The problem is, I have a hard time looking at those pictures.
At the time of our wedding last year, I was 25 lbs. heavier than my normal weight during my college years. I tried to diet during our nine week engagement. I tried to exercise at nights and on the weekends, running around my neighborhood south of BYU campus, cranking out a grueling Jillian Michaels workout every Saturday morning. I tried to eat smart, but with full-time work (and office treats), a daily three hour round-trip commute, and the stress of planning a wedding, I resorted to comfort eating on many occasions. On my wedding day, we struggled to close my wedding dress. I tried to put it out of my mind, sucking my tummy in most of the day and smiling for the camera, hoping it would miraculously shave off 10 lbs. I was grateful my husband had about 5 lbs. on me. Had I passed him, it would have done a number on me emotionally.
I've watched friends magically drop 10 or 20 lbs. before their weddings. Their elbows look sharp, their arms toned, their waists tiny, and their faces thin. The weight loss doesn't last forever, but they look great in those photos that forever immortalize one of the biggest days of their lives.
I think about my body often these days, since it is changing so noticeably, so quickly. In general, women seem to think about their bodies a lot. I believe plenty of men do too. Though people love websites that expose pre-photoshopped celebrities and those viral Facebook pictures that preach loving the body you've got, we all still buy into dieting fads, avidly follow weight loss shows (Biggest Loser, anyone? I love it...), and applaud Jennifer Hudson for her dieting success. Right?
During my first trimester, I became incredibly sick. Daily, constant vomiting, accompanied by rapid weight loss. At 12 weeks pregnant, I was 15 lbs. lighter than I was on our wedding day. My wrists thinned, my face slimmed a bit. Though my suffering was intense and unrelenting, I found myself pleasantly surprised with the dropping number on the scale.
It disturbed me that I could feel this way, that at my age and with my perceived sense of personal maturity my appearance and the arbitrary number on a scale could mean so much to me. On The Bump, a popular pregnancy website, there's even a chart with your pre-pregnancy BMI and your recommended weight gain based on your body before you conceived. I've talked to many woman here locally who felt pressured to curb their weight gain during pregnancy, freaking out if they surpassed their "limit."
Please understand that I know that it would be reckless to gain extreme amounts of weight during pregnancy. But the paranoia about going 2 or 5 lbs. over a somewhat arbitrary limit perplexes me no end.
Before I got pregnant, my belly button looked like an upper-case O. I think "society" (whatever that is) would promote the number 0 as the prime belly button shape, with a lower-case o as an acceptable runner-up. These days, my navel resembles a bloated dash: long, taut, and thin. It's the weirdest looking thing ever. But I find myself relishing these changes, embracing them as part of my journey to motherhood. For the first time, I'm proud of my weight gain.
But I still feel weird about the photos from our wedding day. So, here's a few, in the spirit of, um, ambivalence. (All photo credits to Sanae James. Sanae, I'm sad we both moved away from Utah. With a baby on the way, I wish you were handy to document everything.)
Some bridal shots.
Married April 23, 2011
in the Mt. Timpanogos Temple.
Surrounded by friends and family.
It was a cool, misty day.
He makes me indescribably happy.
That cake was delicious.
Nom nom nom.
This has been a good exercise for me (no pun intended). My wedding day appearance included no fake tanning, no expensive professional makeup, and obviously, no Spanx. Yes, I still sigh and feel a little disappointed by my inability to look svelte on my wedding day. And I tear up, not because I'm a chubbyish gal, but because that day transformed my life. That day marked the beginning of the best and hopefully the longest chapter of my life. I'll never be a size 0 (or 2, or 4, or 6, or 8). But I'll always be loved and valued by and eternally bound to a pretty incredible man.