After getting engaged last August and beginning the rollercoaster of wedding planning, I started to visualize what I wanted to look and feel like on the Big Day.
In October, my fiancé and I traveled to Rome and Sicily, where we had an amazing trip filled with pizza, pasta, and enough cheese and wine to feed a small army. When I returned home I felt ~puffy~ and knew I wanted to commit to a cleaner diet as I approached the final 8 months before our wedding. I wanted a wedding diet.
Before I go further, I realize wedding diets are a bit of a taboo subject – something the wedding industry must have invented to force us to consider our appearance and add another layer of pressure to an already massively important day in our lives. Weddings are about love, after all, not appearances. That being said, I knew I wanted to look and feel like the best version of myself on that day, and that meant taking things up a notch.
As with most things in life, I turned to Instagram to research a few options. The Instagram diet rabbit hole is a scary one, and it’s easy to see how so many people are influenced by the photos they see. Gorgeous, toned, effortless “wellness experts” have a platform to build their communities, and freely dish out advice: don’t eat carbs… don’t eat dairy… stop drinking alcohol… be keto… be paleo… drink celery juice… only eat between the hours of 12pm-6pm… do more cardio… eat gluten free… eat raw foods… do a master cleanse… the list goes on and on!
The information out there was equal parts scary and overwhelming. Most importantly, most of the Instagram wellness gurus out there don’t back their claims with any scientific evidence.
Amongst this crowd of health influencers, one stood out to me. Her name was Tanya Zuckerbrot, and she was the founder of a diet called F-Factor (the F stands for fiber, but I’ll get to that later). On the Instagram side of things, she appeared to live a totally glamorous life: beautiful family, adoring husband, dream apartment and a wardrobe full of my favorite designers.
But better than this, she had real substance. She didn’t make any claims about her approach without backing them with scientific evidence or published medical journal studies. She is a girl with both beauty and brains!!!
The more I followed along on her Instagram stories, the easier it was to understand the F-Factor method. She practices what she preaches fully, and uses her Instagram channel to showcase the way she eats #ffactorapproved at work, at home, and at some of the best restaurants in NYC. Soon I was hooked, and started incorporating F-Factor into my life.
By November, I had signed up as a client at Tanya’s private practice, working with one of her registered dieticians, Samantha Hass, to create a customized strategy based on my goals: shed the pasta puff from Italy and become leaner and stronger by June.
While the F-Factor book breaks down the science far better than I am qualified to do, the basic principle of F-Factor is to eat lean protein and high fiber carbs. Yes, you eat lots of carbs on F-Factor, in fact, carbs are required. Here’s what a typical day on F-Factor looked like for me:
Breakfast: Wheat bran waffles with cream cheese and everything bagel seeds (I’m addicted to these!!)
Lunch: Salad with vegetables and chicken (ordered from Blank Slate or Mangia)
Dinner: Palmini pasta with Rao’s tomato sauce, spinach and mozzarella cheese
Fluids: 3+ liters of water a day, combined with the fiber to keep things moving 🙂
(By the way, let me know in the comments below if you’re interested in seeing recipes or more details in a future post.)
As you can see, the meal plan Samantha made for me is actually A LOT of food. I never felt hungry and though I admittedly missed the occasional sugar splurge (like the neverending boxes of cookies and donuts that arrive at our office on a daily basis) I never felt deprived, or even like I was “dieting.” When I do crave sugar, it’s easy to reach for an F-Factor approved option, like Smart Sweets or Lily’s Chocolate.
With all of this said, following any routine requires some sense of discipline. I’m not going to pretend that following a wedding diet was easy at all times. Especially at the beginning, it took some getting used to. I find it’s easier to stick to the plan the more you tell other people about it. By now, the team jokes about the GG Cracker stash at my desk, and all of my friends are loading up on fiber ahead of my wedding.
With a little over a week to go before the big day, I feel good in my skin. According to Sam’s fancy In-Body machine (an insanely expensive, high tech scale that measures body composition), I’ve added muscle mass and decreased body fat– mission accomplished! While I will probably never be a size 0, I’m happy where I am and know this is the weight that my body found when I treated it right and took care of it.
I’m certainly looking forward to celebrating our wedding with cake and champagne, but I know I’ll carry the basic principles of F-Factor with me for the rest of my life. Not because I want to lose weight, but because it feels damn good to eat this way.
Illustration by: Sydney Mastrandrea