This upcoming year, I’m in two weddings, and I’m getting married the following year. After watching numerous people around me “sweating for the wedding” and eating meals with about as much taste as Communion wafers for months prior to their nuptials, I swore I would accept my body in whatever state it was in and put a dress on it.
Doesn’t that sound so wonderfully idealistic?
Real talk: Every time I get period bloat, I feel like the lardiest sentient being on this gorgeous green planet and I vow to make a Lifestyle Change.
The Lifestyle Change (henceforth known as LC) is society’s way of tricking you into feeling happy that your new diet consists of mushrooms from the side of the road sautéed in coconut oil. It’s terminology so expertly crafted, so rhetorically sound, that you convince yourself that chocolate sucks and you’ll never drink another glass of wine because you just feel like your insides are “glowing.” The reality of the situation, however, is that eventually you’ll realize the LC is slowly sucking your soul out of your body via mouth, straight up Dementor-style. And when that moment happens, at least for me, there better be literal oceans separating me and the nearest Texas Roadhouse.
I come from a huge Italian family where not finishing your entire 3000-calorie plate of cheesy pasta is akin to first-degree murder. Don’t get me wrong; growing up on my father’s homemade bread and my mother’s endless supply of baked goods was incredible. I am the happiest little chunker in my childhood pictures. My parents never forced me to play sports to “build character,” AKA get me out of the house, so my amount of physical activity from ages 1-13 was very minimal. Let’s do the math: constant carbcomas + no exercise = thunda thighs. Look, it even rhymes!
College arrived with a new gift – the pressure to Look Sexy. Between frat parties and football games, College Mandy became obsessed with having a Kardashian body while simultaneously drinking as much Natty Light as humanly possible. I ate vile cardboard-tasting Lean Cuisine sandwiches and woke up at 5 am to run stairs so I could be a size six. I distinctly remember eating only Greek yogurt and baked beans for an entire week. Beer aside, it was a miserable existence.
Right now, I’m trying to find the balance between This Nutritious Meal Tastes Like a Butthole and I’m Gonna Become Pregnant With a Pizza. That in-between stuff, the TRUE LC, is…really fucking difficult to settle into. Yeah, yeah, I know, small changes, progress not perfection, one day at a time, self love, Namaste, the whole nine. My small change yesterday was eating roasted Brussels sprouts and kidding myself into believing they tasted good. Today, when I opened the Tupperware of leftovers, I took one whiff and practically shot-putted those tiny stink cabbages into the garbage disposal.
So many people on the internet feel so strongly about health and fitness, and I can’t begin to count the amount of slightly patronizing, paleo, #fitfam things that show up on my instagram feed. I have a desire for self improvement, I want to look good in those wedding dresses, but at what cost? I will go on a run, I will choose the slow churned ice cream at Food Lion, but I refuse to eat vegetables I hate, and I will never, ever give up my one true love, cheese.
Finding peace with our bodies can feel impossible, sometimes. I’m approaching my period right now, and I feel like that blueberry girl from Willy Wonka. But I think the best we can do is endeavor to recognize what serves us and what doesn’t. Inhale the good shit, exhale the bullshit, and eat the damn cupcake.