My wedding dress was discontinued shortly before I started my wedding-dress search. I was lucky enough to stumble upon a sample of this lovely gown at a bridal salon in Los Angeles. Furthermore, because the dress could no longer be ordered, the salon was selling the dress at a deep discount: 67% off. The only catch to this sweet price? I had to accept that particular dress on that particular day. I couldn’t get the dress in a different color. I couldn’t get it with a different hem length. And, most importantly, I couldn’t get it in a different size. It was going to be size 10 or bust (out of the seams).
The dress fit perfectly. Yet realizing this gave me serious pause: a size 10 is both a smaller size and a bigger size than I ever imagined being on my wedding day. Say what? Let me explain.
Growing up, I struggled with my weight. By struggled with my weight, I really mean that I struggled with being overweight. I was fairly active in sports, but I was always the heaviest one on the softball or swim team. I grew to be a junior size 9 before I even graduated into junior high. I bounced between a 10 and a 14 in high school. In college, I maintained a size 14–16. I lacked confidence, so I hid my body behind oversized cardigans and baggy sweatshirts. I also wore a lot of black, clinging to the idea that it was “slimming.” At my highest, I probably weighed 230 pounds.
Trying to blend into the background
So if anyone had told a younger version of me that someday I would walk down the aisle in a size 10 wedding gown, strapless no less, I would have been shocked.
One day in 2006, as I was complaining to my best friend about my lack of dating success, something in my head just clicked. How was I going to attract the type of person I wanted to be with if I weren’t the type of person I wanted to be? I have to be clear that the type of person I wanted to be was not necessarily “skinny” or even “average weight.” I wanted to be a person who was in shape—and not someone who huffed and puffed up the stairs to her classrooms. I wanted to be a person who was confident—and not someone who was always checking mirrors and asking for reassurance that she looked OK. (Not beautiful, even. Just OK.) I wanted to be a person who had hobbies and activities—and not someone who always plopped down on the couch after work, grabbing for the remote and calling for Thai food.
So I made a change. I signed up for a gym membership, and I made sure that I went three days a week. At first, I only started by doing 20–30 minutes on the recumbent bike. Eventually, I worked my way up to the elliptical. Then I started taking some aerobics and weightlifting classes. Finally, I talked myself into getting on the treadmill. Running had always been my least favorite exercise. Honestly, why would I want to bounce and jiggle and get crimson faced? But I ran a mile that day, the first time that I had done so since 1998. I felt terribly exhaused, but I also felt absolutely exhilarated.
I kept on running, increasing my stamina and my speed. I ran a 5k, then a 10k, and then a half-marathon. Ultimately, I ran three marathons. I qualified for the Boston Marathon at my first marathon, and I went on to run it in 2009 and 2010. Running gave me everything that I felt that I was lacking: good cardio health, increased confidence, an actual hobby. Check, check, and check. A side benefit of all of that running? A total weight loss of about 90 pounds. I reached my driver’s license weight of 140.
From a 14/16 to a 2/4
I even bought my first bikini—and allowed photographs of me in it.
So, when I was a size 2/4, I couldn’t imagine a scenario where I would be back up to a size 10—even in crazy bridal sizing. That scenario soon presented itself: I hurt my Achilles tendon in the 2010 Boston Marathon and stopped running, I started a stressful job with long hours, and I stopped caring about what I ate. In less than a year, I gained about 30 pounds. Ack.
Now, in preparation for both the wedding and the rest of my life, I am trying to find a happy and healthy medium. I am back to working out five to six times a week and eating a balanced diet. I know that I am losing weight, but I don’t know (or necessarily care) how much. I just want to get back to a point where I am that person who I want to be: healthy, confident, active in hobbies. I feel like I am getting there again. In the end, I am looking forward to wearing my size-10 dress, although, if I’m truly being honest, I wouldn’t mind if it had to be taken in a size or two.
Size 6/8 again
Have you struggled with your weight or size? Do you find that your wedding affects these struggles at all?