You Are Beautiful, From a former Bride | Andrea Rodway Photography

This week I've been thinking about goals. I had an Instagram post the other day that said, "I don't do resolutions, I do goals." This is the truth. I stopped doing resolutions years ago because it became apparent that they just weren't sticking.

This post is something that I've had in my draft folder since December. I've been really struggling with what I want to say on this. Here we go...

Backstory: I've had issues with my weight my entire life. From being called, "chubby and solid" as a child, to endless teasing and being called fat in grade school through middle school and high school. Even as an adult I've been out at the bar and been called fat by a drunk man. When I was little I was forced to do sit-ups by my sister after eating too much pizza. Kids are damn awful sometimes.

As an adult I thought things would get easier, I thought I'd be more accepted and the older I get the more pressure I put on myself. Boy was my younger self wrong. Not only are there more pressures the older you get to "belong" the more pressures you put on yourself. I became bulimic in high school at the age of 16. I had ACL surgery in the fall of 1995 after I got hurt in a high school basketball game and I was done for the season and rest of the school year. Depression began very quickly. I'm from a very small town and all everyone seemed to care about is sports and that sense of belonging. Once that was taken away from me I felt lost. To me, the best thing that happened after surgery was that I got skinny. I lost a TON of weight. I weighed about 110 pounds after doing rehab on my knee, which I can't ever remember weighing that little. In the sixth grade I weighed in at 150 pounds and the doctor told me I was overweight. So being so skinny was such a huge accomplishment for me!

Soon prom came and I had turned 16, I found the perfect dress and it was even on the cover of the coveted Seventeen Magazine. I had to be skinny. I gained about 10 pounds, so I was up to 120 and I was so upset with myself. I always compared myself to my friends and how thin they were and I was constantly compared to my older sister who was thin her entire life. I could never eat anything I wanted, if I did ... I'd pay the price. I can remember barely eating anything during the day at school and then eating total junk when I got home and feeling miserable about myself. And if you know anything about being bulimic, you know what happens next. Repeat and Repeat. I was 16 years old 120 pounds and destroying my body.

There were times when I would feel great and not do anything to hurt my body and then I would slowly step backwards and repeat my old habits. The older I got, the worse it got. I would go months without purging and then summer or a special event would come around. I'd sniff a cupcake and feel terrible about myself. It's an awful disease. I used to sing, and honestly ... I was pretty good at it. I have totally killed my vocal chords from this stupid disease. You may be thinking, why is she sharing this? I've never really done those "about me" blog posts. I'm not sure why. I guess I figure that people would much rather see the beautiful images, then listen to my actual words.

Here's the thing. When Matthew and I started dating I was 30 pounds lighter. Still not so great eating habits, but I was running and working out quite a bit. 5 years fly by and we're getting engaged in Paris and I swear to myself that I will get back to my size 6 that I was! My dress was an 8 and I guess I was happy. The photos turned out amazing and I started to embrace my curves that I had developed. He always says that I look pretty and loves the way I look, so why can't I accept that?

From high school to today I've fluctuated from a size 4 at my very smallest to a size 12. I'm only 5'4, so those extra pounds find a home in my stomach and butt. While I don't have the fame, fortune, personal chef and trainer of Kim Kardashian, I see myself in the mirror and never like what I see. Why are we always so hard on ourselves? Some women pay good money for those curves.

Fast forward to the wedding. I had over 12 months to get into the best shape of my life (as most brides tend to do).  I started thinking to myself. I'm not going to starve myself and I'm not going to revisit my old awful habits. It had been almost 2 years since I had my last bulimic episode. So many things were happening. My dad was sick, he needed triple bypass surgery and we weren't sure he was going to make the wedding, my mom was stressed to the max, I wasn't getting along with my only sibling, and there were more things than I could count that were filled with drama. It was basically a perfect storm of awful and I promised myself that I wouldn't let any of this impact our big day. I always put on my best smile heading out the door, but inside I was screaming.

Here's the deal, I did let all of this get to me. I was a crazy nervous stressed out ball of crazy. (Is that a phrase? If not, it is now.)

Okay, Okay...so why am I sharing this? Because I was so upset with how I thought I looked on my wedding day. My weight has always fluctuated, and I knew I could get the pounds off. But somehow this time it was different. I barely exercised and we ate pretty healthy...but I really didn't give it my all. I was exhausted. Between planning our wedding and struggling to hold it together I was just tired.

And then I woke up and it was my wedding day and I had only lost 7 pounds...when I had wanted to lose the 30 I had gained over 5 years. Obviously I couldn't rewind time, there wasn't a magic liposuction treatment that I could get in 5 minutes. Instead of going into mass hysteria, I went forward and put my dress on and put a smile on my face. I was so happy and disappointed at myself at the same time. How could I have done this? Why didn't I work harder? Had I just ruined the most amazing day in our lives because I thought I looked awful??

Here's the answer. The answer is NO. HELL NO! When I put my dress on and it fit absolutely perfectly and I walked out to see Matthew for our first look, I felt more beautiful than I have ever felt in my life. He wrapped his arms around me and told me how beautiful I was. All of the torment that was going on inside my own head disappeared. Our family and friends were at OUR WEDDING, I got to dance with my dad and we have so many amazing memories! And GUESS WHAT? They don't involve any drama and they don't involve me thinking of how fat I thought I felt.

That's why I'm sharing this. Was I a size 6? No. I was a 10 and I put my spanxs on one leg at a time just like the rest of the world. My dress fit and I could move and breathe and dance the night away and that's all that mattered in the world!

I still have my fitness goals. WE have our fitness goals. I still want to be down in my weight and eat healthy and hit the gym regularly. But what I want is for all of you future brides and even current and former brides. Find your happy. You will look amazing no matter what size you are. DO NOT torture yourself thinking that the norm is the size 0 that we constantly see on all forms of media. If you need a workout buddy, call me and I'll come to that spin class with you! As women, we are all in this together and you don't need to feel alone. 

I know exactly what you're going through and trust me, STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP! And guess what? If you only loose 1 pound or 20 pounds, that's fine! You get that dress or tux on, have your champagne and eat that piece of cake! Your dream day is happening and the love of your life is waiting for you!