‘Lindy, will you marry me?’. After I heard these words, it was almost like there was a ringing in my ears (I’m sure my boyfriend, who was
hoping to be my fiancé, heard crickets, because it would have seemed like the longest and quietest pause, in the history of existence). All of a sudden, my heart burst, along with a floodgate of tears. We called parents, close friends and told them, before placing the announcement on FaceBook (oh yeah, at this point, do I need to point out that I said yes????!!!!). I was on this absolute high – we went for a walk after
dinner (at our favourite Indian restaurant), and all of a sudden, the high I was on came crashing down to hit me on the head. Now, this could have been caused by a plethora of things - you’re probably thinking the cost involved with having a wedding, the months and months (did I mention months and months??) of planning, or a myriad of other wedding related issues, which, when a person digs deeper, makes them want to crawl up in a ball, and hide.
Nope, coming down from my newly engaged high was all caused by one thing –my weight. At this point, I’m going to digress a little, and tease out the relationship I have with my body. Actually, there’s not a whole heap of explaining required, because put simply – I hate my body. I’ve never been a small girl, or what a person would describe as ‘petite’. At school, I was teased incessantly for being fat. When I hit year 11, I recall coming across a leaflet dropped off in our mailbox, advertising aerobics classes, at our local community centre - $2/class.
I distinctly remember standing at our mailbox, and stuffing the leaflet in to my pocket, almost embarrassed about even thinking of going.
I knew I had to do something if I wanted to change the way I looked. Hindsight, as we all know, can be a wonderful thing, and back then, I wished I had acknowledged that I needed to start exercising and eating well, all for the sake of being healthier. But, as with all teenage girls, I was fixated on aesthetics, and convinced the reason why I didn’t have a boyfriend was because of my weight. Have you ever huffed and puffed your way through something which seemed to go on forever??!!. I kept thinking – I paid $2 for this crazy woman in a leotard to ‘pretend’ to understand how hard it was. Please. But, fast forward quite a few months, and I couldn’t wait to get to aerobics – I was getting to know the other girls/ladies, I was getting fitter, I was feeling healthier, I was losing weight, and……drum roll please…..I was having fun!!.
So, fast forward many, many, many more years. I decided to become an instructor. Unlike how things are now with gaining a fitness related qualification, I registered for a course held over two weekends (brought to you by ‘Life. Be In It’), and bang – I was a qualified aerobics instructor!!. I taught classes in gyms around Canberra, most of which have closed their doors now, but I have very fond memories of g-string leotards, bunched up socks, fluorescent shoelaces (with a matching hair scrunchie too, if you don’t mind) and pumpReeboks….oh dear….This lasted for about 7 years, until I decided it was all too hard, and I wanted to have a life (as I was teaching every afternoon/evening after work, some early mornings, and every weekend). In 2010, I undertook the training required in order for me to become an RPM (indoor cycling) instructor, which I am still doing today, and I love it. The reason why I needed to digress, is to give you an idea of the fact that, as a fitness instructor, you simply cannot be self-conscious AT ALL when you’re up in front of a group of participants. More often than not, it’s also on a stage, so you’re elevated. Allow me to be completely and brutally honest here (please understand, this is from my own perspective). Are fitness instructors the most confident people you’ll meet?. No. Are fitness instructors outgoing people away from teaching?. No. Some participants actually believe us fitness instructors are machines/robots – we don’t eat (believe me when I say I’ve come across participants while I’ve been doing a grocery shop, and they’re absolutely HORRIFIED when they see actual real food in my trolley), we don’t go to the toilet, we don’t have a life outside of teaching, and we don’t live/sleep at the gym. And, above everything else, we are not the most confident people in the world. I had as much anxiety as any bride-to-be in terms of going looking at wedding dresses. I never had boyfriends going through school, and as I grew up, and girlfriends paired up with significant others (eventually getting married), I was the only single one left. At 29, I bought my own house, and moved in with a view to the 3 S's - settling down, setting up house and being a single person). So, going back to me hating my body….when my fiancé and I arrived home from our engagement dinner, I made a very firm rule for myself – I decided then and there that I would need to lose 10kg before our wedding. We hadn’t set a date – the ring had been on my finger for less than 10 hours, but nothing mattered – I had to be skinny for our wedding – no wriggle room, no negotiation – that’s what was going to happen, and apparently I would do everything in my power to make it happen. I wasn’t feeling confident about weighing in the next morning, considering my last meal had consisted of butter chicken, beef korma, rice, naan bread and red wine. Man, was I on a mission. I worked out what I wanted to weigh by our wedding (again, still having no idea when the wedding actually was – um……..a kind of critical detail right there, but hey, it didn’t matter) – the more time I had, obviously, the better. Even though none of you reading this article can see me, I’m embarrassed about what I’m going to share with you next. I put together a weight table – kind of like a progress table – there was a column for what I SHOULD be weighing by the start of each week, and then a table for me to write what I ACTUALLY weighed. Unbeknownst to me, I had, effectively set myself up for failure, in a very emotionally and mentally charged way. I saved this table on a USB, and I would open it every day – every. single. day. I’d stare at the goal weight I’d set myself – staring at it didn’t make any difference and looking back, staring at it didn’t make me feel inspired, and it certainly didn’t make me feel any better about myself. I’ll tell you what it did – it terrified the absolute bejesus out of me. The pressure I was putting on myself was ridiculous. I was eating less whenever I had control of it, but there was always something which would come up – someone’s birthday, Xmas, Easter, a weekend away. I was training at the gym as regularly as I could, taking on/teaching extra classes if I could, because hey, anything was a calorie burn. I even gave my new personal trainer fairly inflexible instructions – make me lean, and make me lose all my wobbly bits (I carry extra weight in my upper body – no boobs, just flabby arms and not a nice, sculptured, toned back either). I knew that to really change my body shape, I was going to have to put in a fair bit of work in terms of weight training (which I hate – oh I HATE it). Cardio training will always be my main go- to exercise – I love getting in to the cycle studio, and absolutely flogging the crap out of myself, and coming away a sweaty, tired mess. Some morning weigh-ins were fantastic – when I weighed less, I’m sure I could hear the birds singing louder (just for me, of course) and a deer, resembling Bambi, would poke its sweet little head around the corner, and I’d walk over to it, in my flowing blue and white dress, complete with a black headband, doe eyes, unimaginably long eye lashes, and I would ever so gently pat it on the head, as I sing, angelically….that image is a thing, right??!!.
On the mornings I weighed more than the day before, I hated everything and everyone. I would refuse to go to the gym, because I was too fat. I would drive to work with THE worst case of road rage. Everyone was stupid. Arriving at work, if anyone asked me how I was, I’d grumble something about how I hated people. I’d spend the first few hours of work slumped over my desk/computer, declaring that it was the worst day of my life and nothing ever went my way….now, I know this image is a thing, because ladies – we’ve all been there….yes, I’m talking about you – don’t look away, don’t close this article down – it’s OK – we’re going to work through this together. Did I get down to my goal weight before my wedding?. No, I did not. Did the earth stop turning, because of it?. No, no it didn’t. But, having said that, I was disappointed and upset with myself. I was attempting to weigh myself at my parents’ house, the week before the wedding (on my Mum’s bathroom scales). Even on the morning of the wedding, I remember standing in the bathroom, looking at myself and reciting to myself – OK, this is it – this is what you’ve been waiting for, this is……..hold on, hold it – THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR???????!!!!!!!!. Really?????!!!!!!. At what point, during this journey, had I narrowed it down to that moment??. What was going to happen??. Was I going to walk down the aisle, with my weight, tattooed to my forehead???. What I should have been looking forward to was soaking up every single moment of the day, starting with when I woke up – having breakfast with my Mum – laughing about all the things that have led me to finding the man I want to spend the rest of my life with, crying every time a ‘good luck’ text message came through. I ripped myself off, because I was worried about how I was going to look. I ripped myself off, because the night before the wedding, all of a sudden, I panicked that I couldn’t wear a strapless dress, so what was I going to do?. I missed out on enjoying having my hair done and having my make-up done, because I was so scared that when everything was put together (ie hair, make- up, jewellery, dress and veil), I wouldn’t like my reflection in the mirror. As my Mum and bridesmaids were doing up the back of my dress, I kept telling them I didn’t want the top done up too tight, because I didn’t want any ‘bits’ hanging out. Hold your breath, because what I’m about to say will probably surprise you – I LOVED the way I looked. I couldn’t believe it was me – I looked angelic, I looked different (but still looked like me), I looked beautiful, but most of all, I FELT amazing….and that’s what it’s all about – how you feel. If you feel beautiful and awesome, it will be noticed by others, and it’s not the aesthetic beauty they’llpick up on, it’s all about YOU.
I get teary when I read about or hear about brides worrying about their weight, and how they’ll look on their wedding day. It upsets me so much, because I was that girl – I was nervous and I was anxious, but most of all – I was SCARED. Was I going to let people down?. Was I going to arrive at the ceremony, and have people snigger and say under their breath ‘oh, she shouldn’t be wearing a dress like that’. Would anyone actually tell me I looked beautiful??. Let me be the one to tell you ladies – YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, just the way you are. Someone obviously thinks so, because they’ve proposed to you!. If you want to lose weight to help yourself feel better, and not necessarily for your wedding, then go for it. However, don’t put yourself under the same sort of pressure I did (and many brides before me did too). On the day, your undeniable beauty will shine through – your mere presence as the bride will take everyone’s breath away, and that person, waiting for you at the end of the aisle/path will look at you in a way you’ve never seen them look at you before. I wish someone had asked me – ‘do you really want to miss out on these things,all because of your weight??’. My name is Lindy Douglas (nee Scanlan), and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article, and I hope I’ve managed to help you navigate you way through any tricky waters you may have already encountered, or are about to encounter.