The first time I was a bride-to-be, a decade ago, I couldn’t admit to myself just how much peer pressure contributed to my desire to tie the knot. But at 29, having been with my then-partner for five years, and surrounded by friends and loved ones who were getting a ring on it and hustling down the aisle, it felt like it was something that had to happen ASAP. Otherwise, my relationship, the life I’d been living for half of a decade, and even my self-worth were all in question. And in the very same way that I was swept up in the mad pre-30 rush to get married, I jumped on the bridal bandwagon by launching a grueling fitness campaign.
Many mornings, I had 6 a.m. workouts with a personal trainer. Sometimes I’d do two-a-day workouts, adding Spin classes to CrossFit-style strength training sessions. I cut out processed sugar almost entirely. I said these efforts were fueled by a desire to get stronger and more physically fit and to boost my health before trying to conceive in the not-too-distant future. Of course, I wanted all of that, but the secret truth was that I was intent on getting down to the smallest possible size for my wedding day. I felt like losing as much weight as possible was what was expected of me as a bride.
For me, the first time around, working out and willing my curves to slim down was a way to take control of something — anything — when my relationship was a train wreck.
Meanwhile, my relationship was as toxic as the diet culture I was falling prey to: we couldn’t communicate, we didn’t share key values, our baseline moods were stark opposites, we weren’t compatible. To some extent, I realized all of