My then-fiance, now-husband, sent me this article from Bodybuilding.com while we were planning our traditional Hindu wedding in Mumbai, which was being closely followed by our little American affair. Granted, there’s not much opportunity to show off your gains in Gujarati wedding sarees (that’s right—in the Gujarati tradition, brides were two completely different sarees right on top of each other!). I mean, I guess I could have really worked my abs, and I did. However, the slip and sarees are tied so tightly at the waist to keep that heavy silk from falling that nobody, regardless of eight-packs and low body fat in the core, is going to be showcasing much. You’re going to have a roll, so embrace it and have another one of those besan ladoos!
But the US wedding dress? That was another story. I welcomed a lot of input from my husband on the design of the dress. In his community, only widows wore all white, so the idea of a big, white dress seemed odd to him. But I wanted that white dress, dammit! That’s why we were having the little US courthouse ceremony and reception at home, so my very American self would get the dress, the cake, and most importantly all those friends who rightly thought a trip to India wasn’t that realistic. To appease us both, I went with an ivory lace dress with a nude-colored underlay with gold beading at the waist and along the train trim.
And backless. It was going to be totally backless.
This, of course, meant seriously upping my lifting game to include intensive back work. It wasn’t a body part I normally liked to focus on because, well, I never showed my back! Instead, I was definitely more of a butt and guns girl. Cursed with the notorious “flat Indian butt,” it took incredible work to get even a “normal looking butt.” And the arms? Well, it’s one of the most visible body parts that you can design with lifting, so of course I worked them regularly. This is especially true in India, where short sleeves are acceptable but showing your legs, including your calves in conservative communities, is a huge no-no.
Why didn’t I just go with a sleeveless wedding dress? Well. That would have just been too easy.
“Back” to Work
The designer warned me that this was by far the “most backless dress” she had ever created in her twenty years. Especially considering that there was nothing besides good posture to keep it up. There were no ties, no ribbons and no safety nets. I was on my own. (She also, I’m quite sure, secretly hated that I was consistently changing my body’s shape as she was simultaneously trying to create a perfectly fitting masterpiece).
I upped the reps and weights on the deadlifts, the “lawnmower pulls,” the flies and the pull downs. It was during this time that I really doubled down on the immediate consumption of protein after lifting. Sometimes I was already gnawing on a favorite protein snack while I was still taking my gloves off. I have no shame in eating nearly in tandem with lifting.
The end result, I think, was worth it. I’ve even maintained my wedding back routine. This isn’t to say that every bride, or anyone who’s gearing up for any type of special event, “has to” design their muscles to go with their attire. It’s simply an option, and a unique, fun challenge for anyone interested in using muscles to play with and shape their body. Like Baz Luhrmann said, “Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.”
Anyone interested in the highlight reel from the US wedding can check it out here or at the link below. We especially like the very Portland biker rolling through at the end like he just DGAF.
(Photo by Powers Photography Studio. Unposed in terms of “muscling up,” this is the “zipping up of the dress” photo).