It’s cold outside and you’ve eaten more holiday cookies than you ever thought possible. The last thing you probably feel like doing is hitting the gym, but your wedding day is sneaking closer with each passing day. What is a bride-to-be to do? Well, you could resort to extreme diets and risk your health, but I prefer to take more sane measures. So muster up some motivation and determination, it’s time to get fit!
photo via Country Living
set realistic goals
The first step to getting in shape is to set realistic goals. Without this, you won’t get very far in your fitness pursuits. You need to be very honest with yourself and realize what you are actually capable of accomplishing. You may want to lose 30 lbs. in one month or go from a size 8 to a size 0 by Friday, but the chances of these actually happening in a healthy manner are slim-to-none (no pun intended). Set realistic goals and write them down; this way you can stay properly motivated while shaping up. It would even be beneficial to set weekly goals and display them on your refrigerator or bedroom mirror. Having a constant reminder of what your goals are will help keep you on track.
Slow and steady wins the race
The second step to being fit is to remember this phrase: Slow and steady wins the race. As cliché as this may sound, it really is important. When trying to lose weight, many people resort to crash diets, which rob your body of essential nutrients and leave you feeling irritable. Besides, you can’t stay on a crash diet forever; so once you resort back to your normal eating habits after your wedding, you’ll gain your weight back. Crashing also messes with your metabolism, so you’ll likely gain more weight than you originally lost, leaving you unhappy and contemplating more quick fixes. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, you should really only lose 1-2 lbs. per week. This can partially be achieved by reducing your caloric intake. The CDC says that one pound is equal to about 3,500 calories, so by reducing your intake by 500-1,000 calories will help you steadily lose weight and keep it off longer.
photo via Daily Mail
This next step goes hand-in-hand with the one you just read. Many people think that if they simply stop eating sweets, red meat, or fast food, they will lose weight quicker. In reality, it’s all about portion size. By completely denying yourself every bad food known to mankind, you are setting yourself up for inevitable setbacks, unless of course you have godlike willpower. Yes, your diet should be primarily comprised of healthy foods, such as vegetable and fruits, but you need to allow yourself dessert every once in awhile. This does not mean that your dessert serving is a whole pie or an entire pint of ice cream. To keep your portions in check but still satisfy your sweet tooth, look at the serving sizes on nutrition labels. If it says that one serving is equal to two cookies, then have one serving.
Now, not everything comes out of a package with a convenient nutrition label, such as food at restaurants. It’s very easy to overeat when dining out, especially when one meal might be equal to 3 or 4 servings. In an attempt to make smarter dining decisions, check if the restaurant has an online menu with nutritional information. This will help you see which meals are actually healthy for you and which meals will interfere with achieving your fitness goals. If you couldn’t find nutritional information online, you should just use your best judgment as to how healthy a meal might be. I’m not saying you should only eat a salad sans dressing and refuse to look at the breadbasket, but you have an idea of which foods are beneficial and which ones are not. And if you’re one of those people that has to finish whatever is placed in front of you, even if you’re stomach is about to burst, try placing half of your meal in a take-out box before you begin eating. That way, only half of your food is staring you in the face and you won’t feel guilty about overstuffing yourself.
don’t be fooled by low fat options
A very popular trend brings us to the fourth step: don’t be fooled by low fat options; they aren’t always better for you. When foods are classified as being “low fat” or “non fat”, consumers automatically think that it must be much healthier than its “regular fat” option. In reality, these foods often make up for their lack of fat by adding more sugar, which can be just as harmful to your diet. What are the other downfalls of these low fat options? Well, you may tend to overeat when consuming these “healthier” foods because you feel that they cancel out your unhealthy options. It’s like getting a diet pop but still ordering the extra large value meal. You might also eat four low fat cookies to satisfy a craving when one regular cookie would have sufficed. Just remember, if you use a little self-control, you can enjoy your “regular fat” foods while still being healthy.
Step number five is a simple, daily activity that will help you realize what you’re consuming. Keeping a food log allows you to see what kinds of foods you’re eating and at what time of day you’re consuming the most calories. Maybe you’re an afternoon snacker looking for a quick energy boost, so you typically eat a candy bar from the vending machine or a bag of chips. Since snacks occur between meals, it’s easy for those calories to simply slip your mind. By logging everything, you’ll see what, when, and how much you eat. This will help you cut calories and recognize the times you are most likely to splurge throughout the day.
photo via 5888
get all your essential nutrients
Since you might be cutting calories in order to get fit for you wedding, you want to make sure you are still getting all your essential nutrients. So step number six is to take vitamin supplements. Sometimes it’s hard to eat well-rounded meals all the time, especially when you’re busy planning a wedding! By taking supplements, you can make sure that your body is getting all the essential vitamins to keep you healthy. Some examples of vitamins you should be including in your diet include: calcium with vitamin D, Iron, vitamin C, vitamin B, and fish oil. These will help your bones, muscles, and heart stay strong while you’re losing weight and toning up.
make small lifestyle changes
Next up is step number seven: make small lifestyle changes. This can be something as simple as taking the stairs. I know the elevator is very tempting, especially when you’re wearing heels or carrying something, but the stairs are an easy way to sneak exercise into your day. Something else you should consider is swapping out your pop (even if it’s diet) for water or another healthy drink, such as low-sugar juice. This will prevent you from drinking empty calories or something that has absolutely no nutritional value. Instead of eating in front of the television, actually sit down at the table and enjoy your meal. This will allow you to focus on eating and prevent you from mindlessly eating. Speaking of mindless eating, you know those foods you enjoy that come in a bag or box? Instead of eating directly from the package, try placing a portion-sized amount in a bowl or on a plate. This way you’ll know how much you’ve actually eaten while you’re working on the computer or watching a wedding show on television. Small changes are easy to incorporate in your daily routine and can help make a big difference in the end.
photo via The Sacramento Bee
Last, but not least, we arrive at step number 8. You’ve started cutting calories, making changes, and taking your vitamins; now, you need to tone up so you can look even more stunning in your wedding dress. What you need is a form of exercise! You have plenty of options here, so there really isn’t an excuse to not participate in physical activity. Whether it’s running (my personal favorite), swimming, yoga, ping-pong, fencing, or boxing, make sure you do something you enjoy. If you do not enjoy your activity, chances are you won’t want to actually do it. An important thing to remember when starting a new form of exercise is to not overdo it. Running 28 miles a day and swimming for 5 hours every night will only leave you exhausted and injured. Start out slow and work your way up to a higher level. This will help you to feel better while you exercise and keep you healthy.
photo via BBC
These 8 steps are simply jumping-off points. No one knows your body better than you do, so you know your tendencies and what works best for you. Whatever method you choose to shape up for your big day, just keep these tips in mind. When your wedding day comes, imagine how great it will feel to see how far you’ve come and how much healthier you’ve become! By setting goals and committing to them, you can accomplish almost anything, especially if that goal is to look and feel great on your wedding day. So go out, make smart decisions, and take those stairs!