I’m a pasty person.

No sense in denying it. I have a certain shade of paste that Almay calls “neutral.”

Neutral. Thanks. Worked hard on that copy, eh?

In addition to being pasty, I have a way of holding onto a tan line. I think I still have some from high school. Seriously, I can be out in the sun for two hours (really, just two) and get a tan line that sticks around through months and months of beach vacations and tanning salon visits. This year I spent a full week at the beach wearing the most hideous bathing suit (bandeau with my chest? pshaw) in an attempt to correct 2 hours of bad. No luck.

Not that I don’t get tan…it’s just that my tan line continues at the same pace.

A source of some consternation when you have a whole lotta skin showing at the wedding. I ignored it for a while, tried self tanning lotions and bronzing creams, and even did the tanning salon a few times a week.

No joy.

So, this weekend I decided to try something daring: the spray tan.

Everyone said it was safe. My makeup guy. My friends. My coworkers.

So I bit the bullet, read the instructions, and stepped into the machine.

It was weird. Efficient (a 10 minute — tops — experience!), but weird. The result is that I actually AM a bit tanner. At first, it was a wee bit fake looking, but after you shower and wash your face, it kind of mellows out and looks normal.

The only thing you have to be careful with is where you wash. For instance, it seems that I don’t spend too much time washing my forehead as much as I do, say, my cheeks. Cause today my forehead is mighty tropical, while my cheeks are more like the Keys.

Also, the “barrier cream” you’re supposed to lather on your cuticles, hands, and feet? Really lather it, people. I had ompaloompa hands for a day or so.

It’s supposed to wear off in 5-7 days, which is why I did it a week before the wedding. (In case I hated it.) But I’m thinking it’s not too bad, so I’m going to do it one more time on Wednesday, so it mellows nicely for Saturday.

Oh…and the irony? Totally didn’t help with the tan lines. I’m screwed. Photoshop much?

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My MIL and I just picked up my dress.

It’s beautiful.

Fits perfectly.  The hem is perfect.  The changes we made around the hip area turned out to be taking it in 6 inches total.  Now it’s less like a ball gown and more elegant and refined.

Tracy — I finally love my dress.  I really do.

Eight days to go.

What a week.

So, on Monday, I got sick. Like kick my butt, rip my throat out, shivers and fever and shakes and whatnot sick.

If you do Facebook, you endured every little update of my sickdome. Patient folk you are.

I don’t usually get sick, so I must have been RUN. DOWN. Go figure.

I left the office early Monday and slept for most of the day and night, but it was restless because of the throat pain and having an impossible time of regulating my internal temperature. Covers on. Covers off. Covers on. Covers off.

Michael loved it.

Tuesday came and I pushed through. Cause I’m stubborn and an idiot, all rolled into one. I did work related things and wandered through my to do list with the feverish resolve of a zombie on ludes. It wasn’t pretty. All the while, my wedding work isn’t getting done, my body isn’t getting better, and my perspective is becoming grossly twisted.

By 1:30, I dragged myself to therapy out of habit rather than real resolve. Kind of shocked my counselor with my appearance (let’s just say I brought a blanket to keep warm and looked a bit washed out). I told her how disappointed I was in all of this. This last month was not supposed to be like this. I was myopic and selfish and cried a lot. And she offered to me that maybe (just maaaaybe) my perspective was a bit off because I was sick.

To which I promptly burst into tears.

Kind of sums up how my week was going.

By the end, I had agreed with her wise advice to head home immediately for rest and medication and to take the following day off. And within 5 minutes outside of her office, I changed the plan to head back to the office to “finish up a few things.”

Memory of a flea.

Finally at 5 I dragged my sorry ass home to the store for medication and then home to the grocery store for food and then home to sleep make dinner.

Yes, my priorities were screwed up. I get it now.

I did ultimately call in sick for Thursday. The entire day. I did not once log onto my work email and I only did one wedding related errand that simply could not be rescheduled. (A walk-through with the photographer. Unavoidable, but blessedly quick and painless.)

Now, it’s Thursday. (How the hell did that happen, people??) I’m feeling a million times better. Work is coming back in line slowly but surely. Wedding lists remain do-able. And a pot roast is waiting for us in the slow cooker at home. And somehow I managed to find my sense of humor again.

Whew.

So, seems I’m getting married in nine days.

Wow.

I’m excited. I’m actually getting all teary and smiley and excited. Which is great because I was kinda bitchy there for a week or so. Whew.

Tomorrow I pick up my wedding dress. Squeeeeeee!!!

Seriously…how much fun is that?!

It’s going to be so pretty. I just know it.

And after a weekend of help from the masses, all the wedding projects will be done and boxed and off our collective plates. And that, my friends, makes me happy just thinking about it.

I’ve been leaving someone out of this whole wedding planning thing. I’ve remembered to have nice gifts and thank you’s for all my hostesses. I’ve remembered to have thoughtful, personalized gifts for all my family to thank them for putting up with me all they have done this past year to support our wedding plans. I have included music to honor my mom and music to let my Dad hold his head high. I’ve picked dresses my ‘maids can wear again (seriously!) and added special touches to honor my family.

But I kind of (oops) forgot about myself.

I haven’t really been taking care of myself, and it took my best friend to smack me up side the head last night in a phone conversation.

She asked if I was getting my highlights done before or after the hair trial.  I said I didn’t really have the cash for something like that, so I was just going to skip it.

She dropped the phone.

For the next 15 minutes, she carefully and kindly explained to me that I was missing out on part of the experience.  If I wait to think about caring for myself until the week of, or forbid the morning of the wedding, I would miss the opportunity to feel exceptional.

And this should be an exceptional day.

Anyway, if I was trying to be practical, it makes no sense to show up that day and make them “correct two weeks of ugly.”  That, my friends, is an A+ bridesmaid for ya.

She’s right.  I need to check my cheap side at the door and actually do special things for myself this coming month.  I can’t just skid into my wedding week stressed, pale, drab, and generally untended.  It’s not just any other day.  And as much as I resist the syrupy approach people always seem to take with brides, I do have to remember that in order for me to be completely comfortable and feel absolutely exceptional that day, I need to take care of myself now.

Self care.  Incidentally another indicator of mental health.  Just saying.

On deck this week: a facial and brow wax (separately, of course).

Next week: a hair trial and discussion of highlights with my stylist.  Also a makeup trial, where I will actually spend money on products.  Me.  Spending money.

Two weeks: highlights, lowlights, and a trim (can you believe it’s been about 8 months since I saw a stylist?).

Self care.  Nice to meetcha.

I’m on a quest to banish back fat.

There.  I said it.

I’ve been surprised by a number of things in the wedding planning process, they key being that I (apparently) just as easily fall victim to the stereotypes as the next bride.  Moody?  Check.  Controlling?  Check.  Overwhelmed?  Check.  Consumed by whether or not she looks right in the dress?  Check.  Compulsively talking about flowers/candles/shoes/thank you notes/catering?  Check.

Even being the grown up that I am, I have fallen victim to at least some of the stereotypes.  Case in point: fitness.

Without realizing it, I’ve let my fitness slide a bit.  I get some in here and there, but not my normal self of 6-12 hours a week in a structured format and with bar charts to show progress.  My triathlon season puttered to a stop earlier than expected due to lack of funds (blame: wedding) and lack of time (again…wedding).

And now Sue Kim, wedding seamstress extraordinaire, is in possession of my dress.  No longer can I try it on every weekend, traipsing around my MIL’s house with it.  And the last time I saw it I had a little trouble spot.

My back.

It just wasn’t toned.  So this weekend I did a little assessment in front of the mirror.  You do it, too.  Don’t lie.  And my conclusion was that my buff summer arms and strong (albeit footballishly broad) back were gone.  It all snuck up on me, since I haven’t gained (or lost) a single pound.  My clothes fit the same.  Everything looks the same.

It just now is a little less, ahem, toned.

So I’ve started running again.  And doing the weights in the basement.  (Which is thankfully an option again now that our renovation project is done.  And, incidentally, the results are beautiful (for a basement) and really is due to Michael’s constant willingness to paint.  Day in, day out.  Paint.)  And I keep threatening my legs I’m going to do a spin class, although it has yet to materialize.  But still, you get the point.

It’s time to train for the wedding like it’s an endurance event.

At least it’s an approach I know and can relate to.  And it allows me to have some structure and what not.  Maybe a graph or two thrown in there, right?

And no good training program would be without paying attention to what you eat, and this time I’m taking some advice from one of my bridesmaids.  She’s really smart and knows this stuff better than I do.  So, in my effort to be better about help seeking, I’m taking her advice.

Week one: no grains.*

Sounds simple, right?

Hell to the no!

Apparently I eat a lot of grains.  Enough that without them I’m totally lost as to how to (a) pack a lunch, (b) cook dinner, and (c) make it through the evening without pouncing on the popcorn maker.

Did you know popcorn is a grain?  ME NEITHER.  Had I, I may have changed my mind about the sanity of this whole idea.  BAGELS?  Apparently full of grains.  Raisin bread?  Major offender.  Rye toast?  Forget about it.

But I am help seeking and taking other’s sound advice.  It’s making me a better person.  I can just feel it.  (Or that was just a hunger pain.)

All and all it’s going well.  I’ve eaten more veggies than usual.  I’ve swapped out hummus for my morning bagel and fruit and yogurt smoothies for lunches.  I made a chicken and veggie stew for dinner last night and watched Michael devour 5 slices of white bread with it while I checked to see if my spoon was chewy.  So far, I haven’t freaked out or gnawed my hand off, so I’m thinking it’s going to work.

And if all of this disruption indicates anything, it’s that I’m saving a LOT of calories by skipping the grain!

Next step?  Settling on some plans for my running that has calorie busting intervals and hills in them.

It’s going to be a fun trip.

* Now…before you guys get worried that I’m hurting myself or making radical, unwise choices about my body…don’t.  I’m fine.  I’m just making different food choices.  I’m not going into ketosis or messing with my metabolism or altering things in a radical way.  It’s cool.