1. Get a Jump-Start
The earlier you can put your workout plan into effect the better, especially if you’re hoping to drop a more significant amount of weight. Basic math skills are all you need to figure out how much time it will take you to reach your goals. Have a weight loss goal of 30 pounds? Get started at least six months before the wedding. If you’re looking to lose 15 pounds, you’ll need three months, and so on. Still, bridal fitness expert Doug Rice recommends you leave yourself a little wiggle room on either side. "We can all lose focus at times and might have a few bad days—or weeks!" he says. "Also, once you shed that weight, you’ll want enough time to really tone up and sculpt your physique so you look absolutely fabulous in that dress."
2. Be Realistic
Setting a big weight loss goal can help keep you motivated, but be careful. If you aim too high you’ll only be setting yourself up for failure and frustration. "Not every bride must be a size 2 on her wedding day," Cynthia Conde, celeb trainer and creator of Bridal Bootcamp, reminds us. You need to realistically evaluate what your ideal weight should be and if you’re capable of getting there in a healthy way. Once you have an attainable goal in mind, be prepared to do the amount of work in the time it will take to reach it. "I sit down and walk people through their goals. I’ll tell them ‘That would be a five pound loss every week in your time frame—have you ever lost five pounds per week consistently?’ Then we have a serious conversation about whether or not they’ll be able to work that hard," says Greg Doyle, author of Fit for a Bride and founder of Wedding Gym.
3. Know What It Takes
Rice recommends a minimum of three to four 30-minute sessions of cardio per week and the same amount of strength training, though that amount will need to be adjusted depending on your goals. If you have more than 15 pounds to lose, Rice says, you’ll need to kick your cardio up to five or six times per week. Relax—cardio can be anything from going for a run to jogging, brisk walks and cycling, which is much easier on joints and makes you less prone to injuries, Doyle adds. Find something you enjoy so you’ll be more likely to keep it up. And remember: If you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll continue to get the results you’ve always gotten, Rice says. Want to make more progress? Then prepare to push yourself a bit harder.
4. Adjust Your Eating Habits
The best way to get the most out of any exercise routine is to pair it with healthy eating habits. "You can lose weight through diet alone, but it is exceedingly difficult to lose body fat by leaving your diet the same and trying to exercise it off," Rice says. The simplest way to get started? Eat more vegetables. "I’ve had clients who decided to eat more vegetables and within a week, their body fat dropped 2 percent and their abs started to show," Doyle adds. You’ll also want to focus on "superfoods," like broccoli, eggs and walnuts, which fill you up quicker, keep you feeling full longer and help you lose weight faster.
5. Lose Fat, Not Muscle
The big takeaway here is that your body has a cap of how much fat you can blast at any given time. "You could lose more weight, but it might not be from fat," Doyle explains. "The weight you lose may be from muscle, which isn’t good because losing muscle means messing with your metabolism." To stay in the healthy zone follow this guide: If you’re trying to drop 30 pounds, you should be aiming to lose 2 percent of your body weight per week. If you’re weight loss goal is 20 pounds, aim for losing 1 percent per week.
6. Set Small Goals
Nothing makes you feel more motivated to keep going than actually hitting your goals. The key, Rice says, is to keep them small and specific. He gave us a few examples:Week One:
Work out at least twice and be sure to strength train; then also do cardio two times during the week for at least 20 minutes.
Repeat your fitness regimen from week one, but add 10 minutes to your two cardio workouts. Also, cut out all soft drinks for the entire week.
Write your goals down in a journal and make a note as you reach each one so you have a record of your successes—you’ll find it’s not so tough to continue to build on your achievements.
6. Create a Visual Diary
Doyle recommends snapping selfies regularly as a means of tracking fitness progress. "A lot of times, when you’re training, you’re losing fat but adding muscle," Doyle says. Muscle takes up half the space of fat, but it’s dense, which means the scale may indicate that you haven’t lost much weight. Don’t get too caught up in what the scale says—instead, a picture will let you see how much better you’re looking in your clothes or that definition that’s starting to show in your stomach. "You’re not walking down the aisle with a number on your forehead," Doyle emphasizes. Your guests aren’t going to see how much you weigh; they’ll see how great you look."
7. Feel the Burn
Conde recommends increasing the intensity of your cardio and strength-training programs every week. "Brides shouldn’t be afraid of increasing the weight load. This is required to challenge your body and take it past a plateau," she says, "And no, increased strength training does not necessarily equal a masculine physique." If you’re not sure how much weight will work, consider investing in a few personal training sessions so a professional can set you up with a regimen that will tone your body without bulking it up.
8. Change Perspectives
Instead of looking at your fitness goals as chores, you should try to see your gym sessions as time you have control over, Conde says. After all, she points out, "with all the chaos around planning a wedding, it is comforting to know that you have control over how your body will look in your wedding gown and on the honeymoon." Plus, it’s a place you can escape from the day-to-day drama of wedding planning, so turn off your cell, forget about your growing list of to-dos and focus on pedaling that bike. If this mind-set doesn’t work for you, try to have as much fun as you can with your workouts and get them over with as quickly as possible. "Workout with a friend, listen to your favorite music and set a timer on your phone for 30 minutes," Doyle suggests. "As soon as the timer goes off, get out of there."
9. Be Positive
Will you ever have better fitness motivation than your wedding day? "Take advantage of this rare window of opportunity to be super-driven," Rice says. "There may never be another time like this in your life. It’s not about discipline, it’s about desire." And, seriously, when will your desire to get fit ever be as great as it will in the months leading up to your walk down the aisle? Put that drive to good use in the gym.
10. Aim for Balance
Of course you’ll want to focus on the parts of your body that will be on display in your gown, but don’t neglect other areas. The most successful fitness plans balance nutrition and exercise and they work out your entire body. "Many brides just want to focus on their upper body because of their gowns, but you want to work on your entire body to create symmetry and balance," says Conde. "Don’t forget, eventually, the dress comes off!"
Getting in Shape