How Pilates Helped My Mental Health While Wedding Planning

A bride-to-be shares her experience.

woman doing pilates

Courtesy of McKinsey Johnson/Stocksy

“We’ll plan a fitting two weeks out from your big day,” spoke my tailor as he hung my wedding outfit on a hanger after our second fitting, six months out from my wedding this fall. “That way, we can account for any weight loss.” I walked onto a sunny side street of Manhattan and felt the initial impact of his casual comment. A survey run by Treadmill Reviews recorded that nearly 70 percent of brides hope to lose weight before their big day. Despite cultural pressure, I decided a long time ago that I wanted my wedding to be a celebration of my commitment to my partner, not an excuse to slip back into unhealthy patterns for the sake of a slimmer silhouette. 

As a teenager with a brief stint in modeling, I don’t have a straightforward relationship with nourishing my body. That, combined with a lifelong love of movement, cemented some complicated feelings toward exercise and weight loss. Years in the fashion industry compounded these habits, with messaging like “I’m skipping lunch for the gala tonight” or challenging each other to try to zip into the sample-sized pieces. 

When it came time to envision my bridal look, I knew I wanted to avoid anything that could trigger disordered eating. That meant slips with clingy silhouettes were out. I wasn’t going to torture myself with an outfit in a size too small as a “challenge” for myself, something a married friend of mine admitted to doing. I explained my intentions to my partner and was met with full support. I thought I had protected myself against all the emotional turmoil the months leading up to the wedding could inspire. That was, until I started planning the actual day. 

I’d heard colloquial anecdotes about the stress of putting together an event from friends and colleagues. These stories were always sandwiched with statements like, “But it was the best day of my life, so it was all worth it.” I wasn’t prepared for the ambush of opinions, unhelpful advice, and general expectations that face any couple opting into a wedding. Every decision made was a follow-up reaction from family, friends, and even vendors with their own set of questions or concerns. It was confusing to feel the pressure of creating a perfect day, while maintaining a freelance writing career, keeping an apartment clean, and meeting up with friends for dinner. 

It was time to do something for my mental health, for the sake of our impending nuptials.

It was time to do something for my mental health, for the sake of our impending nuptials. I toyed with the idea of trying SLT, a “50-minute, muscle-quivering, heart-pumping, total body workout” set on a megaformer machine. I’ve been a longtime Pilates practitioner at home, but the idea of getting out of the house, aka Wedding Planning HQ, had appeal. I slipped into yoga pants and a sports bra in the middle of the day after shutting my laptop on dozens of tabs opened for venue research. It was time to get in my body. 

Morgan, a kind personal trainer with the kind of can-do attitude, welcomed me into the SLT studio. She walked me through the machine, helping me slip into moves that activated muscles I’d never felt before. We worked together for what felt like 15 minutes, but next thing I knew, our session was over. I hadn’t thought about the wedding once. The next day, more sore than I’ve ever been in my adult life, I couldn’t wait to book a real class. 

I started with an “Essentials” class, which an instructor described to me as “pared back.” Feeling nervous as I made my way to my megaformer was a welcomed respite from feeling frustrated by choosing invite colors or trimming an invite list. I lost myself in the blasting music, focused on my own mind-body connection without even thinking to check on my neighbor’s form. The class ended in the same euphoric high the first training session had. I couldn’t wait another week for the next Essentials class, and was thrilled to have access to classes at home through SLT On Demand to hold me over. 

Of course, as every pandemic bride knows, I should have expected the unexpected. I tested positive for COVID-19 a week later, necessitating my online access. Missing IRL workouts led me to mandating a rule for my workouts in my living room: No checking my phone. My quarantine passed. Once I was cleared by my doctor, I was elated to slip back into my grippy socks and take to the megaformer. 

This time, my flow through class didn’t feel quite as delightful as my first time. I hadn’t considered Covid’s impact on my ability to exercise seriously. I was out of breath, tired, and sore before I even wiped down the machine. A week off from any sort of exercise set my affinity for the break it had provided into even more clarity. I didn’t miss working out because of how it made my clothes fit. I missed the way it made me feel.

Cut to present day, where I’m juggling my SLT addiction, wedding planning, and caring for my body with as much grace as I can muster. Some days, it looks like textbook balance. Other days, a walk with a friend is the only mental health break I can muster. I’m aiming to pay attention to my body, as much as my mind, as I traverse these overwhelming, sometimes joyful, and ultimately temporary months before I get married. And while they might not be the best months leading up to the best day of my life, this time and effort is all in honor of the best decision I’ve ever made.

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