Congratulations! You are engaged! There is a sudden new whirlwind of activity and a huge to-do list. The obvious ones are already on your list: book a hall, get a dress and make an invite list. How about getting in shape? Is that on your list? For many, it is one of the first things to go on the to-do list. As a personal trainer, I often get calls from brides of: “I just got engaged and need your help”. For some, this is not even on the priority list, and for many, this becomes an idea or an inspiration very close to the wedding, without enough time to accomplish it.
Here are my top 10 tips on how to get in shape the right way for the big day.
1. DON’T WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE: Start as soon as possible so that you have enough time to make a real change. A healthy rate of weight loss is about 2 pounds a week (more than that may mean that you are “crashing” which can come back in full force later), so figure out how many pounds you want to lose and how many weeks you have and work accordingly. Do not assume you will lose weight every single week. There will be weeks when you have a standstill or holiday/other occasions.
2. HIRE A PROFESSIONAL, OR A TEAM OF PROFESSIONALS: Yes, very few self-motivated and determined people can do this on their own, but the average person needs some help. A professional can include a nutritionist, a personal trainer, and even a life coach to help you integrate these changes into your life long-term. Sticking to a set appointment with someone, having accountability, and professional and objective guidance is extremely helpful.
3. DEFINE “IN SHAPE”: The term “in shape” means different things to different people. Are you looking to lose a few pounds? Tone up? Look better in the dress? Be able to dance without losing your breath? All of the above? Define what it is that you want to do so that you can tell the professionals you are working with, as well as have a clear goal(s) for yourself.
4. BE REALISTIC WITH YOUR GOALS: After defining what “in shape” means to you and what your goals are, take stock of how realistic and attainable they are. If your wedding is in 3 months, you are not going to lose 100 pounds, run a triathlon, and become a vegan. Even if you had no wedding to plan and a million other things to do, this would probably not be possible. Consult with an objective professional about your goals and what you hope to attain, and work together to reach realistic goals.
5. NEVER CRASH DIET OR GO ON AN EXTREME WORKOUT REGIMEN: Many brides (and even some grooms) feel tempted to do something extreme to knock the weight off very quickly. This can be anything from starving, juicing, exercising to an extreme, or eliminating necessary food groups. This is never a good idea for a few reasons. Firstly, it is not sustainable for a long period, so chances are, you will quickly feel deprived or too weak and give it up. Second, crash dieting puts your body into starvation mode which means your body will start holding on to whatever little food you do give it in a desperate attempt to store what it has in case no more is coming. Additionally, when you do go back to regular eating (which you inevitably will), your body will be unprepared to properly metabolize the food, causing weight gain, a slower metabolism, or a new pattern of losing weight, very, very slowly.
6. DON’T TAKE IN THE DRESS… YET: I think many seamstresses secretly hate us trainers and nutritionists because, with hard work, the bride constantly needs to adjust to make the dress smaller. My advice is to wait until as late as possible to make those adjustments. This is especially applicable if you are dieting and exercising, as you will be losing pounds from dieting but also inches from exercise.
7. KEEP IT SIMPLE – YOU ARE TOO BUSY FOR COMPLEX: Anyone who knows me and my approach knows that I hate complicated, always. Not just when I work with stressed-out brides or busy moms or overwhelmed executives. If it’s not simple, I don’t like it, because people don’t do complicated forever, people do simple. This applies to diet and exercise. Stay away from complicated classes where you either need to travel far, be super coordinated because the choreography is so complex, or buy fancy equipment you cannot pronounce and will never use or look at again. In terms of diet, avoid calorie counting, fancy unpronounceable grocery items, or having to follow complicated manuals and books. Stick to easy, clear, doable, and pronounceable, and you will be more likely to succeed.
8. CONSULT WITH YOUR KALLAH TEACHER BEFORE STARTING ANY RIGOROUS EXERCISE PROGRAM: If you are not used to exercising, the workout may interfere with your cycle. Consult with your kallah teacher, and do not engage in vigorous workouts.
9. KEEP THE RIGHT PERSPECTIVE: You made a great choice to get in shape and you will love the results, but remember that this is only a small part of getting ready for your wedding. Leave time for other things that matter, like spending time with the people you are soon going to see less, and of course, working on yourself on the inside so that you can be prepared to be a better spouse.
10. DO NOT GIVE IT ALL UP ONCE YOU ARE MARRIED: Just because the big day passes, does not mean your new healthy lifestyle should. After sheva brochos, as you settle into your new life, apply what you have adapted. Cook healthy meals, eat breakfast together and go for walks or to the gym. You now have a partner to help you continue the great journey you started.
Good luck and congratulations!