Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Staying Fit for a Lifetime

When I got engaged, I was in pretty good shape. Several weeks after our engagement I ran a sub-22:00 5K for the first time ever and had high ambitions of cutting a minute off that time in my spring 5K. I was working out consistently, eating well, and really happy with my weight—honestly, for one of the first times in my life.

Personal photo / After the race

I bought my wedding dress and was super happy with the way it fit. It was snug but comfortable and flattering. In a conceited way, I thought "Ha, I have this in the bag! All I have to do is stay my current weight!" Of course, I also had visions of getting more toned and looking incredible on my wedding day.

Then real life happened.

Mr. Lemur moved to Michigan and I lost my exercise partner and eating buddy. At dinners I didn't have him to keep me accountable for how much I was eating—and he wasn't there to push me a little harder on runs or push me to run at all. At the same time, class, work, and wedding planning got really stressful. I started eating more and running less. And predictably, I gained a few pounds. I'm not exactly sure how many, but it was enough to make me uncomfortable and less confident about the way I looked.

When I went to my dress fitting, I was so nervous that it wouldn't zip. Thankfully, my dress is super forgiving. You couldn't tell, and I actually felt beautiful.

Personal photo / Dress fitting

But that doesn't mean I didn't try to make some changes. I honestly don't have time to get in an hour at the gym every night—and even if I did, I'm exhausted! But instead, I started walking to work every day. It's two to three miles round trip, and I feel so much better on days that I walk for fifteen minutes instead of hop in my car for two minutes! I've gone back to the basics that I love so much—cereal for breakfast, a salad with some chicken for lunch, a wrap or pasta for dinner, and lots of fruit.

So here's my advice for those who are soon-to-be engaged or newly engaged:

1. Don't put more stress on yourself to lose weight on top of everything else! The engagement period is awesome, but very stressful. If you have any other big life changes on top of getting married coming up—for me it's moving to a new state, finishing grad school, and starting a new job—the pressure will build up.

2. Focus on positive life changes. Instead of adopting a crazy diet or exercising two hours a day, add in little exercise, like walking to work or taking a lunch break walk instead of eating out. Eat more fruits and vegetables and replace stress-reducing chocolate with stress-reducing smoothies. (It actually works. Another benefit: Your skin will look better.)

3. Realize that this is one day versus the rest of your life. Yes, I want to look great on my wedding day. But I also want to be healthy for the rest of my life. That means that I need to make changes that I'm willing to stick with. For me that means no diet that involves not eating something—umm, I love carbs.

I know this is all super common sense information, but to me this is also personal! Anyone else struggle with their weight before their wedding? What advice do you have?

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