The Truth about Wedding Planning and Being Healthy
Hi everyone, this is Amanda.
I’d love to share with you a behind-the-scenes look at how planning my wedding has affected my life and health. The reality is, as much as I personally know and teach about stress management, self-care and managing your way through the uncontrollable events of life, this challenged me in ways I couldn’t predict. I hope you can take away a few lessons for your next challenging life event and can remember that no one is perfect! Or at the very least, have a little compassion for the next friend or relative that’s planning a wedding. They always say “take a walk in someone else’s shoes”, and you never know how true that is until you are actually experiencing certain life events.
Planning a wedding is supposed to be amazing and so much fun; you’re planning your special day to celebrate choosing to spend your life with someone you love. It should be full of joy and happiness. And most of it is. But no one ever talks about how much work it is, how much time it takes, how much money it all costs and how it literally takes on a life of its own. All of which, add up to a major stressor fast.
While most bride-to-be’s decide to take a year (or sometimes longer) to plan their big day, my fiancé and I agreed that we wanted a fall wedding and we didn’t really want to wait until next fall to pull that off (we got engaged in the spring). So, we both agreed that September or October of the same year could be totally doable since we wanted a smaller wedding.
Let’s be clear about something, a smaller wedding does not mean things are going to be less stressful. I think, unless you keep it very intimate (think only the couple and very immediate family), it’s going to be a stressful event regardless. You must consider everything from guests lists to budget to details to dates to food to drinks. What do you pay for, what do you care about, what’s important to both of you, what’s important to your families, etc. It all adds up quick.
And all this stress can start a domino effect. You have food tastings and cake tastings and (in our case) wine tasting. You’re stressed and crunched for time, so you start to make unhealthy decisions and excuses for not going to the gym or eating out, again.
"We have to decide on the food menu, so I can’t go to the gym after work."
"We stayed up late going over the guest list again, so I’m too tired to work out in the morning."
"I spent all weekend looking at decorations and picking wedding songs, so I didn’t have time to shop or meal prep, guess we’re eating takeout for dinner and picking up something convenient on the way to work for lunch, and definitely forget about breakfast; coffee counts as a meal, right?" All these choices are made as “one–off’s”, but before you know it, a new mini-habit is starting.
Add in the fact that it’s now summer (well, it’s almost over) and you get to throw in all the other temptations of the season: patio happy-hours, ice cream dates, ball games with hot dogs and beers, other weddings (wedding season is a real thing, people), state fairs, vacations, and the list goes on. It makes all your would-be good deeds hard to stick to.
These weren't constant conversations in my head, but this happened more than I care to admit. I, of all people (or so I like to believe), know how to manage stress and to care of myself. I know what is "right" and "wrong" for my body, what makes me feel well, what makes me feel worse, what causes more anxiety, and how I can control this so I'm a generally likable person and I can enjoy my "free time". But I struggled more than I should have. I let all the excuses and stress build up. I wasn't doing what I knew was right for me, I wasn't listening to my body, and I didn't know when I had hit the wall and needed to surrender and ask for help. I let my ego get in the way, and my obsession for perfection crash down on me. Instead of following my usual meal planning, I skipped meals and drank more coffee. I put more value on having everything perfect, instead of having the perfect people in my life helping me celebrate the love I've found with someone truly special.
So, what’s a girl to do? Make a plan and stick to it, find someone to hold you accountable, and share your journey with others. These may seem like common sense to some, but they do hold true when everything else is so chaotic. Having someone that you can go to, that will help you stay on track is key. Having a plan in place from workouts, to managing stress, to meals will be extremely beneficial. And having others that are experiencing the same things you are, that you can bounce ideas off, vent to, ask questions and that will offer support because they truly understand your journey will be integral to success.
I really struggle with asking for help, and I like to take control of everything in my life. My biggest pitfall is not knowing when to let-go and to admit that I am not Superwoman. So how can you prevent yourself from falling into a spiral like I did?
Ask for help! It's so easy to feel like you're "burdening" others, or that "everyone has their own lives." And that is true; people in your life do have their own things going on; but more likely than not, you've helped them along the way with something and they'd be more than happy to repay the favor now that it's your turn.
Find someone that you feel totally comfortable with, that will let you just "get it all out there". Someone who won't judge, will let you vent and complain, and then will help you come up with a plan to tackle it all that's reasonable and manageable.
Put together a plan. Don't overdo it. Just put a pen to some paper and map out what is important to you. Make a list and have your fiancé make a list. Compare the two. Really pay attention to what is important to both of you, and use that as a basis for where to start.
Pick a reasonable budget and stick to it. Don't sway. A budget will keep you in-line and help you stick to what is important.
Take a time-out. It's so easy to get wrapped up in all the planning and the details and to forget about other, equally important things in your life. Take time to go out on a date with your fiancé and agree to not talk about wedding planning; spend an afternoon with friends, and don't let the daunting tasks you have left to do weigh you down and take away your precious time and the fun you could be having; connect with family and be sure to curb the wedding chatter to a minimum.
Put together a fitness and wellness plan; one that focuses on your long-term goals and current healthy lifestyle so you feel your best on your big day. You don't need to focus on losing weight or becoming the perfect size. Instead, you should focus on what will make you feel happy, confident, and beautiful. Do you want to tone up and detox a bit? Do you really feel you need to drop a dress size? Do you want your skin to be glowing and smooth? Once you determine what will make you your best, then you can decide what the best plan is. And remember, it's not the same for everyone! I really wanted to tone my arms (strapless dress!!) and detox a bit so I didn't feel so bloated. That changed my plan (not to mention the fact that I had less time to do it than most brides), and switched my focus. I started doing more pushups and arm workouts, and switched to a vegan, plant-based diet (basically an elimination diet) to remove inflammatory foods from my diet.
Join an accountability group, preferably one with other brides, that focuses on wellness and health! This will help you stay on track with your fitness and wellness goals, help you share ideas that you're not sure your other friends will even care about, and keep you accountable for weeks, months, or during your entire planning process. Find a group that really resonates with your health goals. Make sure it's one that has all your boxes checked. Do you want meal plans, workouts, fitness routines, diet tips? or are you looking for tips to help destress, stay on track, and focus on you?
Make big post it notes that you put in noticeable places that remind you of your core healthy values, daily habits and commitments, so that when you do get challenged and the stress builds up you are cognizant of the things that will keep you grounded and healthy.
At the end of the day, remember that this day is all about love. The love you have your partner and the love you have for yourself. Share that love with your friends and family. Don’t forget what’s important and bask in the glory of finally being able to celebrate all that you’ve planned and finally seeing it all come together.