THE BLOG
01/11/2012 01:13 pm ET | Updated Mar 12, 2012

The Drive to be Thin: A Misguided Goal or a Higher Purpose?

When Julia walked into my home for her first coaching session, she was stiff and quiet. She held her arms over her stomach to appear as small as possible and spoke quietly as to not draw attention to herself. The women who sign up for my Breathtaking Bride Program to lose weight for their wedding are typically self-conscious, but Julia was beyond what I had ever experienced. My heart went out to her. The thing with Julia was that there was nothing over weight about her. Sure she appeared a little awkward and a tad frumpy, but that had way more to do with her attitude than her physique. As soon as she sat down she told me that she shouldn't be here. With further prodding she revealed that she "didn't want to be another bimbo who needed to lose 20 lbs for [her] wedding at any cost, but the idea of looking like this on [her] wedding made [her] want to die." This guilt over wanting to be thin is something I had seen before. When we see our best friend starve herself from a size 6 to a size 0 or watch couples put a disproportional amount of time and energy into losing weight on "Shedding for the Wedding" and other popular bridal shows, it's easy to write off the calorie-counting bridal-boot-campers as not having their priorities straight. The wide spread cultural pressure for brides-to-be to lose weight for their wedding is starting to have a universal backlash, and rightfully so. Shouldn't women be focusing on more important things - like becoming a wife? As a bridal weight loss coach, I struggle with the pressure to not appear (or feel) "superficial" for helping women create their dream bodies before their wedding. But I believe that the drive to be thin on your wedding day is anything but shallow or insincere. However, I do believe that the craving for "thin" is just a misguided reaction to a deeper problem. Obviously, Julia wanted to be the best version of herself when she got married. When she pictured herself at her wedding, she was a slim, confident, gracious version of herself. But her current reality was that she was the girl who hid in the corner. The only way she thought she would be able to have 100 people looking at her without puking, was if she lost 20 lbs. To her, weight loss was the magic bullet to fix all her problems. When I asked her all the reasons she wanted to be thin, this is what she told me:
  • Being thin is a symbol of success and confidence.
  • I want my fiancé to eat his heart out.
  • If I could stop thinking about food, I would have time to focus on things that really mattered.
  • I spend so much time beating myself up, I just want to feel happy!
  • If I were thin, I'd feel like I could do anything.
  • If I were thin, I'd feel more like a woman.
  • If I were thin, I'd feel beautiful.
  • If I were thin, I could talk to anyone.
  • If I were thin, I wouldn't care what anyone thought of me.
  • If I were thin, I could own the room!
As it happens with all my clients, Julia's goals had nothing to do with physical size, but the desire for confidence, beauty and happiness. It seems that we have an entire population of women wanting to have a better life, believing that losing weight is the only way to accomplish their dreams. What we have here is not a lack of depth, but a lack of understanding. When I told Julia that her homework was to buy a new dress, eat more chocolate and have more sex NOT to go the gym 5 days a week or cut out bread, she was shocked and a little freaked out. She admitted that never eating bread again seemed less daunting than going shopping. I know from experience that dieting does not create confidence or self-worth. I know so many brides who lose weight for their wedding, still feel insecure and gain all the weight back on the honeymoon. Skipping the "weight loss" and working directly on our insecurities is the only way to create a confident and sexy bride. And amazingly enough, it's the most effective weight loss strategy and the ONLY way it's permanent. After a few months of confidence boosting exercises, forgiving her past, connecting with her femininity, deepening her relationship with her fiancé and discovering her life's purpose, Julia far exceeded her goals for the kind of bride she wanted to be. She walked down that aisle with a poise and clarity that made her unrecognizable to most of her guests. She also lost 15 pounds without even trying. If you're a bride, my message to you is simple: make a list of everything you believe will be different about you and your life when you're thin. Be clear and specific. Now ditch the diet and start making those dreams a reality. Not only will you be getting right to the source of your desires, but the process of creating an unbelievable life will transform your body naturally. If you're struggling with how you're going to feel beautiful without dedicating hours on the treadmill, then I highly suggest you download the Breathtaking Bride Instant Makeover: you'll ditch your body embarrassment so fast, you could walk down the aisle tomorrow. Click here. If you have a bride in your life, and you liked this message, I highly encourage you to pass it along. Changing the way women prepare for their wedding can have a major ripple effect.

Sarah Jenks is a nutrition and life coach and founder of the Breathtaking Bride Program, as seen in Forbes, The Boston Globe, Martha Stewart Weddings and the Knot. Sarah believes that the only way to lose weight and love your body is to create a life that is a frickin' blast. To get instant support from Sarah, download the Breathtaking Bride Instant Makeover here.