Beauty and Health
Emily DBride Online Columnist

How to: Getting in Shape for Your Wedding

Every bride wants to look her absolute best on her big day. When you look good, you feel good, and your confidence and happiness are of course the most important factors on your wedding day. So often, this means starting out on a new diet/ exercise regimen. If you’re anything like me, you know three things about dieting:

1. The process itself can get pretty  boring and a teensy bit hellish

2. It always takes WAY longer than you predict to see results

3. It is totally worth feeling ultimately fit, healthy, and confident


So, lets talk shaping-up methods:

  • Managing your diet- obtain all the right nutrients and reduce unnecessary calories.

  • Cardiovascular activities- to exercise your heart.

  • Resistance Training- to burn fat and tone muscles.

  • Getting enough rest and recovery time after workouts- to allow your body to adjust and heal, and therefore make the changes you want.


You can eat what you like, as long as youre going to burn it off, right? Well, it's not quite  that simple.  Its generally accepted within the world of nutrition that weight loss comprises of 80% diet, and only 20% exercise. Seems strange, but is true. This is often due to our overestimation of the amount of calories we’re actually burning and the fact that actual nutrition (as opposed to strict calorie counting) has a huge effect on how our body reacts to the calories ingested. The vast majority of women, for example, know that eating 100 calories of veg is still advised above 100 calories of doughnut.

The wisdom of hardcore weight loss blogs seems to reaffirm this: “abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym”, and “you can't out-exercise a bad diet”.  So you should consequently aim not only to cut portion sizes, but to eat healthily as well. As any nutritionist will tell you, depriving your body of sufficient calories can actually kick it into ‘starvation mode’, where the body believes it’s being starved, and in response holds on to the calories you do consume, which can trigger extra fat storage. Eating anything below 1,200 calories a day is considered to be dangerous. And remember that how many calories you need depends on your age, size and current eating habits.

Often, we tend to eat poorly simply because we don't really know what, and in what quantities, we should be eating. To take the guesswork out of your diet, its always a great idea to consult a nutritionist or dietician- they’ll be able to formulate an eating plan for you which will take into account what you like and don't like as well as incorporating the necessary dietary components to complement your exercise program.

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Weight Loss Services

The weight-loss industry offers a variety of services with different approaches to weight-loss. Some offer classes and information about diet and exercise, while others deliver pre-prepared meals to your home. A structured service will take into account all of your nutritional requirements and do all the ‘calorie counting’ for you, whilst (hopefully) keeping the food delish. This is a great solution for time-poor, stressed out brides caught up in their wedding-planning process.  But before signing up, consider the long-term effects of these diets- once you reach your goal weight, how well- equipped will you be to make all your food choices for yourself? Some services bridge this gap with built- in lessons or guides, which is great as it also functions as an educational course to serve you for the rest of your life. But be extremely wary of those services who do not offer such a program- it can be even more confusing to try and match your foods to the diet you received on the weight loss service’s plan.

If, for whatever reason, you choose to ‘go it alone’, there are some great free resources to make use of:

- the myfitnesspal app tracks your calories (both in food and exercise), and has a database with thousands of different food items listed (otherwise, plenty of similar apps will perform the same service)

- has thousands of links to healthy food recipes, diet tips and tricks, as well as motivating quotes, images, ideas etc (use the in-site search engine to find the particulars of what you’re looking for).

- also has thousands of weight-loss and fitness- centred blogs and sites. Again, these are easiest to find when you have a particular subject to investigate, such as ‘1500 calorie diet plan’, or ‘fitspo’ (short for ‘fitspiration’). These sites are often embedded with a chain of other similar sites, so its really just a matter of finding one quality site that can refer you to others. (I personally quite like ‘’ for inventive recipes, for example)

We’ve also compiled a list of some simple tweaks you can make to improve your diet and calorie intake, as well as some ever- useful ‘don'ts’’:

Little Diet Changes for a Huge Impact

Radical changes to your diet are not only hard on your body, but mentally difficult to sustain. If you usually eat unhealthily, you will find it almost impossible to ‘change your ways’ overnight. So resolve to make some key changes that you can incorporate into your current diet, for example:

  • Switch to ‘low-fat’ groceries – particularly dairy products. Many of the products you currently buy will also be available in a ‘diet’ or ‘light’ version.

  • Stick to whole natural foods - Fruits, Veges, whole grain breads and cereals

  • Stay away from anything with preservatives - these chemicals are unatural to the body and if cannot be broken down, will be stored in fat cells.

  • Stop drinking soft drinks and sweetened fruit juices and drink water or sugar-free diet drinks instead. Sugary drinks contain empty calories and do nothing to fill you up.

  • Aim to eat more at the beginning of the day and less at night. This means a full, nutritious breakfast and less snacking after dinner.

  • Change the way you prepare meals – this means less frying and roasting and more grilling, steaming and boiling.

  • Snack on fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts instead of biscuits, chips, (or my personal favourite, those little japanese peanuts that are coated in crunchy deliciousness. GOOD GOD) etc.

  • Consider walking or cycling to work and take the stairs instead of the lift!

  • Try to incorporate high-fibre foods into your diet. Fibre helps ‘fill you up’ and will stop you snacking on junk food throughout the day.

  • Reduce your alcohol intake.

Getting off Your Tush

Regular exercise is an essential part of any weight-loss program-  it increases your heart rate, oxygen intake and your metabolism. Remember, a healthy diet will help you look good, but exercise will help you look great naked. Exercise can be broken down into two main categories: ‘cardiovascular’ and ‘resistance training’.

Cardiovascular Exercises

These comprise of anything that, like the name implies, gets your heart pumping. This can include, for instance, running, cycling, swimming, brisk walking, skipping, dancing, tumbling, frolicking... you get the idea. Don't let the fact that you can’t accurately tell how many calories you’re burning outside and condemn yourself to the gym alone. Any exercise is great exercise. Cardio is the most efficient form of exercise to burn off calories, which is why it's relied upon for weight loss as well as overall heart health.

It’s important to remember that you can’t target any ‘problem’ areas with specific stretches or exercises, instead the goal is to train your entire body to gradually change its overall composition. So cardiovascular activities are a main component of the overall approach. If you’re not used to exercising or have trouble finding motivation, join a gym or consider hiring a personal trainer who can tailor a plan to suit your fitness level and weight-loss goals for your wedding day. Regular appointments with a personal trainer before the wedding will force you to get motivated. Furthermore, you might like to start an exercise program with your partner or a friend. Its not only nice to have someone suffer with you, but it makes exercising arrangements feels far more social, and therefore you’ll feel more inclined to stick with it.

If you are completely flummoxed as to where to begin, remember to K.I.S.S. The simplest way to get started is to go for a walk each morning after or before you've had a bite to eat. Remember to build up as you progress- in other words as you become fitter you should try to challenge yourself by increasing your pace or distance covered each day.

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Resistance Training

This is about exercising your muscles so they are toned and healthy. This can be done with light weight lifting, hopping on the strength- oriented machines at gym, specific types of yoga, and pilates. Resistance training actually has better fat burning and muscle toning properties than any other forms of exercise because you generally engage multiple muscle groups to perform the exercises and therefore use more calories to perform the exercises. Also, muscles that have been worked out will boost your metabolism for several hours after your workout (by continuing to burn more calories for hours after your workout than if you had not worked out). Additiionaly benefits include: more strength, greater endurance, improved immune system, lower blood pressure, improved lower back pain, stonger bones, improved cholesterol levels, better control of blood sugar, reversed age-related muscle loss, reversed aging of muscle cells, more calorie-burining lean muscle tissue. Not bad, huh?

The idea that if you lift weights, you will turn overnight into a clothes- bursting figure of Hulk- like proportions is a common misconception and physically, very difficult to acheive. This takes (at a minimum) months of heavy training combined with a specific diet. Also note that due to women’s lower levels of testosterone, it is considerably more difficult to gain muscle than it is for guys.

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Again, it is highly recommend that you seek advice from professionals if you havent the foggiest idea about exercise. There is a multitude of contradictory information on the internet and in the media about what does and doesn't work. Keep in mind that no two people are the same and what works for one person may not work as well for you. Consider booking a few sessions with a personal trainer and remember that there is no quick-fix. Getting in shape for your wedding is about setting long and medium term goals and working towards them slowly and consistently.

And if you want to get fit on the cheap, here are some great resources targeted at getting fit:

- Online exercise videos have made their way to the internet (such as Jillian Anderson’s ‘30 Day Shred’), which offer programs ranging for complete novices to gym- bunnies. Again, a great place to begin your search is on the net (specifically, fitspo-centred sites, blogs and tumblr accounts).

- Browse online magazines, which often offer great advice and even fitness programs. ‘Women’s Health’ is a great place to start.

- Though not free, check out exercise/ fitness books. These can often be bought cheaply on sites like ‘’, and also often have a specific program to follow (Tracy Anderson, for example offers a book doing just this).  

Other tips:

- Get some great sounds going. If music isn't your thing, download some audiobooks, podcasts, interviews, etc. Use whatever you need to keep your routine interesting and fun. 

- Leave your vanity at the door. Aside from the innate problems posed by wearing makeup to the gym (not working out hard enough out of fear of ruining your makeup, or working out properly as your makeup slides down your sweaty face), it's terrible for your skin. Even mineral makeup can clog the pores that are tying to breathe and cool you down. Plus, it's quite freeing to simply stop giving a damn about looking good at every second of the day you're in the public eye.


  • Don’t embark on any fad diets prior to your wedding. Rapid weight loss as a result of ‘crash’ dieting is not a healthy long-term solution. Even if you do lose weight, you’ll put it back on the moment you stop, and often you’ll gain even more weight afterwards.

  • Don’t starve yourself in the days or weeks leading up to the wedding. You need a balanced and nutritious diet to look your best. Healthy-looking skin, hair, nails and eyes all need nutrients to flourish. Starving yourself may leave you looking pasty and dull, and it will also ruin your mood and energy.

  • Don’t buy a tight-fitting gown in the hope you’ll lose weight. This is one mistake that can cost thousands (not to mention the clumps of hair you’ll rip out in your de-foggied rage).

Most Importantly

Whilst it’s important to eat well and exercise regularly it’s also absolutely crucial to accept that women come in all shapes and sizes, and that it’s not possible, in the long term, to maintain a weight that lies beyond our natural limitations. No matter what your natural body type, a well-fitted gown and expert hair and make-up will ensure you glow with beauty on your wedding day. Remember your guests are coming to see you get married, not participate as audience members in your unveiling ceremony. The person who cares most about the way you look is you- so try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Plus, I think we all know you’ll look positively RADIANT on your wedding day, no matter what your shape. It is your own happiness that tends to leave the most indelible mark on your guests’ mind, at the end of the day!  

Also, remember to check out the Bride Online Beauty Services Directory for health and fitness specialists in your area.

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