Congratulations on your engagement! Once you’re done celebrating the big news, it’s time to get started on planning the big day. After picking a date and choosing a venue, many women start to envision their wedding day style and what that means to them. For some women, that means growing out their hair or trying out a new make up style. According to a 2007 Cornell study, for nearly 70% of women, it means dropping at least 20 pounds before taking that walk down the aisle.
The wedding and fitness industries have jumped on that trend. Just look at the number of bridal boot camps, reality shows on women losing weight for their wedding, and books on fitness and dieting geared towards women getting married. Wedding fitness and weight loss has exploded over the last 20 or so years.
This has led to a great deal of pressure on women to drop a lot of weight before the big day, and unfortunately, many women aren’t being safe in how they do it. A 2008 study published in Appetite looked at pre-wedding loss in 272 women and found that nearly all of them were trying to lose weight, and many of them used at least one extreme tactic, including buying a dress in a much smaller size.
In recent years, researchers have noted a dramatic rise in extreme weight loss behavior, colloquially titled “brideorexia.” Eating disorder specialist and professor at NYU Medical Center, Dr. Ira M. Sacker, in an interview with Time Magazine expresses concern that up to 10% of women who use these extreme measures to get ready for their wedding day will actually develop a lasting eating disorder.
Please remember that pre-wedding weight loss isn’t necessary, especially if it’s not a priority for you. You will be gorgeous and glowing, no matter what size dress you wear. But if you feel that slimming down a little bit before your wedding will help you feel more confident on your big day, it’s important to think long-term and do it gradually. No crash diets, no extreme exercise plans, just sensible lifestyle changes to help you lose weight in a safe and healthy manner.
Making changes to your diet is essential to losing weight. No amount of cardio or exercise will do the trick if you are eating way more calories than you need. Simple adjustments can sometimes make a big difference.
Switch to water. Giving up soda, diet sodas and juices will eliminate a few hundred calories each day, depending on how much of the stuff you drink. Studies have shown that even diet sodas contribute to weight gain, despite the zero calorie count. If you’re struggling with making this change, switch to plain soda water and add a splash of lime or other juice. Be careful to measure how much juice you’re actually using though, as it can be easy to over pour. A couple of tablespoons should be sufficient to flavor the water with out adding many calories.
Change your coffee order. A frozen coffee drink from a leading coffee shop can be hundreds of calories. Instead, try unsweetened tea, or regular coffee with a little skim milk or sugar alternative.
Add in extra veggies. Vegetables are low in sugar and high in fiber. Plus, they are a great way to make your meals more filling without adding a lot of calories. Try adding in a handful of vegetables to eggs in the morning, have a salad before lunch or dinner, or try a veggie stir-fry for dinner.
Make some healthy swaps. There are some great and easy food swaps you can make to help minimize your fat, calorie and sugar counts. For example, switch out high fat dairy products for low-fat versions, or use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. If you have a craving for Mexican, make a taco salad using beans. Want a pizza? Put some sauce and low fat cheese on grilled eggplant rounds or a cauliflower crust instead of bread.
Watch your portions. It’s easy to pack on extra calories if you aren’t watching your portion sizes. For example, a typical portion of peanut butter is 2 tablespoons for 200 calories. However, it is easy to eat way more than 2 tablespoons in a sitting, which can quickly add up. Check the nutrition labels for exact information on the serving size and calories, sugar and fat grams in that serving.
Eat at home. Not eating out can cut a lot of calories. No matter how hard you try to make smart decisions, it’s very easy to underestimate how many calories are in the dishes you order. When you cook at home, you are in control of every ingredient that goes into your food. This can help you minimize calories and fat grams.
Get support. Finding a support system is so important! That may mean losing weight with a best friend or family member, joining a support group or following a safe and established weight loss program, such as Medifast.
Get rid of unhealthy snacks. Snacks are essential during the day. They help you feel not hungry and provide energy in between meals. Unfortunately though, most people aren’t snacking on carrot or celery sticks. If having a bag of potato chips or box of cookies is too tempting, get rid of them! Go ahead and clean out your pantry and fridge with a vengeance; throw out anything that doesn’t fit into your healthy eating plan.
Keep emergency snacks. After getting rid of the unhealthy snacks, find healthy ones that you like! Some ideas? Cut veggies and hummus, roasted chickpeas, celery and peanut butter, low fat cheese or low fat Greek yogurt. It can be helpful to find a shelf-stable snack, like a low-calorie protein bar, that you can keep in your purse or desk for when hunger or a craving hits. That way you’ll have something healthy to eat, rather than succumbing to the vending machine.
Fill up on protein. Low fat protein is the dieter’s dream. It helps you feel full and provides essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Focus on lean, nutrient-rich proteins, such as reduced-fat cheeses, yogurts, grilled chicken or nuts. Watch your portion sizes though; protein can sometimes be high in calories.
Track your food. Tracking what you eat can quickly help you identify trends in your eating habits, such as too many calories from snacks or junk food, or eating too much at night. Sometimes, even just being aware of what you are eating is enough to help you make healthier choices.
Limit alcohol. Alcohol is high in calories and sugar, and isn’t an essential part of your diet. Cutting out your daily glass of wine or beer at night can help eliminate a few hundred calories each day. In addition, drinking alcohol can make it more difficult to make healthy choices (think about that midnight slice of pizza!). If you choose to continue drinking, try alternating alcoholic drinks with water to cut back, or switch to lower calorie options, like red wine or a skinny cocktail.
Though cleaning up your diet is essential for weight loss, making an effort to stay active can also be helpful. You don’t need a crazy or intense workout regimen, but making some simple changes can go a long way.
Take a walk. Don’t underestimate the power of walking. Going for a 30-minute walk a few times a week can help you stay more active and burn more calories. Walking doesn’t need to be boring: bring music, explore a new neighborhood or go for a hike at your local park. Bringing a friend can also help make it more fun and you more likely to stick with it.
Park farther away. Instead of angling for the closest parking spot, park as far away as possible from the front door. This means that you’ll walk extra steps each day. Even better, skip driving as much as possible and walk whenever possible.
Play a sport. You don’t need a formal work out to burn calories. Find a sport or activity that you enjoy and join a class or a team. If you’re not into team sports like soccer or softball, there’s also martial arts or even dance. They can both be calorie-torchers and loads of fun.
Take a class. Not into the gym scene? Try a yoga, Zumba® or Pilates class instead. Find something that you find fun and motivational and that you’ll want to continue. It doesn’t need to be a high intensity bridal bootcamp class either, just something that encourages you to move and you find fun!
Make it fun. Buy the fancy workout clothes, find a podcast or music that you like, or find a friend to work out with. Do whatever you can do to get excited about working out and want to keep doing it.
More Weight Loss Tips
Weight loss sometimes isn’t just a matter of changing food and exercise habits. There are lots of other things that you can do to help you lose weight.
Sleep: Research has shown that not getting enough sleep is associated with hormonal changes that can lead to weight gain and obesity. So go ahead; take that nap! In addition to helping you function better, you’ll feel better and may find it a little easier to lose weight.
Find your motivation: Staying motivated is essential for weight loss, especially in the face of temptation or difficult times. Hang up motivational sayings or pictures of what will keep you going, whether that’s a picture of your dress or honeymoon location. Keep reminding yourself why you’re trying to lose weight and it will be easier to say no to that cookie or bag of chips.
Start as soon as possible: If weight loss is important to you, start as soon as you are engaged, or at least after the cake at your engagement party. Giving yourself ample time takes some of the stress out of the process. Waiting until the last minute makes it more likely that you’ll turn to more extreme measures in an effort to drop the weight quickly.
Find ways to manage stress: Planning a wedding can be stressful! Add that to work stress and life stress and it’s easy to see why many bride-to-be’s report feeling very stressed out. Being under a lot of stress can make it difficult to make healthy food choices or be more active. In addition, the hormones associated with high stress can actually make it more difficult to lose weight as well.
Set appropriate goals: Be realistic in your weight loss goals. Pick a weight that is within the healthy range for your height and body structure, and is reasonable for you to achieve. You’ll want to aim for a BMI (Body Mass Index) of between 18.5-24.9.
Put it on your to-do list. It can be difficult to build in new habits. Use your to-do list to your advantage. Put in an entry for your activity, or even a reminder to track your food until it becomes like second nature.
If you have any questions about your weight loss plans or goals, make sure to see your doctor. This is especially true if you have any medical problems that can be affected by your change in diet or exercise.
Despite the current trend, wedding weight loss isn’t mandatory for all brides. But if you decide that you want to lose a little weight before your wedding, it’s important to start early, plan ahead and do it safely. Making healthy modifications to your diet and boosting your activity level aren’t the only changes you should make. Finding ways to improve your overall health will go a long way in helping you lose weight, be healthy and find your bridal glow!
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About the Author:
The team at Medifast California
The team at Medifast California is committed to practicing what they preach. Experts in nutrition, health, counseling and exercise, they have the experience and tools to offer the support you need when you need it!