The bridal workout: smart get fit tips for your big day

Ready to reach your wedding fitness goals? Personal trainer Sue Fleming will have you looking fabulous at the finish line with these simple diet and exercise strategies.

Kayla Snell | Stocksy United

You picked a date, you bought a dress and now you want to get in shape for the big day—a worthy goal, and one that you have an excellent chance of achieving! “Brides are the most motivated clients I see. There is a date on the calendar that can’t be changed, and they know the wedding day picture will stay on the mantle forever. Embrace that!” says Sue Fleming, personal trainer and author of Buff Brides: The Complete Guide to Getting in Shape and Looking Great for Your Wedding Day. Just keep her nine fitness secrets in mind so you can achieve maximum results.

Don’t rush into things

You’ll need to start six to nine months ahead of time in order to lose weight properly, and you should really only expect to be able to lose about one pound a week. This is a realistic and appropriate goal. “When you lose weight at a sensible, slow rate—those are the pounds that stay off,” says Fleming. The procrastinator bride can still get a lot done safely in three months, though. To be avoided, however, is anything on a faster time clock (crash dieting or suddenly running every day), as you can’t expect your body to fare well under any extreme weight loss routines. Of course, Fleming always advises checking with your doctor before starting a fitness or weight loss plan.

Exercise alone won’t cut it

People used to think that if you went for a run it meant you could happily eat anything you wanted afterwards. (If only!) Now we know that nutrition and exercise need to go hand in hand. “If you are interested in weight loss, a large part of reaching that goal is monitoring your food intake,” says Fleming. Although exercise does make you healthier and more toned, it probably won’t help you to lose many pounds. Changing what you eat is now considered to be the more direct route to weight loss success.

Don’t like it? Don’t do it

There is no sense in forcing yourself to exercise in ways (or at times) that make you cranky. If you hate running, for example, don’t run. Pick something you DO like, such as swimming or walking or dancing, and you’ll find you’ll stick with it a lot better. And if you find you’re getting bored with your favorite (an exercise buzz kill) change things up by trying new exercises. “You won’t dread working out if you mix it up,” says Fleming.

The same goes for the timing of your workouts. If you are not a morning person, go after work. But be honest with yourself, too: if you never leave work on time or find yourself too tired at the end of the day, try to exercise in the morning instead. And if you can’t seem to find one big empty time slot for exercise? “Breaking it up with three or four 10-minute workouts a day is also fine,” says Fleming, who also advises that brides take the stairs, or park the car far way from stores when running errands so they have to take more steps on every task. You can also use a stability ball at work or a stand up desk. “Putting little things into your every day life can go a long way toward helping you reach your fitness goals,” she says.

Trick your body

Interval training, which involves changing the speed and intensity of your workouts, helps to make sure that your body doesn’t get too used to doing any one motion. If it does, your body will become more efficient and you will have to work harder and harder to get results. “The scale will move faster for you if you incorporate different things and strengthen different muscle groups in the body,” says Fleming. Because interval training takes discipline, you may be most successful when supervised by a personal trainer who knows your capabilities.

Dump the buddy sometimes

Although there is a lot to be said for working out with a friend—it does help motivate you to go to the gym when you have to meet someone there—there is also a lot to be said for working out alone. “You don’t have to compete, catch up with someone, or converse,” says Fleming, and that freedom can feel good. Especially with wedding planning underway, and lots of other people’s issues and needs to contend with, it can be nice to have your workouts be your alone time. Running, or swimming are especially good sports for this, leaving you with nothing else but your own thoughts. That can be very relaxing mentally.

Keep eating

Although dieting means reduced caloric intake, be sure that the diet you follow is a sensible, not severe, one. Not eating properly or skipping meals will only leave you fatigued, burnt out and likely to give up on your goals. Although it may seem like a fast and easy solution to severely restrict calories and diet yourself into oblivion, this draconian plan almost always backfires.

Look beyond the wedding day

Fleming cautions against seeing that one day as the only goal. “This should be a lifetime goal so that the weight stays off after the wedding is over.” You are not just preparing your body for a wedding dress, she reminds brides. Newlyweds often head into pregnancy shortly after marrying and need their bodies to be in good shape for that as well, for better postpartum recovery, and less chance of depression.

Look the part

Dressing well for the sport you are doing can be half the battle. If you are a runner, you want to make sure your sneakers are keeping pace. Keep track of the miles they have logged to make sure they aren’t worn out. Choose a good sports bra that offers the right amount of support. Find clothes that breathe and that are comfortable. “Bad clothing makes you feel bad about yourself,” says Fleming and “then you won’t work out. It’s all about excuses … and making sure you don’t have any!”

Do some light exercise on the day of the wedding

“It eases jitters to exercise and provides stress relief,” says Fleming—and there may be no time when this is more important than the day of the wedding. Before the hair and the makeup and the fuss begins, take some time to yourself first thing in the morning to go for a walk or a swim or arrange for a stretching class for you and your maids. Everyone will feel better for it.

This is a fun time in your life. Enjoy it! And as you set a plan for yourself to lose weight and get in better shape for the wedding day, remember, says Fleming: “This is one thing you actually have control over—unlike the weather!”

Antonia van der Meer
Antonia van der Meer
Antonia van der Meer is a magazine writer and the author of "Beach House Happy: The Joy of Living by the Water."

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