When I was 24, my weight reached an all-time high. 5 years at university, with too much beer and chips, had left me 4 stone heavier and depressed. I was living in Brussels, where I was an apprentice with the European Commission. It was meant to be the time of my life but my weight became such an issue that I felt unable to socialise at all. I felt utterly uncomfortable in my own body and finally decided to go on a diet.
Fast forward 10 years. I'd been a teacher for 7 years, made quite a decent life for myself and spent 10 years yoyoing up and down, with a 7 stone range. Eventually, the eating disorder and over exercising became unmanageable and I had to be hospitalised.
My eating disorder had caused me to become very isolated and pretty much made a relationship impossible. 2 years after my time in hospital, weight stable and with a much happier outlook, I met Robert. A man who cooks like a Michelin starred chef and who made it clear that he didn't expect girls to be on diets and built like stick insects. He let on that his food is so good because he doesn't scrimp on fat and sugar... I soon stopped trying to count calories and my weight crept up. I also quit smoking, which had a similar result.
This May, we got married. In the lead up to the wedding, I had to come to terms with the fact that I would not be a skinny bride. I'd always dreamed that I'd be all ribs and stick arms, floating angularly down the aisle, with strong will merely picking at my wedding breakfast. In reality, the disordered me was never going to marry at all, far too self absorbed to share my life with anyone. I did try to diet in the lead up. I got advice from a personal trainer. I joined the gym and discovered I liked zumba (but I liked it because of the people and not the calories burnt).
The main result was a sprained ankle and added stress until I made the decision to stop trying to make myself into the bride I had pictured and instead build my ideal wedding around the real me. I just don't have that disordered thinking that used to get me thin. I lost a bit of weight in the final few weeks, but that was more from the stress and lack of time to eat than any actual effort on my part!
When choosing a wedding dress, I wondered if I should choose something loose to hide the bulges or something very corseted to hold them in place. But then I found the dress I wanted Robert to marry me in. My friends were with me in the shop and they knew I'd found it when I put it on, by the happy noises I made. It was pretty tight right down to the thighs, hugged my wide hips, showed off my curves and accentuated my waist. It had no corsetry, cap sleeves (hello bingo wings!) and the lace meant I couldn't wear a normal bra under it (I don't need to explain what big weight loss and gain does to boobs!) but I loved it and had to get it.
On the big day, I tucked into my wedding breakfast and had photos taken afterwards with full tummy not entirely held in. I felt and looked really great when I married Robert. More importantly, I walked down the aisle a strong and healthy woman, embarking on true adulthood.