woman standing on scale

Years ago, The New York Times wrote what looked like a simple trend piece on the lengths brides go to for wedding weight loss. Titled “Bridal Hunger Games: Losing Weight in Time for the Wedding,” at quick pass, you might mistake the piece for a dime-a-dozen gloss-over of the pressures many women feel to slim down for their big days. But if you actually read the article you’d have seen—and probably still be thinking about to this very day, if you’re anything like me—that it was actually about a woman who got a feeding tube installed in her nose so she could go on an 800 calorie liquid diet and lose 10 pounds in eight days. Record scratch—what??

When one of the most reputable news sources in the world writes with relative chillness about someone getting a feeding tube in order to lose weight for what is basically a glorified party, we should all be feeling pretty panicked at the dire state of what it means to be a woman getting married in the world today. Sure, wanting to look your best at your wedding is one thing—but wanting to go to extreme measures to become a completely different person at your wedding? That’s just nuts.

Even though the aforementioned feeding tube trend piece was published years ago, wedding weight loss mania hasn’t slowed since. Most of the reason, I’m guessing, is the rise of social media, which connects you to billions of beautiful strangers’ weddings (not to mention celebrity weddings!), and connects hundreds of eyes to your wedding—putting even more pressure on you to look as flawless as inhumanly possible.

If you’re feeling the anxiety mounting, drop everything and read these tips on how to avoid falling victim to wedding weight loss mania.

Be motivated by your mood—not your appearance.

Wedding planning isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, no matter how perma-happy some wedding bloggers may appear in all their Instagram uploads. The process is stressful, demanding and sometimes downright unpleasant. It can make you into an incredibly stressed-out person, even if you’re normally chill, or drive you absolutely nuts if you’re naturally prone to panicking. You know what helps with that feeling? The endorphin rush you get from working out. In this way, a pre-wedding workout regime isn’t a bad idea, as long as you’re motivated by improving your mood, rather than by pushing yourself into achieving some vague idea of a “perfect body.” So, when putting together your bridal fitness plan, always approach it with a goal of blowing off stress and getting into a better headspace. That you might tone up a bit along the way is just a bonus!

Buy your dress as you are.

One of the first mistakes you can make to fling yourself into wedding weight loss hell is buying a dress that doesn’t fit, and then feeling like you need to go to extreme measures (like getting a feeding tube) to make it fit within your six-month timeframe. Yet so many women do it. Who… came up with this idea? Satan? With which other item of clothing do we do this dangerous tango with in our entire lives? A happier approach that won’t drive you absolutely insane would be to get a dress in your size, in a style that flatters you epically, and then get an amazing tailor to make it look even more incredible.

Once your dress is altered to your exact size, I can promise you, your body, whatever size it is, will look banging—and a hell of a lot more natural and at ease than it would if you bought a dress in a someday-size, went crazy trying to fit into it, missed the mark because your expectations were un-meet-able, got your dress hastily altered at the last minute to make up for it, and had to piece together your wedding look from there. A very important fact that’s all too easy to forget? Your fiance proposed to you as you are—and your friends and family attending the wedding love that version of you, too—so why wouldn’t that you be the one you want to dress to the nines on your big day? Not convinced? Set aside one day of dress shopping where you pretend you don’t want to lose any weight and only try on dream dresses in your size. See how great you look and feel—I’ve got a good feeling you might just find the one!

couple running together

Know when inspiration is turning into a bad influence.

Becoming engaged and following all the wedding accounts on social media can be so exciting. But it can also contribute to the overwhelming obsession with perfection that consumes many brides (yours truly included) and leads to many a body image meltdown. As you browse Pinboards and hashtags, let yourself be inspired, but cautiously so—because while you can buy their dresses and veils and hire their pros, you can’t magically transform yourself into these brides, which is a good thing, because I’m pretty sure your fiance wants to marry… you! Not to mention, lots of the inspo out there is just that—inspiration. That is, they’re faux wedding shoots with hired models, not real brides with real bodies at real weddings, and all that fantasy-masquerading-as-reality stuff can really mess with you. So, if you’re feeling your self confidence draining by the day just as you’re beginning to spend more time in the world of wedding inspo, try tuning out for a while while to top-up on self love. No amount of inspiration is worth your happiness.

Do a workout you love.

Because, as I mentioned above, working out is a great way to squash pre-wedding stress, keep you clear-headed and also just part of a generally healthy lifestyle, I’m definitely not going to sit here and tell you I, along with the body positivity movement, forbid you from working out before your wedding. But, for Beyonce’s sake, if you are going to do it, do a workout you enjoy! Why, as brides, do we feel we must ditch our favorite yoga class for 20-week crossfit bootcamp programs where the “whole point” is the instructors shout insults at you from the front of the room for 60 minutes each class? No. Do not make that a thing. If you try to make that a thing, you will dread going to class, not meet your fitness goals, and become extremely stressed out and miserable. This is not the point of exercise. Instead, keep doing what you love, or take this as an opportunity to explore something you’ve always wanted to try. Treat yourself to classes at the new gym in town, encourage friends to come with you to your favorite workout, or just find YouTube vids of whatever you’ve always meant to try and do it at home—the whole point is to do what makes you feel good!

Practice self-love, not self-improvement.

It’s not crazy to want to look your best for your wedding. Even the mildest of the bridechillas will feel a flutter of pressure in the pits of their bellies as they piece together their wedding day looks. What’s crazy is thinking you need to renovate your body, Joanna Gaines-style, to fit whatever mold society’s created for today’s “Bride.” So, with every step you take down your bridal fitness/workout/wedding weight loss path, ask yourself, is this because I love myself, or because I’m trying to change the person I know and love to become someone else? It sounds dramatic, but planning a wedding and transforming into a bride can cause total impostor syndrome! It’s easy to lose who you are under all that tulle and self tanner. Being mindful of you, your health, and your happiness throughout the process will make it so much harder to lose your way—you won’t fall victim to harmful behaviors or scary diets or bouts of self-loathing. And even if you do choose to undertake a serious workout regime or fitness overhaul, be sure to balance it with plenty of self-love—meditation, a spa trip, extra sleep, whatever you want and deserve!

woman looking in mirror with measuring tape

Know when to ask for help.

Even if you think you’re above it, you can still fall victim to wedding body pressures—yours truly used to be totally fine with her bod, until she got engaged, started flipping through wedding Instagram and magazines, and realized the most important day of her life was coming so she had to look like Bella Hadid for some reason. Without realizing it, I’d “quit” a ton of basic food groups, started an obsessive ab routine (even though my dress… covered my midriff?), and felt a wave of doom every time I ate an indulgent meal. It was a spiral to danger zone. And I realized the reason it was happening was because I was so in my head, and not sharing any of my anxieties with people I loved whom I knew would help me sort it out. As soon as I explained to my fiance, parents and best friends what was up, and got the reassurance and support I needed, I slowly started feeling better and being kinder to myself. It was by no means a quick fix—few of these types of issues are—but it helped. If you’re feeling like you’re losing your grip, feel free to drag your loved ones into the mess—especially the one you’re marrying. That’s what they’re there for. Just like you shouldn’t be planning your wedding alone, you shouldn’t be dealing with the pressures of trying to be a perfect bride alone either.

Fake it till you make it.

Positive affirmation really does make you feel better—which can have results just as great as a feeding tube, but you know, less invasive. Instead of spending months toggling between killing yourself at the gym for wedding weight loss and telling yourself you’re still not good enough, try a different approach. Tell yourself you look great—even if you don’t quite believe it yet. Say it every day. Even every time you look in the mirror. At every dress fitting, hair consultation, eyebrow waxing, whatever! Ever so slowly, you’ll start believing it, and the pressure to transform your body will lift. Think it sounds like a crazy form of brainwashing? Think of it this way: Working out is just doing the same thing over and over again to achieve a positive result. So this is kind of like working out… your self-love muscle. You just might be amazed at how fit it can become.

Do not get a feeding tube for wedding weight loss.

Do not ever do this. Just wanted to make that clear, one last time.