’? I didn’t see anything in Lauren’s post saying that you must fit into a certain number range on the scale before you can qualify as healthy.

          • Zoe

            Lauren has the right to say she feels happier when she’s thinner. That’s her right, and I’m happy she’s happy.

            Here’s where I get the subtext:

            – the body hating tone of the “muffin-top” comment. Guess what, I have a muffin top. Should I feel gross about it?
            – the message that extra weight = gross = not sexy (eating doritos)

            And please, let me reiterate that Lauren should not feel bad about telling her story. I’m really and truly glad she’s happy, and think she rocks and seems like someone I’d be wicked happy to know. This is just MY comment on how this made ME feel. (what can I say, apparently I’m a 5 year old and everything is about me today :)

          • Rachel

            Sorry Zoe – I have to reply above you because there’s no more reply button underneath your comment!

            Regarding the muffin top – wasn’t this post about Lauren’s struggles with hating her body? Isn’t it extremely relevant for her to give examples of the types of self-loathing she was engaging in? Lauren is telling a story about her own struggles, and how she overcame them. She is not saying ‘if you have a muffin top, you better join weight watchers’, but rather saying that the muffin top was a problem for HER, a physical manifestation of the problems she was having with her body. She’s not saying that she took charge and re-joined Weight Watchers because she had a muffin top, she’s saying she took charge and joined Weight Watchers because she and her fiance talked about what was important to them for a healthy future, and took the necessary steps together to ensure they reached that goal.

            I feel pretty gross and unsexy after eating a whole bag of Doritos too. It’s not like that bag of Doritos instantly appears on my thighs and makes me 5lbs heavier, so it’s not an aesthetic thing, but rather that gorging on junk food makes my stomach churn, and I can practically feel it dragging through my arteries. I feel gross and lethargic and flat out awful for hours afterwards, and yes, I do feel guilty, largely because I just did something gross to my poor body, and now I’m suffering as a result.

            I’m currently just shy of 200lbs. I am happy, and have absolutely zero qualms with my body esthetically. I have a muffin-top, I have stretch marks, and I have cellulite. Despite all this, I’m perfectly content strutting around my apartment naked and dancing with my jiggly bits in the mirror. Like Meg, this is likely a by-product of growing up without much exposure to television or popular culture. That all being said, I need to lose weight. I live in a second-floor walk-up apartment, and walking up those stairs leaves me out of breath. Walking to work leaves my knees aching from the extra weight and impact they’re trying to support. When my friends want to play a game of pickup soccer or go for a run, I can’t keep up. THIS is what defines me as overweight, not my muffin top. If in losing the last of the weight, I also lose my muffin top, cool – I’m not particularly attached to it. But I’m not going to define success by whether or not that muffin top is gone, but rather by how I feel when I get to the top of the stairs – and frankly this is exactly the message I got from Lauren’s post.

          • meg

            I think this is right. I like that Lauren found a place where she was able to let go of worrying about what her weight WAS, and feel happy about the body she was in. To me, that’s what’s important.

            Making changes to your life to make you feel healthy in your body is a huge deal, and for her Weight Watchers helped. I’ve never done a diet program in my life, but the points in my life where I was able to feel in control of my body again (like putting on weight after a long illness that left me scarily underweight and unwell), were points where I was able to grasp that what’s important about our bodies is how we feel in them, not how we look in them. And like Lauren says, being around for a long time.

        • http://hitchdied.wordpress.com Robin HitchDied

          I want to exactly! the part of your comment about how no one deserves to feel bad about their bodies regardless of weight, but not the part about Lauren’s message being “you deserve to be happy when you’re thin.” This was a very personal story, and all things considered it was pretty body-positive for a “losing weight made me feel better” post. And I don’t think we should refuse to write/read those posts. Because you know what? Losing weight can make you feel better. But the key is, it can also make you miserable, and many people’s true path to happiness is learning to accept and love the weight they are now. I hope that as fat acceptance becomes more mainstream this type of story isn’t seen as an affront to body positivity, even though I completely agree with Kate’s comment below that this post is part of the narrative fat acceptance is trying to get past.

          • Zoe

            I know Lauren would never say that, nor did she mean to say it. I’m just replying with how it sounded to me. With all of the weight shame in our society, (which Lauren is obviously not responsible for), this felt TO ME like another lose weight to get “healthy” (but you’ll also be thin and then you can stop worrying about your weight and be HAPPY!)

          • http://hitchdied.wordpress.com Robin HitchDied

            Zoe, I don’t mean to pile on. I totally understand where you are coming from.

        • Jane

          I love Lauren’s message, and I really don’t think it was about being thin or not. She seems happy because she’s finally found something that works for her to feel good in her body (and that is individual for all of us, whether we’re thin or not), and the beautiful thing about it is that she did it together as a joint effort with her spouse.

    • http://meaghantothemax.wordpress.com Meaghan

      Uh, no! There’s so much fat shaming in the media that we seem to have lost sight of the fact that thin does not equal healthy. I understand the discomfort that can come with weight gain, but if you’re active and eating healthy and your body keeps returning to a certain point, it might just be the weight you’re supposed to be.

      At least you probably have rockin’ curves! I will forever have the svelte physique of a 12 year old boy.

      • Kate

        I’m exactly-ing your first paragraph. I’d wager your svelte physique is pretty rockin’ too : )

      • Rachel T.

        Yes thank you! Now, I’m not going to say I don’t have body image issues. I am well into the morbidly obese weight range, and I know for my health and for my life, I have to make some necessary changes. However, as I was gaining weight over the last 10 years, my father always gave me such a hard time about it. He was always sure my cholesterol must be SO high and that my blood pressure is off the charts, and that at any moment, I’m going to keel over and die from the extra weight. Much to his frustration, when I went to the doctor this year and had blood tests to check everything, I came back perfectly healthy on that paper. Now, I’m not saying carrying around 100 extra lbs is perfectly healthy, but I am saying that for all things that tell us if someone is ill or not, I came back in normal range. My father, a perfect weighted, exercises every day, and eats nutritiously guy, he has high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It’s not always about weight!

        Somewhere along the lines in this society we equated thin with beautiful and healthy and overweight with ugly and unhealthy. They just don’t always have to go hand in hand. There’s a difference between needing to take better care of my body and feeling like I’m “undeserving of happiness” because of the number on my scale. I think what we need to learn is we can love ourselves even if we need to take better care of ourselves. We still DESERVE love and happiness even if we need to take better care of our bodies. The number on the scale does not have anything to do with how deserving we are of love and care.

        Now if only I could remember that in my moments of anxiety and breaking down over being morbidly obese in a wedding dress walking down the aisle while everyone is looking at me… *sigh* APW, keep me sane.

        • http://metamorprose.wordpress.com Stephanova

          I worried about how I would look to other people– mainly people on my husbands side of the family who I hadn’t met yet. It was silly for me to worry. I felt utterly loved on my wedding day and you will too– and your body will be included in that love.

        • http://amidlifeofprivilege.blogspot.com LPC

          But you know, if your health is good, how is your obesity “morbid?”

          • Rachel T.

            Well the morbid thing comes from the BMI rating, but we’ve already established in other places what hogwash that is anyway.

    • Sarah

      It’s not because you suck Zoe! It’s probably for all sorts of reasons that I don’t understand, but please don’t believe that you suck.

    • Kate

      I think that it is unfair to say that it is easy not to be tormented by your body when you are thin, because who is to say what the correct definition of thin is? Some of the people I have known to be the most tormented by their bodies are some of the thinnest people I have known, and it is heartbreaking to watch anyone go through that whatever their size.

      I think that the point is really to figure out what will make you happy with yourself, whether it be losing weight, getting in shape, eating healthier food etc. There isn’t just one way or shape that one has to look and it certainly doesn’t have to be what society thinks is thin.

      • Jane

        I completely agree. I’ve agonized over my body more times than I would care to admit, and I think most people would label me as thin. I think we all have to figure out a way to make friends with our body, and I really admire Lauren’s way of doing it with someone she loves!

      • meg

        Agreed. What I liked about Lauren’s post is that it was about coming to terms with the fact that it wasn’t about weight, it was about finding a way to love herself and feel good in her skin (and ladies, Lauren is curvy, these pictures don’t do that justice.)

        I’ve known thin ladies who were the most tormented people in their bodies that I’ve ever met, and big ladies who REALLY got it. So size is totally not the point. Which is, you know, is the point of this post for me. Lauren started it worrying about muffin tops (bad messaging), and by the end got to the point where she realized it was about how she felt in her body (good messaging).

    • http://oversized-cliches.blogspot.com Zan

      Lauren’s post was not about “you only deserve to be happy when you’re thin”. C’mon, this is Lauren we’re talking about!

      Lauren was acknowledging how there’s a lot of forces out there telling you that you have to make a huge life change (read: lose weight) for a wedding and her message was, “Hey, you have to make a huge life change when you *Get Married* so let’s think about what that means for us, and it doesn’t mean being a g*ddamned size 0.”

      For Lauren and Kamel it meant, “Let’s do these things that make us feel healthier because hopefully that will mean we can be around for a long time doing things that we love and loving eachother.” Did Lauren lose weight along the way? Sure. Was that the point of the whole dang thing? No!

      My husband is skinny as a rail and so am I. My husband also used to eat five giant bags of candy a day and nary a vegetable crossed his path. Skinny can be unhealthy too. I only weigh 105 pounds but I was winded going up the stairs the other day because my sedentary grad-school lifestyle has really started to wear on me. This was a post about “being able to chase my kids around one day, about healthy bones and teeth, about reducing our risk for diabetes (yes, it runs in the family) and heart disease (that one too). It’s a choice about awareness that we’re making together.”

      This was not about size! Also in the time it took me to compose this Rachel wrote a comment that is “exactly!”

    • http://forcause.wordpress.com Sandy

      I have to admit that I felt the same way about this post as Zoe. Here’s the thing about “fat talk,” in any form: it’s damaging. Not to everybody, of course, and I’m sure plenty of people will be inspired by this post. And even though Lauren went out of her way to say that her lifestyle change was not about image, but health and self-esteem, it still reads like she signed up for weight watchers, started thinking about calories and exercising, and lived happily ever.

      My now-husband and I did the same thing in the months before our wedding. We didn’t go on weight watchers, but we started limiting our portion sizes, eating healthy food, cutting out the crap, and exercising. We felt great (and thin!) for months. Being so health and food-conscious triggered something crazy in me (something that I think is easily triggered in all women), and when I couldn’t sustain the healthy lifestyle to the same degree anymore (because restricting food is almost always unsustainable), I started to feel like sh*t. For months and months, I couldn’t eat or think right. My self-worth was too tied up with healthy eating and exercise. Me, the girl who’d spent her entire life oblivious to body shame.

      I still haven’t found the balance between physical health, mental health, and happiness and Lauren is definitely onto something in suggesting that they’re related. I just worry when the answer involves Weight Watchers and I worry for the women (like me) who will look to this post and say why can’t/couldn’t I do that?

      • http://forcause.wordpress.com Sandy

        Edit: I shouldn’t have said “all women,” but a “a lot of women” in the 2nd paragraph of my comment.

      • carrie

        “Why can’t/couldn’t I do that?” I think that feeling is hazard of almost every post on a lot of blogs, and especially APW because most of us want fantastic weddings. “Fantastic” has a lot of different meanings, but still. I know for me I wonder if my wedding or my attitude would be “cool” enough for APW – and I mean that as a compliment b/c I think the community, the team, etc. are wonderful. But more to the point – I think this post is a hot button issue because there are so many emotions and societal pressures dealing with weight. There always have been and there likely always will be. So it’s up to us to figure out how to make peace with it.

        I have struggled with my weight my entire life. I have been close to 300 lbs and now I am nearly 200 and for me, that’s smokin’ hot. I have been Lauren, I have been Zoe, and I have been and am in a lot ways you, Sandy. (Of course this is based on the very limited information in these comments, I obviously don’t your lives, but I absolutely relate to what’s been written.) I hate the way I obsess about my weight, about my muffin top – seriously, my stomach has an ass. Above where your pants waistline? There’s an ass. But I’m the only one who has control over it.

        I took from Lauren’s post that they eat healthier and subsequently lost weight in order to live longer lives together, to reduce the risk of disease, and what I can only assume, be around for their children as long as they can. I never got the impression that b/c they are thinner, they are happier. I got the impression they were happier because they took control of something that previously had control over them. I also really believe that this will be a lifelong “struggle” for everyone.

        I dunno…I feel like I’m babbling now. I just wanted to say that I think the biggest takeaway from this post should be to take control of the thing that has control over you. And if you don’t want to? That’s okay too. I KNOW there are stories of women who aren’t traditionally thin but who are healthy and exercise and most importantly, they’re happy. And isn’t that where we mostly want to be, is happy?

        • Rachel

          This: “I got the impression they were happier because they took control of something that previously had control over them.” beautifully and succinctly sums up exactly what I was trying to say in way more words up above.

        • http://betterinrealife.com Lauren

          I am SO PROUD of this comment. Perhaps you wrote this better than I ever could.

        • http://ladyoftheforest.blogspot.com Blind Irish Pirate

          I have to agree here – I won’t lie, I was initially a little put off, for all of the reasons that Zoe et. al. are discussing above. Alarm bells were going off in my head – Oh God, has APW cracked? When is the BIP-directed guilt coming into play? Weight & numbers are such a sensitive subject, and when you add the way you FEEL into the equation it can be very frustrating. But truly, your insight into taking control together is important and perhaps overshadowed by the sensitivity to the whole topic, so thank you for that reminder.

        • Carreg

          But I suppose what troubles me is, how do you know when you’re in control?

          Like Meg, I was brought up without a telly (woot!) so I don’t really worry about my weight. But then, what if I would be a bit healthier, and live longer, if I ate a bit less and exercised a bit more? In a way, that would be taking control of something which I’ve mostly left to run itself. But then, on the other hand, what if I had a similar experience to Sandy, and found suddenly I had all these brand new worries, and worse, had a skewed idea of what makes me a worthwhile person?

          When there is a lot of social pressure to do something, and then you become convinced that for reasons of your own you need to do it, how do you know you are doing it for your own reasons and not because of the social pressure?

          • http://amidlifeofprivilege.blogspot.com LPC

            You never do. You just decide to give yourself the benefit of the doubt.

    • Paranoid Libra

      Zoe, it sounds like instead of diet plans, you need to talk to a therapist who deals with body images and eating disorders. You have such a negative body image to take this post as thin=happy and not being healthy=happy.

      And maybe as others said it’s the weight you are supposed to be. I had a professor in college who said she was healthier at a heavier weight, a weight considered overweight for health reasons for most others. When did lose the 20 lbs on several occassions she got sick a lot more as in every cold that came around she caught no matter how little exposure she had to it. The heavier weight was healthier. Maybe that weight is in reality your healthy weight. If you can easily maintain it and can go upstairs without being winded and don’t get every bug going around maybe it’s you.

      And also a lot about how you fit into the clothes you wear can help. I had on a sweater yesterday that made me confident as hell even though my bmi is nearly at obese levels. My issue with weight stems from the maternal line of guilt and i have learned i need to ignore it. I am eating healthy and working out and frustrated I can’t lose the 60 lbs i put on after college, but i realized its cuz of stress and not sleeping. I’ve been able to maintain though instead of further gaining and i’m ok with that. I just need to learn what a bedtime is again and maybe i can be on my way to an even healthier me since i am happy now…and do love my curves.

      • http://realizingself.wordpress.com Krista

        I think the BMI chart is ridiculous and outdated. When my boyfriend does his BMI, it shows him as obese. Yes, he is a bigger guy, but the majority of it is muscle mass. The BMI chart doesn’t take into account body composition. My BMI shows me in the healthy range, but my body doesn’t feel healthy. I have no muscle mass even though I’m thin, and I’m cold all the time.

        • Paranoid Libra

          i know the bmi index can be crap, but if you don’t do anything that physical it could be a good place to start. I know in my case it’s not cuz im ripped as hell. I think some fat has begun to turn to muscle but i only started working out a few months ago.

          And to add to my previous novel, a therapist can be good for anyone with a negative body image or anyone dealin with any kind of stress. I need to find one now kn adult life since i can’t use the college’s anymore.

        • Nataliah

          Taking the BMI aside, I also get so frustrated by the double standard that applies to men and women in this space. We all accept without question that some men are naturall bigger than others, I mean no one thinks it a prblem that the forwards in a football team are massively more stocky than the backs who are wirey and fast (I’m Australian so insert apprioriate sporting positions). Yet for women we’re also supposed to be thin, nothing else is acceptable. Personally I come from a family of big strong stock muscly men and ou know what, I am too. When I work out I can lift heavier weights than the little wirey girls, but they run faster than me. We’re both healthy… However I have to explain that to people for them to ‘get’ it and ebven then I am sure they still think I’m full off crap because I can’t possibly be healthy if I’m not thin.

          As for Lauren’s post, I’m glad she told her story, but will behonest, my natural response was one of cynicism cause 20lb aint nothin to me… but that’s totally my problem not hers…

      • http://forcause.wordpress.com Sandy

        “You have such a negative body image to take this post as thin=happy and not being healthy=happy”

        It seems like a lot of people are telling those of us with concerns how we *should* receive Lauren’s post? There are lots of positive things to take away from the post, but there are also some things that are dangerous triggers to people who struggle with body image (and I’d be willing to bet there are a lot of us). I think that we should be able to speak these things without being told to go to a therapist (not to knock therapy! I’m sure it could help me and others!).

        The thing is, when we tell our stories on APW, the point is to share our story, not to shame others. But talking about how you solved your weight issues is a lot different than talking about how you made wedding- and family- related decisions that worked for you. Because just TALKING about diet, exercise, and losing weight like it’s the answer can wreak havoc on the mind of a disordered eater.

        I don’t think Lauren shouldn’t have shared her story. I’m glad she did. But I’m also very glad to hear from the commenters who didn’t love it because it helps undo some of the shame that springs so naturally from body and fat talk.

        • Paranoid Libra

          “Because just TALKING about diet, exercise, and losing weight like it’s the answer can wreak havoc on the mind of a disordered eater.”

          Which is why I suggest for people who have such a negative image to go to someone who deals with eating disorders should see someone who deals with them specifically. There is a lot of things that trigger them and so many different ways in handling them. Pretending a problem isn’t there won’t solve it and trained professionals can help a person figure out their coping mechanisms since weight is constantly discussed in this day and age. I know some people can never fully get over it and will need to use a way to cope all their lives and some people will never get over it or try to cope and other will be able to move on.

          I want everyone to be able to get over it in a perfect world and therapy helps many. I’m sorry therapy seems to be such a negative thing for you Sandy.

          So many people won’t talk to someone but try to deal with it on their own and can’t figure out why they can’t get over it which adds a lot of added stress to others lives.

        • Sarah

          Sandy, it seems to me the reason “just TALKING” can wreak havoc is becuase it’s NEVER discussed in a non-shaming way. 99% of what you see/hear is negative and fat-phobic. So then, when ANY post comes up that discusses body issues, people clam up and are immediately offended.

          If this was part of mainstream discussion, we might be able to have an open conversation regarding body image. But as it is, people immediately “choose sides.” It becomes an “us against them” situation, and that accomplishes NOTHING.

          Yes, it’s a sensitive topic. Isn’t that one of the things we love about APW? That we can take a sensitive topic and have adult conversation about it? In the last month ALONE we’ve had talk about death and miscarrage. And we had respectful conversations that, yes, rubbed up against comfort zones and danger zones, and some of us felt VERY deeply. But we had the discussion. Why should this topic be any different?

          I think the issue here is the title of the piece. It says it’s about weight, when really? It’s about insecurity. Lauren’s insecurity was her weight … and she tells us here how she managed to banish it. It’s not “how I managed to lose weight” it’s “how I managed to stop worrying about it”.

          If the post was called “The Insecurity Diaries” would we be having these same issues?

          • http://forcause.wordpress.com Sandy

            To be clear, I absolutely agree that we should be talking about this. I think Lauren should talk about it. I just want to hear the responses and criticisms, as well.

          • meg

            Mmm… well said, Sarah. One of the things I hate every time body image comes up on APW is the us-against-them phenomenon. It happened in past (wonderful) posts, and it’s happening here too obviously. We have to allow people to tell their stories and really LISTEN, and get that they are talking about THEM, not about us. It’s too easy to jump to the, “You’re shaming me! You’re telling me what to do!” place, when really Lauren is just telling us about what worked and changed things in her life.

            This post doesn’t make me want to run out and joint weight watchers, but it does make me THRILLED that Lauren was finally about to battle past a huge chunk of insecurity that was holding her back. And you’re right, it probably should have been called The Insecurity Diaries.

        • JEM

          Sandy- Hands down, best comment in the entire thread.

        • C

          This, exactly. I got the same impression as the first commenter in this thread, and even though she says that she KNOWS that’s not the point, that’s what she got. And that’s what I got. And more people explaining what the real meaning was (as if it didn’t come through well enough the first time?) is not going to change the message that I read into it.

          I don’t think that what Lauren said is in any way reflective of me, or that she’s commenting on me in any way. But her story trips something that brings up this complicated relationship with food and exercise and weight.

    • Starling

      It helped me when I realized that it wasn’t my body tormenting me. My body was doing its happy body thing, just like Lauren’s and my size-2 sister’s and everyone else’s. It was the value judgments of a bunch of complete strangers. Once I really got that, I could get mad at the right target, and that target was not. my. body.

      So: it rocks that Lauren is in a good place with her body and feels healthy. But:

      It sucks that the WIC made her feel bad.

      It sucks that we as women hate our bodies because Tucker Max and a bunch of his bestest buddies wouldn’t find us appropriately decorative in a public space.

      It really sucks that we don’t even notice how wrong it is that Tucker Max et al should consider our role in a public space as a primarily decorative one.

      It really sucks that healthy people feel ashamed because they are fat.
      Or “fat”: for some reason, almost all of us feel shamed by our bodies.

      It really sucks that unhealthy people should have to bear the burden of blame and animosity, as well as the burden of ill health. They aren’t enjoying it, and they aren’t doing it because they are intransigent, or lazy.

      It really sucks that sick people who are thin are treated as if their ailments don’t really count.

      Talking about weight and expectation is a big dose of shame for almost all of us, and it is wrong that our bodies are so profoundly shamed by our culture.

    • Barbaloot

      I’ve read this whole series of comments, and also added my own very long comment somewhere at the end of all the comments… I just have to say that I feel for you Zoe, and for every woman (and man!) who is held back from being healthy by our own misconceptions and social pressures about health! I also want to emphasize that I TOTALLY GET what Lauren’s point was about health, and I think Zoe got the point too! Perhaps what we are trying to point out is that Lauren’s story is specific to her, and there are also a lot of pieces to her story that sound a whole lot like the “lose weight to be healthy” argument that is often used to justify what is actually an emotional need to lose weight for aesthetic reasons. I love the point Lauren is making at the heart of her post – I guess I just think the point could have been made better, and without so many triggers for those of us who are still struggling. Also, it is difficult to miss the fact that Lauren looks skinny and AWESOME in the photos on the post! I think it would be worthwhile to feature a post written by a “plus sized” (I hate that term, but don’t know what else to use…) woman who considers herself healthy, writing about her own journey to health. Maybe it involved losing some weight, but maybe it just involved getting healthy. I’d love to write this post myself, but I feel like I’m in the middle of my journey to health, and I think it would be more beneficial to have someone’s success story rather than the messiness of the journey itself. That being said, if nobody has done this by the time I feel I’ve reached that point of “success,” you can count on me writing such a post!

      • http://love-vs.blogspot.com Vilija

        I’m confused – because you look at Lauren’s pictures and she appears skinny how is her struggle different? Didn’t she get healthy? Is healthy different for a perceived skinny girl vs. what you deemed “plus sized”? How would these posts be different? Would you react differently if the same post was accompanied by photos of a “plus sized” woman instead of Lauren? Would the health or the overall outcome in the discussions be different?

        That would be an interesting social experiment. How would our perceptions change with different photographs, or without a visual image of the author? In the post there are no numbers or sizes, no height to gauge our author by. This is one woman’s journey. Are we put off because we perceive her to be thin?

        • Barbaloot

          I actually do think that I would have reacted differently had I seen photos of what I might consider “plus-sized” women… Which is why I said somewhere on here that I think Lauren’s post would have been more effective in making its point if there hadn’t been any photos. This has nothing to do with Lauren’s body – she’s gorgeous! It’s just that it’s all too easy to judge each other and ourselves visually when there are photos accompanying a discussion about body issues, health, and weight loss. Lots of other issues would still have come up around Lauren’s post, but at least nobody would have been talking about how she looks!

    • sarahfina

      I totally agree. Posts like this upset me because I have the same thoughts – well, that’s great that *you* were able to start eating healthier, that *you* started cooking at home – but what if you tried and failed? Or you can’t for whatever reason? What if depression makes it hard for you to exercise and eat right? I’d be more interested in hearing about how to accept your body when you’re *not* at your ideal weight.

      I’m not super overweight but I have gone from a size 6 to a size 9/10 since I met my FH. I don’t like to look at pictures of myself. When I was a 6 I NEVER thought about my body. But now that I’ve gained weight, it’s impossible not to. These kinds of issues effect every woman who gets married with a different body than the one she got engaged with or had in college.

      Hearing about how easy it was for someone to get healthy and lose weight is difficult if you haven’t been able to get there yourself yet.

  • http://www.theweddingschedulizer.com/ Holly

    I agree with you Lauren, it is a lot easier to keep on track when you’re doing it together. Especially when you live together as we do, I love that I’m not doing it alone, and that we’re each accountable to each other for our lifestyles. When one of us has a bad moment, the other is there to jolly along. Plus it is so useful to have a bit of solidarity in the fridge – I actually have no self control and if it’s in the house, I will eat it. So agreeing that we just will not buy certain foods is incredibly helpful and and although he doesn’t really need to from a losing weight point of view, it really helps me that we’re doing it together. Team work!

  • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

    Yeah, that’s a real special moment when you have to keep the button undone and wear a big sweatshirt because your muffin top has finally said “Enough!”

    Oh my God, yes, I’ve had those days. Ugh. I remember one specifically and I was so upset I wanted to cry. I had spent the previous summer working at a funnel cake stand for 55+ hours a week. I came home covered in donut batter (yes, donut batter – that’s what is used to make funnel cakes) and powdered sugar, with grease permeating out of my pores. I couldn’t stand the sight of food. I lived on HFCS ice pops and coffee that summer. Needless to say, I dropped about 10 lbs.

    This, of course, was an unsustainable weight. I went back to school and started going out 3-4 nights a week and coming home and ordering a Dominoes 5-spot – medium 1 topping pizza for $5! That was dinner for 2 nights! Or dinner 1 night and lunch for 2 days! For $5! Way better than the gross cafeteria! Yeah, right.

    I gained back that 10 lbs plus easily 20 more. And I had that day, where my jeans just wouldn’t button. And I wanted to sob, because I had no idea how to fix what I had done.

    Anyway, I fluctuated for the rest of college and then within a year of graduating I dropped about 15lbs without even trying – crazy what not going out 3-4 nights a week plus actually cooking real food for yourself will do to your body! But I still wasn’t healthy. About three years ago, I “discovered” The FIRM (my mom had been doing their workouts for years, and I knew they were the only thing that worked for her, and buying some DVDs and some weights was cheaper than a gym membership). I did it to just get a little healthier and be more in shape. My now-husband is into eating whole foods from fresh ingredients rather than crap out of a box, so between these two things I really dropped weight, in a GOOD way, not in a “I can’t look at food because I stink of grease” way.

    And then I tried on my wedding dress.

    I had recently upped weights, and my arms were finally, FINALLY showing definition, as was my back. My clothes were fitting differently again, but because I had gained quite a bit of muscle and was (still am) in really great shape. Except now my dress needed to be let out a half an inch or so. No big deal, right? I wasn’t bothered by it.

    “Are you planning to lose weight before your wedding?”
    WHAT?
    “Um, no.”
    “Well, most girls do, you know. You would only need to lose 7 or 8 pounds.”
    I almost flew into a rage. My mother said she thought I was going to lunge at her.
    “That’s not going to happen, so can you just let the dress out?”
    “Well, I just don’t want it to be too big on you if you do …”
    WTF? Do you not listen?

    Here I am, in the best shape of my life, eating super healthy, and it’s still not f*%$ing good enough? What is wrong with this picture?

    OK, this comment is long enough. Great post, Lauren! Extremely inspiring. :)

    • Amy

      I feel like there should be a big memo given to all brides before they go to their first fitting along the lines of ‘if your seamstress, who is being paid to alter your dress, refuses to do so and instead tells you to lose weight, you should (politely) shame them into doing the job you are paying them to do’.
      I mean, can you imagine if you walked into your final florist meeting and they passive aggressively suggested that you should come in the day before the wedding to arrange flowers because that’s what the really dedicated brides do? No, right? Because you’re paying them for that service, so they do it and don’t give you grief about it.
      Gah. Sorry – I’ve heard too many horror stories about seamstresses and it makes me stabby.

      • Sarah

        TRUTH.

        Mine kept trying to get me to allow her to pad the top of the dress so I’d “look more like a woman.” Um, seriously?! Thanks for making me feel like my body isn’t good enough.

        Then, THEN! She altered it down too small. And said “well, I assumed you were going to corset.” WTF?! First I’m too small, then I’m too big, and in neither case am I good enough? GAH!

        I warn people now. Every. Single. Time. You have to be prepared for stuff like that, or it’s going to kill you. ::sighs::

        • Carreg

          “Mine kept trying to get me to allow her to pad the top of the dress so I’d “look more like a woman.””

          No! Oh my god. Why do people think it’s remotely acceptable to suggest that? They deserve a reply that involves the word that Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt is now on his way to becoming rhyming slang for.

        • http://www.shinyprettybits.com kc

          My seamstress altered my dress down too small. She told me all brides lose weight before their wedding! Uh, no.

          • rebeccajean

            I’m convinced that most alterations departments will do whatever they can to make sure you need to make use of them. I was once in picking out a dress I’d wear as MOH for my best friend’s wedding. It just so happened that the sample dress fit me absolutely PERFECTLY. If I got the same size as the sample, I wouldn’t need it to be altered AT ALL. So they tried to convince me to order a size up. Because “the sample has been tried on a lot and is more stretched out than a new dress would be”. Luckily I’m not an idiot — I ignored their advice and avoided needing any work done on the dress. :P

          • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

            This is what mine did, too, but in fairness she did it so the chest would fit properly (I am a 36A), and letting it out less than an inch in the waist is a lot less complicated than trying to size down the bust.

            She put pads/cups in mine, too, but I was OK with that as I couldn’t wear a bra with the dress, so it gave me some support.

        • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

          I had major issues with a bridesmaid’s dress for a wedding a few years ago. The seamstress kept disparaging my chest (“I’m not sure what you would like me to do about it. Can you make it fit me?” That got the commentary to stop), and then when the dress was finished – wait for it! – it was too big in the chest. One of the other bridesmaids had to safety pin me in the limo on the way to the church. ARGH.

      • Chantelle

        I was with my best friend when she was having her dress fitted and nearly killed the seamstress. She made incredibly rude comments in a very “sweet” way about her losing more weight so that the dress would look “right”. Even a comment along the lines of “well you don’t want to look fat on your wedding day do you? You cna do it, just 10 more lbs” My friend had already lost 25lbs in a very unhealthy dash to the wedding day goal.
        I had a very long conversation with the manager the next day, and the next fitting was a silent one. Maddening.

        Good for you Irisira…although maybe a headline like “Enraged Bride to be Attacks Mouthy Seamstress” would have served as a cautionary tale to the others out there.

        • http://forcause.wordpress.com Sandy

          All this makes me so grateful for my seamstress who, almost-believably, referred to the curvature in my generous hips as “muscles.” I think the more common term is “love handles.” I’m fine with either, but am particularly appreciative that she tried to be tactful.

      • karen

        I worked at a bridal boutique in high school, and the owner always sneered at the brides-to-be, “celery and water.” And then the women would look so sad and embarrassed, or affronted. And I felt guilty for even being there. Looking back, the owner had issues with her own body image and was taking out that pain on her customers. Which makes the whole thing even more depressing.

    • http://justneedthisspace.wordpress.com ddayporter

      this makes me feel really grateful for the korean seamstress i went to who barely spoke english. maybe she made a comment about my needing to lose weight but I didn’t hear it!

      • Heather G.

        hahaha.

      • http://engineerbaker.blogspot.com Caitlin

        I had a little old Russian lady who asked if I was going to gain weight so I’d be curvier :)

    • blk135

      I’ve been a lurker, but never posted before and all I have to say is “Amen, sister!”

      I recently purchased a beautiful used dress online for my wedding that is quite snug in the hip/thigh area (but I can still get it on) and was told to start running by the seamstress or “find a smaller girl” to sell it to. I almost flew at the woman…especially since I’m training for my fifth marathon – Boston. Ummm, I’m a size four and I run 40+ miles a week! Damn near killed her on the spot and then left and cried in my car.

      Thankfully, I have found another recommended seamstress who doesn’t think letting it out an inch or so will be a difficulty, but, I swear, that woman cut pretty deep even though I know it shouldn’t get to me.

      • Jamie

        I guess I’ve been pretty lucky. The little old lady who is altering my dress said nothing but nice things to me. She complimented the way my boobs looked in the dress, which made me feel good actually.

        Even when she was talking about other people. A sales girl came in and said “We’ve got a girl out there who wants to know if this dress can be altered. It looks several sizes too small and she doesn’t want to go up a size” My alterations lady said “I wish these girls weren’t so hung up on size. Get the pretty dress in the right size, have it altered if it needs it and you’ll look gorgeous. I’m not sending anyone down the aisle with the tag on the outside of the dress, I’ll cut it out of the dress if she needs me to, I’ll sew a new one in with a different number on it if she wants. No one knows the size unless you tell them.”

    • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

      BTW, after reading that full thread above mine, I feel like this sounds so shallow. Ugh. I guess my (super long winded) point was, the “BRIDES MUST WANT TO BE SKINNY AMIRITE” BS is rampant no matter WHAT size/shape you are, and it’s gross gross GROSS. I have friends that are getting married in Nov. and they are doing exactly what Lauren and Kamel are doing – weight watchers, working out together, etc., not because they were concerned with being thin, but because they wanted to get healthy and do it together. It’s pretty awesome.

    • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

      Irisira, I lost weight when I left school, too. I moved to Barcelona, which doesn’t have like any delivery/take-out food options and had to start cooking for myself, using real food. Being in a city (and having left Detroit’s major car culture), I started walking a lot more and that helped as well. All without meaning to, and due entirely to adapting to my new surroundings. While I was in school I was heavier and less healthy than I know is right for me, and a year after I left I was so much more healthy and was surprised to find that I needed to have all of my pants taken in!

      • http://amidlifeofprivilege.blogspot.com LPC

        These seamstresses need to be rounded up and locked in rooms where all they can eat is either lettuce or Big Macs, because either as a total diet is terrible, for months, and months, and months.

    • http://love-vs.blogspot.com Vilija

      I bought my dress on Craigslist and there was no room to let it out. I was in your same predicament (with the buff back muscles) when I tried on my dress for the first time. I’m a swimmer and my back and lats are not those of a normal girl. There was only a 1/4 inch of fabric near the back zipper, so I kicked more in my swimming workouts the month before the wedding. Four girls to made sure it zipped, but that dress didn’t move at all on my wedding day.

  • Jamie

    My fiance and I went on Weight Watchers together too. We realized that we had no idea how to eat healthy. We’ve lost weight, but we didn’t do it for the wedding. We did it to be healthy. We won’t even be at our “goal weights” at the wedding. But our cholesterol levels will be close to their goals, and our hearts will be healthier.

    My grandmother never took care of herself. She took care of everyone else. She passed away last May in part because she never took care of herself, her kids and husband were always more important. I sat with my grandfather as the ICU nurses went through the list of heroic measures they could take and whether or not he wanted them to take them. It broke my heart to sit with him and help to explain some of the terminology. I never want my fiance to have to make decisions like that because I put myself last.

    A few months after that I had a physical where it was revealed that I have high cholesterol. So does everyone in my family. My fiance is prone to this familial hyperlipodemia as well. So we decided we needed to learn how to eat and we needed to start exercising because we wanted to have kids and we needed to live long healthy lives for them and for each other.

    We’re learning how to cook together in this new healthy way. We grocery shop more efficiently now because our meals are better planned. We’re saving money on food too, because we are planning in advance. We feel better.

    • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

      Congratulations on finding a way to be healthy and happy about it! It’s great that you and your partner can do it together and have similar goals (specifically heart health)!

  • Class of 1980

    I definitely don’t remember weight being anywhere near the issue it is now. But part of it (I think) is that a lot of food additives really are causing far more struggles with weight than ever before.

    Hence the “clean food” movement.

    As far as this new trend of making whole TV programs around losing weight for a wedding, I figure it’s part and parcel of the explosion of wedding reality shows on TV. I’m still not sure what that’s all about.

    • Danielle

      Good point about the additives. Obesity in the US has increased over the past 20-30 years, while models certainly seem skinnier than ever.

      I was in Europe and went to get a haircut. While talking to the hairstylist, I mentioned I was from the US.

      “Why are Americans so fat?” she asked me (gotta love the blunt central European way).

      “We eat a lot of fast food and drive cars, don’t walk…” I guessed.

      “You also eat many chemicals in your food,” she said. Europe has much stricter food regulations than we do.

      • Class of 1980

        Oh yes, Europeans would never put up with the crap we have in our food.

        I can definitely say that far more people are overweight now, just by looking around. And it happens at a much younger age now.

        The worst part is that it is NOT all their fault.

        Our food has changed drastically. People have to exercise a lot more vigilance to maintain a certain weight than they ever had to before.

        Some of it is additives and hormones that used to not be common. And then you have the toxic pesticides. Try reading up on the “Dirty Dozen” which is a list of which vegetables are more prone to absorb pesticides. Those are the ones to buy organic.

        I really hate that people feel like they are losing the battle when so much of the battle is being waged AGAINST them in the first place by food producers.

        If you get a chance to watch the documentary “FOOD, INC.”, do yourself a favor and watch it! I know Link TV has aired it.

        • Danielle

          My European friends told me that Europe will not import US poultry because we bleach our chickens to kill bacteria. Ugh…

        • Rachel T.

          I think the best joke I ever heard about American food was when dietitians and scientists realized how dangerous trans fats were and that really NO amount of them was okay for your body. The joke went, when Sweden realized trans fats were so bad for you, the government outlawed them. When Americans had the same realizations, big business hired lawyers. There really is such a huge difference in what we allow in our food verus what other countries do. If dog food contains chemicals, we freak out for our dogs, but when our food does, we shrug it off and continue eating. Perhaps the not caring for ourselves is greater than weight and body image. Maybe it’s in general!

        • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

          I just added Food, Inc to my movie queue. Thanks for the reminder- I have been meaning to watch it.

          • Nicole

            Food Inc is available on Netflix for instant viewing too! Or at least it was last year…

        • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kimberly

          If anyone is interested in food, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Polland is a fantastic read, as well as Fast Food Nation. Really eye-opening stuff about food and the industry . . . I really, really recommend both.

      • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

        Danielle, I lived in Barcelona for 4 years, and now I’ve been in Florence, Italy for about a year and a half… and people in both places have asked me the same question (in mostly the same blunt way. Ha!). I had always guessed that it was because we eat fast food, drive cars, and don’t walk, as well. But now that you (all) mention it, it’s true: the rules about food ingredients over here are SO much more strict. And there are many more fresh food markets and the grocery stores are WAY smaller.
        Just overall food attitudes are different, too. Tonight for dinner, my Spanish partner and I wanted a pasta sauce that was more than just tomato sauce, so we chopped up some vegetables and cooked them in olive oil, then added tomato sauce… when I was in the U.S., I always just bought “chunky style” Ragu/Prego sauce in a jar and dumped that on top of pasta–and I thought that was being more healthy, since it had “vegetables” in it!

        • Danielle

          Hi Kahlia — Yes, love those blunt Europeans (sometimes)!

          I also noticed different attitudes towards food there. For example, many places I visited in southern Europe didn’t have coffee to-go. Why would you carry your coffee away? It’s meant to sit and enjoy leisurely, with company and conversation…

          Yes, their grocery stores ARE smaller. They might not have a million different kinds of [whatever], but what they do have is usually pretty good.

          • Nataliah

            I’ve watched Food Inc and been to the US on holiday. but I’m from Australia, our food industry is pretty awesome in comparison (no offence). We are able to readily access good quality, affordable produce, et we also have a huge obesit issue. So I wonder if it is more about attitudes?

  • http://www.ohdeerio.com Rachelle

    I haven’t lost any weight for the wedding and I absolutely don’t care. I bought a dress that looked great on me how I am and am trying not to feel any pressure. The whole thing is so ridiculous now. Lauren is doing what’s right for her, and I’m doing what’s right for me, and that’s all we can really do.

    • http://www.ohdeerio.com Rachelle

      I just want to clarify, this was not meant to be a rebuttal to the post, but just a comment to say that Lauren is clearly doing what is right for her and that I don’t take that as an attack on what I am doing for myself. Everyone needs to do what is right for them! I was obsessing about food and I needed to stop thinking about it for a while, wedding or no. Lauren needed to be more conscious of her health. There is no one way to be.

    • Jeannine

      I did the same: I had had a very pretty body-con white dress in my closet that I figured I would wear, but when I tried it on, it zipped up but was just too tight for comfort. For about a week, I decided I would go on a weight-loss plan to fit into it loosely, and by the end of that week, I went out and bought a new dress that actually fits me as I am now. No need to add one more stressful obligation to an already-busy time, let alone one that is likely to make me hate myself if I fail.

      • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kimberly

        Same here . . . I ordered my dress bigger than I would’ve ordinarily because I didn’t want to have to fit into my dress. I wanted my dress to fit ME, whatever size I was. (It ended up being a good idea, since I was pretty even-keeled leading up to the wedding, and didn’t lose any weight pre-wedding due to stress.)

    • meg

      Amen to that. I don’t know if Lauren needed to loose weight for her wedding (she’s pretty clear she didn’t think about it) but she was ready for a lifestyle change, which is great. I think that engagement is a time that makes us grab on to what we need. Which is sometimes “shutthefuckup diet talk” and is sometimes “oh, maybe I should just eat ice cream?”

  • Emily

    The best thing my Mum did for me in terms of my body self-esteem, was to never mention any hang-ups she might have had about her body in front of me when I was growing up. Can I encourage us all to to refrain from speaking negatively about our bodies in front of our kids? Heaven knows they’ll get it enough from the media, society and from school.

    • KD

      Amen!

      Sandy mentions “fat talk” above. I think we could all do well for children and each other if we could remove this from our daily conversations.

      Fave quote from a recent Wash post article, “It wasn’t clear whether the women engaged in fat talk because they felt dissatisfied with their bodies or they felt dissatisfied with their bodies because they engaged in fat talk.

  • Carbon Girl

    Wow, this post hit a nerve. I was in great shape before my wedding and felt wonderful about myself but then within 4 months of the wedding I gained 10 pounds that will not go away. No matter what I do. I have exercised so hard I had to take a break because my bad knees were killing me. I gave up alcohol on weekdays which also had the effect of curbing weekend drinking since my tolerance is now low. When I look in the mirror all I see are my new jiggly bits. I wonder is this what aging is like? I am almost 30. My husband and I have always considered our lifestyle healthy (we go out to eat once a week, cook most things from scratch, the only meat we eat is venison and the occasional chicken) but now it is not enough to keep me in shape. My husband is not happy about my new weight obsession and is less then supportive about new lifestyle changes. I really wish I could go back to feeling good about my body.

    • KD

      You’ll get back to feeling great about yourself!

      You are totally on your way. Your husband is right to not obsess. It’s nice to have someone there to give you a reality check.

      Just focus on being healthy (and that means not overdoing exercise or undereating too!) so you and your husband can have as many spry years together as possible!!!

    • http://justneedthisspace.wordpress.com ddayporter

      ugh I know how you feel kind of, I think it might just be the natural aging process and your metabolism could just be slowing down a bit. it stinks! I have always been a fluctuator (word? probably not) but for the past several years it hasn’t varied much within the same 10 pound range – but over the past year I have noticed I have a harder time keeping from the higher end of my normal range, and things I used to be able to eat have a way bigger effect on me. I just try to focus on the “in shape” thing, and when I look in the mirror I force myself to focus on the parts I do like, and work those angles, and keep the other angles out of the picture.

      • SEZ

        I think I’m a fluctuator too! and also almost 30… At any rate, I wonder what would happen if it became the norm to NOT have bathroom scales and full length mirrors in our homes. Aside from initially trying to steal glances in large shop windows and such, perhaps we’d all have an easier time focusing on the way we feel (healthy? tired? sore? in shape?) and less on what we look like and the numbers that we generate when we step onto that infernal appliance?

        So, I guess my point of “I think I’m a fluctuator” is because I don’t actually track those pounds to the number (thank god for not having a silly scale), and I only have my top half bathroom mirror to make sure I won’t scare anyone with my bed-head when I leave the house, and like you DDay I am really trying to focus on that “in shape”-ness regardless of my shape! I do know that my overall feeling of healthy-ness probably swings back and forth depending on a whole array of things like my activity level, what I’ve been eating/drinking (ahem), how I hold myself in whatever I choose to wear each day, oh, and probably PMS too… Can I just say that bloating is NOT fair to slap at women on top of everything else we have to deal with? sheesh.

        • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

          We moved house 8 months before our wedding and the scale itself was too heavy (ha!) to justify the expense of moving it with us. When I got on a scale again a couple of weeks before the wedding (and then again 2 months later), I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was right about where I was the last time I’d checked. And that made me realize that I don’t need or want a scale in my house. I’ve never been one to worry much about the number on it anyway, but even still it’s kind of freeing to just not even wonder.
          We do have one full-length mirror in our apartment, by the door… and that’s how I make sure my shoes look ok with my outfit! ;)

          • meg

            I’ve never let a scale in the house. I always tell David it should be about how you feel (And, erm, fit in your clothes. But that’s mostly because I was too cheap to ever buy a new set of work clothes.)

          • Morgan

            I gauge everything by how well my pants fit. I hate buying new pants, so I find it easier to cut down snacking until the pants are comfortable again. So much easier than a scale.

            No full length mirrors in the house either, now that I think about it…

          • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kimberly

            I’m another non-scale-er. Clothes fit? Great. If not, well . . . dammit.

      • http://beckybopwrites.blogspot.com/ Becky

        Age totally plays a huge role in this. I lost weight in college (at that point it was definitely needed for my health but was mostly motivated by vanity), and I was fortunate in that once I put my mind to it and worked hard, I lost weight relatively easily. Much of it then crept back on, and around the time that I got engaged, I decided I needed to work on eating vegetables and exercising in order to be healthier. I did lose weight in that process, but it wasn’t the primary goal, and it came off much slower than when I was in college. I’m now trying to keep my fluctuations within probably a 5-10 pound range (let’s be honest, my previous fluctuation of 50 lbs was certainly not healthy), but I’m focusing on how I feel and whether or not my clothes fit, not the number on the scale. I just can’t afford to buy new clothes, so I have to find a way to make these ones keep fitting!

        • Kate

          Ack – I so feel you on the clothes thing. I am quite short and so even small fluctuations can have an impact on how my clothes fit. And when I say I need to lose weight and the reaction is “but you look fine” I always say, yes, maybe, but I can’t afford to buy a whole new wardrobe!

        • Class of 1980

          It’s also a good idea to get our thyroids checked. That is a problem with aging and accumulation of toxins.

    • Rachel T.

      I think maybe you should just throw out your scale and go on how you feel! I bet without the scale, you would have never known you gained it. I think we probably always fluctuate depending on salt and water intake, depending on what we eat or how we move. That number on the scale is just so haunting; throw it out!

  • Kathryn

    see, i think you’re saying important things, but all i can focus on is that lovely orange shrug. gimme.

    • http://www.betterinrealife.com Lauren

      Ha! I adore you.

    • Lauren K.

      Same! I totally focused on the orange shrug. Love it.

      • Heather G.

        And this will be the second time I’ve commented on the shrug ;)

        LOVE it.

  • Nicole

    I’ve gotta say I kind of agree with Zoe above. When I read the intro I was expecting an “I realized that I should love my body just the way it is” post, and got a “you shouldn’t lose weight just because you’re getting married, but you SHOULD lose weight because it will make you happy and healthy, and being engaged is kind of the perfect time to do it.”

    The “you should be healthy and happy in your body” message is not a bad one by any means, but I think the intro made it seem like a totally different post than what it is. Because I don’t really see anything about kicking bad body image here, or how to cope with unrealistic WIC expectations, I see someone who sort of made peace with the WIC expectations in a healthy and sane way. WHICH IS GREAT, I want to make that clear, but like others w body image issues the post just made me feel bad about not getting it done.

    I hate to put a comment like this up because A, I know you guys tend to take the comments really personally and sometimes get a little defensive, and I don’t want to hurt anyone, and B, 99% of the time the content on here is great, even if I don’t agree with it, but I really felt like this was a bit of false advertising and wanted to say something. Maybe frame it, instead of kicking WIC expectations, as “committing to getting healthy with your fiance”? I think with that I would have gone in with a totally different mindset and not felt blindsided.

    • Zoe

      Ah Nicole, You said this much better than I did.

      I think mine came out more emotionally and stronger than I meant it, because I’m having a hard time right now. But you articulated what I meant to say perfectly.

    • http://bridezillatobebecky.blogspot.com Becky

      I totally agree!

      I made a decision before I went dress shopping for the first time to try and maintain the weight I am at, not lose or gain, until the wedding. I knew that planning a wedding would be stressful enough without the added stress of meal planning, dieting and obsessively going to the gym.

      I was very surprised by the number of times my FMIL asked me how much weight I planned to use and what size dress I bought. She meant well, but it was hurtful. She’s lucky to have a daughter-in-law who is entirely comfortable with her petite, size 10, curvy body. I may not be skinny, but I am ME and my husband and I both LOVE my body.

      I completely agree that this was not the message I expected from APB. LOVE your body. Do what’s healthy and right for you, physically, mentally and emotionally.

    • carrie

      APW – maybe we need a post like Rachelle’s comment? Because I’m sure there are just as many women feeling like they are who they are and are happy with it, even though it was a struggle to maybe get to happy. But ultimately, our weddings should be about happy, regardless of how you dress it up.

      • Nicole

        I feel like there was a wedding graduate post similar to this, maybe 6 months ago? Will try to find it.

        But I want to make it clear: I think everything that Lauren says is great, and I am ALL FOR being healthy and making a change and, even better, doing so w your partner. My issue was that the intro really set me up for a slap in the face, because it made it seem like a totally different topic. In my head, it became: “How to deal with the awfulness of WIC expectations? Join Weight Watchers!” For those of us really struggling with this, it became the kn*t. Which I don’t think was the intent AT ALL.

        Here is the link: http://apracticalwedding.com/2010/07/a-way-to-weigh-what-you-weigh-when-you-wed/

        • meg

          Though here is the thing, even on that (fabulous) post, comments ended up in exactly the same vein, sort of an us-against-them place. And I hate that we can’t talk about body image without getting to that place.

          This post was about Lauren figuring out how to let go of her insecurities, and realize that her weight didn’t matter, but her health did. In the past we’ve talked about loving your body just the way it is when you get married, and dealing with body dysmorphia during the planning process. Each post tackles one particular angle of body image issues and weddings, but no post can tackle all angles at once. We’ve never run a post on someone loosing weight before, and while I don’t think that was the point of this post, I do think that’s a valid and honest story to tell.

    • http://ladyoftheforest.blogspot.com Blind Irish Pirate

      Ok, I’m being a weirdo commenter – I replied to a response earlier where I referenced warning bells going off in my head: what Nicole wrote is the verbal warning bells.

      I feel like before any protests are silenced, there should be some validation to people who are feeling dismayed. You know, it’s awesome that Lauren & Kamel have taken control over an aspect of their life that controlled them… but I’m not sure how to remove reader’s guilt from surfacing when reading the post like this. I wonder if it’s just the nature of weight in America.

      • http://www.betterinrealife.com Lauren

        This IS about loving me the way I am, and treating my body well while doing it. It isn’t about weight loss. It’s about gaining control over an issue in my life that was tormenting me on a daily basis.

        • http://ladyoftheforest.blogspot.com Blind Irish Pirate

          I hope that people can see that – but because we’re discussing a very emotionally charged (which often leads people feeling defensive), this may really be about that. Because what was controlling you (your feeling and perception of your body image and weight). So you wrestled the bull and grabbed it by the horns, which is commendable. I think all that is being requested is more perspective on how other people do the same thing.

          • http://www.betterinrealife.com Lauren

            This isn’t about other people, this is about me. I would never presume to know how other people handle their own body issues.

            We have lots of personal stories on APW, and I don’t identify with a lot of them. I’ve never really experienced death, or a baby, or losing a baby, or divorce, or being left at the alter. None of that. The way I experience my body issues is not going to be the same as the way other people do, but it will be similar to some and hopefully it gives those who look in the mirror and HATE what they see like, I have so many times for so many years, that there is hope, that you can find peace in whatever way works for you.

            No one and no website can be all things for all people, but we do our best.

          • http://ladyoftheforest.blogspot.com Blind Irish Pirate

            I don’t think anyone is invalidating your experiences or demanding that you be more or less of what you are; at least, I’m not. All I am doing by having commented what I did was that there ARE other sides to this story. And while no website, blog or author can provide a voice, platform or soapbox to encompass every opinion or feeling, APW has the rare quality that it is an open forum, both in post submissions and in intelligent comments. While I in no way am at a point in my life where I can provide an anecdote about the anti-anxiety-associated-to-weight bride/wife, I want to lend my support to those who feel like there is another side of the topic… because there is.

            So I hope that any of the readers who feel dismayed take the opportunity and provide the APW community with other ways of dealing with/overcoming the WIC.

        • http://lilapuppy.blogspot.com Meghan

          Yes, I think that a few people are getting away from the fact that you are writing this ABOUT YOURSELF not about anyone else.

      • meg

        No protests are being silenced! I think the only comment taken down today was a pro-anorexia comment (Um. Yes. Because that kind of thing does come down.)

        But I think you’re right. It’s hard to have any sort of conversation about weight in America without people reading in guilt. God knows, I don’t think that people need to loose weight for their weddings. But Lauren did make some changes that worked for her, and I want her to be able to talk about them without that being a judgement on other, and different, choices.

    • KB

      Like quite a few commenters, I read this post and found it a bit off-putting and couldn’t quite put my finger on why. I’m just chiming in to say that I totally agree with Nicole’s sentiment here: “Maybe frame it, instead of kicking WIC expectations, as “committing to getting healthy with your fiance”? I think with that I would have gone in with a totally different mindset and not felt blindsided.” What was written is great — I just think the issues in the intro are still unaddressed.

      .

      • http://www.kaylaearwood.com Kayla

        I really think the problem is that WIC standards are “you have to loose weight specifically for your wedding no matter what size you were previously or you won’t be pretty. period.” and because Lauren did loose weight before her wedding a lot of people are seeing that as well, she fit into those standards and this is APW and we rail against those standards. But that’s not what happened. Lauren wrote a post about weight and her wedding. She did overcome WIC standards because she took charge of her life and made the choices that were right for her, it just so happened that it she’s engaged during this time which brings about a whole host of other issues. She didn’t fall into the trap of looking a certain way for ONE DAY. Had she not had weight issues, she could have written a post about how she didn’t give in to those standards and how she loves herself exactly the way she is and f*ck being skinny for a dress. And that would have probably gone over great. But she didn’t love herself the way she was. So she changed it. On her terms, doing what was best for her body and this is her story.

        I think American women have it the hardest because, by fashion media, we are told that skinny is good, skinny is pretty. On the other hand, you have agri-industry spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year advertising empty, processed foods that are also CHEAP. That does a lot of serious damage to a girls psyche! But the fact of the matter is that no, skinny does not equal healthy but fat doesn’t either. You may feel great about the way you look but if you’re eating processed foods more than occasionally you’re not healthy. Unfortunately, the way women are taught to deal with this is by hating their bodies, not lobbying congress to stop subsidizing food that is literally killing us. (Sorry for the rant, my family is heavily involved in agriculture and it sickens me to see what corporations + the government are doing to our food supply.)

        This is about Lauren getting healthy, not about her getting skinny because seriously, have you looked at the girl? Most of us would kill to have her body! I think a lot of times when “skinny” people talk about weight issues it throws up the defense card even faster because we feel like if that skinny girl isn’t happy about herself, how the hell am I ever going to be? But that’s just the reality of the situation. This is one story about overcoming body image issues while being put through one of the most rigorous emotional trials society has, engagement, and I applaud her for being open and honest.

        • El

          Just wanted to chime in with a resounding YES! to your point that as women, we are taught to hate ourselves (and often each other) instead of directing energy towards changing the incredibly powerful and oppressive structures in place that contribute to all of this. Agribusiness, lobbyists, the beauty industry (so much money to be made off of our self-hate!), politicians, etc etc. It’s enough to make a girl’s head spin. So thanks for pointing it out.

        • meg

          I’m with you on everything up until the end. I think the idea that we should kill to have Lauren’s body is where red flags go up for me, and where a lot of the problems in the comments seem to be coming from.

          Lauren’s body shouldn’t be an ideal body (and the girl is curvier than she looks in these pictures – a great thing). The point is that we should find a way to be happy in our own skins, not that we should try to fit into someone else’s skin. And Lauren finally did that, which is great.

          And for the record, the people I’ve known who are most unhappy with their bodies? All of them were a size 2 or below. Skinny does not equal happy, and we all should know that.

  • Anon

    Oh, I’m right with you here. My husband has a crazy metabolism and still loves to work out and is athletic. I am/have none of those things…

    We eat together most nights for dinner, but otherwise have our own things when it comes to every other meal and exercise.

    I of course don’t ignore the fact that excercising and eating right is good for things other than focusing on weight. My goal is to be healthy – not thin. For me that means I still hold some extra fat stores and of course I can’t change the shape of the body. I will never have slim hips and it’s great that I can accept that.

    So I have to say I do think there is nothing wrong with the rhetoric of “as long as I’m healthy I don’t care what my weight is”.

    You said: “I’d like it to be “as long as I’m happy, I don’t care what my weight is”. Not everyone is or can be slim, athletic or healthy.”

    I think it can be a slippery slope to say “it’s a-ok to not care about working out or what you eat” because while everyone should love themselves as they are we can’t condone lifestyles that put people at risk for lung and heart diseases and other diseases such as Type II Diabetes.

    It’s not about being slim or athletic. Most anyone can be healthy. Even people in poor physical health can still do their best to make healthy choices.

    *** the original comment this was in response to disappeared?

    • http://quiltonthetracks.posterous.com Margaret M.

      “I think it can be a slippery slope to say “it’s a-ok to not care about working out or what you eat” because while everyone should love themselves as they are we can’t condone lifestyles that put people at risk for lung and heart diseases and other diseases such as Type II Diabetes.”

      Other people’s lifestyles are not your business to condone or not condone. Sorry.

      (This is in response to the comment by Anon above mine, I must not have hit the right reply button.)

      • Manya

        YES. SO TRUE for adults.
        I do think as parents we have a responsibility to help our kids be active and healthy. But the emphasis is on active and healthy, not SLIM.

        • http://quiltonthetracks.posterous.com Margaret M.

          In response to Manya, above (reply seems kind of borked today): Ellyn Satter is a rare voice of sanity on this front, I think, particularly when it comes to children. She lays out a division of responsibilities when it comes to children and adults and eating. Highly recommend her.

      • http://redheadreports.blogspot.com Ali @ Redhead Reports

        @ Margaret M. While I get what you’re saying, I don’t competely agree with you.

        We live in a society where health costs are astronomical. If everyone around us lives a lifestyle of increased risk for disease, those costs have to be paid for from somewhere. Taxes and health insurance premiums are hefty enough without us having to subsidize hospital bills for other people’s irresponsibility.

        Now, if you’re just referring to general lifestyle choices, you’re right, it isn’t our business. But believe it or not, some of our personal choices regarding putting ourselfs at risk for health problems does have an effect on the rest of society.

        My point is perfectly illustrated by the way society has come down on cigarrette-smokers. It’s not a healthy choice, and it’s not something we should just turn our head the other way about.

        • http://quiltonthetracks.posterous.com Margaret M.

          @Ali,

          Marion Nestle (big time nutritionist/food safety advocate) wrote a great blog post that I can’t find at the moment about making a clear distinction when you’re talking about the MACRO level policy issues re: food and health, versus the MICRO level issues people face with food and weight and their own personal health.

          Basically, we all have an interest on the macro level. We have an interest in advocating for healthier communities, walkable neighborhoods, grocery stores in the ghetto, subsidizing fruits and veg and not soybeans and corn. We have an interest in those things as public health issues (and human rights issues if you ask me).

          But getting up in people’s faces and “condoning” their lifestyles? I sincerely doubt that approach has EVER gotten one person to change their life for the better. It is highly counterproductive. It’s not your business or anyone’s business but their own, their doctor’s, and their partner’s.

          • http://redheadreports.blogspot.com Ali

            @ Margaret,

            Thank you for elaborating on your point because now I completely understand where you are coming from, and I agree with you.

            You are absolutely right that it is highly uneffective to try to condone a certain lifestyle. In fact, some people are stubborn and prideful enough that they will purposely make ‘bad’ choices out of spite.

            I’m glad you understood what I was trying to say about the macro level. It is in our best interest to advocate health, but of course we can’t control anyone’s personal choices.

          • http://quiltonthetracks.posterous.com Margaret M.

            “In fact, some people are stubborn and prideful enought that they will purposely make ‘bad’ choices out of spite.”

            Ali, you’re looking at someone whose M.O. is just that. Just ask my mom! :)

          • El

            @Margaret: Preach!

        • Starling

          Yeah, I’d get Aron Ralston to stop climbing mountains if we were really talking about social costs of unhealthy behaviors. Also, motorcycles. And alcohol. And guns. We could ban ‘em.

          But I don’t think that this is really what’s going on. As a society, we talk the good talk about how we’re really worried about people’s *health*, but really? There’s a fine old tradition of society telling women what to do with their bodies. No sex. No showing off those shapely ankles. No wearing short skirts. No abortion. No birth control. No wearing hair long, or cutting it short, or showing it, or covering it . . .

          Don’t you think we ought to be a little more suspicious about buying into these intense cultural pressures about what is and is not acceptable in a female body? Especially when the attention seems so fixed on what a person looks like, not actual indicators of health or illness? Any genuine public health messages are frankly subverted and overwhelmed by the disrespect and condemnation heaped upon those who aren’t complying with the cultural standard.

          Seriously, any country that could produce both Bridalplasty and Mike Pence doesn’t give a damn about women’s health.

        • Arachna

          If logic and science is employed then clearly what society should not condone is weight loss. Because scientifically speaking weight loss is going to result in weight gain, probably over and above the original weight and the cycling body weight is going to put stress on the body which leads to highter health costs.

          Further, for gods sake! put the private sector on alert, the hours my employer makes me work are extremely unhealthy and shortening my life span far more than 15 pounds. Society should not condone my unhealthy choice to make a lot of money – it’s almost like I’m profiting at the expense of society. Stress is even worse for health than lack of sleep.

  • jrebeccac

    Thank you for such a wonderful post! I told myself from the beginning that I wasn’t going to try to go diet or exercise crazy and instead just enjoy my body and treat it better. When my fiance and I first started dating, I had to teach him to like eating veggies…..he ate his first salad on one of our dates! He was born with a heart condition, and I have problems of my own (hello sugar addiction!), so it’s really important for us to continue eating well so that we stay healthy for each other, and for our future children. I want to enjoy every moment with him as long as I can, and being healthy will certainly increase those moments.

  • Midwest Lantern

    This post has raised a lot of complex emotions in me. I like Lauren, I’m happy for her, and I completely trust that she only wants to spread good energy. And yet here I sit with a belly full (heh) of complicated feelings, wondering if they are my fault or society’s fault or what. I think there is a place on this website for Lauren’s post, but I also think it would be great to have a follow-up post by a fat-positive person who used the wedding to finally stop trying to be thin and embrace themselves the way they are.

    I tried that for a while, and I ended up sweating in my basement to Jillian DVDs before work, scared my dress wouldn’t fit, unable to sleep at night because my body was sore and not used to the activity, getting too little sleep because I woke up early to work out, so stressed about wedding planning that I had no mental energy to plan healthy meals. Turns out, one of the most stressful times of my life – wedding planning – was not a great time for me to try to lose weight. In fact, I gained, and left a “healthy” BMI in the dust.

    I felt beautiful on my wedding day and did not worry about my body – though I do, in general, worry about it. The wedding day was one of the most fun days of my life. I believe my weight will be a life-long struggle.

    So my point is that Lauren’s post is good and is true to her experience, but it’s not the whole story, so I hope APW can have more posts examining various sides of these issues and the myriad VALID ways people deal with them.

    • http://justneedthisspace.wordpress.com ddayporter

      maybe you could write one? sounds like you would have a great and helpful message.

      • meg

        Agree with DDay. And, we’ve already run posts like that. This is just another angle to the complex body image story.

  • http://lilapuppy.blogspot.com meghan

    I feel better about my body when I treat it well by eating good whole foods and taking it for a spin. Period.

  • Erin

    “There are so many issues that come up during engagement… So why not health and lifestyle? I’m setting up the groundwork for the rest of my life, and at least for me, my physical and mental up-keep is hugely important, and it’s important that Kamel and I are in this together because it doesn’t get easier.”

    This was my take-away from this post — committing to building a healthy lifestyle together. Eating, physical activity, feeling good about our bodies when we’re nekkid — these things come up ALL THE TIME in a marriage, and, for for me at least, it’s pretty crucial that both of us are on board with doing what it takes to be as healthy as possible. When we buy life insurance, we tell our spouses, “We will never need this,” and we desperately want it to be true. I want “as long as we both shall live” to be a pretty long time, and I’m glad my husband does too.

    It makes it easier to say yes to the long walk to the library…. ;)

  • Mallory

    Lauren I think this is a great post and coincidentally timed for me also. My fiance and I have spent the first 5 years of our relationship relying our our partnership and unconditional love as a reason for not worrying about our weights. Which sounds great, until we realized it was just leading us both to be less healthy in different ways.

    Just in the past week we’ve decided to use our partnership for good not evil! (Haha after that statement I’m wondering if we need superhero alter ego names…) We’re going to now use our support for each other to go to the gym together a few times a week and eat healthier meals because we want to be healthier with each other and FOR each other. And I wanted to note that our decisions have nothing to do with weight, which I think Lauren largely implied also. It’s just about making the healthiest life decisions for us that we can.

    • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

      We do have superhero alter ego names for each other. :)

      • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

        And our wedding bands are our “rings of power”

        Because married people aren’t boring.

  • http://realizingself.wordpress.com Krista

    I love it when people admit to buying the Shakeweight! The commercials are ridiculous and always make me laugh, but I’ve also secretly wondered if it works. At least now I know. :)

    For me, the most important message in this post was discussing health and fitness with your partner before you get married. Because you’re right, we talk about everything else, why not talk about our health as well? What do we consider to be healthy, is fitness important to us, how will this affect our bodies when we’re older, etc. My boyfriend is much healthier than I am, so I’m gradually starting to learn to like eating fruits and vegetables. We have already started having these sorts of discussions, mainly as a result of my poor diet and my stomach issues. It just gives us more food for thought.

    • Amy

      My fiancee and I had a long discussion about health more in relation to my own chronic health issues, but one of the things that came out of it was that he was really worried about how those issues would impact my ability to be healthy and present in our children’s lives. So, after the wedding (when I had time to breathe again) we both made the commitment to working out more.
      That being said, I realized full well that if I tried to fit an hour-long workout 3-4x a week into my pre-wedding schedule I would wind up in a puddle of angry tears from the stress. So I just let out the dress a bit and called it a day.

    • http://justneedthisspace.wordpress.com ddayporter

      I laughed out loud when I read that she bought the shake weight as anything other than a gag gift! but at the same time i was REALLY interested in whether it worked because I’ve always wondered, and if she had said it worked I MIGHT have worked up the courage to go buy it non-ironically. thank goodness she spared us that!

      and plus one on the need to have these discussions with our partners.

      • http://beckybopwrites.blogspot.com/ Becky

        I was a little bit hoping that it worked. I mean, I’m not surprised that it doesn’t, but how AWESOME would that be if it was actually effective?!

        • Dana

          Okay, this is totally embarrassing but…

          I have a Shake Weight too and it actually has been working for me. I supplement it with free weights and do the exercises from the DVD it comes with and it has been totally effective. It is super easy to really hurt yourself with it though so be careful if anyone does decide to try it!

          • Jamie

            ain’t no shame! i have a shake weight, and it totally works for me! plus i love that it’s light enough (2.5 lbs) to easily transport to my boyfriend’s place for the weekend.

  • Julia

    I think it’s important to make the distinction between medical judgements and value judgements about bodies. Being overweight is a risk factor for a number of diseases — how much how many extra pounds affects each individual probably varies a lot, and we could debate a lot exactly what “ideal weight” is — but population studies support this medical judgement well. This is not the same as a value judgement (“overweight people are lazy/have no willpower,” “you only deserve to feel good about yourself if you’re thin”). Being overweight is a medical condition, like having bad knees, high cholesterol, etc. In some cases it’s probably more genetic (like high cholesterol can be) and in some cases it’s probably more lifestyle (like some people’s bad knees – might not have happened if they hadn’t skied all those moguls). To say that is would be better to weigh less is not necessarily to judge the person themselves, any more than it would be to wish that some other medical condition would improve. Obviously the medical/quality of life aspect of weight can get confused and convolved with body image, societal expectations, etc, and sometimes value judgements about weight are couched in terms of health, and this is really unfortunate.

    • http://weehermione.blogspot.com Hayley

      Yes! There are two different factors at play when it comes to talking about weight, eating, and lifestyle in general, and I think often they get mingled together.

      I love my body! Does that mean I shouldn’t exercise? No — because being thin does not automatically mean I’m healthy. My thinness is pretty genetic from both sides of my Jack Skellington family. It doesn’t automatically mean I’m not winded when I run up a flight of stairs — I’m unhealthy, and I need to change. So yes, I exercise, even while some friends laugh and say ‘oh, Hayley doesn’t need to do that, look at her!’

      Yeah, my body image quality of life is good, but if my medical quality of life isn’t as good as it could be, then regardless of how much I love my body, I have to make my decisions based on my medical future.

      • http://realizingself.wordpress.com Krista

        I love that other people understand thin does not equal healthy. I am one of the unhealthiest people I know and when I try and talk about how I’m trying to exercise or eat healthier, people say, “Why? You don’t need to. You’re thin.”

    • El

      Actually, the idea that excess weight is a medical condition is controversial and perhaps bogus. We don’t know as much about the etiology of weight gain and obesity as the medical community fronts like it does. It’s really complex, and there are factors that we haven’t begun to understand or explore. In fact, there’s some really good science out there suggesting that excess weight can be protective against many diseases, and other evidence based works that show lack of a link between obesity and some of the co-morbidities and mortality to which we often correlate it. There’s also some great work from medical/nursing/public health scholars that suggest it actually is precisely the value and moral judgment placed on overweight folks that has come to inform our medical practices (and thus label it a medical condition), rather than good science.

      The “but being overweight is bad for your HEALTH!” stuff is known in the fat-o-sphere as concern trolling. The health of anyone, at any weight, cannot be known to anyone except that person and her/his provider. And, frankly, is no one else’s business.

      (I’m writing my thesis on this, so it’s a bit of a hot topic for me. This isn’t meant to target you specifically, Julia, since you touched on some of it. Seemed like a good place to speak up and perhaps offer some thoughts to the APW community at large.)

      If anyone’s interested in reading more, there’s great stuff out there from Linda Bacon, Kate Harding, the Rudd Center at Yale, and various fat acceptance groups on the web that maintain fantastic further reading lists.

      • Arachna

        This.

      • Julia

        I agree the issue of “ideal weight” is really complex, EL (and I don’t feel targeted). As I tried to convey in my first comment, but in trying to keep it short didn’t expand on, a person’s genetic background and lifestyle obviously have a huge influence on their health independently of their weight – some people are pretty resistant to developing type 2 diabetes for example, while others can’t avoid it no matter how they eat or exercise, or what they weigh. And being overweight and eating a nutritious diet, or being physically active is probably a lot better than being skinny and subsisting on Doritos, or never walking a block. I think these variabilities may contribute a lot to the weakness of linkage between disease and obesity in some population studies. As a biologist, I can say that the linkage between obesity and disease in the much more controlled environment and genetic background of animal studies is pretty impressive. Is it the whole story? Not by a long shot. Does it totally suck when random people “concern troll” and comment on other people’s medical conditions? Absolutely – and I would argue that this is often a value judgement masquerading as concern for someone’s health. But I think it is important not to discount the medical implications of weight just because it is not as simple as more = worse.

        • http://www.kaylaearwood.com Kayla

          Yes! This exactly. Of course you can be skinny and unhealthy. You could eat one small bag of doritos and a coke a day and be skinny but you would probably also be the sickest person on the block. Weight and health don’t necessarily correlate exactly but the food you put into your body does have a direct effect on your overall health. Plants are good for you and no it’s not just because of the beta carotene and folic acid, it’s the whole plant. We’re not exactly sure all the reasons why but we know enough to realize that it is. We should try and change the culture of “fat talk” to be less about appearance and love handles and more about the fuel we are giving our bodies to stay healthy. That is the medical aspect of it and by mudding it with emotional, skinny talk we are diverting ourselves from the real issue and making women all across the world feel horrible about themselves. Yes, Americans in general (2/3rds of us at least) are unhealthy and overweight. Yes, there is something you should do about it. No, it shouldn’t be how you define your feelings about your body and your self. Let’s talk about the real culprits and what we can do to change ourselves for the better so that we really can leave all the nagging and guilt behind!

      • Starling

        El–
        Thanks for bringing this up. For crying out loud, doctors are still prescribing the same things for weight loss that they were back in Lord Byron’s time. Y’know, back when they still bled people with leeches? And didn’t know about germs? Weight and obesity are far more complicated than we give them credit for.

        And yes, my health is my business. When I did two hours of jiu-jitsu three times a week, I was in great shape. When I put those two hours into writing my first novel instead, I gained some weight–and wrote a novel. Which was more important to me than being perfectly healthy. Which is my choice to make.

        There’s public shaming of women who choose to prioritize other things above making their bodies aesthetically pleasing. But there’s no social shame for other “unhealthy” behavior–how many people brag about the sleep they aren’t getting, for instance?

        As I’m planning my wedding, I’m letting some stuff slide and making some stuff priority. There’s nothing wrong with that: it’s my life, my body, and my choice to make. But there seems to be an expectation that the bride at a wedding is part of the decor. We are supposed to be beautiful! The center of attention! The aesthetic focus of all eyes! And that is a big old pile of horseshit. I am the focus of the wedding, along with my fiance, because I am one of the people making life-changing legal commitments, not because I am a part of the decorations.

      • http://breadandcheeseplease.blogspot.com Charise

        This string of comments gets at something I think is really important – balance! Could I stand to lose some weight? Of course! But I am happy and confident with my body, and love food and cooking. I exercise a decent amount. Could I eat less or a little better sometimes, or exercise more? Sure, but I have made the choices I have to keep myself happy, healthy, sane, and enjoying life at any given time.
        I am also healthier than a lot of people I know – I eat lots of “clean” whole foods, exercise, get enough sleep, have enough fun, try to get satisfaction out of work, etc., all things that factor into actually being healthy and balanced and making me feel good in my skin rather than just physical appearance.
        The thin vs not-thin thing gets old, but there is always that struggle – yes, we want to accept ourselves as we are, but we also want/need to work on being healthy, even if that means losing weight, and regardless of what size we are.
        I wish there weren’t so many outside forces complicating and influencing our body images and what we choose to do for our bodies.

  • http://misallocationofresources.com Jenn

    I completely get the “together” aspect of this lifestyle change. Future hubs and I are both a teensy bit lazy when it comes to exercise, mostly because we are both ex athletes (him more so than me) without a sport anymore. We need eachother’s encouragement to skip that extra cookie, extra glass of wine, etc. Sometimes we splurge too, but I know I need someone to gently remind me that the last time I splurged was only 2 days ago, and I should consider waiting a few days before doing it again.

    I completely second Anon above that the goal is to be healthy, and not thin. The “possibly thinner” could be a by-product of this concerted effort to eat a little better, but what I am mostly concerned about is that we are healthy enough to run around and play with our kids or dogs (haven’t decided which yet :) ) down the road. Weight issues tend to run in his family, and I have to say: if us eating better now means he has ten years longer on this planet to spend with me (and of course thats no guarantee, but I know that its not going to hurt) then its worth it to me!

  • MinnaBrynn

    Looking at pictures of weddings and thinking “Oh, if I look like that it’ll be a perfect wedding” is just as dangerous as thinking “Oh, if I have those details it’ll be a perfect wedding.” Wedding can bring up a lot of baggage – about our friends, families, relationships, and yes, about how we look. For me, the engagement and wedding were the perfect time to make some stands about the things that really mattered to me, say goodbye to relationships that just weren’t working anymore, and the time to let go of the idea that I could only be a perfect bride if I did X, Y and Z things – actually, it was a great time to drop the whole idea of a “perfect bride” (which now that I’m looking at it in writing seems like a very creepy concept). I made decisions that made me happy. For me, that meant not stressing over losing or gaining weight, not tanning even though my dress was mid-calf and strapless, not whitening my teeth, not wearing a ton of makeup, not letting anyone else do my hair, not wearing diamonds, not allowing myself to be pressured into doing anything that wasn’t genuine to who we are as a couple. My perspective is that my weight and my health extend long beyond the wedding day (unlike our cake choices or what the band played), so I’m making decisions based on the big picture of “someday I’d like to be able to hike this trail to the end” rather than allowing myself to get caught up on the little things like “if I don’t lose this weight I can’t get married” or “I can’t go to my high school reunion until I’m back to graduation weight” (thoughts I’ve had, but refuse to give any more attention than I gave the ideas of mini-top-hat-veils or mustache favors). Getting to what I want to look and feel like is a constant work in progress–but so is getting to the marriage I want, so I’m okay with that.

    • http://akc09.livejournal.com Annie in LA

      “Looking at pictures of weddings and thinking “Oh, if I look like that it’ll be a perfect wedding” is just as dangerous as thinking “Oh, if I have those details it’ll be a perfect wedding.””

      Dude, this. I don’t know why I never made that connection, but it seems so obvious when somebody spells it out. :)

  • http://beckybopwrites.blogspot.com/ Becky

    Lauren, I really want to EXACTLY this post. I did lose weight before my wedding but not because I wanted to be a certain size or look a certain way on that day. When we got engaged, my wife and I were talking and thinking about lots of things relating to our long-term future, and one of those things was being healthy. We both have struggled with weight a lot and also have family members who’ve struggled with health problems that their weight contributed to. So for us, starting to eat better and exercise regularly was an investment in our lives together and in the health of our baby family. The fact that it led to some weight loss was a nice side effect, but I was really focusing on wanting to be healthy in the long-term and start to establish good habits that I’ll want to pass on to my kids someday.

    I know that any talk about weight and/or weight loss triggers a lot of emotions for many women. Thank you for being willing to write about your experience and for writing in a way that focused on health and not numbers. I suspect this is going to raise a lot of issues today, and I hope that all of the commenters can be careful with each other and sensitive to other people’s feelings (including Lauren’s!)

    • suzanna

      Me too, me too! Lauren and Becky, me too! To everything. Using engagement to improve your life (lives) is awesome! I’m also in this club.

      I applaud APW for taking this very emotional issue on.

    • Vmed

      Um, I am in the process of doing this.

      and also try to frame it as “J and I are building the life we want together, what do we need to change to get us closer to that?”, (which is how I read this post) not omgz wedding.

      He gets exercise headaches if he does an intense workout when he’s out of shape, and so maintaining a level of fitness allows him to play seasonal sports with his brothers and friends without producing an overexertion hangover. As a grad student I sit and study a lot, and not moving my body messes with my anxiety head. So we obviously both need to be exercising to feel better.

      And I feel guilty that it ends up looking like I caved to WIC pressure. But dammit, I affirm us! for setting goals with our partners and doing the work to meet them.

      I use http://www.livestrong.com/thedailyplate/ to track my workouts and portions (which unlike weight watchers is free). Keeping track has made a whole world of difference in helping us meet our goals. I kind of love it, because it automatically charts and graphs data, which makes this nerd happy.

  • Jess

    Like everyone else, I hate the weight loss issues that seemed to be entwined with weddings. When I got engaged I was about 20-30 pounds over a healthy weight, was the heaviest I had ever been, and disliked the behavior that led to that (was not active enough, was not eating well). I decided about 6 months out from my wedding that I wanted to change my lifestyle to eat better, move more.

    I HATED, though, that I knew everyone would think that I was losing weight for the wedding, because that’s what girls are supposed to do. I actually wished at the time that I wasn’t getting married soon, so that I wouldn’t have to worry about altering a dress at the same time I was altering my body. I also considered not even trying to lose weight until after the wedding, just so people wouldn’t think that I was doing it for the wedding. I ended up losing some weight before the wedding, and some after (along with my husband), but I know that everyone at the wedding thought I had done it for My Special Day. It drives me crazy knowing that.

    • Nicole

      Yes, I feel this as well. A girl I work with, who has no social awareness, recently asked me “So are you planning on losing weight for your wedding?” The answer, technically, is yes, but what I found tumbling out of my mouth was “NoIthinkI’mfinejustthewayIamthankyouverymuch.” It’s hard to reconcile wanting to look good for your wedding and wanting to shut down the awful thinking that weight loss is a key part of wedding planning.

    • Chantelle

      I hear you Jess. Luckily I have a year or so before my wedding, and am hoping to be at a healthier place well in advance, because my pride couldn’t handle the wedding weight conversations.

    • Sarah

      I know how you feel. I was the thinnest I’ve EVER been on my wedding day … and it had nothing to do with “trying to lose weight for My Special Day” (I feel like that needs a trademark after it!). It was stress and how busy I was and how little I was eating because I was so busy and everying else like that.

      But, of course, people won’t believe me. Of COURSE I dieted! Of COURSE I lost weight to fit into my dress! That’s what people DO! ::barf::

      So, take solace in the knowledge you’re not alone. Everyone else can go along with their delusions, but we know better. =)

  • http://www.unrelatedsidenote.com Cindy

    I had to lose weight because my dress didn’t fit. TRAGIC! I needed to lose five pounds to get into it but figured if I was going to lose weight, I might as well go all the way and lose the extra 25 pounds I was carrying around, and I did.

    I used WW as well, and it was transforming. It eventually became less about my body and more about my health. I had strength and energy. I started working with a trainer to improve my performance. I eventually got a cycle certification and starting teaching fitness classes to keep myself motivated to stay in shape. That turned less into being about me, and more about helping others to achieve what I achieved: a healthy lifestyle. I took it one step further and got my full instructor certification, and with the support of my husband, I quit my day job and now teach strength and cardio classes as my job.

    Who would have thought that the desire to simply fit into my wedding dress would inspire such a huge life change? My husband has even worked at taking some weight off and and is working on a healthier lifestyle. Marriage? It’s a good thing. A great thing.

    • http://justneedthisspace.wordpress.com ddayporter

      ahhh you are kind of living my dream. I would love to get certification to become an instructor (but kickboxing or something like that, instead of cycling). a little skeered and intimidated to even begin looking into the process – you inspire me!

  • Mei

    Guess what? There is no easy way to talk about female bodies. Period.

    I admit it; my first reaction to this was ‘Umm that teeny tiny girl in the pictures is going to talk about her struggles with her weight? Yea, give me an f’ing break.’ And then after I read it ‘Oh great, tiny girl went on Weight Watchers (which, btw, I’ve tried and “failed” at) and now has self-actualization. Yippee for her in her tiny jumping pictures and tiny wedding dress!’ But that’s stupid and mean, and totally NOT what Lauren’s story was about, and then I feel guilty for thinking those things, and then I think about how I wish I was as happy as Lauren is with her body, and that I didn’t think about how fat I am at least once a day, and then I cry. Literally, in my office. Cry.

    So, here’s the upshot: I have a shitty relationship with my body. I just do. It does all the things I want it to do – hike mountains, jog, walk stairs, etc. – and by all metrics (but BMI), is “healthy.” But I still hate it. And so I can’t read anything about how someone has come to terms with their own weight without going through the “snark then sob” routine. And I’m sure someone with a different body than mine would hear me go through that and be able to snark on me in the same way I snarked on Lauren because my journey isn’t the same as theirs. And it’s just not fair that we all feel this way, and clearly there’s some serious fucked up societal stuff going on, and we just need work everyday to start learning to love ourselves and supporting each other because life (and wedding planning) is hard enough anyway without making someone else feel bad about about something that makes her happy.

    So I’m gonna person-up (yea, like man-up, minus the patriarchy) and say, Lauren, thank you for sharing your story. It was very brave of you to talk about your relationship with your body in public. I’m happy that you are happy with your body. I hope someday I can be happy too.

    • Midwest Lantern

      Oh, yes, “exactly” a thousand times. Lauren is great, and clearly I have some work to do on my self-talk.

    • http://hartandsolphoto.com Maddie

      Thank you for saying what I can’t. I understand that this post might make a lot of us uncomfortable. But I also understand that this post isn’t really about a lot of us. It’s about Lauren. And she was brave enough to talk about something that is very real and important to her. So when we tell her that her struggles don’t “count”, it can really be very hurtful.

      That said, Lauren’s message isn’t a message for everyone. We’re all in different stages of body acceptance here, and for some of us Lauren’s story is going to resonate, and for others it’s going to drive us deeper into our self-loathing. But it’s our responsibility to own up to our insecurities (as you have, quite candidly and very charmingly above) and not call out Lauren for not having all the answers.

    • Paranoid Libra

      I’m not saying this is the case for Lauren.

      It’s amazing what clothing can cover up or reveal. Clothes can infact make you look like a skinny healthy person or if you wear the wrong thing incredibly over weight and you see pictures of yourself and try to figure out when the hell did you put a keg under your top. And it can do it at the same exact weight.

    • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com ka

      You are so brave, and so honest, and so self-aware that I just want to thank you over and over again. The “snark and sob” plays such a pivotal role in my life–for me not about body issues, but issues of career and lifestyle and other things where the grass looks awfully greener. I have a sneaking suspicion that we’re not the only people who do this, and I think this kind of societally-reinforced reaction is what keeps us all shaming each other and what keeps women (outside communities like APW) from supporting one another.

      I think just giving it a name is going to help me to manage this reaction, and recognize what triggers it, and hopefully own it like you have for a few moments so that I can more fully move on, instead of sitting around feeling guilty and ashamed.

      Thank you.

    • Lindsay

      There is definitely no easy way to talk about female bodies, because the funny thing is that there will always be someone who is thicker/thinner/stronger/prettier/curvier/etc no matter what you look like. I’m going to speak up for the skinny girls and risk sounding whiny because people don’t realize that we end up with body issues from all the guilt and shame we get from non-skinny girls. I’ve been called “lucky” because I have crazy metabolism and struggle to gain even 5 pounds. But I hate it. I have no hips or boobs. Pointy hip bones that make me feel like Skeletor (and were the worst part about trying on wedding dresses). These features might sound “modelesque” to some, but I’m only 5’4″ so I just look like a little boy. I have never felt comfortable in a bathing suit because I have too little of everything.
      My point is that, big or small, what we all really need to work on is figuring out how to accept what we have while being able to see when what we have isn’t healthy for us and that we need to make a change. I think that’s what Lauren did so yay!

    • meg

      Y’all. Throwing this out there: Lauren is not teeny. And I think that’s a great thing. She looks kind of teeny in these jumping around pictures, but she’s a much more normal weight and a much curvier person than those pictures are giving her credit for. So, I hate that we all move right to judgement and assumptions, and “I bet she’s a size XX, just look at those pictures.” Because that’s REALLY not what this post is about.

      But pictures can be misleading, so I wanted to throw that out there.

      • Mei

        1) Teeny is “normal,” just as curvy is “normal” just as fat bodies are “normal”- all bodies are normal, just as no body is normal.

        2) The point of my post was that I realize I was judgy and mean and using the term “teeny,” and that comes from a place of deep insecurity (because fact: relative to me, no matter the angle, Lauren is substantially smaller than I am), and I am working to change that attitude in myself, and would like to see it changed in society as a whole. I was sharing that process and how we can, and must, move from judgment and assumptions to “Let’s support each other’s success stories and be pro-happiness no matter what it looks like!” Which, for me at least, is easy when it comes to doing a wedding whatever damn way you please but so much harder when it comes to body acceptance. Because if there’s a space more loaded with cultural expectations than weddings, it’s womens bodies. And we deal with that not just one day. But every. single. day.

        So yea, I think we can come together and say, whether Lauren is teeny or not is completely beside the point.

        • http://www.stitch-witch.net Christina McPants

          I want to exactly this comment a thousand times.

          • meg

            Agreed.

      • Anon

        I kind of think discussing Lauren’s size or shape is any way negates some of the points she was trying to make. As she said, “this has nothing to do about a number or a judgment on body shape.”

        • meg

          And double agreed. I’m borderline horrified that any of these comments ended up talking about Lauren’s body or my body, like those things should ever be up for discussion, ever ever.

          • Nataliah

            I accept that your weight should not be up for discussion, fair enough. That’s very different from suggesting that the topic of body image isn’t about your actual physical bodysize. I’ll probably get shouted down for this, but I just don’t agree. When you’re talking about weight, weight matters. If you feel bad about your body regardless of your size, that’s horrible, I feel for you. But when you’re big enough that strangers yell at you from cars when you’re trying to exercise, or family friends comment about your weight every time you see them, it’s different. When your internal struggles and your bad image of yourself is actually verbally supported by other people, it’s different. Maybe I’m wrong, I’ve never been the one that’s been told, “you’re teenie, what are you worried about?”, but I can’t imagine its the same as being moo-ed at from a passing vehicle…

          • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com/ Morgan

            Nataliah – people can really suck, can’t they? Behaviour like that is appalling.

          • Barbaloot

            Okay, yes, and I am actually one of the people who commented that Lauren looks thin in her photos… I’m sorry if that added to your sense of horror Meg! Because you’re right, we shouldn’t be discussing your bodies… That being said, if you blog about your body image issues and include photos, people are going to look and judge! It’s possible this post would have been more effective without the photos…

            It’s just kinda hard to ignore the smokin’ hot (and thin!) woman in the photos of Lauren’s post, and since we women are in the habit of comparing ourselves to each other, having those pics together with the post really fueled that tendency in myself and others. I’m not saying it’s right, but I think it is inevitable in this sort of scenario.

        • MEI

          I can’t express how sorry I am that this comment ended up being ‘You called Lauren teeny. Discuss.’ Calling people teeny is not ok. Calling people fat is not ok. Judging other people’s bodies is not ok, full stop. And I know that in my heart, and yet I _still_ went through my dialogue in my head because I’m just that fucked up about my own body. Being mean and snarking at someone’s happiness is a defense mechanism/sign of jealousy. I want to be happy with my body. And I want to be able to talk about it. I wanted Weight Watchers to work for me. And Lauren did those things, and I got so friggin’ jealous I came up with reasons in my head why she could and I can’t. Mean reasons, awful reasons, things I would look in the mirror and feel shamed about admitting. When I really should have just been super friggin’ happy for her. So I had to check myself and be like ‘Oh hey there smart progressive feminist, why you being such an asshole to another woman for being happy? How friggin’ messed up is that?’ And it’s so hard to do that because we’ve got the entire world telling us our bodies are not ok and that they are owned by other people. But we need to work hard to support other women who find peace and happiness.

          So again, Lauren, I’m so flipping happy for you. Congratulations. I hope I can reach that place too someday.

  • Manya

    Wow. So much energy in and around this post. I, like all of us, have had weight issues of my own. In fact, I am a recovering bulimic. Real deal, in college throwing up 4 times a day bulimia. It got so bad that the temptation to throw up was always on my mind. That just sucks because it takes away time and energy from getting on with the business of enjoying your life.

    When I was a teenager I hated my body, and yet my mom just found a bunch of old pictures that reveal I had a body like a supermodel (who knew? I certainly didn’t, and frankly, my high-waisted jeans weren’t doing anything for it!).

    When I was in my twenties I worked at Fitness Magazine (I worked on health and mind/spirit stuff, so no hatin’!) and hated the beautiful body I had then.

    Then I went to the Peace Corps in West Africa, where chronic diarrhea, a bicycle as my only form of transportation, and the sheer hassle of preparing a meal in a pot resting on 3 stones with a fire underneath, melted me down to nothing. The Ivorians hated my thin frame and were aways tsk tsk-ing me, shaking their heads disapprovingly and saying: Are you sick? Are you worried?” Guess what–I STILL HATED MY BODY!

    I had my baby girl in my early 30s, and there were entirely new reasons to hate my body–dude, your body grows buttresses to support that tummy–and they NEVER GO AWAY! So basically, I have spent the last 20 years hating the beautiful body I had when I had it, only to look back and long for it. I’m a smart lady, and this is an embarrassingly stupid trajectory.

    Getting engaged actually helped me to make a profound emotional shift around this issue. I realized (wait for it) that happiness and slim-ness are not contingent upon one another. I have been fat and happy, thin and miserable, fat and miserable and thin and happy. I have certainly allowed my weight to make me miserable and happy, but it was ME allowing that–it wasn’t inherent to my weight.

    Being fit can certainly lead to some nice things: (an eagerness to get naked comes to mind) but happiness? Like, with a capital H HAPPINESS? Like a deep sense of inner peace and enduring sense of well-being Happiness? Not so much. Now, love on the other hand…that’s some powerful happy!

    I have proof:
    The day I got engaged was the happiest of my life.
    And I was literally the heaviest I have ever been on that day.
    I look at the pictures and all I see is unadulterated joy.

    You see, my fiance used to be a sous-chef, and our lives are filled with delicious gourmet yummies made and served with tremendous love. Brian is 6’6″, a gym hound and a complete hottie. He can eat whatever he wants (damn him!). I generally offset our epicurean leanings with workouts, but a sprained ankle forced me to stop working out for about 3 months, and just plain old gained a bunch of weight. I had that button thing happen with my favorite black jeans. (ok, full disclosure, I couldn’t even pull them over my thighs).

    But I was still pretty f-ing happy. Fat n’ Happy, and everybody said: you look Fabulous! Misery is a choice. Those jeans only make me miserable if I ALLOW THEM TO. Sure, I’d like to fit into them again, but I don’t have to make myself miserable to find the motivation do so. I don’t have to buy into the belief that having muffin top undermines my value as a human being and losing weight affirms it. I choose not to believe that.

    I live in Kenya, where some things (like personal trainers) come very cheap. I don’t really have the budget to replace my wardrobe but I do have the budget to hire Richard. I wasn’t sure about him until he said something to me that has become a mantra. Here’s what he said:

    “Listen, we can set some goals together and I will do everything I can to help you meet them.
    But let me be clear: this is NOT a get skinny program. This is a stress release program. This is an anxiety management program. This is a get strong and flexible program. This is a program about building your endurance and thoroughly enjoying the food you choose to eat. You might lose some weight, but it’s actually completely irrelevant (he actually confiscated my scale!). But I promise you this: if you get skinny, you will be unhappy, because you will be hungry, and that’s no good,” then he said, as an aside, “and by the way you’re about to get married. A man needs a place to lay his head down.”

    So I’m again working out regularly, but this time it’s really different. Richard helped me to get over those difficult habit-forming days and gave me some fun new moves (and by the way, fitnessmagazine.com has some great routines that are fun). I look forward to seeing him and my workout because it’s time for me and me alone, I love the music on my ipod and the feel of the breeze on my face. It feels great to run all the way around the lake. I love being able to do more reps than last time–my definition of success is improvement relative to myself. And funny enough, I have found that de-linking weight and happiness and working on my state of mind has actually made it more joyful to work on the state of my body. Working from a place of anxiety and shame is toil–it drains energy away from the task at hand. Working from a place of peace and joy is actually energizing.

    I have no clue what I weigh, and may never check again. I tried on my dress yesterday, and I look gorgeous in it. I’m confident I’ll be able to dance all night. And on our wedding night I know my hottie sous chef fiance will grab me and say: hmmmm… you feel so good, I love your body. I think Richard is right. A man does need a place to lay his head down.

    • Manya

      Sorry this is so long! I got carried away!

      • Chantelle

        ummm, wedding graduate post? That was an awesome read. Off to ruminate on the wisdom….

        • Manya

          Thank you, Chantelle. I have a hilarious pre-engagement story that I’m working on to submit to Meg. You’ve just given me the extra push I needed to actually grind it out.

          • Karen

            Oh, hooray! I’d love to read it!

          • http://oversized-cliches.blogspot.com Zan

            Grind it out, grind it out! It’ll be fabulous I can tell! (oh, and the wedding grad post too — get on it lady!)

    • Sarah

      Manya, I love you. Thank you so much. =)

    • Anne

      Manya — I too found that when I shifted the frame in which I viewed exercise, my whole outlook on my body changed.

      I’ve started practicing yoga and meditation in the last year. Instead of seeing exercise as a way to burn more calories, it has become a mind-body activity (most of the time). My new focus is on being mindful and aware as I move through poses. It helps me manage the stress in my life and I have a new-found respect for my body.

      The mediation aspect for me has been key. I’m learning to be aware of my thoughts and to simply recognize them. Sometimes I’ll have a particularly tough time, and I might recognize that I am feeling shame or frustration when I can’t hold a pose. I think to myself, “Hmmm, I’m feeling frustrated.” That’s it. There’s no judgement. Just acknowledgement.

    • Janey

      THIS!!! THIS should be an actual post that a visitor to APW reads regarding Health, Happiness, and Body Issues.

      Nothing against Lauren and her post at all. Lauren and Kamel’s new found commitment to good health is great and I applaud them in their endeavor.

      However, Manya’s comment really resonates with me because she has been down in the ugliest of the body image trenches, fought the long fight, and has come out the other side. Her words of wisdom, and those of her trainer, are GOLD, pure and simple.

      THIS is one of the many reasons I’m still reading APW five months post wedding. I don’t always have the time to read all of the comments. But, today, I am SOOOO incredibly happy that I did.

      Manya – I wish you and your wonderful fiance much happiness.

    • Barbra

      Oh my god, I love Richard!

    • http://www.emlovesben.com Emily Rose

      I’ve had a similar experience. I would say that I’m fairly average-sized and averagely-healthy; average height, not fat but not skinny, hit the gym once in a while but not marathon runner, eat some veggies but also got a major sweet tooth. When we got engaged last summer, I secretly wanted to get as skinny as possible for the wedding – especially my arms. Like Lauren, I’ve always had a particularly insecure relationship with my arms, and wedding dresses really show those puppies off. I even wondered how to position them during our first kiss to prevent chubbiness in the photos.

      Since then, things have changed. Just around the time we got engaged (coincidentally), my fiance dragged me to a really intense and competitive gym (anyone else here do Crossfit?!). They made me row, push-up, squat, and jump on boxes for an extremely difficult and embarrassing 12 minutes. And I have loved it ever since.

      This morning, I set a personal record by back-squatting significantly more than my body weight. A month ago, I did my first pull-up. Last week, I did 60 pushups on my toes with ease. Lately, I can go for a run and not feel winded as quickly as I used to.It’s fun and empowering to set goals and meet them – like you said, “my definition of success is improvement relative to myself.”

      But it hasn’t made me skinny. In fact, though I don’t own a scale, I’ think I’ve probably gained weight. My arms have muscles and my quads are powerfully thick. I sort of lost track of the get-skinny-for-the-wedding thing, distracted as I was with barbells and chalk, and before I knew it, the wedding is right around the corner (less than 3 weeks)… and it’s a bit too late for any attempts at skinniness now.

      Thanks, Manya, and the other women at APW, for sharing your stories here. For the past few days, I’ve been worrying a little about looking buff, large, or masculine at the wedding. After reading and thinking today, though, I feel calm and proud. I’m resolving to stop wondering how my arms are positioned for photos – except maybe I’ll flex my new biceps for a few.

      • http://oversized-cliches.blogspot.com Zan

        Dude crossfit freaks me out, but this comment made me smile. I’m glad you are feeling happy and strong!!

      • http://beckybopwrites.blogspot.com/ Becky

        Wow, that is AWESOME. I totally can’t afford a gym right now, but stories like yours inspire me to want to work harder to see what my body is capable of.

    • http://www.kaylaearwood.com Kayla

      Umm…can you just throw some photos in here and post it up this week as a wedding undergraduate post? I mean seriously, no editing required! I’m pretty sure photos of babies and Kenya would take this comment over the top.

      • Manya

        Thank you guys. I have been skulking around on APW for about 3 months now, and have loved getting to know the community here. But today has made me understand the magic. I loved reading everybody’s posts on this topic, and the fact this resonated with some of you made me really happy (with a capital H). Thank you.

    • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kimberly

      “But I promise you this: if you get skinny, you will be unhappy, because you will be hungry, and that’s no good.”

      I had to smile at this because . . . well . . . it’s true.

  • http://weddingness.wordpress.com Shae

    I struggle myself with the desire to lose weight, generally, and the desire to feel great on my wedding day, and the dueling desire to NOT conform with the wedding day stereotype wherein the bride loses a bunch of weight for the wedding. Women’s bodies are NEVER not politicized, and so I am struggling with my own expectations and society’s expectations. On a day-to-day basis, I love my body and everything it can do, but there are days when I want to be thinner, something which is motivated more by my culture’s aesthetic values than by my own desires to be healthy. In our society, thin = healthy, even though we all know that that’s not always true when you stop to dissect it.

  • http://quiltonthetracks.posterous.com Margaret M.

    It’s a fine essay and all, but Lauren should be wary of conflating weight and health. I think that’s where a lot of angst is going to come from in the comments. Weight != Health. I think it’s more helpful to think of it as a symptom of either some bad habits, or some diseases. (Sleep apnea and diabetes might be caused by excess weight or they might also cause you to gain weight or both–as far as I can tell from the endless literature I’ve read on the subject, the jury is out.) And plenty of thin people get type 2 diabetes.

    My weight will do what it’s going to do. I might always be overweight. I might always weigh more than 300lbs. I have to learn to accept it, because it is really not something you can control directly, forever. The process of your body being what weight it is is extremely complicated. The only thing I can control is what I choose to eat, and how I move. So I focus on those things.

    Personally, I didn’t have the energy to deal with this stuff before our wedding. It’s basically a part time job. It takes organization and discipline to make sure we’re prepared for meals, to prepare more vegetables, to make my doctor’s appointments and to see the nutritionist… together. It’s a team effort with my husband. I personally really don’t feel bad for not dealing with it before my wedding – I had enough going on.

    • http://quiltonthetracks.posterous.com Margaret M.

      As an addendum (I’m sorry, I know I am posting like a maniac today but this stuff is so important to me and hits home in all kinds of tender places):

      I have to admit, I have big time serious issues about Weight Watchers. Structurally, there are just things about that organization that make me wary of it. They are a for profit company. The leaders are essentially amateurs and are not as a rule trained as dietitians.

      And then personally: I lost a LOT of weight, VERY fast, all in the name of health, but developed eating disorder-type habits and was cheered on as massive amounts of weight came off of me at a scary, unhealthy rate. It took me a long time to get over that period in my life. It is probably an ongoing process. So. I think that probably accounts for a major reason I am feeling so tetchy today. I see Weight Watchers and I just go into “proceed with extreme caution” mode.

      So, I say this with all the loving kindness I can muster, Lauren: be kind to yourself. Be aware about yourself and your behavior. I hope it never comes to it, but just bear in mind that there are other resources if you want to focus on your health without the Weight Watchers mentality.

    • meg

      I think what was compelling for me about Lauren’s story is that she finally figured out that it’s not about weight, and it is about health. And I think that, for me, was the important takeaway.

      • http://quiltonthetracks.posterous.com Margaret M.

        With all due respect, I don’t think that is what she is saying. On her blog in one of the comments she seems to say exactly the opposite. And if it is what she’s saying, she needs to say it a little more clearly.

        • meg

          I’ll agree to disagree on this one, since I’ve read both posts and talked to Lauren about this in person. She did loose weight, which was healthy for her (I’ve got the in person perspective here too), but it was the “being able to climb a flight of stairs without feeling winded” that allowed her to let go of the body image junk.

          And she’s tried really really hard to say it clearly, and I’ve edited it to try to make it more clear. It’s not perfect, but lets give her the benefit of the doubt, ok?

          • http://quiltonthetracks.posterous.com Margaret M.

            Hokay.

  • Pingback: The Wedding Weight Diaries | I'm Better in Real Life()

  • http://saraeileen.com Sara Eileen

    Wow, complex.

    Lauren, you were so brave to write this! Thank you!

    Forgive my short-toned linkage instead of writing out the entire, post-length comment I’d love to have the time to craft right now…but if anyone here is looking for a totally different perspective on weight, health, and culture, might I highly, highly recommend reading some of Lesley’s work over at http://blog.twowholecakes.com/

  • ashley

    Here’s the thing. I don’t choose to participate in weight discussions. I used to really obsess and I simply grew tired of it. I’m a generally active and healthy person and really enjoy my life as is, because I choose to do so. I hear people complain all the time about different parts of their jobs, friends, and bodies. What a time waster! When I’m old and gray, I want to look back and know that I really lived up my young years. I don’t want to look back at pictures of me in baggy clothes because I was insecure, or worse yet, not have any pictures because I was too down to go out and live a life worth documenting. I’m really trying to live a life that my child self would be thrilled with and my old self will be proud of.

    • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com ka

      “I’m really trying to live a life that my child self would be thrilled with and my old self will be proud of.”

      Love this.

    • KittyC

      Same here! I remember hearing an older woman in my life when I was younger lamenting about how she used to think that she was so ugly, and really regrets not going out and doing things, and appreciating how young and attractive she really was.

      So now I plan my life according to how badass I will sound to my future grandchildren. And it is this that has led me to have some amazing experiences, which in turn has made me much happier than being the hottest thing ever could. Also, quite frankly and as morbid as this sounds, I want people at my eulogy to say “She was kind and loving” and “She was brave and awesome”, not “Um, well, she had a very nice figure”. So achieving that is what I should be focusing my energy towards, not my body.

  • Abby C.

    Yay! Go Lauren!

    Don’t really have anything else to add to that. :)

  • Anonymous

    (I’m anon-ing today b/c I’m not only talking about myself.)
    I am completely fascinated by the comments today, mostly b/c they’re happening in microcosm in my own relationship. My fiancee and I both read it and had completely different reactions. I think she felt very much like Zoe seemed to, like this was a shaming post about weight. I didn’t have much feeling about it other than, “oh nice, they worked together to achieve a goal, and are happy.” The thing is, we’re doing the same as Lauren and Kamel, we’ve both joined weight watchers and used the wedding to inspire us to change some behaviors. We’re not going to reach like, the peak of physical health by the wedding, but we’ve both lost some weight and felt physically better. Honestly, she’s lost more than I have, and has developed a bonus unexpected love for running, but it seems like what she heard in this post was that it’s not enough. I was just totally surprised that our responses could be so different, when it seemed to reflect exactly what we were doing at home.

    I know posts like this can be painful for some people, but I just can’t subscribe to the notion that *any* talk about weight loss is bad. (Yes, I do make exception for people who are in recovery from eating disorders.) I feel like taking control over something one previously felt was out of control is a really powerful narrative, and especially important for women to hear. I’m not naive, I know this narrative exists within the context of a whole lot of other noise about body image, but if we can focus on the empowering part and defeat the shaming part, it seems that much better to me. Like, we’re not just ignoring the WIC body-image machine, but also the part of ourselves that worries that maybe they’re right. I know we all bring our own experiences to each of these grad posts, and the way they make us feel depends on that perspective. However, I think sometimes if we take a step back from an emotional response to what’s there, it can be a helpful exercise in emotional resilience, if nothing else.

    If people don’t struggle with weight, they struggle with *something*, and there’s always going to be a post that rubs them the wrong way b/c it touches some hurt they’re protecting. Honestly, the only thing that twigged me about this was Meg’s comment in the beginning about being “delightfully impervious to this [WIC weight-loss] nonsense” Meg, I love you, but there was definitely a nasty little voice in the back of my head going, “Wow, that’s super that you feel so good about yourself. Talk to me when you’re 250lbs.” Unfair? Totally. But it did feel a little smug. Actually, aha, there’s my point about bringing ourselves into everything we read. If I didn’t struggle with my weight, I’d probably be like, “Way to go on your awesome path, lady.”

    So yeah, I’m taking my own advice. Way to go Meg, way to go Lauren, and way to go Zoe and everybody else in the comments for engaging something difficult and speaking your mind.

    • http://saraeileen.com Sara Eileen

      The bit you picked up at the beginning also got to me…Because yes, it IS unfair to turn around on someone well meaning and sweet and wonderful and respond with something that sounds bitter. But that reaction is potentially at the heart of a lot of the complicated reactions to this post…The entire conversation of weight is rife, just rife with complicated relationships to privilege; for example, the privilege of being happy with one’s body, but also, crucially, the privilege of having a body that conforms more-or-less closely to a cultural ideal. It’s hard to find a way for us to say gently to one another “Your physical appearance gives you advantages I don’t have, and it would be good if you acknowledged that as a part of this conversation.”

      Something to think about, as we continue to treat one another nicely.

      • Anonymous

        “It’s hard to find a way for us to say gently to one another “Your physical appearance gives you advantages I don’t have, and it would be good if you acknowledged that as a part of this conversation.” ”

        *This.* The fiancee and I had a discussion of this over dinner, and I *absolutely* get why she felt this post was a sort of bait-and-switch. Like “it’s all about positive body image” but then “you can only have positive body image when you’re thinner!” A lot of it for her was the way that the post was framed, and that there wasn’t any acknowledgement of the privilege of conforming to a cultural norm. She said it felt like “thin-splaining.” (Like man-splaining, when a man condescendingly explains something technical to you, but in the realm of body size.)

        My point was that it’s engaging these issues that’s important, and confronting the big mess o’ feelings that come along with it. If we keep being silent because someone else might be hurt, we lose the opportunity to have a dialogue that could eventually help resolve that hurt. So maybe it’s acknowledgement of privilege that we need to be able to have this conversation, and the willingness to be gentle with each other and ourselves. I just hope we all keep talking, and supporting each other even if we don’t agree.

        • meg

          Look, if I were to write a body image post it would be, “how living with constant pain makes you grateful for the body you are lucky enough to have.” It wouldn’t be about weight, that’s for sure.

      • meg

        Please see my comments below. Guess what? You have probably have privileges with your body that I don’t have, and thank God. So don’t be so quick to judge me has having the easy road. One of the reasons I love my body? I live with constant pain. And I’m pretty happy for every moment we have together, out of pain. Weight is not so much my main worry. So be careful. Jumping to conclusions about others is super hurtful.

    • http://quiltonthetracks.posterous.com Margaret M.

      “Meg, I love you, but there was definitely a nasty little voice in the back of my head going, “Wow, that’s super that you feel so good about yourself. Talk to me when you’re 250lbs.””

      Dude, my best friend has no body issues. I am so unmitigatedly (YES IT’S A WORD!) happy for her–and certainly also for Meg–because I would never wish this pain on my worst enemy.

    • http://oversized-cliches.blogspot.com Zan

      High-five to you Internet-Reading-Eloquent-Smarty-Pants.

      Awesome comment :)

    • meg

      Girlfriend, I grew up built like a linebacker. Seriously, I was a very hefty child. And then I was so painfully underweight that it was a health risk and I was constantly mocked about it. And then I got a terrifying illness in my mid-twenties, wasn’t sure I was going to recover, and have lived with a pain condition for the past six years. And through that I’ve always loved my body. Which is pretty lucky, but maybe not so easy.

      Which is just a reminder that we should be very careful to look at people, judge the face value and say, “Oh well, you just have it easy.” Not so. Which is the point you were making, I think. But I felt like you slammed me in the middle of making that point, because I’m a socially acceptable weight, so it’s easy to make assumptions. No, I’m not 250 pounds, but I wake up in pain a lot, and have for a lot of years, and have had all kinds of other weight struggles. But somehow, I was blessed with healthy body image… which I need, considering the rest of it.

      • Anonymous

        I was *definitely* not meaning to slam you. I was sharing my internal, knee-jerk response, which I tried to point out was not helpful to the discourse, and that I found value in taking a step back from the knee-voices and realize that comparing ourselves to the imagined awesome lives of others gets us nowhere. Sorry if that got lost amid my rambling.

        • meg

          I know. But the problem is, when you brought up my size, it opened the door for other people too be judgmental about my size. So I wanted to jump in and firmly say that my size is just what you see, it’s the least of the story. And is, of course, not the point of this discussion.

  • Stephanie

    Wonderful post, Lauren! My fiance and I got engaged and shortly thereafter got to run off and spend a semester in Asia, where we let some of our attitudes towards nutrition and general health get a bit…lax. But then we came back and a routine doctor’s appointment found that my fiance had hypertension. All of a sudden, health, and healthy living, became a big part of our dialogue about our lives together going forward. We started cooking more, looking closely at labels (who knew that sodium is in EVERYTHING?!), and fitting in 4 or 5 gym visits (or at least long walks) together each week. Friends who know that I’ve always been gym-averse ask me if it’s for the wedding — but I answer that it’s for the marriage.

  • http://nickandnoragettingmarried.wordpress.com Annie

    I think the variety of reactions to Lauren’s post is a great example of how we’re all dealing with body issues in some way, no matter what our background or what the scale says. It’s a complicated issue, and I really hope someday weight won’t be such an emotional topic for people. Whether you agree with Lauren’s post or not, I’m really glad it’s here because it gives us all the opportunity to talk about what frustrates us about issues of size/weight, specifically in relation to getting married and the wedding industry.

    I definitely get caught in that wedding-weight-craziness. But I try to remind myself that my fiance has loved me no matter what weight I’ve been at. (And there’s been some major fluctuations.) He’s going to look at me the same way on our wedding day whether or not I lose/gain weight. And I hope that’s what I remember years from now, not what size I was at.

  • http://ripeninglife.wordpress.com Aimee

    Healthy…lifestyle…together. Yes. I totally hear your point Lauren! Its what is right for you as a couple, committing to live your best lives together for ETERNITY :) which for some of us means a lifestyle adjustment (whether its adding exercise, cutting back on fast food/meat/sugar, adding leafy greens, curbing alcohol abuse, quitting smoking, losing weight, whatever!)

    My husband and I were both “overweight” at our wedding, but still pretty active and healthy. We didn’t stress about it too much. We made a concious decision that after the wedding, we would focus on getting down to an easier weight to fluctuate 10 pounds around. We want to grow old together, be active, and not worry about diabetes (which runs in my family too) and knee replacements.

    Everyone has their own idea of what healthy is to them. I don’t think Lauren in any way tried to tell anyone else what their “healthy” should be. Weight Watchers has helped me a lot. Its a great resource for someone who feels losing a little (or a lot of) weight would make them a healthier person. Thanks for an honest, awesome as always post Lauren!

  • fleda

    Lauren and Meg, thank you! You are brave women for delving into this topic in a public forum, and I find the way you discuss it SO REFRESHINGLY SANE. Weight and food and exercise are crazy issues in America, and there’s really no way to talk about them without making us all get agitated, I think. This is as good a treatment as I’ve seen!

    As a former anorexic, I found the constant barrage of online weight-loss advertising during my engagement to be pretty irritating. But here’s the complicated part: I brought my weight down five or ten pounds for the wedding, sort of on purpose. (This weight was still totally within the “healthy range” prescribed by doctors). It was a day when I really cared about looking beautiful, and to me being a bit thinner than usual makes me feel that way. It was not unlike wearing makeup or wearing my fancy dress. I gained the weight back slowly over the next four months or so.

    Is this f**’d up? I don’t really think so. In my experience, weight and body issues, and weight gain or loss, really depend on the emotions driving your actions. (As commenters above me have eloquently expressed!) I know what it’s like to make yourself hungry because you are addicted to that particular high because you are depressed and/or can’t deal with your life, so I know that the kind of weight loss I did before my wedding was not that. It was not about bad feelings or the refusal to feel feelings. The difference let me see how far I’d come since I was sick.

    Obviously, my willingness to get thinner in order to feel prettier means I’m subject to our consumer culture’s prevailing beauty ideals. I don’t deny that or say it’s a good thing. BUT I will say that I think it’s a shame that thinness (and athletic fitness) sometimes seem to have been co-opted by that consumer culture such that they seem threatening and/or oppressive to those who feel they aren’t thin or fit. These things should seem available to everyone, rather than seeming threatening. It’s sad that (in our society) a story about someone getting thinner or fitter and feeling happy in doing so inevitably makes someone else feel bad–because it sits in such a screwy, complicated cultural context.

    • lorna

      Thanks for this, i wasn’t feeling brave enough to comment like this, felt like i might get shot down. i’m pretty slim, and i love my wedding dress, and it fits really well, but it looks a wee bit ‘lumpy’ at the moment. i know that by making some small changes to my diet and lifestyle i can change that. so i am. would i do the same for a different dress? probably.

      i’m don’t want to make anyone else feel bad about themselves, but i also feel like it’s a little bit wrong that i feel that commenting on my experiences would result in negative feedback. we all deal with things differently, and making the decisions i do for me, are certainly not an attempt to place judgement or shame on anyone else.

      Thanks for the post lauren, i’m glad you’re doing what makes you happy!

  • Arachna

    Another 2 cents on health and weight. Even though the commentators on here acknowledge that health does not equal weight I think a lot of the comments as well as the post are very misleading.

    The healthiest thing to do is regular excercise.

    Exercise will not make you lose weight.

    To lose weight 99.99% of the time you need to change what you eat or how much – this is not as effective in improving your health as exercise.

    Slightly overweight people live slightly longer than underweight or ideal weight people (using “medical” definitions of those terms). No one is sure why, might have something to do with fragility in old age. So if what you really want is to make sure you have as long a life with your husband as possible you should keep those 15 pounds.

    So why are people who are concerned about their health and living longer and not at all about their bodies… changing what they eat instead of just exercising? I don’t think it’s conscious but no I don’t think it’s about health.

    • http://breadandcheeseplease.blogspot.com Charise

      I’d have to disagree with your last statment. Changing what you eat IS about health and living longer. If you go from eating lots of processed foods to eating more fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, etc., you ARE making yourself healthier, whether it’s weight-loss related not.

  • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

    We’re both working out more now than before because we’re both working out. It’s incentive to me to get up and go because he is. And he gets up and goes because I do. We don’t eat frozen burritos and cheerios for dinner any more because there’s someone else there to help cook, eat, and clean. It’s wonderful how having that partner who’s so committed to you in everything really can be a support in the big and small stuff.

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com Jo

    I agree with some other commenters that it’d be awesome to get more posts on differing weight/body image/exercise/lifestyle journeys, if only because I don’t think Lauren should be the person fielding all of this, because truthfully, most of the issues aren’t about Lauren. I felt like Lauren did a fabulous job writing about her personal journey, and did very well keeping her own negative body image separate from something that was going out to the public, which helps other people not feel bad. :) High five on making a lifestyle decision together!

    I’m sad that there is so much shame surrounding this post, because weight is something society shames us in, and while some of the comments have been right on in terms of pointing out other perspectives without shaming, others have made me cringe because if I’d put myself forth on a really sensitive issue like this I would have crumbled to some of the comments. Congrats for people who have formed these differing opinions well, and yay APW for always being controversial! :) I hope lots more posts come out of this one.

  • http://www.kindofamess.com Alyssa

    I used to go clothes shopping with my mom as a teen and we both HATED it. Me, because I had body issues, and she because her daughter turned into a raging b*tch who took her insecurity out on the lovely lady who’d given birth to her. Mostly because my mom is and always has been at the very least 4 sizes smaller than me since I turned about 13.
    But there was once instance in particular that made me at least attempt to stop being mean to her and to take her feelings into account. She was complaining about not fitting into a pair of jeans that she had and I scoffed at her because oh, boo hoo, she couldn’t fit into her size 8’s anymore, and then she looked me dead in the eye and said, “How big do I have to be to be able to talk about my weight, Alyssa? Just let me know the cut-off so I can keep my mouth shut until then.”

    I bring this up because though I’m proud that everyone seems to be handling the post well despite disagreeing at points, I think there is an undercurrent that’s unfair. If this post was written by someone who looked “typically” overweight, would it have garnered the same reactions? Would people still feel ashamed because the author talks about how they handled their body issues and how they focused on feeling better about themselves and being their version of healthy, which put them in a better headspace? Would it still be a big deal that Weight Watchers was mentioned as part of the process? (Seriously y’all, Lizzie of Love Your Way said something amazing this weekend that is totally true about Weight Watchers. She stated that it’s just a brilliant marketing scheme for doing what people have said for years. Eat healthy and move more. But because they have cool branding and fun apps, you pay them for it. Bastards.)
    And if women who are happily overweight are allowed to rejoice in their bodies and their happiness at loving who they are, why can’t Meg be gleeful about her healthy body image? I wish more of us could be like, “WHATEVER, I AM THE HOTNESS.” Cause I blog-stalk most of you on here and you ARE. (Seriously. APW has some beautiful readers….)

    I ask all this because I am in the midst of my own struggles with weight. And while I find posts about people accepting their bodies beautiful and I’m super happy for them, I wish I could get their confidence. I wish I be accepting of my own body the way I’m accepting of theirs. However, while I am not happy thin (seriously, my head looks weird and huge and I lose my boobs and that right there is a TRAVESTY.) I AM happy thinner. Because I can move more easily and feel better and I know that I need to lose weight to get to that happy spot. It’s for me, not societal expectations. And that’s what I feel Lauren’s post is about. If she removed the personal aspects, like Weight Watchers or ShakeWeight, then it wouldn’t be the story of her journey. APW strives to post the posts that can be inspiring to all types. If you have the story of your own journey, and it differs from Lauren’s, SEND IT IN. Please, you never know who you may help now or in the future.
    But if you’re still struggling and don’t find this post helpful, keep reading. People have posted a few links to stories that might help you and I hope they continue to do so. (But not in a “this post sucks, read THIS ONE.” Cause that’s sh***y.)

    • http://hitchdied.wordpress.com Robin HitchDied

      “If this post was written by someone who looked “typically” overweight, would it have garnered the same reactions? Would people still feel ashamed because the author talks about how they handled their body issues and how they focused on feeling better about themselves and being their version of healthy, which put them in a better headspace? Would it still be a big deal that Weight Watchers was mentioned as part of the process?”

      Yes. Lauren’s size is one of the elements at play in creating the dynamics of this discussion, but we’d still have these comments if a larger woman wrote this post. That’s just what weight talk does to a lot of us. It’s not their fault, it’s not Lauren’s fault, it’s our damn culture’s fault.

    • Amy

      Alyssa – I love your comment, and I think you make some very good points. But, I think Sara Eileen made a crucial comment above about privilege. Meg has the advantage of operating in this country as someone who’s always been more or less within the bounds of a socially “acceptable” weight . So I can understand how people who are overweight, or obese, and have been shamed for that to call her out on not acknowledging the fact that she operates from a place of privilege.
      I really do think its awesome for her that she has a great body image, and I think more of us can aspire to that, but it is a lot easier to get to that when the world you live in positively reinforces what you weigh (or at least doesn’t negatively reinforce it).

      • http://www.kindofamess.com Alyssa

        But she doesn’t deserve shame or feel apologetic for that, nor does it need calling out. In this one instance, she got a cultural pass. Yay for her.

        Let’s work on building up those that don’t feel the same way, rather than calling out those who have a mind-set that we might envy. It’s just a emotionally healthier place to be.

        • http://saraeileen.com Sara Eileen

          I run into this a lot in conversations about my weight, actually…because it’s totally wrong for us to limit another person’s self expression or prevent them from talking about their own insecurities. Period. Full stop.

          But I also think it’s important to acknowledge that privilege exists – a lot of us sort of assume it does, and we make comments with best intentions and without adding a whole bunch of extra context (because context can be exhausting).

          I really, really, really did NOT mean my comment as a way of calling Meg or anyone else out, or of adding shame to the discussion. I think we all sometimes need a privilege check (myself most definitely included), even if in a loving and supportive way.

          This got touched on above when talking about the difference between a discussion about insecurity and a discussion about weight. A lot of us are insecure about our weight, so the two get conflated.

          Somewhat off topic, and not something for everyone, but…One of the ways I try to keep my personal body privilege in line, while still being honest about my feelings, is to try and say “I feel fat” instead of “I am fat.” It’s totally, totally legitimate for me to say I feel fat, because sometimes I do, and sometimes the cultural messaging really gets it me, and it’s painful, and that sucks.

          But I honestly don’t believe it’s okay for me to say “I am fat.” I’m not; I fall well within the “culturally approved” definition of a female body. The distinction – and the ramification that distinction has upon my experience – is important.

        • Zoe

          I hear you Alyssa. But don’t we, to some degree, have to acknowledge issues of privilege at play?

          I don’t know if anyone here reads Jezebel, but it used to happen all the time on weight posts that someone would jump in and say “well I’m a size zero and people tell me I’m too skinny so life is hard for me too and its the same thing as people being fat-phobic.” And then a big debate would ensue. Because, today, in our society, you are treated VERY differently by the outside world depending on whether you are fat or thin. (obviously, there are some gray areas, but you know it when you see it). Without acknowledging that thin people have a certain level of privilege in our society (something that is not Meg’s fault, is not Lauren’s fault) we limit our ability to speak honestly with each other.

          • http://www.kindofamess.com Alyssa

            I understand that, I just think that the privilege was covered when she admitted she was impervious to the nonsense. Delightfully so.
            And if the problem is in her not being upset about missing out on the bag o’ problems that comes with it, well, any hand-wringing on the subject would be disingenuous.

            There are certain privileges that I don’t think we need to point out because we know they are there. And I don’t see a way that it could have been brought up or acknowleged without making it a bigger deal than it is.

            But it’s one sentence within a post with a lot more good points that I think are more important than this. We’ll agree to disagree?

          • Lindsay

            Yup, I commented above because I’m skinny and I hate it due to the shame I get about it all the time. But how you feel about your body is a separate issue from being privileged. I probably am treated differently in the real world so that part of life may be easier, but that does not change the fact that I still don’t feel comfortable with my little boy body and have body issues just like everyone else.

        • Anna

          It’s unfortunate that people are upset that Meg has a healthy body image and Lauren is working on hers. Isn’t the whole point to encourage women to feel good about their bodys?

          Having a negative body image is so common that I feel guilty for loving my body.

          It isn’t perfect but it takes all the abuse I throw at it and still gets me through each and every day.

          • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

            Amen.

            (I exactly-ed, but this was needed too)

      • meg

        I didn’t get a cultural pass. I was born pretty chunky, I didn’t have body image issues then, I got really skinny, it was tougher then, and then I got seriously ill. Something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Then, well, I was just glad I had a body, and I was in it. I relate to my body in terms of the amount of pain I’m in, and if I can move and have energy today. I didn’t get into all that, because this wasn’t the time or the place. But be VERY CAREFUL before you slam people for how easy things are for them, when you really have no idea.

    • Madge

      Alyssa,
      as always, you nailed it. as someone who is “thin” and not 100% happy with it (lack of b00bs for a start!) it always seems like “thinner” people aren’t supposed to say things like that. thanks for keeping the field level.

    • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com ka

      “How big do I have to be to be able to talk about my weight, Alyssa? Just let me know the cut-off so I can keep my mouth shut until then.”

      I <3 your mom, and you for sharing this. At one point or another, these issues affect like 99% of us (unless you're lucky like Meg!), and we all deserve the chance to tell our story as we're experiencing it, and receive support in return.

    • http://beckybopwrites.blogspot.com/ Becky

      “How big do I have to be to be able to talk about my weight, Alyssa? Just let me know the cut-off so I can keep my mouth shut until then.”

      Yes. I have definitely had this conversation before. Being thin does not mean that a person isn’t allowed to be unhappy with his/her body at times, just as being not-thin doesn’t mean that a person is automatically unhappy with his/her body. And I would hope that this is a space where everyone can talk about their bodies and their relationships with their bodies, regardless of their size. Yes, thin people are privileged in American society, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune to the messages coming from all over our society, and it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to share their feelings and experiences.

    • http://carmarblogs.blogspot.com CarMar

      You brought up something I was planning to comment on: I love APW because there have been posts about women who are happily overweight, rejoice in their bodies, and love who they are and now we have Lauren’s post about using their engagement as an excuse to evaluate all things, including their not so healthy habits. Both are wonderful. Neither buys into the WIC weight-loss-for-your-wedding-day craziness. Yay APW!

  • Faith

    This was a post about getting healthy. It is a lifestyle change. It is a mental shift.

    It’s time for all of us to gut check and say, “Am I responding negatively to this because I KNOW I am making more unhealthy choices than healthy choices on a daily basis?”.

    It has very little to do with the number on the scale and more about what Lauren is saying, be healthy for one another and your children.

    We can talk straight health here. Poor food choices and little exercise leads to heart disease, diabetes, musclar atrophy, poor joints, etc. THAT’S where we need to examine ourselves to see where we are in regards to our physical and mental health.

    • Karen

      It’s hard to know where to reply when you come in so late to a discussion!

      What I keep coming back to while reading these comments — and what’s been touched on to various extents by various commenters — is that many people are blinded by the fact that Lauren and Kamel’s let’s-get-healthy plan happened to involve weight…and overlapped with the pressure many of us have felt to lose weight *for* something…like, say, a wedding. What I took away from Lauren’s post was that she feels good about losing weight because (1) it makes her feel healthier, (2) she’s doing it with the love of her life, and (3) she’s *not* doing it to fit into a wedding dress.

      My question is…what if this hadn’t been about weight? What if it had been about quitting smoking? “I’ve had a terrible relationship with cigarettes all my life, but when we decided to quit together — and realized that we were doing it for our future together and not because the WIC says that a bride who smells of smoke isn’t really a bride — I found the commitment I needed to make it stick…and now I can walk up a flight of stairs without feeling winded, which is a really good thing to be able to do.” Without the weight stigma that most of us feel or have felt all our lives, would we have reacted to Lauren’s post differently?

      • Sarah

        Agreed. It’s a post about insecurity with whatever deal, and making a change for the healthier … not about weight.

        I love that you changed the one word and it all still made sense. My guess is that the comments would be filled with “good for you!!” instead of hurt feelings.

        I think we all need to take a step back, re-read what she wrote and remember, this is about LAUREN and KAMEL, not a commentary on what the entire world “needs” to do.

      • http://quiltonthetracks.posterous.com Margaret M.

        Couple quick thoughts on this:

        A1) First, see Arachna’s post on health and weight above, so I don’t just go crazy repeating it everywhere.

        A2) I would hope that a discussion about a couple trying to quit cigarettes would be handled with deep, abiding compassion for the couple trying to quit something that is so powerfully addictive. Compassion that is, frankly, often absent from our national conversation about smoking. Compassion that is often missing from discussions about weight, too.

        B) Cigarettes and weight are fundamentally different, from a straight up health perspective. You can’t go cold turkey from food. You have to eat. Also? The science behind the connections between weight and heart disease are also far less conclusive than those linking smoking with emphysema and lung cancer. Diabetes and weight often coexist, but proving whether or not the relationship is causal is another story.

        • Sarah

          B) You can’t go cold turkey from food (and it wouldn’t be healthy if you did), but you could cold turkey change your eating habits. I’m not saying that’s the most effective thing to do, but you could.

          It’s true that correlation is not causation. It’s true that some thin people get type 2 diabetes, and that thin doesn’t necessarily mean healthy. But it’s also true that there’s a strong link between obesity and diabetes, both epidemiologically and in animal studies linking fat tissue to specific proteins to insulin resistance. And diabetes isn’t the only health risk that increases with obesity. What level of proof are you looking for?

    • elizajane519

      Obviously this is a hot topic. But the “I-can’t believe-this-is on-APW” or “this made me feel bad” posts are sad.
      Lauren started to eat better and work out more. Yeahs for Lauren! Congratulations on making healthy life choices! Every woman has weight issues and sometimes we take it too personally. But, it’s not always about you. I don’t know her but, I would guess that Lauren did not write this post to make anyone feel bad or shameful.
      Lauren improved her life and is happier, that is all. If she had stopped smoking or drinking too much alcohol or spending all her money on shoes everyone would have applauded her decision and maybe the smokers, alcoholics and debtors would have felt bad but they would have seen that someone else made consistently healthier choices and felt better. That’s what this is about, making better choices feeling good about it and sharing your story.

  • http://amusinglist.wordpress.com Christina

    Lauren, great post. I really appreciate hearing your story. And it’s very inspiring!

    I myself lost weight for the wedding in a way that felt totally unhealthy. For me, at that time, thin = not healthy and yucky. Then after the wedding I binged on everything i ever wanted (hello I work at a coffee shop! free pastries here too!!) and I continue to feel yucky. I have dieted my whole life, up and down, and I think it’s time for me to take control too. I don’t need to be thin. I just want to be healthy. Not eating everything in sight, and not NOT eating. Something like you and Kamel have. Anyway – that’s my story. Thanks for your Post lauren. Food for thought, eh? :)

  • Edelweiss

    One other piece to this, very heavy (honestly, no pun intended) topic is how your activity/eating lifestyle is effected by your relationship and changes as you enter a relationship. I LOVE that Lauren acknowledged that the content-ness of her relationship led to eating more desserts and staying home and having snacks – because I think that happens. And I think we influence our partners’ lifestyle habits and being conscious of that influence is important.

    My eating habits dramatically shifted when my intended and I moved in together. I was always a big eater during the day and a light snacker at night. He was the opposite and had judgement against my eating choices that were unfounded but driven by a fear of knowing that woman (and men) do starve themselves. We had to negotiate how to adjust to each others habits in a healthy way that still allowed us to have meals together.

    His activity level during the day is much different than mine and he has great metabolism. So when we’re tight on time or low on motivation, I depriortize his ability to work out and priortize my own. But working out impacts your adreniline and seratonin and I had to learn to pay attention to his needs in that area.

    There is also the body image stuff. My intended hates when I look in a mirror because I don’t see what he sees. I hate going to the beach and he finds swimming in the ocean with me very romantic. And while it’s just an annoyance now, we are supposed to make each other better and be healthy influences on each other and I’m working to let him be the healthy mental influence I need in this area. Friends of mine that have strayed from their marriages often have done so because of low self-esteem. Trusting his view of me could end up being incredibly valuable down the road.

    There is so much pressure and negative feeling about body image, but I’d hate for Lauren’s thoughtful post, which happend to involve a company affiliated with weight loss, to get lost in that whirlwind. Just as we’ve discussed the importance of talking difficult things that require compromise, negotiation and support from your partner: financial futures, religion, plans around terrible illness – we shouldn’t shy away from talking to our partners about how we want to treat our bodies.

    So thank you for writing this Lauren, I’m adding it to our pre-martial discussion list.

    • http://engineerbaker.blogspot.com Caitlin

      My husband has the same reaction whenever I freak out about my weight. Well, it’s more that he’ll walk over while I’m pinching my tummy or thighs, grab my ass, and tell me how beautiful I look. Best. Solution. Ever.

    • Natalia

      A thousand times exactly. For this was not a post about weight or diet or even body image. Its a VERY important lifestyle conversation the NEEDS to be had before a wedding. A wedding and engagement are about combining lives and lifestyles. Partners should talk to each other about about their lifestyle priorities. These issues do not exist in a vacuum – for example gym membership is high on my priority list my partner could care less he just walks everywhere – we fight about the money i spend on the gym. I bring a lunch everyday – my husband likes going to get fast food because it gets him out of the office (we fight about the expense of eating out and i complain about the values of the places who choses to spend our money) I was happily a vegetarian year and he would eat bacon at every meal. He is the main cook and us enjoying diner together is more to me than being vegetarian (and he compromised by cooking a veggi meal every few days.) All of these things contribute of our happiness, satisfaction and wyes weight body image and all that other jazz. But those are only indicators of the larger lifestyle choices.

  • http://mrsmichelley.blogspot.com Michelle

    This is a tricky topic. I really liked Lauren’s post because my husband and I had a similar experience… We wanted to be healthy together for the rest of our lives, so we started working out together and eating healthier. It shouldn’t be a matter of diet restrictions or miserable trips to the gym. We don’t work out every day but we try to have fun when we do, and sometimes we’ll just take a walk or go hiking instead of hitting the gym. And we CERTAINLY don’t limit ourselves food-wise. Part of the reason we work out is so we can enjoy eating great meals together, even if those great meals are made with low-sodium and fat-free ingredients (or even if they are made with tons of butter and cheese sometimes).

    I think one of the most important goals to reach is when your size or weight isn’t an issue anymore. I hardly ever actually think about my size, either positively or negatively. When you reach the point that you are neither controlled by food (whether it’s obsessing over it being healthy or when the next chocolate cake will be) or by thoughts about your weight, that’s really the ideal. When you can live your daily life without worrying about being able to make it up the stairs or whether you look fat when you’re trying to seduce your person. I think that’s where Lauren was trying to be, and she succeeded!

  • http://www.greencheapwedding.wordpress.com Jessica

    Thanks so much for posting this. In many places, all weight loss is villainized as if any desire to improve one’s health is a reflection of an eating disorder or poor body image. Not all weight loss is about trying to fit into society’s mold or not loving one’s self. It is because I love myself and my family that I want to be as healthy as possible. I do not want to be a burden (as medical issues often are), and I want to be with them as long as possible. I know that thin does not equal healthy, but it is foolish to pretend that excess weight doesn’t point to health issues as well.
    The goal for everyone should be to be healthy and happy, and there is a wide range of weights and sizes at which we can each as individuals achieve that goal. But to demonize everyone who knows they are outside that goal and wants to reach it under the guise of being accepting of differences in us all is just as wrong as being prejudiced against an individual for being to thin or too heavy.

  • Jillian

    Excellent post, I’m so glad you covered this topic Lauren! I’m ashamed to say, that when we got engaged earlier this year, after I had calmed down from all the excitement, my fears about my weight set it. I was suddenly thinking “Ok, well , no more carbs/dessert/snacks for me! Get ready for a year and a half of torture!” And then I started working out every day. THIS IS NOT THE WAY TO GO ABOUT IT. I felt awful for awhile and was constantly feeling guilty for every single thing I ate. It got so bad that one day I was way too tired to work out, I turned into a crying mess and yelled at my fiance over something so dumb. And bless him, he said “I’m taking away all your workout dvds and ordering us a pizza”. I could see that the way I was going about trying to be healthy was negatively affecting both of us.

    Now that my head is screwed on right again, I do workouts I enjoy and I’m eating healthier.
    I work fulltime, and since I’m no longer a college athlete, my workouts aren’t scheduled and planned for me.. I have to make that time all by myself. There’s no coach to yell at me anymore. But sometimes, I am really tired when I get home and I’m not motivated to go for a run or lift. I give myself days off from time to time and feel zero guilt about it.
    When your fiance asks you to marry them, it’s not a conditional clause. “Will you marry me and by accepting this ring you agree to less X amount of pounds and look your absolute best for our wedding day?” FALSE.

    So do what feels right for you! And get your partner involved if you can (Lauren, I love that part of your post!)

    • Vmed

      LOL re: not a conditional clause.

  • http://www.delightningstrikes.blogspot.com Sarah

    I want to applaud Lauren for coming on here and sharing her story. She’s brave as hell to tackle such a touchy topic in this community of strong, opinionated women. I also think this should be on the list of “stuff to talk about before you get married” that Meg was compiling a few weeks ago i.e. How will you work as a team to combat your family histories of health? Lauren knows she’s at risk for diabetes, so she’s creating change in her life to battle that, which has a side effect of her weight going down. I love that. I hope other readers will have the guts to submit their stories, even if it means facing opposing views in the comments.

  • http://redheadreports.blogspot.com Ali

    @ Margaret,

    Thanks for elaborating, because I completely understand where you were coming from now.

    You’re absolutely right, it is highly uneffective for us to “condone” a certain lifestyle. Everyone has the freedom to make their own choices, and some people are stubborn and prideful enough to make the “wrong” choices just to spite others.

    So, I agree with what you’re saying that on the macro level, it is important for us to focus on advocating health.

    :)

  • http://halfpintwords.wordpress.com Christen

    Yes. This is a topic Aussie and I come back to … a lot.

    He was an obese child. And is still on the unhealthy side. His mother is obese and just had lap-band surgery because there were no other options.

    I’m on the healthy-ish side, but even a gain or loss of five pounds shows up on my 5’2″ frame.

    But, yes. It IS lifestyle. It’s not getting schnockered off bourbon and ginger every night. It’s not eating pizza from Domino’s because we just don’t feel like cooking … three days a week. It’s not drinking PBR because “hey, it’s like 50% water.”

    It is knowing what problems have arisen in your families. It’s knowing what the greatest risks (as Lauren said: heart disease, diabetes) to you are. It’s about making that commitment to one another, saying “I do” because you really DO want to be with them for the rest of your lives, and you want those lives to be long.

  • hoppy bunny

    I wish I could EXACTLY this post. Thanks Lauren!

  • Erin-Leigh

    I admit that I was expecting a different post than the one Lauren wrote from the title. I was one of the readers who read the post and couldn’t help but feel like, “But she’s thin…”

    But, you know, now I realize that it’s impossible to read a post without imposing your own situation on it. When you’re overweight, it’s very difficult not to buy into the “When I’m thin…” fantasy, and particularly so when you’re talking about weddings and body image. Kudos to Lauren for slaying this demon. The rest of us who struggle with body image issues will just have to keep fighting to make whatever changes are necessary to accept ourselves.

  • CJ

    I think it’s good that we’re talking about weight and weddings again (and I have to say, I loved loved loved the post on “Weighing what you weigh on your wedding day” – or whatever the cutesy title was). And that we’re adding in weight and wedding and marriages – because I feel like the marriage part is rarely talked about, and it’s important.

    I lost weight for the wedding. I was already at a good place physically (eating well, working out 3 days a week, lots of walking) and mentally (I finally bought a whole new work wardrobe, and treated myself to fancy jeans). But for the wedding, I wanted to be skinny. Not thinner, thin. For once, I wanted to look at a picture of myself and not nitpick my body. And I figured it would be easier to double up on the gym time and cut out dessert and wine than learn to truly be okay with how I looked. (Because new wardrobe aside, I clearly wasn’t in love with my body).

    And it worked. But now that the wedding is over, the weight is coming back (because people don’t cut you as much slack after the wedding – ie the expect you to eat, and hang out with them, and generally not live at the gym. And not go to the gym during work.). And while I’m still smaller than I was before, I’m a lot less happy.

    So, even losing the weight for the wedding doesn’t make you happy in the long term. And I wish I had a brilliant ending to that thought and this post that summed up what would make you (or really me) happy with your bodies in the long term, but I don’t.

    • http://quiltonthetracks.posterous.com Margaret M.

      There’s a concept in happiness research called the hedonic treadmill. If you get something you want really really bad, like a BMW or a new sofa, at first you’re like whee, I got what I wanted! Then after a while you adjust and it becomes your new normal and stops making you so happy. That’s why people are always striving to be more wealthy, and have more more more.

      I suspect that weight loss is the same deal. I believe I saw a study of weight loss surgery patients who were elated about their weight loss the first year, but then eventually that blistering happiness faded because they adjusted to their new size. Humans just kind of adjust. Moral of the story: it’s best to look for happiness elsewhere.

      • http://www.betterinrealife.com Lauren

        Or! it can be something you stop having to worry about and you move on to other things to conquer in your life. Especially if that mental nagging can be lifted and other, more productive things put in its place.

        • http://quiltonthetracks.posterous.com Margaret M.

          I am very doubtful that anyone who loses significant amounts of weight ever gets to stop worrying about it. Just ain’t how our bodies work. See: just about every study ever done on weight loss and keeping it off. Researchers go bonkers if people manage to ONLY gain back 75% of the weight people lost, that kind of thing, etc. If they do manage worry-free maintenance of their goal weight, they are the exception. And lucky them!

          • El

            That’s worth noting: weight loss is rarely permanent. In fact, the diet industry is structured around this knowledge–if it was permanent and attainable, there’d be no profit to be had. And the damaging effects of weight cycling (losing, gaining, losing, gaining) on our bodies are well documented.

            So, being able to lose weight and then never worry about it again is unlikely and unrealistic for many/most people. It seems a more practical way to unburden ourselves from that worry (I’m talking structurally, here) is to re-frame the discussion and reject the way we’ve set up “health” to correspond to weight and/or what our bodies look like.

          • meg

            Which was the whole point of the post, by the by. Lauren let go of weight, and realized the point was health, and making better choices, to stay around for a long time.

          • Arachna

            Which is great. But why do people never do these kind of posts (that I see) where they talk about getting more sleep on a regular basis because they want to make better choices and stay around for a long time? Or about exercise and exercise alone with nothing about food? Both of those choices would be valid and fit that narrative. But every, single, time, I’ve seen this narrative, and I’ve seen it a fair amount it has included a change in what the OP eats. And it’s not that eating better isn’t good for you! It is! And I applaud that people eat more dark greens, the American diet is quite bad when it comes to those lovely vegetables. People should eat better and I’m all for it. But is it just coincidence that everyone who posts about making lifestyle changes for one’s health posts about food when there are many equally important to one’s health lifestyle changes one could make? I don’t think it’s coincidence and I don’t think it has a thing to do with the individual posters but I think it’s okay to acknowledge that absent coincidence the motivating factor is more than just a concern for health and a long life – and how could it not be? after all we all live in this society.

          • FM

            Well, when someone is talking about changing eating habits from eating “large amounts of candy” and “a whole bag of doritos”, then I think it’s pretty valid to be talking about changing eating habits to improve health. And I think those kinds of eating habits are not that uncommon (I could name several of my own unhealthy eating habits), and many of us could probably stand to change them for our health. Yes, there are lots of things you can do for your health – sleeping optimum hours, moving your body regularly, getting fresh air, not drinking too much, not smoking, drinking more water, etc., etc., some of which Lauren also touched on in her post. But I think it’s strange to say that eating habits have no place in a description of a healthy lifestyle. And by the way, all of the things you named and that I named above other than not smoking (well, depending on what you’re smoking) also have been shown to lead to weight loss by some study or another.

  • http://explainingitall.blogspot.com Clarissa

    It’s interesting to read all the comments here – I think Lauren’s post has provoked a great discussion. The chief thing that I took away from it, and that few people seem to have commented on, is that both she and Kamel recognized that when they were making a commitment to each other for life, they have a vested interest in keeping each other healthy and feeling good. Obviously that means different things to different couples, but the point is that they discussed it, figured out what kind of lifestyle they want to lead together, and are supporting each other in pursuit of it.

    I thought this was great because although my fiancee and I have discussed a lot about our future lives together, one thing that we haven’t talked about is our day-to-day health. I guess I had assumed we would continue in our separate spheres of going for runs and then chugging liters of sugared soda (him) and going to yoga and smoking the occasional cigarette (me) without really talking about our health habits, good and bad. I’m looking forward to having this discussion with him now, so thank you for that, Lauren!

    So for me, this post really wasn’t about weight at all – but I’m also a person who, due to a medical condition, has to eat a really restricted diet that keeps me at a weight that I’ve never had a problem with. So I’m speaking as someone who is privileged in that sense and doesn’t have body image issues. I understand how other people could feel differently and I’m glad this is a place where we’re able to talk about it!

  • LV Anna

    I so appreciate the comments on this post, and how everyone feels able to express their thoughts – both those in agreement, and also those who didn’t get the warm fuzzies from Lauren’s essay. Talking about how we feel breaks down the shame, and helps us identify the underlying assumptions we all make on the subject thanks to popular culture, media and advertising, and ambient knowledge.

    Weight and health are such difficult topics for any group to discuss because they speak directly to our self worth. We WANT to do what is best for us, but when we don’t make it to the stratospheric ideal (all delicious home cooked food, all the time and mostly organic, dusty rock climbing shoes in the corner next to the mud splattered mountain bike, single source indulgence treats that we eat reverently and in very small portions) we fold back into shame and make ourselves crazy. Sound familiar?

    I don’t really have an end point except to say that as difficult as this conversation has been, we NEED to keep having it. And I truly applaud the APW staff for taking on this topic, and each and every one of us for participating.

  • Laura

    What a great post! My fiance and I have struggled with our weight in the past as well, and we’ve since come to love working out together. It means so much more not only when it’s for your health vs. image, but when it’s something you can enjoy with your partner. We hope to instill this attitude in our future family as well. Thanks for the grounded advice!

  • http://twitter.com/dspensah Danielle

    So, I’m overweight. I discussed it in my Wedding Graduate post from back in February. When I initially read this, I had the same twinge of.. well, jealousy, that’s really what it was. Not in a, “Man, that Lauren girl, argh, she stinks!” but in a, “Wow, that’s pretty awesome that she’s doing that and man why can’t I do that? UGH.”

    I’m honestly happy I didn’t do it for the wedding, because it was already stressful enough planning it (among the other ridiculous amount of life-changing events going on at the time) and I have a lot of weight to lose. But, that being said, while planning the wedding I had to deal with some extremely emotionally painful moments that involved my unhappiness with my weight/self-image. It sucked and was something I honestly didn’t tell anyone about UNTIL I wrote my Wedding Grad post (and cried my eyes out while doing it).

    Now? I think I’m just “jealous” (I’m not even sure it’s jealousy vs. me being insecure) of Lauren (but yet happy for her at the same time because she was so so nice to me during the process of me writing my Wedding Graduate post) and even though the post was about HER, I’m looking at myself over here going, “Okay Danielle, why can’t you get your act together and lose weight?”

    I think it’s really really hard at times to read posts and not compare yourself to the person writing, even when the post is CLEARLY about that person and not other people. Heck, I sometimes get jealous of Meg and her being able to work on an awesome book and blog and living her dream. I know I compare myself to people all the time, and I’m sure a big part of it is my own insecurity.

    If anything, this post/the comments I’ve seen have made me realize that I really need to work on my self-esteem and stop comparing myself to others. If I’m jealous of Lauren because she’s being awesome and healthy, I need to look at myself and figure out how I can go about doing the same thing and feel good about myself, too!

    This is why I love this site. It makes me super happy for other women having awesome weddings and dishing out advice.. but also makes me think about the things about myself that I’m not necessarily comfortable discussing.

    Ugh I know this is a jumble and I probably don’t make much sense, but I just wanted to say:

    Lauren, thank you for this post. I think what you’re doing is awesome. You’ve inspired me (along with some of the comments here!) and made me look at myself and realize I want to be healthy, too. Now I just need to figure out how to tell myself that I’m worth it, but at least it’s a start. :)

    • http://www.betterinrealife.com Lauren

      Danielle!!! I have been thinking a lot about you lately because I’ve been having some dress drama. And your post has been keeping me thinking positive, it has given me so much wedding zen on the subject. Thank you for commenting!!

      • http://twitter.com/dspensah Danielle

        Ugh you KNOW me and my dress drama! Haha, I’m sorry you’re having to deal with it, too, though. It sucks. I know you probably already know this but it’ll all be okay in the end and you’re going to look gorgeous

        Glad my post is helping though because I SWEAR it will be okay. I’m serious, if *I* can get through dress drama (where I was at the point of wanting to cancel my own wedding or walk down the aisle in um, shorts and a t-shirt), anyone can.

        Anyway, again, your post was awesome and inspiring and more than anything else, congratulations on it. Thank you for opening my eyes! I can’t wait to read more posts from you and eventually your Wedding Graduate post. :)

  • http://www.bestillandblog.com Suzanne

    What a fabulous post! Very well said! I too have struggled with my weight throughout my life. In the year since my love and I got engaged, I joined Weight Watchers in an effort to develop a healthier lifestyle. I’ve lost weight and feel great. But, I get annoyed when people assume I’ve lost weight just for my wedding. It’s not about looking a certain way for one day. It’s about being a healthier person and practicing a healthier and happier lifestyle.

  • Anna

    This isn’t an easy topic to write on, but you really did it well.

    I can definitely relate to the using your wedding as motivation to make better choices. 3 months after I bought my wedding dress, it got tight (my engagement was 5 months). It was enough to get me to get a gym membership, go to the gym, and stop eating terribly (not getting a 6 pack of whoopie pies because I’d had a bad day). Evidently, I just needed a nudge, because now I’m going to the gym with some consistency (and generally only buying baked goods one at a time). I definitely feel better.

  • http://agaishanlife.blogspot.com Revanche

    A few thoughts, to dwell in obscurity at the bottom of this post. Lauren’s post and the comments flood resonated on several levels. A few other comments, the sharp reactions, resonated as well.

    My partner’s the one who fought the “good fight” as I’ve seen it so many times noted in the comments down from the mid or high 200s to the low 100s and constantly – dude, I mean constantly – works out and watches his diet to keep it that way. The guy works out several times a week if he can and it kind of drives me crazy how much he’s concerned about his weight. That’s his body image issue and I have to respect that. It drives me insane to hear his fat talk, because my GAWD he’s nothing like fat. Throw 20 pounds on him and of course he’d still be gorgeous to me. Regardless, his body image is still such as it is so I have to empathize with him because that is what he’s concerned about. I love him, and I care about what worries him. So there’s that. I understand that body image issues are tough.

    So it was with some relief that I realized the other day that for all its imperfections, gawkiness, shortness, one leg’s shorter than the other, a twisted spine, small boobs, too skinny, all that. Fine. Whatever, I don’t actually see myself in the mirror. Hell, I barely recognize myself in the mirror because I don’t really have a mental image of myself so it follows on that I sort of maybe don’t have body image issues. My childhood was full of the message that looks were not important because I was told they weren’t my thing and not to worry about them. Be smart, be kind, be gracious. Be a good person. Looks aren’t a department of concern.

    My adult life was chock full of loudmouth adults hassling me about how I was too skinny and that wasn’t acceptable. Annoying but not scarring, probably.

    But I still Hate My Body. Here’s why: I can’t care about what my body looks like because I’m too busy hating that it doesn’t work. I hate that I live with chronic pain, and have since I was 13. I hate that I can’t trust it. I hate that I might not be able to get out of bed unassisted tomorrow. I hate that I can’t put weight on my left knee today or my right wrist tomorrow, or take a deep breath all this week. I hate that on any given day that ends in “day”, it might shut down. That’s a body issue.

    And I’ve always suspected that gaining a little weight might actually be healthier for me and my doctors think that might be true, but because my body type is not conducive to such, it’s a huge struggle to put on and keep on weight.

    But *every time* I’ve ventured into any such conversation about diet and health, I get shut out much in the same way every body image conversation seems to take on the fat shaming slant. Because I’m naturally small. And life must be easy for us “skinny bitches” as my fellow petite compatriots are often referred to as, because we all have it easy and we just can’t eat a sandwich.

    It’s unfortunate and hurtful that assumptions like that are still prevalent and apparently acceptable. Especially as Meg’s experiences evidences and plenty of other people experience as well, reasons behind different body types that you see are not necessarily the whole truth. So that’s some of the stuff that reading through this whole thread stirred up for me. Not necessarily bad really, just another perspective.

    And as for actual relevance to weddings and this post, even weighing in UNDER 100 pounds, even my dress lender suggested that I might wish to have the sides taken in if I wanted to try to lose weight or make sure not to gain weight before the wedding for a more “sleek silhouette.”

    I’m sure I didn’t outright LAUGH but I did gently enlighten her as to my top priorities: Eat, Breathe, Walk. I have absolutely nothing to prove to anything as to my physique. *thankyouverymuchdarlingIWANTTOEAT*

  • TJ

    Thanks for this, Lauren!

    I don’t comment often, but I feel compelled to say this: so WHAT if women use their wedding as an excuse to start making better lifestyle choices? Hell, my DAD is using my wedding as a excuse to make better lifestyle choices, since his oldest daughter getting married made him realize he ain’t so young anymore, he takes more cholesterol & blood pressure pills than dumps every day, and he doesn’t want to be 80 pounds overweight in front of 150 people; I doubt anyone would give HIM a hard time about it.

    Look: two years ago, I gained 50 pounds in six months, after moving to New Orleans and hoovering everything in sight. I felt fine about how I looked, but the eating and weight gain were absolutely out of control (not to mention the ridiculous expense of constantly replacing my wardrobe). Eventually, something had to give.

    My wedding has become the specific milestone I use to measure my progress. I think that any reason is a good reason for me to stop eating Rally’s three times a week at 2:00am, and to stop drinking so much beer I get tossed out of bars for getting rowdy (I actually was banned from the club where my fiance works – clearly a problem). If I needed to replace the side of fries with a side of broccoli and stop drinking ANYWAY, who gives a good goddamn if my wedding was the long-needed motivator?

    Evil WIC conspiracy or not, let’s not lose sight of some truth: getting your own house in order is NEVER a bad thing, and neither is healthy eating.

  • Paige

    When I saw this post today… I had a feeling that there would be an EXPLOSION in the comments. Because weight is such.a.heated.topic!

    I didn’t take any offense because I might be in the same place that Lauren is: finally feeling healthy after a rollercoaster and working with my fiance to motivate each other.

    However, I liked Meg’s comment about body issues OTHER THAN WEIGHT. My mother has a serious pain disorder and I have a few friends that also have pain disorders. Especially one who has horrible pain issues in her feet. I think about her trying to enjoy and dance at her someday wedding day.

    I think that maybe this post was a good ‘opener’, but it would be interesting to hear how people with physical issues dealt with wedding stuff……..

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  • Anonymous

    A few thoughts on the commenting community on this blog (and this is partially in response to Lauren’s post this morning on her own personal blog, but I don’t want to drag this over there).

    Yes, the internet is a mean, mean place. Relative anonymity in commenting means that people feel carte blanche to say whatever, without regard to people’s feelings, in a public forum, and sometimes it can hurt.

    But. APW has been growing for quite some time, and everyone has been cheering that growth without really paying attention to the consequences. When you have more commenters, you will have more mean ones. People will be offended by your posts and feel free to say it, loudly. People will pile on, because that is what large internet communities DO.

    APW seems to really value open forums, debate, etc. At least on paper. Heck, Meg’s bio values “smart-alecky women.” Snark is a sign of strength, almost. And yet, when situations like this one occur, the whole APW team seems to be shocked, and hurt, and spend a lot of time being defensive and putting down the commentariat in other forums and generally taking it all way too personally.

    This is no longer a personal, private blog. I feel like if you’re going to put stuff like this out there, you need to simultaneously own your content and not apologize for it, while at the same time accept and understand that people will disagree, loudly and sometimes offensively, and be open to that. And not see it as a referendum on yourselves, which you seem to KNOW but not practice. And also understand your own fallibility. Not everything on this site is going to land with everyone, and sometimes there are miscommunications. Own it, apologize, move on, instead of constantly defending yourselves in the comments. (NOT THE CASE W THIS POST, BUT WITH OTHERS). If you have to spend a long time explaining “what you really meant” to everyone, that’s a sign.

    Now that APW is so big, there needs to be a level of professionalism that I think might be missing a bit. If you’re committing to talking about “The Hard Stuff,” commit to the hard comments as well. And if you know that people reacting badly to your post is going to be hard on you and make you upset, don’t put it out there. Because at this level you can’t expect 100% of your audience to be supportive and encouraging and not bring their own stuff into it.

    Sorry this is long and rambling but this has been brewing in my mind for a while. And this is so low in the comments that maybe no one will even read it, but I wanted to say it.

    • Jules

      I read it. And, as someone who’s been around from the beginning, I want to thank you for saying it.

    • http://quiltonthetracks.posterous.com Margaret M.

      Thank you for pretty much saying what I wanted to say, only more eloquently. I was really kind of concerned by the comments on Lauren’s blog, although I didn’t quite know how to put it or if I should.

      Personally speaking, I read Lauren’s personal blog post and comments and wondered “Do they mean me when they say “Fuck the haters”?” As I have certainly been posting up a storm. But I always hope my voice, in case it is not clear, is generally one of cheerful interest, not mean-spiritedness. I’m not a hater, though I may be a disagree-er.

      I have read EVERY SINGLE comment here, and I see: a lot of opinionated people for whom this is not their first rodeo, a lot of people who have big emotional issues tied up in this topic and are trying to work it out by talking, and a lot of people saying “Good for you, Lauren.” I have not seen a single ad hominem, aka the mean internet’s favorite thing in the whole world. If these comments are so awful and require offensive posturing, er, I don’t know how I feel about that. Not good?

      Need… to… step… away… from.. the… keyboard…

      • meg

        Margaret,
        Everyone around here respects you a whole hell of a lot, and knows that this is a complicated issue for you, and one that you’ve spoken to eloquently here in the past. You and I don’t agree on everything with this post (and heck, I’m not even going to say I necessarily agree with every sentence in this post, but I don’t have to, to think it’s interesting and worthy of discussion), but we don’t need to.

        You’re a wonderful respected part of this community, so please stop your stressing about that.

        M

    • meg

      Look, we’ve done our best to moderate these comments in a professional way. Nothing has been taken down, I’ve clarified when I saw fit, I occasionally stepped in and said I thought things were inappropriate and out of bounds (like a discussion of Lauren’s weight or my weight), and plenty of discussion has been had. Some people did react badly, other people reacted wonderfully. So it’s not that the post was poorly written, it’s that everyone brought different things to the table.

      But, bigger blog or smaller blog, I’m responsable for women sharing personal stories, and most of these women are NOT PROFESSIONAL WRITERS. I will and do moderate comments for personal attacks, and make sure that these women feel safe, and commenters feel safe. At the end of the day, this still my blog, and I will and do moderate comments in a way that I feel is fitting for the community around the site, and the women writing that site, and me. That is one of the things that hasn’t changed since day 1, and isn’t going to change. If it doesn’t work for people, I respect that. It’s a big internet, and there are plenty of places to play.

      As for discussion on Lauren’s site today, well, that’s her personal site, and she has every right to discuss the (rather intense) emotions that she had to sort through going through 250 comments worth of discussion and sometimes unpleasantness in a personal way over there. I don’t run that, I would never claim to influence that discussion, and I can’t speak for it.

    • http://forcause.wordpress.com Sandy

      I’m a few days late, but I’m glad I came back and read this. I’m certainly one of those who expressed concerns about Lauren’s post early on the comments. I tried to be respectful and not invalidate her, but still stand firm behind my opinion (basically: dieting and diet talk is bad for some women). And then I read the comments on Lauren’s blog (because I read and enjoy her blog regularly) and…ouch. I understand APW has no control over the comments on Lauren’s personal blog, but they made me feel APW is not necessarily the safe commenting space I thought it was (through no fault of APW’s or Meg’s, it’s just the nature of the internet). It’s a tough balancing act, making the comments section safe enough for the posters, without at the same time putting down people who disagree with a post (which, as anon points out, they will). It can be hard to debate, without getting defensive. I look forward to trying, though. I think if there’s a site out there that can handle the diversity of opinion that comes with growth, APW is it.

  • Andrea Ibargutxi

    “In the last 8 months, my weight and my body have been the least of my concerns. Have I lost weight since we decided to live a healthy life? Yes. Do I feel a million times better, physically? Yes. But the best part about what happened to me after deciding to change our lifestyle is that I am no longer tormented by my body.”

    I felt that too. I was dieting. While I thought I WASN’T dieting, but changing my lifestyle. And then, after gaining back almost all the weight I lost in three years, I realized I had been dieting. And that it doesn’t work. I read this same feeling from this post. I also think that weight watchers IS about weight.

    On the other hand, I like what Lauren says about doing this together and making changes. But when you have had body issues for a long long time, it’s easy to ‘think’ that you are changing your lifestyle. Because you know dieting doesn’t work, but loosing weight is so attractive that you need to justify it in your head with ‘health’. And I think that has to stop. There is nothing wrong with being fat. Health and weight don’t necessarily go together. But it’s ok to say: I want to diet for my wedding. It’s fine. As long as you do it in a healthy way. I think guilt is a horrible feeling, both when you want to diet or when you are fat. Let’s take guilt out of the way and maybe then we’ll all be happier and more free. And also, let’s not say that when one says: I want to diet for my wedding, she means that everybody should too.

    This is clearly my interpretation and reflection of the post, it’s what I felt reading it.

  • http://www.palindromeathome.com Melinda

    What does it say about my OCD that I read the article, thought that Lauren and Kamel were awesome for taking charge of their health, then promptly became obsessed with commenters talking about “loosing” weight. Loose weight would just be quite jiggly. The editor in me wants to take a red pen to all the extra o’s.

    • Andrea Ibargutxi

      ahahahaha, it is indeed jiggly. sorry for trashing your language, that says a lot about me not being a native English speaker! ;)

  • Claire

    I found this post really positive in a “my partner and I are having honest conversations about what’s important to us, choosing the lifestyle we want for our baby family, and are supporting each other and working together to make changes that make us feel like healthier and happier versions of ourselves”. At least that was the message I took away from it.

    Good for you, Lauren! And thanks for sharing your story and provoking important self-reflection and conversation.

  • Barbaloot

    I’ve been wanting to comment on this post since I read it yesterday, and frankly it has kind of haunted me… Honestly, it made me feel pretty ashamed of myself, and that’s not good. I’m a pretty empowered woman, and I’ve come to terms with quite a few of my body issues. But I have to say that one of the more poisonous points of view I’ve come across is this idea that you “GET HEALTHY and lose weight.” The getting healthy part is always emphasized, and oh look some weight was conveniently lost as well! Okay, of course losing weight can be a very important thing for health in many people’s cases. But this attitude isn’t really getting us away from our cultural obsession with weight. What we all want is to focus on health, which is what Lauren was attempting to do with her post. Lauren, I totally appreciate the spirit of your post, and I’m glad you shared! But you must have known you were sailing into dangerous waters…

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if all the weight you “need” to lose is 10-20 pounds, then you don’t need to be losing any weight at all to be healthy. Also, being healthy doesn’t necessarily involve a rigorous exercise program, though obviously putting the effort in will lead to OPTIMUM health. There’s a bit of a misconception out there that if we’re not at the peak of health at every moment, then that means we’re UNHEALTHY. This just isn’t true. There are a lot of levels of health, and a lot of things that affect health, some of which we have control over and some of which we don’t. I’m not saying that we should all just sit back and get fat. I’m just trying to make the point that part of the message of Lauren’s post was equating health with losing weight, changing dietary habits, and exercising more often. Although she’s not wrong about that, all of those changes can be really REALLY difficult for people who have chronic body issues. It’s not just a matter of going to see a therapist or personal trainer, or joining Weight Watchers (though all of those things are good choices to make!) It’s about soul searching within ourselves to find what we want from our lifestyles, and from how we FEEL physically. This includes how we feel in our own skin, and how it feels to physically move around in the world.

    In terms of change, there’s always the question of what is possible in our lives at any given time. Taking things that I love out of my life is extremely difficult, and at this point there’s only so much I can add due to various circumstances. So, I add what I can (yoga classes when I can manage it, walking, green vegetables, various forms of alternative health), and above all try not to feel shame about the things I’m NOT doing. It’s not optimal by our culture’s standards of “How to Get Healthy.” I “should” be doing a lot more for my health, and yes, I’m definitely plus-sized, and in my ideal world would love to lose about 40 lbs. But my weight is not making me unhealthy, and my road to health may not result in losing weight. I am on an intentional road to health that involves changes to diet and exercise patterns, but I’m not counting on losing weight. Rather, I am focusing on all the emotional crap that is making me unhealthy (believe me, my weight is really the least of my health concerns!). I think it’s important to make those distinctions between health and weight. Joining Weight Watchers kind of implies that you’re wanting to lose weight (as in, that’s your first priority). I guess my major point is that the path to becoming healthy does not necessarily involve weight loss, even if the person in question “needs” to lose weight from the perspective of our weight-obsessed society.

    I have a lot of thoughts about these issues… I’m going to stop before this becomes its own blog post! Suffice to say, good for Lauren for getting healthy, and also there are a lot more things that need to be said about the whole body issues thing! I know this is just the beginning of the discussion, so I’m looking forward to seeing more.

    • Kate

      Barbaloot, you make excellent points all. Very thoughtful and thought-provoking. Thank you.

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  • Marchelle

    Well said, Lauren. Seriously.

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  • pat

    I related to this post a lot. But only to the parts pre-Weight Watchers. Because I haven’t made any lifestyle changes yet, other than eating less processed foods. It was inspiring for me that you were able to do it, because you’re so relatable in other ways, I feel like if you can do it, maybe I can too. And I think that is one of the things you were hoping for in your post. I will admit to the alarm bells going off when I first read it, and thinking that the comments were going to be a shit storm. I’m glad that for the most part they were not!

    If I had any complaint at all, it would be that I want to read more (intelligent but grumpy) whining about how hard it is to get on a healthier path because that is where my headspace is right now. hehe Screw the triumphant goal-reached essay, I want the everything-sucks-because-if-I-value-myself-I-won’t-eat-hydrogenated-cupcakes-five-days-a-week essay. But of course, that would not be as inspiring as this post.

  • http://loveyourway.net lizzie

    I have to admit that my feelings on this topic are…semi-strong. I just joined WW a month ago, Lauren and I’m feeling MUCH better, healthier, my size is changing, but that’s not even what I’m noticing.

    It’s about feeding your body what it wants and needs to work efficiently and feel good.

    BUT. Sometimes, I feel like chicks can get all hung up on “she said, but she meant” kind of talk that we wind up ignoring the message in itself.

    It’s not any more independent/practical/feminist to be over/under/average weight. It doesn’t make you an impractical bride to want to be thinner and healthier for your wedding…

    I feel like the comments about Lauren’s message got away from her initial message in general. She wasn’t shaming, guilting, projecting, none of that…It was a personal story for her individual view about something we’re all so busy pretending we’re not thinking about…but we are. At least, I am. Not weight, for Heaven’s sake. Health.

    Feeling healthy.

    Feeling that feeling after you eat a giant bowl of berries instead of 1/2 a pizza (been there).

    I have to say, from my personal view, that I would rather FEEL the first feeling on my wedding day than the other (and EVERY day).

  • Kate

    Here, here Lauren! First you get the proposal (or have the mutual discussion that ends with, “let’s do this thing!”) and then, sooner or later, no matter how smokin’ hot or soft and cuddly you are (I’m much more the latter) you come around to thinking about how you’re going to look in that dress on *the big day*. And I couldn’t agree with you more, Lauren, that it is most effective if the lifestyle change – because it’s not just about losing weight and dropping dress sizes – is a team effort. We just got engaged in February, and for the first month or so, we celebrated – big dinners out with friends, late nights with lots of adult beverages, lazy Saturday mornings with homemade eggs benedict and homefries. Yeah, we CE-LE-BRA-TED. And then we decided we had to get down to bizness, partially because neither of us wanted to look back on our pics and see pudgy stomachs and chubby faces staring back at us in our wedding finery. But also because we’re really busy people, and working out and eating right are the things that make a person feel good, and give a person more energy to get their sh*t done. And planning a wedding- that’s a lot of sh*t to get done. It’s good sh*t, but there’s lots of it. Quick loss diets and cleanses are not going to do the trick long term. They can be useful if a) they’re used to jump start said lifestyle change; or b) if you’re just trying to lose that last couple pounds before the *big day*; AND MOST IMPORTANTLY c) as long as they aren’t fundamentally unhealthy. Bottom line, as much as we hope and pray that there will be a magic pill that makes us into our perfect size instantaneously, there just isn’t. Making healthy choices is the only way to actually BE healthy. And making those choices together will give you both a better chance of reaching your goals.

  • Judy

    I got married last weekend and my wedding was the first time in my life that I felt seriously concerned about fitting into an article of clothing. Not because of the WIC or bridal magazines or blogs etc., but because my wedding dress was sized more precisely than any article of clothing I have ever worn. It fit perfectly, so every 1/2 lb bigger made it feel too tight and every 1/2 lb smaller made it feel too loose. (I should perhaps have looked for a more elastic dress…) I realized that I was thinking about food in a way I had never before done, and that I was stressing about fitting into my wedding dress. I think that there is something about the wedding itself that makes even non-perfectionist, non-weight sensitive people think about size and weight with more critical eyes. I realized a few days before the wedding that I was using ‘fitting into the dress’ as a receptacle for all of my wedding stresses, and that my back-up plans were not good options (cutting slits in the sides of the dress, wearing work clothes), if after 20 minutes in the dress I realized I couldn’t breathe (being totally uncomfortable was NOT even a back-up option). On Friday morning, my mom asked me if I was seriously concerned about the dress or just joking. I told her, “VERY VERY CONCERNED.” So we decided to pick out a back-up dress that I would be ok with. We found my sister’s prom dress from the year before and I tried it on and POOF, all of my dress stress disappeared. So my advice to all of my engaged friends has been to find a free back-up dress (ideally more than 2 days in advance) and then use that to acknowledge that she will look beautiful and move on.

  • CK

    I applaud Lauren for having the courage to talk about something so personal and emotional as weight. And, more generally, I applaud APW for regularly featuring women of different shapes and sizes on this web site.

    But I also thank Starling and many other commenters for raising the point that weight/weight loss is not necessarily tied to health. I’m not a doctor, and I am a big fan of the Fat Acceptance movement (especially Lesley Kinzel’s blog Two Whole Cakes, which you all should go read right now!) so I definitely have some bias when I say this but, I do think we live in a culture where the links between weight and diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. have been largely overstated. I think the whole idea of an “obesity epidemic” or “obesity crisis” is alarmist and ultimately meant to scare men and women (but, in the wedding world especially, mostly women) into changing their bodies by losing weight. On some level, I think the discourse of losing weight in order to “choose a healthy lifestyle” is even more harmful than just saying “I need a quick fix” because it implies that if you can’t lose the weight and fit into an acceptable, normal (thin) body, you haven’t just failed in a temporary way, you’ve failed in a long-term way; you’ve made a poor choice about the rest of your life, not just a two week diet.

    Talking about bodies and weight is such a tricky subject and we’re never going to find a discourse that will work for everyone, but I think the best message we can send is that everyone should love their bodies just as they are, even if we do eat a whole bag of Doritos (cool ranch, especially!).

    Also, the surgeon general has brought this up too! This certainly isn’t a perfect PSA, but I think it ultimately gestures to the idea that the discourse on weight and health in this country needs to change: http://www.moreofmetolove.com/blogs/entry/u.s.-surgeon-general-promoting-health-at-every-size/

  • Melissa

    Ok, it’s seven days after this post even went up and I just finished reading the (brilliant, divisive, reflection-provoking) comments. One thing I gained from reading Lauren’s original post and all the traffic:

    1. I want to say to my fiance,”I need you to know that I love your mind and your personality and your body so much, and just as important, I want my love of these parts of you to help you grow in your own ability to love yourself. And I want you to say the same thing to me.” Because so often he and I are encouraging and supportive and complimentary to each other, but I don’t know that how often I tell him he’s strong and powerful and smokin’ hot has any impact on his own sense of self (he’s got insecurities, too, bless him). And it occurs to me that he might not know how to counter my regular ol’ woman body issues that pop up now and then. (you know, when you feel grumbly because something doesn’t look the way you want it to and your beloved’s only response is “but darling, you look beautiful” and it just doesn’t help at all).

    Lauren and bevy of APW posters, thanks for teaching me this.

  • http://www.jsnproductions.com Ren Gillbert

    Hello first of all i want to thank you for the wonderful story. I agree with you Lauren . According to Irish Proverb :”A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book. ” and i follow this. Really it works.

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