It’s official: sometime in the next twelve months, all eyes will be on you as you walk down that aisle and stand on stage, clad in diamonds and chiffon and hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars of (tight-fitting) satin and tulle. And then, of course, the wedding night and all those days of bikinis and evening gowns on the honeymoon.
The wedding day, both an event and a celebration of new life with your love, can be the motivation you’ve been waiting for to finally head to the gym, get to a healthy weight, and look and feel your best. But it can also take you a little too far, and statistics today show more women than ever are taking drastic measures to fit into that dress. On the rise: celebrity cleanses, feeding tubes, surgery, prescriptions, and starvation diets.
Instead of channeling so much energy and money into short-term fixes that place intense strain on your health and body, try these five tips to use your wedding day as motivation to form healthy, lifelong habits.
Relax. I know, I know, the venue just called with news that you’ve been double-booked, the invitations arrived with the wrong design, and your five aunts have produced more family drama than you ever thought possible. During wedding planning, it is actually possibly to forget basic word definitions (Relaxing? What is that?), but forgetting could be the one thing keeping you from your weight goals. Recent studies have linked stress directly with an increase in abdominal fat. Stressing over wedding day weight will hurt, not help. Drink a cup of tea and take some deep breaths, read a good novel, try a yoga class (most studios offer the first class free), or spend some time doing anything else that gets your mind off wedding plan woes.
Be Mindful. Keep a little perspective. Your fiancé already proposed, didn’t he? This is definitely a sign that he already loves you and finds you attractive. Your body is more than just a shape: when negative self-talk creeps in, focus on the functional miracles your body does every day (moving, breathing, digesting) and practice a bit of gratitude. Be kind to yourself.
Make Flexible Goals. Try to make goal that set you up to succeed, not fail. For example, instead of pledging to run three miles a day, five days a week, start out by simply aiming to do something active every day, even if it is small. Be flexible and keep your exercise plan fun and attainable, such as joining a group exercise class, trying Zumba, going for a bike ride, or swimming. Walking is one of the best things you can do for health heart, joints, and weight—try going for a short walk before lunch or dinner to kickstart your metabolism. If you’re going for numbers, keep in mind that a realistic weight loss goal is one pound per week.
Involve Your Fiancé. Find something that you both enjoy doing (evening walks, hiking in a nearby park, taking tennis lessons together) or that you can encourage each other to keep up with (open a gym membership and go together to keep each other accountable, or train for a 5k). Exercising together can be more fun than exercising alone, and can also build a deeper bond as you encourage and motivate each other.
Boost Your Diet in Simple Ways. Eat for beauty: fresh fruits, vegetables, and plenty of clean water transform your skin and body from the inside out. Exercise plans are much more effective when paired with healthier meals. In addition to providing fiber, which feeds healthy bacteria in your gut and encourages weight loss and healthy digestion, fruits and veggies provide important nutrients and antioxidants that make you feel and look your best. Go for bright and varied colors to get the widest range of nutrients, and try trading out processed and packaged snack foods for whole fruits. Think long-term, too: eating fresh foods decreases your risk of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases, increasing your chances of a long and healthy life with your partner and family.
So before you print off that ready-made marathon training plan and vow to eat nothing but carrots for the next three months, remember that your best results will always be from bettered lifestyle habits. Take control of your personal health and fitness by doing things you enjoy, practicing gratitude, making goals that allow for flexibility, partnering with your lover to motivate yourself, and changing your diet in simple ways to nourish your body and mind.