Planning a wedding is one of the most exciting and stressful adventures you’ll probably ever embark on. On top of the catering decisions, the venue scouting, the flower selections, there’s that little detail of the dress. It’s the dress you’ll be wearing in the photos that you’ll have for a lifetime, so it’s only natural that you’d want to wear it well. While we can’t get your soon-to-be be mother-in-law to chill out, or bridesmaids to stop complaining about the color of their dresses, we can provide you with the tools to help you look your best on your big day.
Keep reading for everything you need to get in perfect shape for your walk down the aisle!
The diet and fitness options available these days can be dizzying, so, for your own sanity, seek the help of an expert to guide you in the right direction. You’re working within a specific time frame, and a professional trainer or nutritionist will be your best asset for ensuring you’re getting the most out of your workouts and meal plans. You don’t need to enlist a full-time trainer, but just one session with a pro will get your get-fit efforts off on the right foot.
If time with a trainer is not an option, take advantage of the group fitness classes at your gym. That way you’ll at least know the exercises you’re doing are effective, and if you have questions about form, a pro will be there to guide you. And here’s a nice bonus of the 6:30 a.m. bootcamp class: working out in groups can be a fantastic motivator.
As with most things in life, getting fitness results requires effort. And by effort, we mean forethought. Plan ahead—research recipes, make a grocery list, and so on. If you rely on your 7 p.m. post-workday brain to make wise, healthy decisions for you, you’re not going to be pleased with the outcome. The same is true for your workouts. Schedule your workouts like you would any other appointment. You wouldn’t cancel a meeting with your caterer—give your gym shoes that same respect.
And take it a step further. Don’t just plan your meals and schedule treadmill sessions—write down your goals. Better yet, write them on a Post-It and place the note somewhere you’ll see it every day as a reminder of what you’re working for (and why grilled fish is your new favorite food). Your hubby-to-be may laugh at the “I want to have Michelle Obama arms on my wedding day” note stuck to the bathroom mirror, but putting your end goal on paper makes you more likely to achieve it.
Regardless of what trouble spots you plan to focus your exercising efforts on, every bride should work on their posture. Perfecting your posture is the quickest way to shave pounds off of your appearance. To do so, do exercises that strengthen your quadriceps—the upper thigh muscles that help you stand tall in heels. Your back and shoulders also deserve to be shown a little love in the gym.
The easiest way to hit all of the muscle groups mentioned above and strengthen your ever-important core? Sit on stability ball. Sitting on a ball engages your entire core and forces you to work more muscle groups. Ever tried slouching on a stability ball? You’re going to fall off. When you do your arm exercises, skip the resistance machines, and choose a pair of dumbells and a stability ball instead. But your posture-improving practices don’t have to end when you leave the gym. Trade in your office chair for a stability ball, and you’ll be sitting pretty and standing tall long before you walk down the aisle.
Following a strict meal plan may be the ticket for some brides (and more power to you—we envy that will power), but for others, just cleaning up your diet can make a huge difference. We’ll go ahead and state the obvious: unfortunately, the late-night McDonald’s runs have got to go. Fast food, processed and refined food, prepackaged foods—they’re all not only high in calories, but they’re high in empty calories. Through all of the processing they go through, they’ve lost their nutritional components and are no longer sources of energy. Instead, eat clean and eat whole. Stick with a high-fiber, high-protein, low-glycemic diet. That means veggies are going to take a starring role in your meals, so hit the farmer’s market. Whenever you can, eat your produce fresh and raw to get the most nutritional bang for buck.
Serving size is one of the biggest obstacles in a bride’s slim down plan. Correction: colossal serving sizes are one of the biggest obstacles. Most of us have gotten so used to restaurant servings that our perception of what we need on our plates is way off. For example, a serving of protein is approximately the size of a deck of cards. When was the last time you were served a chicken breast that fits in the palm of your hand? Well, now is the time to re-train your brain. Instead of eating three large meals, eat five or six smaller (200-300 calorie) meals throughout the day. You’ll keep your portions in check and keep your metabolism going strong all day. You should also carry healthy snacks with you when you’re on-the-go, to keep yourself on track and avoid the mad dash to take-out menu.
And remember, it takes your brain 20 minutes to realize your stomach is full. If you finish your food, but are left wanting more, wait it out. If, after 20 minutes, you’re still not feeling satisfied, then help yourself to more.
Hunger is often mistaken for thirst. So, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day. (Not sure how much plenty is? Read this.) Besides keeping you full (and hydrated), water helps your body flush out toxins, which never hurts. Unfortunately, those detoxifying powers are limited one liquid and one liquid only. Yes, that means soda (including diet soda), coffee, and alcohol are out. Caffeinated beverages over-stimulate your system and can be loaded in calories. And then there’s alcohol. Alcohol not only doesn’t hydrate you, it actually dehydrates your body, making you feel sluggish. We won’t go into the dirty details, but you know that downing a bottle of pinot is not conducive to achieving your wedding day fitness goals.
Are you a bride-to-be or have any weddings your trying to get in shape for? Share your slim-down secrets of success in the comments!