Almost a year before the wedding... I made a list of what was most important for that special day. Aside from a particular dress, venue, or cake, I had a clear idea that I wanted to feel really good in my body, to have lots of energy, enjoy the moment and feel great. I often talk about wellness in fairly vague terms but to me it's really all encompassing. I truly believe that beauty comes from within and that if you nourish your body and mind, everything else follows suit. We only have one and it's our true home, so this became a really important goal in preparing for this significant life moment and the next chapter of my life. So here I break down each particular thing I did to prepare myself to feel really good, which I can honestly say I did, without being overly obsessive, aiming for a "goal weight" or depriving myself of fun. I get pretty detailed so grab a coffee (or hot water with lemon) and enjoy! 

No. 1 Exercise

Getting into a new workout plan wasn't too much of a struggle, as I have always been fairly active with running, spinning and yoga. Those practices always helped me feel better and maintain my health, however, I realized I never was that committed to truly challenging myself con a consistent basis and so I saw this wedding as a nice opportunity to shake it up and try something completely different. My then fiancĂ© and I signed up for Orangetheory, a well known class that uses high intensity interval training, with a mix of cardio, rowing and floor weights exercises. I had heard so many positive reviews about this place and since there were locations within walking distance from our former apartment and new home it was the perfect reason to quit our Equinox memberships about three months before the wedding. And commit we did, we were so sore after the first class but it was worth it. The class had me using muscles I've probably never used before and I noticed a major shift in my strength and mentality towards exercise. What I like most about the class is how quick it feels. Within 60 minutes you basically switch from three stations: treadmill, rower, floor. But the workout is always something different and with any HIT (high intensity interval training) the hard stuff comes and goes very quickly, so you might run really fast on the treadmill for 45 seconds and then slow down right before going back up, so it feels very manageable no matter what level of fitness you are starting with. People also have the option to go at their own pace and it can really feel like you are working out independently, but also still be motivated by your peers and the trainer. I highly recommend giving it a try if you are looking to be pushed more in your workouts. Before the wedding I was probably going about 5-7 times a week, and they let you schedule classes almost a month out, with a waitlist that moves very fast. Both my husband and I still attend about 5-7 times a week and have no current plans of stopping! The cardio push has also made me a significantly better runner and so running outside now is an absolute treat. 

No. 2 Detoxing from sugar (including alcohol and carbohydrates)

This. was. HARD! The first several weeks attempting to get myself off sugar was a legitimate withdrawal period. This experience has been super eye opening for me, someone who considered myself relatively healthy, to understand how addicted to sugar I really was. And when I say sugar I am not really talking sweets- although I did crave them, but more like wheat and the vanilla lattes I had to say goodbye to. I had to slowly ease myself into saying goodbye to rice and pasta, which so was hard but after I got used to it and found some better alternatives it became a lot less overwhelming. Some of my favorites were almond flour pastacauliflower pizza (rice flour free version - check the labels), and zucchini noodles (often referred to as zoodles).

Fortunately my fiancĂ© was very supportive of the switch and along with me also adjusted his diet significantly before the wedding. He's always been very health conscious, despite his incredibly strong sweet tooth, and loves to cook. I honestly don't think I would have been as successful in changing my eating habits without him, as changing my diet was one of the most emotionally difficult things I have ever done. 

To get myself in the right mindset I really did my research before starting to change what foods I ate. I wanted to feel really prepared, educated and supported so I listened to a lot of podcasts I trusted (The Skinny Confidential, Dr. and Mrs. Guinea Pig and The GOOP Podcast, bought a clean eating cookbook and started following food bloggers I trusted (@healthywithnedi, @eatingbirdfood) on Instagram.  

I also was very pragmatic in my approach to finding new eating habits that made sense to me. It's as simple as that. If you are going to invest your time and health and make a shift, it needs to be something that you understand and feels right for you and your body. We all have unique bodies and there's never going to be one way of doing things for everyone. I think it's a disservice for people who aren't trained in and actively practicing nutritional counseling or research to give advice (myself included) to other people about what they should eat or what their bodies need. I can only speak for myself and what I found helpful, which was becoming educated and trusting my gut! All things I would encourage others to do for themselves. 

When I reviewed all of the different theories on diet (not just for weight loss but lifestyle-wise) the ones that made the most sense for me were intermittent fasting and the keto diet. I fully loved intermittent fasting, as I have honestly never like breakfast and always found it slowed me down, making my day much less productive. The keto diet I didn't fully engage in, but the science of it made a lot of sense to me so I included more healthy fats in my regular diet and significantly reduced the sugar/carb content I was consuming. Essentially when I look back, I really relied on eating mostly vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats. I also would start my day with hot water and lemon, followed by black coffee until lunch. I don't really feel comfortable getting much more specific than that, as I am not in any way certified to give people nutritional advice. And as a licensed mental health professional with ethics I strongly encourage anyone considering a significant change in diet to consult with a medical or nutritional professional they trust over anyone else, despite their best intentions. 

Overall, if I had to pick one item from this list, changing my diet was no doubt the most influential factor in helping me feel really great on our big day and even now. I don't think I can 100% eat this way forever, but I learned so much about myself, my body and how important food is in our wellbeing. I am so grateful I was able to have this experience as it's completely reset my consciousness around eating, which is what I consider the main goal to be. 

No. 3 Hydration, vitamins and sleep, REPEAT

So much of my change in diet wouldn't have been as sustainable without LOTS OF WATER. I know it's so annoying but hydration is everything. Being dehydrated made my skin tired, made me crave excess food and did damage to my body. I have actually developed a few kidney stones over the last year and I am almost certain that drinking more water was the only thing that helped them dissolve and not pass, which has happened before and was the most tragic pain I have ever felt in my entire life. 

One of the easiest ways I got more water into me was by having plastic water bottles everywhere, particularly in my car. I know plastic water bottles are really bad and I do have a fancy glass bottle but because I moved, lived in a hotel, went to Chicago and then moved into an unfinished condo right before the wedding, where I continued to live amongst many boxes of stuff; my car trunk felt like home base and a package of water bottles from CVS was just the easiest solution for me. But I would definitely invest in a glass water bottle, if you have a clear path to your refrigerator and a filter. 

In addition to my daily multivitamin, I started taking lots of biotin to help my hair grow, which I think probably helped with fullness but there's honestly no definitive way for me to tell if it did much. I also started taking more vitamin D, not necessarily to prep for the wedding but just because I had read somewhere that we tend to be very vitamin D deficient. Again, I am no medical professional so please do your research! 

Good sleep was another thing I really prioritized and as you may already know getting sleep is key to feeling good and being productive. It was hard to reduce my screen time and get to sleep on time so that I had a full 8 hours in bed but reading really helped me. It was also a better form of entertainment as I tended to crave carbs whenever I watched the Real Housewives for some odd reason, LOL


No. 4 Facials, Botox and IPL treatments

YES, I do Botox and I have absolutely no shame in saying it loud and proud. It really annoys me how much people hate on something they tend to know little about and don't have to do themselves! My motto is my body, my choice; so if you don't like it, it's fine, but please stop judging everyone else who has right to make their own choice. I don't consider myself to be a very vain person, but honestly, who gives a f***.

I started using Botox at the beginning of this year and have only done it twice so far and I  have liked the results. For me, using Botox is just a preventive way to keep my skin fresh and prevent wrinkles in the future. I have always been drawn to a super natural look and need my forehead to move so that when people tell me traumatic things in therapy sessions I can respond with empathy, so I don't use very much but to each, their own! When I went for the first time, the wonderful nurse practitioner gave me the most sound advice; she said: "look at the person injecting it, if you don't want to look like them, then don't let them touch your face." And immediately I knew she was my person; she was about 40, used Botox for the last ten years in between her three pregnancies and looks super natural and fresh. She answered all my questions and then sent me home to think about it more before coming back. I came back two weeks later and had a very minimal amount just to try it out, before coming back another two weeks later for a little more. Then I went again (four months after the first time) a month before my wedding day. I haven't gone back since then but that's only because I haven't been able to get an appointment, which I will be doing ASAP. Unfortunately that nurse practitioner is longer in LA but the doctor who trained her is, who I went to see last time and loved. 

The truth is it's very expensive and not for everyone so if you are considering trying it my only advice would be to do your research, go to someone who's recommended, performs Botox injections very frequently (like several times a day), ask a million questions and don't look for a discount, this is your face not a python Forever 21 skirt you will wear twice (even though I tend to wear mine #Forever). The good thing is that if you don't like the result for some reason it will completely go away in 3-6 months. That also makes visits more frequent and thus more expensive, so it's an investment that only you can make the decision about. And please don't let anyone make you feel bad about it. Women (and men) spend endless amounts of time and money on their clothing, hair, skincare and appearance so who's to judge what you choose to do or not to do with your body. End of soap box speech*

This was also the first time I regularly started getting facials, which is such a healthy thing to do for your skin but can also be very pricey! Fortunately, my office is in Koreatown and not to engage in stereotyping people, but Korean culture appears very invested in quality skincare so I did lots of research on Yelp and found a highly praised facialist nearby with very good prices in comparison to most spas in Los Angeles. My goal was to try and go once per month but I probably ended up going once every two months, which I think definitely helped my skin start to glow. I definitely won't be going as often anymore but I still plan to get them to keep my skin healthy and fresh. 

The same dermatologist I went to for Botox, also helped me out with my rosacea. She prescribed me Sulantra and recommended I give IPL facials a try as ways to help manage my redness. I think the Sulantra has been really helpful. I use a very small amount daily under my moisturizer and have noticed I am less red in general. The thing I have learned about my rosacea is that it's never really going to go away fully, but there are ways of taming it down like using Sulantra, staying out of the sun and reducing my intake of spicy food and alcohol. I notice it really flares up when I am in the sun which already avoid at all costs. Otherwise it's been much more manageable. 

I tried the IPL (intense pulse laser) treatments and I was really hopeful it would make a big difference in my redness and also getting rid of dark spots. Unfortunately, I don't think it did much considering how expensive each treatment was and how often you likely need to go to see a result. The annoying thing is nothing will cure rosacea fully, so even if the IPL was able to completely clear my skin I would still have to keep going back and so for me the price and results just don't add up. However, everyone's skin reacts differently so don't let my experience deter you from getting more information from your doctor about IPL treatments!

No. 5 Nails

I have always had natural nails mostly to avoid the chemicals and the reoccurring cost an artificial nail requires. Also, I personally love the look of polished, natural nails, however, I knew for the wedding and honeymoon I would need something more durable, so I did some digging and decided to try the dip powder nail with a friend who's an avid fan. I loved how simple the process was on getting them put on, especially the fact that I didn't have to wait for polish to dry and stress about ruining them on the way home. They were pretty expensive but I thought if they lasted 3-4 weeks it was probably about the same total cost as getting weekly manicures. They looked great, didn't chip or hurt but unfortunately my nails grew out within the first two weeks so I decided to remove them and then replace them right before the wedding/honeymoon. Taking them off was pretty horrible, the chemicals I had to soak my hands in was so pungent I asked to borrow the mask the nail technicians wear to avoid loosing every brain cell. 

I went back the day before the wedding and had a hard time finding the same color I had used the last time so definitely take a photo of the nail color number you like because it's apparently not that easy to remember! I ended up choosing a similar color, however, as they started the dip, the color looked very different from the nail I choose off the ring. So unfortunately, we had to remove it and switch to another color, which the staff at the salon seemed less than happy about. Overall, it wasn't really the best process but I do think it was the right choice for a wedding or any big event/vacation. Also, I have to admit that having your nails done perfectly all the time feels like such an accomplishment. 

Since the wedding, I started getting Gel manicures and haven't stopped since. I get the same color every time, Essie's Ballet Slippers or Mademoiselle, and it's very easy to keep them for long periods of time given how natural and soft the color looks. I also like that gel manicures seem less thick than dip, but I'd recommend trying them both out!

No. 6 Makeup and hair. 

I knew from the beginning that my hair would be easy. I wanted something simple and practical, so doing half back was the perfect choice and it went well with the style of my dress and theme. I also realized this was the perfect excuse to finally try out hair extensions as I have always been curious about what kind of volume they could provide. To find the extensions I ventured to The Hair Shop in Hollywood and they were very helpful, the sales lady took time to explain the different types of hair and they even had a service to cut the extensions into your hair, meaning they made sure the length of the extensions made sense for what I was looking for, extra volume rather than additional length. 

Finding a hairstylist was also pretty easy as I literally googled "wedding hair Los Angeles" and found this service called Stylebee where you select the price you are comfortable with and someone reaches out to discuss what exactly you are looking for in a stylist. Then they match you with whomever they believe will be a good fit and you can either setup a trial or book them right away. I was matched with a stylist named Jordan M. and he was the absolute best. He completely understood what I was looking for, which was a combo of Kate Middleton and Kim Kardashian (her second wedding). He came to my apartment for a trial, which I loved, and so I booked him for myself, my sister, my mother and mother in-law, all of whom loved him too. In addition to being a wonderful stylist, he also was just a great person to have around with such a fun, positive energy. So if you're in LA book him! 

I wish my wedding makeup journey was as seamless as my hair, but since I rarely wear much makeup and have never really liked the way I've looked when getting it professionally done, I guess I am not that surprised it took so long. I had a friend who also likes a natural look recommend an artist, who unfortunately didn't work out. After paying for the expensive trial, I was really discouraged and at one point considered just doing it myself. Which thank goodness my friends talked me out of because I literally put foundation on like moisturizer and have absolutely no idea what I am doing. 

However, I remembered having looked previously at the "makeup menu" at Blushington, which is basically the Drybar for makeup. All the looks they advertise are very light, clean and fresh; which is exactly how I wanted to look. They are a brick and mortar shop where you can get your makeup done professionally and conveniently they had just opened one up in Brentwood. So I went in for trial and worked up the courage to be very honest and clear about the no-makeup look I was going for and the artist completely nailed it. The makeup was very pretty but light and she even got me to try the individual eyelash extensions which were so great that I don't even think we used mascara. I purchased the lipstick she used on me so I'd have it the day of for touch ups and booked her and another girl to travel to our venue for the wedding. They didn't end up sending the same artist, however, when she did my trial she wrote very specific notes about everything she did and the makeup looked exactly the same. It was a great end to my my makeup journey and I will likely go back the Blushington again before another big event! 


{all photography via Kellie Viagem}

No comments