An optimist would say that being a bride is a many-splendored thing. She gets to plan the wedding she’s been dreaming about since she was 10 years old, go to cake tastings with her fiancé, and pick out the dress that will be immortalized in her wedding photos for years to come.
A pessimist like me, however (or as I prefer to call myself, a realist), sees all of these wonderful things and labels them as different forms of stress. “Cake tastings will just make me gain weight and keep me from fitting into my perfect dress,” was my Eeyore mentality. So after I got engaged last spring, I defaulted to what most bride-to-bes do when they stress about their weight: I grabbed a flat of Kirkland Signature weight-loss drinks and vowed to never eat again.
That, of course, worked for about 6 hours. Dieting never was my thing, and I found myself overeating and feeling terrible afterward. I knew I should start working out, but I’d tried the mass gym mill before and it had done nothing but discourage me.
I discovered Farmgirlfit almost by accident. I was working for a local business newspaper, and a purple press release blipped into my email inbox one day in mid-October, informing me that a women-only fitness facility was opening down the street. I wrote a short story about the gym while drinking my Slim-Fast knockoff and tried to put the idea of exercising out of my mind. “You hate exercising,” my inner Eeyore reminded me. “And you don’t need to be fit as long as you’re skinny, right?”
Fortunately, Eeyore didn’t win this mental battle. I walked down to Farmgirlfit during one of my lunch breaks and got the grand tour from the owner, Jenni. It was a pretty simple idea: a custom-built workout for each one-hour session. Get in, work hard, get out. I’d never done cross-training before, so I signed up for the two sessions a week plan, hoping this was the solution I was looking for that didn’t require me to starve to death.
I realized soon after starting at Farmgirlfit that my personal goal of losing weight was slightly narrow-minded, and I realized that I needed to broaden my thinking a bit. It wasn’t about getting skinny. I needed to focus on getting strong. Skinny just benefits your ego when you look at photos of yourself. Strong is an entire lifestyle that stays with you (if you choose to consistently work at it) and encourages healthy living.
So, I started thinking beyond my short-term goal of looking great in my wedding photos, and I challenged myself to not see my wedding as the end goal of taking care of myself. I started eating more protein, fruit, and vegetables, and cutting down on sugar and carbs. Water became my drink of choice. Paying attention to what I ate eventually became a habit I enjoyed.
It is almost impossible to be anonymous at Farmgirlfit. The trainers learned my name quickly and took note of what I was capable of doing. If I tried to slack off and use lighter weights, they would challenge me to work harder and aim higher. But always with a smile. Farmgirlfit is less a gym and more a community of women who love to encourage and work alongside each other. And this was the perfect environment for a stressed-out bride-to-be like me. I found that my stress levels were considerably lower when I worked out, and I was able to think more clearly after my mind bathed in a flood of endorphins.
By the time June 23 — our wedding day — rolled around, I could dead lift my body weight and was consistently working out at Level 3 (out of a possible 4). I felt stronger and more toned, which translated into confidence. I enjoyed wearing my wedding dress and wasn’t preoccupied with worrying about last-minute alterations (although I did end up having to take my dress in because I’d lost 2 inches off my waist).
There isn’t a miracle solution to being a fit bride. The only answer is to work hard. Really hard. Like lying on the floor wanting to die after a 20-minute TABATA session. Or pushing yourself to use heavier kettle bells for the Turkish get-up (my personal nemesis). Or sporting whip marks on your arms and legs from a jump rope after attempting to master double-unders. You’ll want to quit, but don’t. It is so worth it. And the best part about it is you don’t have to drink those awful knockoffs.