‘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 pump
Reeboks….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
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
Ss - 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’ll
pick 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.