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For an estimated 70 percent of brides, it’s a given: planning a wedding means hitting up the gym and slashing calories. The average? Twenty pounds, and many will resort to crash diets in order to achieve results quickly.

It’s touted as empowering, even as the only way a bride can feel truly beautiful and ‘look her best’ on her wedding day. Well known magazines offer advice like four week bridal body prep plans.

It’s great to want to look your best. It’s natural. But does looking your best mean you need to lose weight? Here are some important questions to ask yourself before you take up a new regime:

  1. Why am I doing this? Are you shedding pounds because you really want to, or because you feel you’re expected to? What does losing weight mean for you, and what would it mean if you didn’t? Whose opinions have an impact on you?
  2. Is it a reasonable goal? In general, healthy weight loss means losing no more than 1 to 2 pounds per week, for most people. Not only is it safer, but you are more  likely to do it through real lifestyle changes, rather than resorting to crash diets, which can cause a host of problems. You’re also more likely to maintain the loss.
  3. Would I do this if I wasn’t getting married? It may be hard to be honest about this, but it’s important. While a motivating event is not a bad thing, you need to make sure, at least, it is not the only reason.
  4. Do I have weight to lose? Perhaps the most important question is : do you really need to lose weight? It’s possible you’re suffering from body image problems and you really don’t. While this is hard to deal with, you need to be honest if you’re in a healthy weight range. If losing weight would put you at a weight range outside a healthy BMI, then you know it isn’t a good idea. Even if the weight loss keeps you in a healthy range, it may not be healthy for your body. Every body has a different set point: that is, going under a natural weight can cause health problems. If you think you’re having body image issues, take this quiz.
  5. Am I getting too obsessed? Dedication and consistency is the key to healthy weight loss, but obsession isn’t. If you find yourself spending all day counting calories, worrying about your next meal, and skipping events to squeeze in another workout, you could be developing an eating disorder. Even if you don’t get a full blown eating disorder, it’s no laughing matter, and you should seek support from friends and a professional.

 

Keep in mind that if you still feel you can lose weight in a healthy way, you need to be mindful that dress fittings may prove more difficult. In general, it’s advised you don’t buy a dress smaller in hopes you’ll lose weight, but buy the size you are currently and have it taken in.

 

If you feel like you’re suffering from body image issues, obsessions about food or exercise, or need support, visit NEDA for resources. Remember: you are beautiful and loved no matter your size.