Your 12-month primer to looking and feeling your best on your big dayBy: Angela Kwan
You’ve waited your whole life for Mr. Right to pop the question, and now that there’s a ring on your finger, you suddenly have a million things to do before you make it to the altar. If whipping your body into shape lands high on your list, don’t panic. (You can look better naked with just a few simple tweaks.) Slim down and tone up as you prepare for the big day by following these expert diet and fitness tips.
Need some inspiration? Follow real life journey of one bride-to-be on the Women's Health Fit Bride blog!
Celebrate your engagement with a glass of bubbly. Bartenders tend to pour 21 percent more alcohol into short, wide glasses compared with tall, skinny ones, according to a study in the British Medical Journal. Not only will you look more elegant holding a Champagne flute, you may also spare yourself the calories and sugar found in a cocktail.
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Choose a wedding dress that flatters your best features and masks your imperfections. A little belly bulge, for example, can be concealed with ruching or ruffles. "Ruching on a diagonal tends to elongate the figure," says Linda Leising, a bridal consultant at Amsale in New York City. If you aren't crazy about your arms, opt for a gown with lace sleeves, à la Kate Middleton. Want to show off your legs? Strut down the aisle in a mini-dress. "It's a shame to hide one of your best assets," says Leising.
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You may need to interview a few vendors before you find a caterer who matches your style and budget. Schedule your meetings around mealtimes and let the tasting serve as a substitute for lunch or dinner. This way, you won’t accidentally double up on calories. When selecting a menu, strive for a plate that’s at least half fruits and vegetables. The other portion should be composed of lean protein and grains, half of which should be whole, according to the USDA.
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If you and your fiancé can’t agree on silverware, settle on a style with a bigger fork—it may help you eat less over a lifetime. University of Utah researchers found that diners who ate with a salad-size fork took smaller bites but consumed more food than those who used a regular-size utensil. When deciding on dinnerware, consider the size of your bowls. Cornell scientists reported that nutrition experts unwittingly scooped 31 percent more ice cream into their bowls when randomly given the larger of two sizes.
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They say the camera adds 10 pounds. To compensate for this illusion, head to the gym. Adopt an exercise regimen at least three to six months before your wedding, says Lindsay Ferrer, a trainer at Equinox in New York City. Starting early will decrease the amount of stress placed on your body, giving yourself enough time to adjust. She suggests a mix of two cardio sessions and two strength-training workouts each week to optimize weight loss and muscle gain.
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Impress your guests with a striking upper body (and moves to boot) during your first dance as husband and wife. Complement your dance lessons with a strength-training workout twice a week for 30 minutes. Ferrer suggests a basic routine comprised of pushups, bent-over rows, pullups, overhead presses, and bench dips to target your upper-body muscles.
Starring in a photo shoot with the love of your life should be a guaranteed good time. But slimming down may help you score even more memorable engagement photos. If you’re feeling sluggish on the treadmill, toss a cold water bottle into your gym bag. A study in the journal Condition found that obese women who held cooling devices while exercising on a treadmill were able to walk longer and faster than their counterparts who did not carry anything.
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Whether you chose a sheath, A-line, or mermaid silhouette, you can drop a few pounds and up the wow factor on your wedding day. Boost fat burn by incorporating interval training into your cardio routine. “High-intensity intervals take fitness to another level,” says Ferrer. Complete the first 10 minutes of a 30-minute workout at a steady pace. Dedicate the next 10 minutes to intervals. During this interval period, sprint for 60 seconds every other minute. Return to a steady pace for the last 10 minutes.
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Keep your hands out of the bread basket. Americans consume more sodium from bread and rolls than from snacks like pretzels and chips, according to the CDC. In fact, it’s the number one source of sodium in our diets. The next biggest culprit? Cured meats tied with pizza, so discourage your bridesmaids from an Italian-themed shower if you have a say in the menu. Cutting back on salty foods may also help reduce the risk of water retention.
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Chances are you have a friend who is also a bride-to-be and wants to get in shape before her big day. Grab a girlfriend and vow to shed pounds together. Stanford University researchers found that overweight relatives of patients who underwent gastric bypass surgery lost between five and 45 pounds in the year following the operation. Scientists refer to this as the “halo effect.”
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Somewhere between the mall and the tailor and the stationer, your belly will begin to rumble. Don’t let a cheeseburger and a milkshake lure you away from your healthy diet. Pack a nutritious snack, such as raw almonds or a banana, to satisfy your hunger while you’re out running errands.
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For a glowing complexion, avoid inflammatory foods such as refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, and omega-6 fatty acids. If a food is sugary or starchy, it’s probably a refined carb. High amounts of omega-6 are typically found in meat and dairy products.
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Navigate the buffet the healthy way. Start with clear soup or salad with light dressing, such as olive oil and vinegar, says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, author of Doctor’s Detox Diet. Grab a smaller plate, skip the bread, and pile on the vegetables. Pass the dessert table unless it’s displaying fresh fruit. “You don’t have to get your money’s worth,” she says.
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The month leading up to your wedding will inevitably bring unexpected tasks and last-minute decisions. To cope with stress and keep you on track, Ferrer suggests signing up for a fun fitness class each week. Scheduling a class in advance—and paying for it—will reduce the likelihood that you’ll blow off your workout in the event of a wedding crisis, she says.
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Decrease your sodium intake and increase your water consumption. This will help prevent you from looking bloated, says Gerbstadt. Cut back on sugar and eat more high-fiber foods, such as vegetables and whole grains. Fiber will keep you fuller longer, so you’ll eat fewer calories.
Up next: 6 Ways to Lose Weight Naturally Before Your Wedding
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