There is perhaps no other time in a woman’s life when more emphasis is placed on her physical appearance than that of her wedding day. For better or for worse, our culture has elevated the importance of a bride’s appearance to the very center of nuptial celebrations. Needless to say, many brides have suffered tremendous pressure to look a certain way for their nuptials: to fit into their perfect dress, and to have the ever-important photographic proof of their big day bodily perfection, however, short lived the results may ultimately be.
If you’ve made it to the end of your twenties, chances are you’ve encountered at least one carb-deprived, anxious, treadmill addicted, borderline maniacal woman who is absorbed in her pursuit for wedding-body perfection. In recent years, this obsession has not been limited to brides but affects grooms, mothers of the bride, mothers of the groom and bridesmaids as well.
However, when evaluating the cost of the goal, two questions must be answered: is there another way, and is it worth it? In short, the answer to both questions is yes! There is another way, and achieving your best personal fitness for your wedding day is worth it, as long as your pursuit of that goal is informed by sound knowledge.
Read on to learn about pursuing wedding day fitness without losing your mind along the way. Then, meet four Southern brides who reached their goals with wisdom and poise. They offer their best of advice to current brides-to-be with honesty, humor and that ever-enlightening source of wisdom: hindsight.
So, dear bride-to-be, before you convince yourself that you really can live on liquids alone for the next three months, step away from the blender and listen to some sound advice. Take it from someone who was married less than two years ago; you (and your family) will be grateful that you did!
First: Define Your Ideal
This sounds obvious, but it needs to be said: On your wedding day, you will wake up in your body. No matter what exercises you endure, no matter what diets you commit to, you will wake up in your own skin; and that is good news! After all, your fiancé chose to marry you. So when defining your ideal wedding day body, you have to start from a recognition of where you are right now, how you are naturally built, and what changes you can realistically make in the time of your engagement.
I highly recommend a great tool online that you can use to make an informed decision about your ideal body weight for your big day and beyond. Created by the doctor who reportedly oversaw Kate Middleton’s wedding diet, the Dukan diet features a unique calculator that takes into consideration many of the things we cannot change about our unique physical circumstances (body frame, age, gender, weight history, etc.) to recommend your “true weight”.* Use this tool in combination with a BMI chart (also available online) to identify a healthy weight for yourself, and aim for that.
You may be surprised to see that according to sound medical advice, you are already at an ideal weight! If that’s the case, but you are still aiming to see some physical changes, focus on toning instead of losing weight for the best, longest lasting results. Aiming for a weight significantly lower than your medically advised healthy weight is very likely to require unhealthy sacrifices to your diet and very temporary results. If you are not at your ideal weight, research to find a diet plan that works for you or speak to a nutrition professional, but avoid the temptation to create your own super-restrictive diet. These diets always lead to disappointment, guilt, low self-esteem and wasted time.
It is important to set realistic expectations informed by sound medical advice before you set out to attempt to make your body become something it was never intended to be. Embrace your body, and define your win with wisdom.
Second: Say, “I Do,” to a Plan You Can Enjoy
Marriage is not a one time “I do,” but rather a daily “yes” to faithfulness and love and a commitment that endures through all circumstances. Think of your fitness and nutritional goals in the same (albeit slightly less serious) light. Fitness requires an enduring “yes,” a daily recommitment to fighting for your best physical health. This means that if a bride is going to be successful in making a daily commitment to her physical and nutritional plans for success, the plan needs to be something that she wants to commit to.
Spend some time reflecting on what is enjoyable to you in terms of fitness and what is not. Hate running? Then you’d be crazy to make yourself a slave to the treadmill for the next six months. It will never work because it probably won’t happen! Instead, find a fitness style that you love. Never experienced a fitness method that you enjoyed? Set aside one week to sign up for a variety of classes in your area, a personal training session, take a long walk with a friend, or sample a variety of ways to get fit so you can choose a plan you’re excited about embracing on your bridal journey. Our bodies were made to be used actively every day, so it’s only natural for you to enjoy doing so. As you’ll see from the brides featured here, the important thing is not so much which workout you choose, but rather, committing to a weekly schedule of physical fitness. You’re much more likely to succeed at something you love rather than with something you dread each day. As a fitness professional, I do highly recommend that brides try low impact, high repetition fitness styles that use isometric movements. This style of workout will produce what most brides desire- long, lean muscles and a sculpted physique.
As for nutrition, finding a plan that you can live with is just as important as enjoying your fitness efforts. Truly, eliminate any diet scheme you may have in mind that leaves you physically hungry, and do not consume any fewer than 1200 calories a day. These are poor plans that will sabotage your efforts. Your bridal nutrition mentality should be simple: consume foods that are nutrient dense, calorically balanced, and energy sustaining. Eat a wide variety of colors, drink plenty of water, and look for foods that provide the most nutrition for the fewest calories. A bride cannot glow on an empty stomach!
Third: Celebrate Your Success with a Long-Term Focus
One last piece of advice: While keeping your momentum on an incline towards your wedding day makes sense, I have found that the brides with the most success (and the happiest demeanor) are those who project their ultimate fitness and nutritional goals into the future well beyond their wedding day.
These are the brides who have succeeded at defining a wonderful, realistic goal, and have found a way to achieve it that they sincerely enjoy. These brides will continue to radiate long past their wedding days, and they find greater joy and satisfaction with their bodies in the present, rather than always looking ahead to that elusive “when I’m more in shape” moment. It’s an attitude that will last you a lifetime!
Embrace your body. Be your body’s best advocate. Celebrate your success with an appreciation for your body well beyond your wedding day.