If you do want to start incorporating more movement into your life in the run-up to your wedding, I want to introduce you to two concepts embedded in the anti-diet movement – joyful movement and body inclusivity.
If there’s one thing I know to be true, it’s that as soon as you start planning a wedding, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you need to change your body. One day you’re sitting on your sofa watching Netflix with your cutie, then a proposal happens and BAM! Suddenly you’re signing up to a PT or jogging before work and buying an outfit three sizes too small as an ‘incentive’. Yikes! (Please don’t do this last one, it’s a recipe for many, many anxiety tears.)
I get why this happens, though. The pressure to have some sort of ‘wedding body transformation’ is real. Every trad wedding mag, subtly or not, pushes the message that a wedding diet is something to be expected, and when I was shopping for my own dress, the dressmaker commented that ‘Everyone loses weight before the big day’. BUT WHY?!
‘Looking your best’ on your wedding day genuinely doesn’t have to kickstart a pursuit of weight loss. You can look the shiniest, glowiest, most polished and photo-ready version of you (if that’s your bag) WITHOUT shrinking or buffing your bod so much that you look like a different person on your big day. You do not need to be smashing it, ripping it, tearing it up or punishing yourself to get the benefits of moving your body more.
The term ‘joyful movement’ means choosing exercise that gives you a sense of pleasure or fun, rather than focusing on results such as goals or body changes. It’s about how the movement makes you FEEL, which can seem like a radical shift when we live in a society that’s dominated by before and after photos.
Here are some things that can count as joyful movement… and importantly, count as valid forms of exercise.
♥ Kitchen dance parties
♥ Stretching, doing your physio, chair yoga
♥ Walking the dog or going for a hike
♥ Hot, steamy sex
♥ Hula hooping, hopscotch, den building and any other activity you liked as a kid
I have one client who told me that she started sword fighting. SWORD FIGHTING! Isn’t that awesome?! The world of ‘fitspiration’ on Instagram says that there’s only one way exercise and fitness can look. EYE ROLL, that is simply not true.
Another Instagram trend that can be a barrier for many, is the idea that you have to have some perfect aesthetic while exercising. I was recently talking to a Pilates instructor, and she pointed out that a few years ago it would have looked weird if you’d gone to the gym in a cropped top. Now it’s the norm and it’s putting people off who want to go in a baggy T-shirt. It’s such a shame because movement is movement, it really doesn’t matter if your leggings don’t cost £100.
If you want to get fitter for your big day, focus on the FUN and you’ll not only be far more likely to stick with it, but you won’t fall into the diet culture trap of thinking you’re not pushing yourself hard enough (and feel free to go out walking in a dirty T-shirt if you need to, NO JUDGEMENT).
The second important concept you need to start thinking differently about movement is ‘body inclusivity’.
Have you ever stepped into an exercise space and not felt included? Perhaps you’re fat, a POC, disabled, trans or non-binary? It’s scary! So many gyms and fitness classes do not make an effort to include marginalised bodies. Sadly, diet culture holds up one ‘correct’ way to have a body and many gyms and PTs uphold this doctrine at the expense of many people’s mental and physical health.
If you want to move more, please don’t put yourself into a space where you don’t feel safe or welcome.
Instead, take some time to find a like-minded community and an instructor who understands your needs. If there’s one good thing to come from the pandemic, it’s the amount of online offerings now available, and this has opened up a world of options for every body.
When we take weight loss out of the exercise equation altogether, it’s called a ‘weight inclusive’ approach to health. The reason more and more people are advocating for this approach is because research shows there are many other factors more important for your health than the number on a scale. These include: how much you move, whether you smoke or drink alcohol, how many fruits/veggies you eat, what your sleep is like, what your relationships are like and how much stress you experience.
If you start to build up better habits around these types of lifestyle changes, (by this I mean genuine lifestyle changes, not cutting out all food groups in a strict diet-but-we-pretend-it’s-a lifestyle-change) you will improve your health and see the benefits in your wedding photos.
By finding a way to move your body that makes you smile in a space or with an instructor that makes you feel included, you’re guaranteed to walk down the aisle feeling like a million dollars.
FIVE AWESOME INCLUSIVE FITNESS WORKOUTS:
Jessamyn Stanley is a FORCE and her inclusive online yoga classes are created especially for every body. Her mission is to ‘create and foster a community for everyone, including those who have ever felt overlooked, underserved and left out by the wellness industry’.
Becky Scott, founder of Missfits Workouts focuses on dance-based exercise classes, both in person and online, for those who might feel excluded from traditional fitness spaces. She says: ‘Fun, fat-friendly fitness designed with bigger bodies in mind. An inclusive, safe space to move your body with joy – move your body to care for it, not to punish it!’ We’re here for it.
Allé is a queer, fat, trans masc activist, educator and certified Yoga Instructor currently based in Asheville, North Carolina. He provides LGBTQIA+ inclusive, trauma-informed, weight-neutral yoga classes online.
Don’t let your body hold you back from bashing out the wedding stress! Adaptive boxing coach Luiz Faye has used a wheelchair since 2017, and she provides accessible boxing and HIIT classes at super accessible prices. Luiz and her team welcome people with Special Educational Needs, Learning Difficulties and Profound Multiple and Physical Disability.
Natalie is based in Austin and created her inclusive barre classes after often feeling ‘behind’ or embarrassed to not be moving at the same pace as the instructor in other classes. She focuses on joy and how the movement makes you feel.
ABOUT HARRI ROSE
Harri Rose is a body acceptance coach, writer and Co-Director at Anti Diet Riot Club. Her first book ‘You Are Enough’ is out now (Octopus Publishing). She is currently studying for an MA in Food Anthropology. Get your free introduction to her book at harrirose.com/signup or say hi on Instagram @harri_rose_
- Photography: Mart Productions via Pexels