Nearly every bride has experienced it: that sinking feeling as you look at the calendar and realise you don’t have quite as much time as you thought to get your fitness levels up — or your waist measurements down — before the big day. If this scenario is ringing uncomfortably true, fear not, because help is at hand.
No matter how short a timeframe you’ve left yourself, there are most certainly steps you can take to tone up, increase your fitness, and potentially shed any extra kilos that you’d rather didn’t accompany you down the aisle. We asked Jarrod Egan, co-founder of KettleFit gyms (kettlefit.com.au), and Aly Clarke, marketing manager for Body Mind Life yoga studios (bodymindlife.com), for their expert advice on how to get in shape when time isn’t on your side.
‘Functional training is a must, and this means incorporating a large variety of exercises that use the whole body in movements which mimic everyday life activities,’ Jarrod advises. ‘For example, lunges, squats, rotations, counter rotations, hinges, pushing, pulling, carrying. This will help you obtain an athletic, hourglass figure and will give you a nice butt and legs, tight abs and lean, strong arms.’
Meanwhile, it’s important to stay on top of your stress levels. Heightened anxiety can increase the amount of cortisol (a stress hormone) that your body will release — which is correlated with weight gain around the middle. ‘In the lead-up to the wedding, a flowing vinyasa practice will help you to stay calm, present and focused, aid digestion and circulation, and tone and sculpt your body,’ explains Aly.
3 Months to Go
With roughly 12 weeks up your sleeve, you have the potential to make significant changes to your personal fitness levels, even if you’re starting from scratch.
Whatever your jumping-off point, it’s time to get your body moving with training sessions three to four times per week. These don’t have to be mammoth, life-defining events — 45-50 minute sessions should do it. ‘Make sure your workouts have a good mix of strength and cardio and core in every session,’ says Jarrod. ‘If possible, do both simultaneously using equipment such as kettlebells and other free weights that allow your body to move quickly with load.’ Just don’t think that your days off should only consist of lying on the sofa.
‘Try walking or riding on your off days for up to half an hour, or even ride to work if possible,’ Jarrod suggests. ‘This will add extra cardio and will help you burn calories as you recover from your training. Even 1-2 of these per week will help. You want to stay active every day.’
If weight loss is one of your goals, now is the time to get on top of your eating habits. ‘Speak to a dietitian or nutritionist about getting a tailored eating plan to suit your lifestyle and dietary needs,’ says Jarrod. ‘Try to eat a balanced diet that is high in protein and vegetables, and low in carbs, with a moderate amount of good fats such as nut and avocado oils. Make it a simple, easy-to-follow diet that you can stick to. Most importantly, be consistent in both your diet and your training habits.’
1 Month to Go
Ok, we’ll be honest: now you’re on a time-crunch. But there is still plenty you can do to get your mind and body in shape ahead of the wedding. And, if you think about it, the fact that you only have a few weeks to go is pretty exciting – not to mention a great motivator!
‘Start doing some high-intensity strength training or interval workouts,’ says Jarrod. ‘Do two or three in the first week, and then add one more session each week as you feel comfortable. Try doing it every second day to start with, and building up from there.’ The other benefit to having just one month’s grace is that you can go hard out on your training without fear of injury through overwork. ‘Frequent, high-intensity workouts aren’t sustainable for a long period of time, but if you’re in a fixed period like a month, they’re perfect,’ Jarrod explains. ‘Just go for it and ramp it up. Don’t spend too much time on heavy strength training — just do one session a week. The other sessions, focus more on speed.’
Cut any foods from your diet that aren’t going to contribute positively to your physical health. You can do it — it’s only one month. ‘Stop bingeing on things like lollies and chocolate,’ says Jarrod. ‘Go cold turkey, even though it might feel really, really difficult. You’ll also find that you’re really hungry after you finish a hard workout, which is when protein shakes are good. Not a meal replacement, but a
drink that is 80 or 90% protein. It’ll fill you up and won’t have any calories.’
2 Weeks to Go
This is the point in your pre-wedding schedule where, if you’ve done nothing about your fitness up until now, you may seriously question whether there’s any use starting. Believe us, there is!
‘First, look at your diet,’ advises Jarrod. ‘They’re extreme, but juice cleanses always work well. A hardcore clean-eating program of fresh vegetables, lean meat and minimal carbs will enable you to strip some of the excess bulk you may be carrying in a very short time.’
Once you’ve assessed your food intake, get active. ‘Get some training in!’ Jarrod says. ‘Do lots of cardio and try and do something every single day. You are at risk of injury if you do too much high-intensity strength training, so balance it out with gentler activities.’
Even a walk or jog around the neighbourhood will help — not only with your overall fitness, but also with some of the pre-wedding stress that typically picks up around this time. ‘Focus on low-intensity activities like walking and running,’ says Jarrod. ‘Do things that you’re already used to, and add in a little bit of the harder stuff, because with high-intensity training you’re burning calories for hours afterwards.’ And don’t forget to stay hydrated to minimise the likelihood of fluid retention.
The Day Before
Let’s face it, if you’ve done absolutely no exercise in the lead-up to your wedding now is not the time to start. ‘I would avoid high-impact exercise that stresses the body and anything that might cause a break-out,’ says Aly. ‘Imagine limping down the aisle with a pulled hamstring and a giant spot on your nose!’ Instead, try a gentle yoga session to clear your mind and relax those muscles which may have grown a little tense as you pull together the final details of the day. ‘Moving through a gentle vinyasa or Yin yoga practice the day before your wedding will give you an opportunity to be right in the moment, focusing simply on the softness of your breath, the sensations in your body and love you’re diving into with your heart wide open,’ Aly explains. Not to mention the other significant benefits to getting your downward dog on. ‘Yoga increases blood flow, pumping nourishing oxygen to your cells so your skin will glow. It also sends more blood to the reproductive organs,’ Aly explains. ‘Happy honeymoon!’