Your bridal diet challenge stories

After "Dateline" aired the "Bridal Diet Challenge" on Friday, July 22, viewers e-mailed and shared their own weight loss goals, diets, challenges, and success stories.

Below are a few:

I was 20-25 lbs. heavier than I wanted to be for my wedding. I didn't want to be looking overweight for the day that I had waited for all my life, so I knew I had to do something serious. I tried dieting on my own, just eating less and exercising more, but nothing seemed to work. At the recommendation of a friend, I decided to join Jenny Craig. Surprisingly, it really worked! My consultant was great it was the exact amount of additional support I needed to reach my goal— and their plan was simple to follow. I ended up losing 22 lbs. total, and it made me that much happier to be looking good on that big day.  —Andrea, Stamford, Conn.

For my wedding, I used a diet designed for overweight heart patients to use prior to surgery. The diet was primarily cabbage soup with small portions of vegetables. I hit my target weight, but was miserable in the process. —J. Basulto, Pittsburgh, Pa.

I got engaged on February 14, 2004. I knew that as part of the wedding planning I also wanted to get into shape so I went to my local Weight Watchers meeting. I was only slightly surprised to learn that I was over 300 lbs. My meeting leader was wonderful as she encouraged me week after week. On the third week of the plan, I began to incorporate exercise into the program. I didn't use a trainer, just my own motivation. Only a month or so after the engagement, I started shopping for wedding gowns. I was pleasantly surprised to find the gown of my dreams on the first day. Not wanting to leave anything to chance, I bought my gown before leaving the store... three sizes smaller than what I was wearing at the time. The wedding planning went wonderfully and the weight loss was just a part of the process for me. In March of this year, I scheduled my first gown fitting and was blown away when I put the gown on and it zipped up without a problem. I didn't even have to suck in my breath! My husband and I were married on May 14, 2005 during a beautiful outdoor ceremony in Vermont. I will never forget him telling me how beautiful I looked or saying, "I see what you mean about the gown." For over a year, the gown had hung in the closet of the home we shared and he knew how hard I worked to wear it. Anyhow, I am continuing on Weight Watchers and loving every moment of my new-found strength and determination. 17 months and going strong at 88.8 lbs. less! —Sonja, Conn.

I really wanted to shape up and I knew I wouldn't go to the gym and work as hard as I should. So, on a whim of insanity I tried out for the college rugby team... and made it. They had us running up the hills, down the hills, monitoring our food intake. Making sure we weight trained and didn't over do the alcohol when it came time to party. I never thought I would love rugby so much, it was not only a great way to loose weight but my self-esteem went through the roof! Everyone I know noticed the dramatic changes I was making and were very impressed, especially hubby-to-be. When my wedding day finally came my dress was actually too big. (Imagine that!) But with a little help it fit properly enough to wear for a few hours. When I look at my wedding pictures with friends they always comment on what great shape I was in and how great my arms look. Ha! Little did they know, five broken fingers and a concussion came with me off the rugby field as well, but with more training I learned to land differently. Ha. You must exercise, you must push yourself, you won't gain any ground unless you push your body beyond it's limit and keep pushing it until you mold it into the body you have always dreamed of. It can be done, the question is... do you want it enough? —Amanda Kimes, Fayetteville, Ark.

My only diet challenge was to take the time to eat sensibly. Weight loss is commendable, if it's for the right reasons, such as health and well-being. However a crash diet simply "to look perfect in her wedding dress" can be counterproductive. After all, the bride already has more than enough stress. I'm a 48-year-old, 6 feet, 450lbs. woman married to a terrific 46-year-old, 5 feet 10 inches, 165lb man. I was obese on my wedding day, and just possibly the happiest bride in my fair city, because the groom said my radiant smile made me "look perfect". After 23 years of happy marriage, life keeps getting better and better. If obesity is my worst problem in life, then I am one lucky woman (wink). —Suzette, Perryburg, Ohio

In October 2003, I returned home from three  months in Europe and had gained an amazing 30 lbs. I was stressed and missed the States and ate food for comfort. When I returned home, I still continued to be stressed while finishing my student teaching before my graduation from college. After I met my now-fiance, I still continued with the large weight, until I decided to lose the weight that I had gained for myself. The engagement in August of 2004 helped. I immediately cut down my calories, had healthier meals, and increased my exercise program slightly. My wedding is now in October of 2005 and from my 176 lbs., I am almost to my goal of 140. I weigh 148 lbs. as of the end of July and plan on losing those last 6 lbs. My wedding dress was ordered 3 dress sizes smaller and it fits perfectly right now. From a size 14 down to a size 8 and still going. Yes, planning a wedding is stressful, however if you pick the right comfort foods, and drink lots of water, weight can be lost. Thanks for a terrific show!! I know now what I can do by myself to lost the last 6 lbs. —Melissa, Iowa

I lost 50 lbs. in six months, ate nothing but green beans by the can and brown rice. I weighed 100 lbs. at my wedding, and looked sickly. I do not recommend such a strict diet. I still gained back the 50 lbs., over the next 30 years, but I am a lot happier now. —Sandra Hudson, New London, N.C.

My future daughter-in-law went on a strict diet regimen— LA Weight Loss— right after she became engaged to my son last August. She has lost over 40 lbs. thus far and looks even more beautiful and radiant than she did before. She is still sticking to her diet and looking like a new person— with a great and confident attitude to match! The wedding is Nov 19. I am so proud of her and what she was able to accomplish. —Myra Auster, East Meadow, N.Y.

I am putting myself through a challenge right now! My wedding date is April 1, 2006. I started the Atkins diet over a year and a half ago. I talked to my primary care doctor before I started and she monitored me in the beginning. When I started dieting I weighed over 220 lbs., my heaviest weight ever! When my fiance and I met, over 11 years ago, I weighed about 140, but fit. (My height is 5'6") Since I started Atkins I have lost 54 lbs. My cholesterol has gone down and energy has gone up. But now with my wedding date coming up, I feel I need to lose another 25-30 lbs. So, I am back to the initial phase of Atkins and going to start exercising at least 3 times a week. I was very inspired by Michelle. I think she looked fine before, but she was radiant after! Thank you for airing such an inspiring show. Maybe I will order my gown 2 sizes smaller!?! —Laura Sutton, Glen Burnie, Md.

I am getting married this October. I just started my weight loss and fitness plan through Curves International. It's the first program I've done where I feel like it's something I can actually do and not give up on. The workout is easy to do and the meal plan is easy to follow too. I recommend it already to any woman out there trying to lose weight, whether they are getting married or they just want to make a change in their life. —Carrie Follin, Avondale, Ariz.

When I started shopping for wedding dresses I was faced with the hard truth that I was overweight and very unhappy with myself. I also faced turning 30 years old just a month before my big day and refused to continue living so unhealthy. I joined Weight Watchers in January and have lost 36.6 lbs. so far. My goal weight is just 16 lbs. away and with only 8 weeks until the wedding— it will be a close call. Even if fail to reach my goal weight by September 17th, I feel very successful and my life has changed. I hope for every bride to be that they feel healthy, happy and beautiful on their wedding day. —Suzanne Millea, Raleigh N.C.

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