Most people invited to a wedding look forward to drinking, dancing and eating cake. For the bride and groom, however, the impending marriage ceremony and party means trimming, tightening and toning up for the big day.
Michelle McCormick, personal trainer at Life Time-The Healthy Way of Life Company, says starting a fitness program together can help brides and grooms handle the pressure of the wedding, gives them a chance to work as a team and sets the framework for a healthy lifestyle they can maintain throughout their marriage.
"When I work with brides and/or grooms, I tell them it's usually best to start thinking about their health and fitness goals about three months before the wedding day to allow plenty of time to set goals, establish a regular routine and adjust to a healthier diet," she says. "Crash diets or extreme exercise programs are not something I ever recommend, given the risks for injury or illness before the big day."
McCormick suggests a three-month plan broken up into four-week increments:
Weeks one to four — Focus on nutrition and exercise education and creating new and healthy habits.
Nutrition is key when trying to lose weight, decrease body fat or improve your overall health. "Eighty percent of your success will be from your healthy food choices," McCor-mick says. Lay out a nutrition plan that con-sists of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats, with each meal containing between 300 and 600 calories.
Carbs should consist mostly of fruits, vegetables and complex carbs such as lima beans, squash, sweet potatoes and black-eyed peas. Avoid simple carbs made with refined sugars such as candy, fruit juice, soft drinks and convenience foods.
Proteins should be lean and free of hormones and antibiotics whenever possible. Try chicken, almonds, turkey, fish, flank steak or tofu. A good protein powder also can be used to supplement your diet.
Make sure to include monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats, known as "good fats" in your diet. These fats help increase your "good" cholesterol while lowering your "bad" cholesterol and boosting your immune system. Incorporate olive oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil, avocados, soybean oil or flaxseed oil to your recipes.
Also begin a fitness program that incorporates weight training and cardio intervals. Start with two or three days of weight training, two or three days of cardio and one day of Pilates or yoga.
Weeks five to eight — During this interval, couples should create momentum and focus on switching up exercise and cardio routines. Adding sessions with a personal trainer or attending group fitness classes one or two days every other week are good ways to change up your routine. Continue with a healthy nutrition program.
Exercise should include one to two weight training exercises per body part once or twice a week. Try to continually switch up the amount of weight being lifted and the number of repetitions to help stimulate change in your body. Continue this routine two to three days per week and add in another day of Pilates or yoga. Focus on having three to five meals throughout the day.
Weeks nine to 12 — In the final weeks before the wedding, it is important to continue the fitness and nutrition routines you have developed over the last few months, but the new focus should be on rest and relaxation, since stress can increase as the big day approaches. Try taking a yoga class in the evenings so you will sleep better at night and use a sauna for 10 minutes at least three days a week. Eating well and exercising are still important, but concentrate on sleeping, stretching and resting.
Exercise should consist of cardio coaching three to four days per week, weight training two to three days per week and yoga or Pilates one to two times a week.
At the end of four weeks, brides and grooms will feel great and be ready to face the world as a family — and one that maintains the new healthy routine through time.