Read an Excerpt
Wedding Dress Woes
Two weeks before her June 28th wedding, Jacy Johnson*, twenty-eight, went for the final fitting of her wedding dress. As she stood on a raised platform for the seamstress, Jacy was stunned to see that her stomach pooched out quite noticeably in the floor-length tube of a slip dress similar to the one worn by Carolyn Bessette Kennedy in her marriage to John F. Kennedy, Jr., a few years earlier.
Jacy called this to the attention of her mother and the seamstress. The seamstress clucked her tongue sympathetically. "You can always wear shapewear," she said, heading off to find what our mothers used to call a girdle so that Jacy could see just how much the pooch could be masked. The "tummy terminator" nearly took Jacy's breath away with its industrial-strength Lycra and stays. Worse, the pooch was still apparent.
Jacy's mother sighed heavily. "That's what you get for ordering a dress six months in advance."
"Like I had a choice," Jacy snapped, glaring at her mother. But when she got home and stepped on the scale, she knew her mother had a point. She'd packed on several pounds. She couldn't lay the blame entirely on the glasses of champagne she'd been lifting at various premarriage celebrations with her friends, or the rich sugary pastries, cream soups, and chocolate-dipped strawberries she'd scarfed at the bridal showers. Having had to run around seeing to all the details of her huge, elaborate wedding during her lunch hours as a corporate communications specialist at a San Diego--based company, Jacy was forced to opt for fast-food lunches or quick stops at 7-Eleven for microwaved hot dogs and burritos.
Well,Jacy vowed, this was war. She had two weeks to wage a pooch putsch. She did some research on the Internet, scanning the archives of women's magazines for diets that promised to help a reader doff ten pounds in two weeks or less.
She settled on an extreme version of what's commonly known as the Dr. Atkins diet. She ate vast quantities of protein and some fat, but zero carbohydrates.
For two weeks, Jacy downed nothing but meat and cheese. No carbs. No vegetables or fruit. Water weight poured off of her. She was constantly in the bathroom. Within eleven days, she'd lost eleven pounds. Two days before the wedding, however, she woke up with a painful, swollen tongue. It hurt to talk. It hurt to swallow. She visited her doctor. "It's either a virus that will go away in a few days, or your diet has been very poor," the doctor told her.
When her big day arrived, Jacy's tongue still hurt. She could barely find the energy to walk down the aisle wearing her ornate, heavy headdress. She was exhausted. She and her new husband had to leave their expensive, carefully planned reception much earlier than they'd expected. On her Hawaiian honeymoon, Jacy indulged herself in breads, rice, pasta, potatoes-all the carbs she'd been craving. She felt bloated on the beach in Maui and refused to let her new husband take pictures of her in her bikini. Back on the mainland, she discovered she'd regained every bit of the weight she had struggled to lose . . . and then some.
Jacy grins sheepishly when she relates this tale, then tells us a friend of hers-let's call her Lisa-can top it. Seems Lisa was so desperate to lose ten pounds in the week before her own wedding that she went to a seven-day, boot-camp-like "fasting" camp in which only water was served. By the fourth day, Lisa was so starving that she stole a packet of honey from the staff dining room and brushed her teeth with it, spitting it out so that the medical supervisors wouldn't catch on to her cheating.
Professionally, we, the authors, have heard dozens of similar horror stories-Robyn, as a registered dietitian who has maintained a thriving nutrition counseling practice since 1985, and Jacqueline, a long-time freelance health writer who not too long ago wrote both the health and diet columns in Cosmopolitan magazine.
The typical bride-to-be's desperate vow-"I must look perfect on my wedding day"-is a mantra we hear in our personal lives, as well. Within the last year, Robyn participated in two weddings-once as mother of the groom, once as sister of the bride. Jacqueline was twice a bridesmaid. Earlier in our lives, each of us was a bride. We know well that for every woman who has ever walked down the aisle or under a huppah, the size label sewn inside that wedding dress is a number that she lives with forever. (And she's got the photos and videotapes to prove it!) Years later, she may not remember the names of all of her bridesmaids, but she will remember whether she was a size six or a size sixteen as she took her vows.
And who can blame women for obsessing about looking the best they'll ever look at this pinnacle event? After all, a typical woman's wedding day is the one day in her life that she's guaranteed to be the star of the show, the center of attention, the person in the spotlight. All eyes will be on her.
Even celebrities who are accustomed to living their lives under the constant scrutiny of the public eye feel a special paranoia about their wedding day. In the weeks before her wedding to Great Britain's Prince Edward, Sophie Rhys-Jones, for example, underwent a bizarre treatment called a Frigi-Thalgo body wrap in order to help her lose twenty pounds. If you can believe the tabloid press, Sophie was "smeared with a foul-smelling seaweed concoction and then wrapped mummy-style in cold, wet bandages," according to the Star. Ugh! It's described as "a bit like sitting in your wet clothes after you come in from the rain." Except that you stink, too.
Sarah, the former Duchess of York, aka "Fergie" and Sophie's sister-in-law-or whatever you call their relationship in light of Fergie's divorce-recently rolled her eyes as she recalled the drastic steak-and-oranges diet she tried the month before her 1986 wedding. She rounded out those deadly boring diet meals with "injections and pills-and we're not talking vitamins, either," she said. "Your hair falls out and your skin's a mess, but you lose weight! I lost twenty-six pounds in four weeks."
Not long after, the five-foot, eight-inch duchess ballooned to 210 pounds.
Do we believe that women are far too hard on themselves when it comes to body image? Absolutely. Do we also accept the reality that almost all brides-to-be go on a diet? That, too. One of us-Robyn-can document the fact that prospective brides are the third-largest group of people (after athletes and pregnant women) concerned about their weight.
Our mission is this: With our safe and sane diet and exercise plan, we will help you, the soon-to-be-married woman, accomplish your weight-loss and shape-up goals without sacrificing your skin or your hair or your energy or your sanity for, say, your thunder thighs. In addition, our advice will keep your immune system healthy and strong so you can survive all of the stress of getting to the church on time.
The corollary to this is you will have the foundation for a varied and healthy eating style for life. You have probably heard the statistic that "95 percent of all diets fail." This is misleading; it implies you can't lose weight on a diet. The truth is that most people do lose weight when they go on a diet. But 95 percent of them put the weight back on within a year. That's mostly thanks to the rigidity and monotony of the majority of diets. Sure, you can eat nothing but steak and oranges for a couple of weeks-but think about staying on that diet for the next year. You couldn't. You would go absolutely mad. You would crave the forbidden so much that one day, like a rabid animal, you would wrestle that package of Wheat Thins from your new husband's hands and-cramming and snarling-eat the entire box without even bothering to sit down. Sooner rather than later, you would balloon just like Fergie, and you'd become a card-carrying member of the Ninety-five Percent Club.
That won't happen here. There is nothing monotonous about the Wedding Dress Diet. Our philosophy is that you can eat anything you want . . . in moderation. Moderation meaning that if you split a dish of chocolate mousse with your best friend at lunch, then don't have dessert after dinner. Because in our book, calories are king. It's not the proverbial end-all and be-all-Robyn is, after all, a dietitian with some very hardcore beliefs about good nutrition (as you'll learn in Chapter Four). But we live in the real world, too. We know the odds of finding a bag of baby carrots in your office vending machine as opposed to a Snickers bar or bag of Doritos. So you won't get a lot of finger wagging from us. You blow it occasionally? In our book, the day is still salvageable-you'll have no excuse to say, "Well, since I blew it at lunch I might as well go all out at dinner, too."
The Wedding Dress Diet is not monotonous, but it is rigid . . . especially if, like Fergie, you have only a blessed few weeks left till your big day. We are going to coach you to be hyperstrict about calories and exercising during the weeks or months you are dieting. You have to be, because unlike most dieters, you have a hard and fast deadline for losing the weight: your wedding day. What makes our plan special, however, is that you get to decide on the relative rigidity of your personal plan. We provide a simple formula to enable you to determine exactly how many calories you must limit yourself to eating each day and how much exercising you must do based on the weeks or months till your wedding and the number of pounds you want to lose. Another silver lining of the Wedding Dress Diet is that we give you lots and lots of tips and guidelines so that, even after you've reached your goal weight and can loosen up on your calorie and exercise quotas, you can eat deliciously and nutritiously while maintaining your weight loss forever and without feeling deprived or hungry or simply bored to death.
There are lots of other features in this diet book that make it so different from any other. For example:
We'll help you cope with this unique predicament: While you may feel that, say, the four months you have remaining till your wedding is ample time to reach your goal weight, you may be stunned to discover that you must order your wedding gown at least four to six months in advance . . . that is, well before you achieve the body you want!
With our chapter on selecting the right wedding dress, we will not leave out advice for you if, for whatever reason, you have not achieved the body you were hoping for before your wedding. With our suggestions on selecting the perfect neckline, skirt style, and so on, we will show you how to maximize your particular figure assets while minimizing those you're not happy with.
We are also very democratic. We recognize that most of our readers will be first-time brides, but we don't forget the second-time-around bride. In our exercise chapter, for example, we address the needs of the woman who is working on her second wedding and who may not have much time or energy for working out because she may be juggling not just a top-flight career but a couple of kids, as well. Another example: In our chapter on selecting the perfect wedding dress, we don't stop at helping brides mask common but changeable problems, such as a protruding tummy, but those who have irreversible "flaws," as well, such as being very short in stature.
Finally-and once again-we won't abandon you at the altar! Our book takes you well beyond your wedding day. We're providing not just simple, delicious ways to maintain your new figure for years to come, but also tips on such topics as how to indulge but not overdo it on your honeymoon and how to get your husband and your in-laws to adapt-or at least tolerate and support-your new healthy lifestyle.
Congratulations on your engagement. And now, let's go, girl.