Shed to Wed ~ A Muse on Getting Fit and Dealing With Self Confidence…

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Morning you lot! 😉 It's a bumper day on Love My Dress today.  I'm bringing you a one-off collection of four blog posts, starting with this morning's guest post from Emma Meek, owner of and Director at Surrey based bridal emporium extraordinaire, Miss Bush Bridal Wear.  Emma pours forth with her funny and inimitable style of writing on the battle to get fit and shed a bit of weight, and considers the issue of self-confidence and being comfortable with the way we look…

This feature comes to you as part of Laid Bare themed week on Love My Dress…

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This week has been an odd one, a mixed bag of dieting and fitness emotions that I think only, perhaps, women like me that struggle with weight can really get their heads round. If I was a 45 year old man, (Surrey business owner, reasonably grown up kids) I think it would perfectly acceptable for me to be greying and carrying the portly waistline of an expense account bon-viveur.

I am not though. I am 45 year old 'spinster of this parish' in a county of well maintained, SLK driving '50 is the new 40' hotties.

So this week although the diet and fitness have gone brilliantly I still need to examine why my confidence is rocked so badly by my appearance and how to go a bit easier on myself…


Image credit Liberty


Starting Stats
Bust 47"
Waist 40"
Hips 43"
Weighing in at 13 stone 6lbs

Week 4 Stats
Bust  44 3/4"
Waist 37"
Hips 42 1/4"
Weighing in at 12 stone 13lbs 8oz (ie I lost half a pound)

Total weight loss 6 1/2lbs

So training last Thursday, a run on Sunday, training Monday evening and Tuesday morning is properly impacting on the stats. Hence my record of measurements as it is a rather tiresome fact that as you burn fat and develop lean muscle you occupy less space but sometimes don't see the dramatic weight drop.

I am happy with being able to run again – albeit not as far or as fast. Whilst googling for a Caitlin Moran quote – (why the hell do I lend my favourite books out and never get them back btw) about how running was like sex I chanced across another blog Run Fat Bitch Run  and fell upon this…


"Caitlin Moran’s brilliantly funny column in the Times magazine on Saturday is on the same page. She too is a working mum, who just wants to fit into her size 12 clothes – I bet she doesn’t give a shit about her bingo wings (sorry Caitlin if you don’t in fact have them or do, and care very much). She doesn’t have the time to consider that if she had done 7minutes of strength training with weights at the gym beforehand she would have burnt off more calories on her four mile jog!

She wants as many endorphins as she can get in the shortest possible time and she knows that running is the answer. For many of us ordinary women who don’t have the time or money to devote to muscle sculpture, let alone afford gym membership, strength and resistance training is something we cannot afford to waste time faffing over…"

Run Fat Bitch, Run


Effectively my point – now I have battled my fitness up to running capacity – I should be able to run more, further, faster, longer and with each stride drop weight quicker and feel better emotionally. It is, when you are ready, better for good mental health than anything else I know…


Image Credit – Gritty Tees



And whilst I am on the subject of Caitlin Moran, quotes and clothes this really sums up what want wrong with my week end and why my much anticipated love-in was an unmitigated disaster…

“When a woman says, ‘I have nothing to wear!’, what she really means is, ‘There’s nothing here for who I’m supposed to be today.”

Caitlin Moran, 'How To Be a Woman'irtlomydr 21amplas2ampo2ampa0091940737


I was expecting to be whisked away to Brighton on Saturday for a (surprise) romantic but probably fun and silly night out. Brighton is great because although it is jam packed with cool, green, trendy, student, gay fantastic-ness it is also accepting of end of the pier day-trippers and less than cool people that want to eat fish and chips and look at the sea.

I packed accordingly from my very limited, middle-age clothes that fit. I packed Saturday morning before work and thought no more. As the lovely Marshy* came to collect me I found out about the change of plan. It was now London. I was immediately downcast. I wanted salt air and casual.

Perhaps only girls can understand this and hence why the Caitlin quote has such resonance. I had nothing to wear for what I suppose or believe London wants me to be. It got worse – when it should have got better. We were booked in at The Dean Street Townhouse . It is lovely, truly beautiful. The location is perfect for a hip, urban night out – had I known on Thursday or even Friday that this was where we going I could have ransacked everyone I know's wardrobes plus every shop in Guildford…


The Dean Street Townhouse

I could have dressed for who I was supposed to be. What I arrived in was a pair of my daughter's leggings, a jumper a bought at Christmas when I peaked weight-wise, a pair of boots with the sole coming away and a fake fur coat too short to hide the jumper.

I felt hideous, fat, old, unfashionable – generally foul. Whatever I did and however I tried I just felt worse and worse. So a room service dinner and an early morning exit was the result. Lots of money wasted with the additional guilt burden that I ruined Marshy's weekend.

I dispense advice daily about body confidence and clothes. I agree, I need to take some of my own advice here. I have punished myself for being fat with a bad wardrobe, I have put new purchases on hold until I have lost a few pounds. I know that with a good frock, hair and make up I can rock 13 stone as well as I can 9!

I will not endanger my relationship with this again – providing I'm given a bloody clue where we are going!

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Emma Meek is the owner and director of Miss Bush Bridal Wear. *Marshy is her partner. 

Emma's knowledge of bridal fashion is second to none.  She can talk grading, pattern cutting and the provenance of wedding dresses until your ears drop off.   And she has a killer collection of designer wedding frocks hanging in all their resplendent beautiy from the rails at her Surrey wedding boutique, including, Jenny Packham, Cymbeline, Rosa Clara, Jesus Peiro, Ugo Zaldi and Stephanie Allin. I very highy recommend a visit to Miss Bush Bridal Wear.

You can see more from Miss Bush Bridal on Love My Dress here, follow Emma's very funny twitter updates and find her lurking on Facebook too.

Ladies, let's get some more discussion going this morning – I was away all of yestedray so am about to dive into the chat over here. But for now:-

Have you been working to lose weight to fit in to your wedding dress? What has the experience been like so far?

Has planning your wedding helped you embark on a new fitness regime and if so, how are you working to get and stay fit? Are you enjoying the experience or not?

Do you struggle with finding the right clothes to wear to make you feel good?

Do you think brides are under too much pressure to 'shed to wed?'

All and any comments welcome as usual.

You can visit all other posts that are part of this week's 'Laid Bare' theme here.  You might also want to visit the new Body Image category and this popular feature on 'Why Size Matters'.

Lots of love all,


Emma Marshall

Emma Marshall View all Emma's articles

Emma Marshall is MD of one of the UKs oldest and most respected British bridal boutiques, Miss Bush. Emma has supported and championed independent design, ethical sourcing and has lead the way in revolutionising experiential bridal shopping. Married in her late 40s, advocate for fit over size, Emma is a passionate campaigner and writer, bringing strong opinions to both the bridal trade and consumer.

27 thoughts on “Shed to Wed ~ A Muse on Getting Fit and Dealing With Self Confidence…

  1. I am 29 and I feel exactly the same when I go for nights out in London! But I always have to remember that my love loves me like I am, and if I even tried to dress with the trends and tried to keep up with long legged, works out all the time crew I would look more uncomfortable and, simply, not like me! I have people close to me that are part of the social London cool set, and I find they can have more insecurities than anyone… I try to remind myself of this whenever I’m sat in a bar and wanting to put a paperbag over my head!

  2. I get married in September, so I started the new year with a new regime, joined a slimming club and a gym with the intention of losing a stone before I get round to ordering my dress in March (I have picked it already, but couldn’t bring myself to order it in the size I was at the time). I actually feel great about it, my stomach has never been flatter and I have never been fitter, but I’ve actually been wanting to lose the weight for some time, the wedding has just given me the kick start I needed! As for pressure, I think that honestly – the only person to put pressure on myself is ME. I want to look my best, not just for the big day but mainly for the honeymoon! This, I can say I have discovered seems to be a more female thing to do. My H2B isn’t making any effort, not changed his diet, not been to the gym, not anything, which, I know it shouldn’t but it dissappoints me, I want to see him making the same effort as me… is it that selfish?

  3. Emma, you are fabulous – truly! Being a woman is incredibly complicated and being a 52 year old woman (currently carrying at least an extra stone) can feel even more complicated. The one thing this article does highlight, is how fantastic it is to be a woman – especially when we are honest with each other. Relating to each other, sharing experiences and empathising is so empowering in a highly competitive world obsessed with body image. Thank you for making me smile – I know exactly how you felt! Tracey x

  4. I love Emma’s humour and honesty, I had a lot of fun choosing my dress at Miss Bush and Emma managed my dissapointment of looking rubbish in my dream Jenny Packham fabulously!
    Funnily enough I read Run Fat Bitch Run and thought of Emma as thought she would appreciate the no-nonsence approach to stop making excuses, get off you bum and run! if you are not a delicate soul and need a bit of a boost to start running I can recommend it. Although I did get half way through and think that I really DON’T have enough time to do a 4 mile walk everyday to get me started so I put it down!
    Having said that I have started running, not just to get fit but also to clear my head and have some time away from the wedding planning madness!
    I haven’t felt under any pressure to lose weight, but working in an office with 95% women means that weight and fitness are always talked about and most have just assumed that I will be dieting! I really think that you should only ever make changes to yourself for you, if you feel good about yourself then that’s fantastic and that’s what will show to everyone else.

  5. Thanks for your comments – I’m glad to have found other women that feel the same! I do tend to be pathalogically honest! xxx

  6. I’m right with you on the head-clearing properties of running.
    I’m telling you that Jenny Packham you liked is pretty much the ultimate dress challenge. Wearable by about three glamazons only!
    How is the madness of wedding planning coming along – do we need to be dressing up again soon? xxx

  7. It’s good, can’t believe how quickly the time is going though, trying to tell myself to calm down and stop getting so obsessed with table decs and seating plans!!
    Believe the dress is due in next month, so excited to try and talk about the changes.
    Also looking forward to seeing the new svelte you!! xxx

  8. Having written all about my present obsession with body beautiful yesterday I will save you from repeating it so all I want to say is, what a brilliantly written post. I can hear it’s a struggle but I can also hear that your corking sense of humour and popping personality are far more about what you are than your stats. Keep going though, you’re making such impressive headway, I’ve just looked at a ruler, 3 inches is such an impressive amount to lose from your middle.

  9. Thanks for the comments – it’s amazing what a bit of training can do fo your waist and your wit! I am slightly blushing ! xxx

  10. I SO need to meet Emma – I think her and I will get on very well. I know exactly what she means about not being dressed appropriately. I am wearing something today that I wore last week to lunch with a friend – last week I felt great in it (white, flowing top, black leggings and boots), today I feel like a pregnant walrus trying to disguise herself with a white tent. Ugh.
    I can’t run, I won’t run. I do, however, love to swim, and love to do weight training, so very soon (with a few life tweaks needed first) I will be doing this every morning – well, except those mornings when I meet friends for coffee and cake 😉

  11. I can’t believe I’ve missed meeting you! Goldfish attention span and easily distracted by a bar! Today with the sun shining, new barnet and a huge pair of sunnies I can throw on any old crap and make it work! JEEZ…

  12. I did comment on this yesterday so please excuse me if I’m repeating myself.
    I thought an engagement ring would act like a magic wand and instantly render dieting effortless. But the (largely genetic) reasons that I’ve been struggling with my weight for years are still, alas, there.
    In fact, I feel more anxious and upset about it than ever with the prospect of having to try wedding dresses looming – I can’t put it off much longer waiting for a miracle to occur. I look at dresses and they all seem to be designed for willowy, slender girls. I appreciate that at the dumpy end of the spectrum, no designer wants to think of a short, podgy muse when drawing dresses, but it makes looking at pictures really quite intimidating.
    I would describe my style as ‘damage limitation’ – I am not really sure what suits me and this is especially true when it comes to dresses (let alone very expensive and visible dresses). I worry that I won’t find anything to suit me and that I will look at the photos and think I look dreadful. I worry about it alot. Far more than I really have time to.
    I think there’s always pressure on women to be slimmer but yes, I think weddings exacerbate this. But some of this pressure is internal – at least, it is for me.

  13. I bought two wedding dresses 18 months ago but was taken ill, ended up on large doses of steoids put the wedding back by a year but put on 2.5 stones. Buying alternative dresses is not an option. My I’m off the steroids now and have 29 weeks to our wedding day – less than 2lbs a week to lose. I can’t do running or weight resistance training but am absolutely determined to make it happen. I WILL do it!!

  14. I promise Amanda all my customers come in all shapes and sizes. I literally do see more women in their underwear than I have hot dinners. I barely, if ever, help one bride that is supremely body confident. There is always something – even if it is an ear that sticks out!
    There are some truly amazing dresses that will sculpt and shape is that is what you want. ‘Short and podgy’- shall we rename this petite and curvy?
    Clearly as girls we always want to wear what we can’t more desparately than wearing what’s suits us. As I also said in the post – anyone looking at me from the outside would have been clueless to my inner turmoil.
    I think shopping for a wedding dress, should allow you the indulgence of dressing up – A LOT! With the right stylist advice about cut, shape, neckline,fabric etc – a few hair pins and a bit of magic I think you might find styles and tricks that can translate into everyday wear.
    I’m sure if you email Annabel she will give you a national list of really good shops to visit. Obviously please give me a call or email – but the point of this post was not about my business but about me coming to terms with my shape and confidence. Please don’t be anxious – our whole raison d’etre is so help you feel fabulous. xxx

  15. Blimey – there is some determination for you. I am so glad you are better and well enough to get married.
    Lets all embrace homemade soup – the easiest way of eating filling, veg packed meals that are zero pointed at the Weight Watchers. (Not that I am an ambassador – I hasten to add!) and that miraculously cancel out the weekend’s wine 😉

  16. Wow thanks a million for all your replies to this post. It’s *very* late and I do need my sleep ahead of tomorrow {having just nodded off for 2 hours I’m now feeling all disorientated!} but I do intend on replying to comments myself too very soon – didn’t want you to think I’m ignoring you all!
    Thanks so much everyone for taking the time to reply,
    Annabel xXx

  17. Hi Sarah! Regrettably your comment went into the spam folder so Emma/Miss Bush wont’ have see it yet! I’ve alerted her adn no doubt she will take time to reply to you tomorrow.
    I say you keep at your new fitness regime, you and indeed Emma, have resparked my desire to get fit too {sitting around blogging all day is such a sedentary job and I have gained weight I need to lose because of it – purely because I’m starting to feel I could be healthier!}
    No, it is not selfish to want to see your Husband making the same effort, I don’t think so at all, I guess he feels much less pressure to respond to all that in light of his impending nuptials though because in general, men don’t, do they? Or am I generalising? Have you spoke to him about your honest thoughts?

  18. Yes, I have a desk job myself, mixed with a bad (red lazy) diet doesn’t help! But I do feel so much better for getting up off my bum in my free time – even looking at training for a half marathon next year! Yes, I’ve spoken to him about it and he does understand, but kind of just laugh’s it off, I do have a sneaky suspicion that he is actually just nervous about starting off, perhaps we as both sexes do have our own image issues but as individuals deal with them in different ways

  19. Aaaah, it’s always so good to read Emma’s words, they’re so much funnier and wiser than most people’s…
    Emma, you are an inspiration. I know you can rock 9, 13, hell, 17 stone, because you are uber-stylish and, oh, funny and wise. Those things are of course far more important than pretty much anything else.
    And, (shameless fandom here), I would advise anyone shopping for a wedding dress to visit Emma’s shop. The most beautiful dresses – proper fashion from someone who adores and respects what fashion can do for a woman -make her feel sensationally good about herself, however much she weighs and however nervous she is about wedding dresses.
    When I visited, on a mission to buy a beautiful dress in less then a fortnight to take away with me to Argentina, where I live, it took Emma about three and a half minutes to get me into something sexy but elegant, perfect for a bride in her late thirties who didn’t want to pretend to be a princess or a wispy virginal girlish type. The fact that she had it in a sample ready to go was serendipity on a stupid scale. But that’s the wonder of Miss Bush.
    Emma, good luck with the weight loss. Annabel, thanks for sharing this on your wonderful blog.

  20. I set my date on December 5th, I was in the gym when i got a call to tell me I had won my wedding in the Bahamas on May 16th. I think I’m going to be photographed in my swimming costume on the day and I didn’t want to feel fat. Since then I’ve lost 11kg, so 1/8 of my body weight. I was in the obsese level of BMI so I did have fat that for my health I needed to get rid of. I feel so much better for doing it, my legs and limbs feel lighter.
    I did go to the gym 19 times last month… so that is a lot. I’m still eating properly.. had a takeaway this evening so still enjoying food but the exercise is really working for me. My bf has started to come to the gym with me. I wanted to drop the weight, he loves me how I am, My mum is rather happy I have lost weight though.
    I have my dress now so can’t drop too much weight in case the dress looks wrong.

  21. You are so welcome Helen, it’s been so much fun sharing these posts this week and reading through the very honest and heartfelt responses.

  22. Wow helena! Well done on winning your competition you lucky devil!! 🙂
    Best wishes too getting to the weight that you desire to be and that provides you with confidence, happiness and that makes you feel ace in your wedding dress. Clearly you’re on a role and by the sounds of it right on track to reach your target – well done you! 😉

  23. Oh Eliza,
    I love your reply – we ALL have those days my darling. Just so happens I’m having one of ‘those days’ almost ‘every day’ just lately but c’est la vie! I just need to put my blogging duties aside every once in a while and actually GET some exercise!! 😉

  24. Just shared this with my Bride audience. Despite being written a few years ago they contain some great insights and information that any Bride looking to get ‘in-shape’ for their wedding will find useful.

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