20 Tips to Lose Weight for Your WeddingHow to Lose the Bulge Before Your Big Day
-- By Nicole Nichols, Health Educator and Certified Personal Trainer
There's nothing like an engagement ring to motivate a woman to get serious about weight loss. The dress. The photos. The honeymoon! You're dropping lots of cash for a fabulous event and will be standing with your butt—er, back—to dozens, maybe even hundreds of guests during your ceremony. With so many wonderful things happening on your special day, who wants to worry about their rear view?
It's no wonder women go to great strides to look their best on their wedding day. And if your upcoming wedding is serving as inspiration for you to tackle your weight or fitness issues, that's great. We all need to find our motivation, and a wedding has a deadline that can inspire you to take action.
Problem is, many brides-to-be resort to extreme measures and quick fixes to drop the pounds quickly. Some of those methods may work a little (even if they're not so safe or healthy), but often times they fail—miserably. That's because quick fixes, diet pills, and extreme exercise plans don't usually deliver, especially in the long term. When countless studies show that marriage itself tends to pack on the pounds, wouldn't you rather make smart, reasonable and sustainable changes to your current diet and fitness plan to help prevent the "inevitable" weight gain of wedded bliss? Ones that will not only help you look great by your wedding, but help you stay healthy, fit and svelte as you celebrate your first, second, and 22nd anniversaries? I hope you answered yes.
Even amid the stress of wedding planning, it is possible to stick with or even start a healthy diet and fitness program and lose weight. How? Commit to your plan. You just have to choose to stay in control, one day at a time, no matter what life and wedding planners may throw at you. <pagebreak>
Here are 20 tips that will help you look slim and trim on your wedding day and beyond.
1. Track your food. That means all of it, from the spoonful of soup you sampled for your reception menu to the little bites of cake you taste. These "hidden" calories are easy to gloss over but can really add up. Plus, research shows that the simple act of tracking your food can help you lose twice as much weight than if you don't track at all (mental tracking does not count). If you do nothing else during the final days and weeks before your wedding, track your food diligently every day.
2. Sample smart. A continuation of tip #1, if you know you're going to be sampling a variety of foods in a short period of time, keep the portions small. Just one or two bites of cake or your caterer's signature fish dish should be sufficient for taste testing. And if you know you're going to sample a variety of sweets one day, cut back on sugary foods for the next few days to get back on track. Decide which foods you'll have (and how much) and use SparkPeople's free Nutrition Tracker to stay within your calorie range.
3. Eat breakfast. Breakfast is the easiest meal to prepare and it sets the stage for your day. Eat a healthful breakfast to get your metabolism fired up, and then you'll be more likely to make healthy choices throughout the day—like ordering a smart lunch and swinging by the gym after work. Even better: Eating breakfast can help you lose weight, as studies have shown breakfast eaters tend to consume fewer total calories during the day than people who don't eat a morning meal.
4. Make fitness a priority. I like to remind people that food is only one part of the equation that determines whether you'll lose or gain weight. Fitness is just as important. Don't let your workouts go by the wayside. If anything, you should be trying to work out more than before if you really want to drop a few pounds, especially around the days that you're sampling all of that rich and delicious food. With a hectic schedule, how will you fit it in? That's what this next tip is for.
5. Treat your workouts like an appointment. You wouldn't miss your cake tasting, pre-marriage counseling session or dress fitting, would you? Add your workouts to your calendar so that other obligations don't get in the way of your gym time. When meeting to discuss plans with your fiancé, parents, bridal party or wedding planner, head out for a walk (or pace around the room if you're on the phone) for a little multitasking. And when your bridal party wants to schedule your bachelorette party, tell them you'll be there, but not until after Pilates class lets out.
6. Get support. It can be tough to stay strong and accountable to your goals if you don't have anyone else cheering you on. It can be even more difficult to do so when people are trying to sabotage your efforts, perhaps unknowingly. The best way to get support is to tell someone—anyone—about your weight and fitness goals and ask for their support. If you feel too uncomfortable to share those details with someone you know, the SparkPeople community is great for that. You can connect with people who have similar goals and get tips, motivation and your own personal cheerleading squad. Be sure to check out our brides-to-be SparkTeams as well because these women know exactly what you're going through.
7. Limit alcohol. It lowers inhibitions, making it more likely that you'll forget about your nutrition plan and overindulge. Plus, alcohol alone is pretty high in calories. If you can relax and de-stress without drinking at all, you'll be better off. If you must drink, nurse your glass slowly, choose diet-friendly drinks, and limit the number of servings. Oh and yes, alcohol does contain calories, so add every drink to your Nutrition Tracker.
8. Pick healthy venues for pre-wedding festivities. There will be showers, parties, and outings galore as your wedding gets closer. If you have any say in how these happen, pick a healthful restaurant where you know you can get a good, nutritious meal without going overboard. Need help? Refer to our Dining Out Guide for the healthiest choices at just about any chain restaurant. Focus on your friends and family while you're there, enjoying the good conversation and activities instead of hovering around the appetizers. Create lasting memories that don't revolve around eating, and you won't feel like you're missing out. <pagebreak>
9. Catch your zzz's. Your mind and calendar may be full of to-dos, but is "plenty of sleep" on your agenda each day? It should be. Too little shuteye can hinder your weight-loss efforts, increasing cravings and leading to poor choices. Staying organized will help, but do you best to stick to a consistent sleep schedule, aiming for at least 7-8 hour hours per night—including weekends.
10. Don't make mountains out of molehills. It's easy to go over your calories one day and feel like a failure. But remember that it takes much more than one day of overeating to thwart your progress. Accept your slip-ups, learn from them and move on. Here are 25 ways to get back on track today.
11. Steer clear of fads. When someone is desperate to lose weight quickly, she'll usually turn to some questionable measures. Be on the lookout for fad diets and don't fall for fitness gimmicks either. How do you spot them? By their too-good-to-be-true claims. Fad diets don't work and their results are fleeting. Rather than risk an approach like that, stick with simple, healthy habits that you know make a difference, like the items on this list.
12. Maintain an active lifestyle. Remember that "running" errands as you plan your wedding isn't the same as actually running—or exercising for that matter. Don't confuse busyness with fitness. The more physical activity you can add to your days (in addition to planned fitness) the better off you'll be. Try short workouts and find simple ways to turn downtime into active time.
13. Keep an emergency snack on hand. Stashing some healthy and portable foods in your car, purse, and desk drawer can help satisfy your cravings and prevent you from going overboard on all the wrong foods. This is a good idea when you're hungry at work and cookies sound tempting, or when you're out all day and see the glowing fast food signs beckoning you.
14. Don't let yourself get to hungry. Between smart snacking and balanced meals, keeping your body properly fueled can help you keep hunger at bay. Eating too little, on the other hand, creates monstrous cravings that are too hard to ignore. When you let yourself become ravenous, you'll grab anything, and usually a lot of it, to quell your discomfort. Keep hunger at bay with proper planning. Bring snacks with you. Keep healthy options on hand. And never go more than 4 hours without eating.
15. Manage stress. What future bride isn't worried about the details, the planning, and even fit of her dress? Life doesn't stop just because you're planning a wedding, and all that stress can do a number on your mental health—and your waistline. It's no secret that chronic stress can contribute to weight issues, especially if you're prone to emotional eating. Make sure a little R&R makes it into your day, even if it's as simple as a 1-minute breathing exercise or an extra couple of minutes in a hot shower. Of course, exercise is a great way to relieve stress and help you reach your goal weight.
16. Drink your water. Recent studies found that when people drink more water throughout the day, they end up eating fewer total calories. Another new study found that drinking water before each meal resulted in greater weight loss. Water and water-rich foods can help fill you up longer. Keep a cup of water in hand at parties, sip water between bites, and meet your daily quota to help prevent overeating.
17. Wake up with exercise. People who exercise first thing in the morning are more likely to exercise regularly than those who exercise later in the day. Even if you're not a morning exerciser yet, a.m. workouts might be the best way to squeeze fitness into your days before other things come up. Plus, when you exercise first, you're less likely to overindulge with food later.
18. Slow down. Savor your food and the experience of eating. You'll eat less, feel more satisfied, and recognize feelings of hunger before it's too late.
19. Keep your eye on the prize. Before you take a bite or hit snooze instead of hitting the gym, remember your goals. It's going to take work to reach your goals, and it won't always be easy. Before you act, ask yourself, "Will this help me achieve my goal by my wedding day?" If not, make another decision. And remember that YOU are in control of your life and your choices.
20. Use SparkPeople. When it comes to weight loss, we know what works—and we offer all the tools, resources, tips, menus, trackers and support you need to take off the weight by the big day. Explore all that our site has to offer for daily motivation and real-world solutions. Don't worry: It's free, so you can save your money for the honeymoon! If you haven't yet, sign up for your 100% free account today!
Here's to staying fit, looking great, and reaching your wedding weight-loss goals!