The Food-Focused Bride: Getting in Wedding Shape and Eating Right

By: Cameron Curtis

Massaged Kale Salad: Aarti Sequeira

Photo by: Tara Donne ©Tara Donne

Tara Donne, Tara Donne

While I'm usually a healthy and active person, the thought of walking down a long aisle in front of more than a hundred people has prompted me to kick up my workout routine and focus more on eating healthy. Since I got engaged eight months ago, I've been going to the gym a few times a week, cutting back on takeout and even making big batches of kale salad on Sunday nights to eat for lunch during the week. But I still have a ton of questions about looking good for the big day, so I reached out to Dana White, a nutrition consultant, registered dietitian and certified athletic trainer to ask her all of my calorie-burning questions.

Cameron Curtis: How can I slim down to look good in a dress without adding on too much muscle? I still want to look good in a strapless dress but not feel bulky. It seems like on the scale I weigh more, but I feel and look fitter.

Dana White: Ideally, you want to burn fat and build muscle to get that healthy and toned look. Basically, you are losing the right kind of weight (fat) and gaining the right kind of weight (muscle). For this reason, the number on the scale might not move as much as you think it should … what’s most important is how you feel, not the number.

CC: When is the ideal time to start getting in shape and eating better for your wedding?
DW: Six months ahead of time is a perfect window. It gives you enough time to adopt an effective (and safe!) diet and exercise regimen. What’s the point of putting all that work in if you can’t maintain it?
CC: Potential disaster: My wedding is six weeks away, and I haven't done anything to slim down. What to do?

DW: Six weeks is still enough time to see results. Most experts will agree that 1 to 2 pounds a week is a safe pace to drop weight. So … six weeks can still allow for a 10-pound loss. Avoid crash diets or crazy diet pills - they just don’t work. Nobody wants you passing out as you walk down the aisle.

CC: My days are going to get busier and busier the closer I get to the wedding. How can I squeeze in time to work out and eat right with everything that's going on?

DW: Make your fitness plan a priority; you will feel better and bemore energized! Nothing will fall apart if you set aside 30 minutes a day for a workout - it may be abbreviated, but it’s better than nothing. As for eating right, avoid lots of take out and meals away from home when you can. Pack healthy snacks to tote along for busy days. Going all day without eating will lead to overdoing it at night.

CC: Is limiting calories enough? Do I really have to work out, as well?

DW: Working out is a must - especially if you want a toned look. But you have to be smart about it. You need to ease into it to avoid getting injured.

CC: My mom is worried that if I don't eat enough leading up to the wedding, I'll be sick on the day-of from over eating. Is that possible?

DW: Ha! Moms are always looking out for us. Well, it certainly could upset your stomach if you’ve avoided large meals and certain types of foods for months leading up to the wedding. Most brides will tell you that they are too busy to eat a lot during their big day, but … no matter what, it’s important to pace yourself. Make sure you eat, especially if you’re going to be drinking alcohol.

CC: I was raring to go to the gym right after my engagement and have been working out since then, but now I feel like I've plateaued. How can I stay motivated?

DW: It really helps to set realistic goals - you don’t need to go to the gym seven days a week. You are more likely to stick to a program if it’s manageable. To prevent boredom, try mixing things up … try a yoga or spin class or swim some laps. Grab a friend and go for a long walk. Cross-training is the best way to see full-body results.

CC: What should I cut out a few weeks before the wedding to avoid bloating?

DW: Don’t cut back on fluids - you need to stay hydrated, especially if you’re exercising. Watching your sodium intake may help - be extra careful with things like soy sauce (sushi?), canned soups, processed foods and cold cuts. Aim to keep your sodium intake between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams per day. You can also cut back on portions of starchy carbs to help cut some water weight. But this doesn't mean cut out carbs entirely! You need them for energy.

CC: With all of the tastings, celebrations and dinners out leading up to the wedding, what's the best way to avoid over-eating?

DW: The best way to avoid over-eating is to … eat, sensibly, that is. Don’t “save” your calories by not eating prior to these events. Eat a sensible breakfast, light snacks and meals leading up to these types of activities. Not eating all day, then heading to a party where there’s nothing but high-cal foods and booze will set the stage for overeating.

CC: I'd love for everyone to join me in my getting-fit routine. How can I encourage my bridesmaids to get in shape without offending anyone?

DW: I would suggest some subtle hints and leading by example. You will all be spending extra time together, so make the most of it … hit the gym together, or arrange for a group yoga class. Have a girls' night where you can all cook some healthy recipes. Hopefully your healthy habits will catch on.

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