If the last time you were stressing about fitting into a fancy dress was when you were 18 and had a “hot date” to the prom, we feel your pain, brides. But now that you’ll actually be sharing a first dance with the man of your dreams (instead of some pimply-faced teen), why not do things the right way when it comes to your wedding weight loss regimen? Because starving yourself and then binging on late night pizza and Doritos probably won’t cut it, here are 9 of the most common diet and fitness mistakes brides make AND how to avoid them.
1. Eliminating entire food groups Contrary to popular belief, turning into a rabbit won’t whittle your waistline in the long term. While many brides think the best way to lose weight is to only eat fruits and vegetables, in reality, cutting out entire food groups can make you moody, exhausted and more likely to binge, notes registered dietitian nutritionist Carlene Thomas, author of The Wedding Wellness Workbook. “Start the day with a protein packed breakfast of eggs with veggies or salmon on a hearty grain toast with avocado, or have a Greek yogurt parfait with fruit and nuts.”
2. Setting unrealistic weight loss goals Trust us, it only sets you up for disappointment. Instead, be kind to your body and focus on making S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound) goals, suggests fitness expert and founder of ECHO Interactive Training, Andrea Oh. And whatever you do, please don’t purchase a wedding dress that’s two sizes two small in hopes you’ll fit into it come your wedding day…er, #notsmart.
3. Depending on detoxes and cleanses to drop weight Surprise, surprise! Juice cleanses aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Sure, sticking to a liquid diet will help you drop pounds, however, most of that is due to the bowel emptying out and muscle being lost, cautions clinical nutritionist Ariane Hundt, founder of the Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp. “Hunger is also a regular occurrence, leading to low mood, energy and difficulty concentrating or performing.” Not to mention, you’re destined to gain that water weight right back, and then some, afterward! To get a fit figure without the hunger pains, Hundt advises adopting a balanced diet that includes five daily meals, each containing lean protein and lots of veggies.
4. Doing too much cardio Cardio Queens, step away from the treadmill now! According to Hundt, too much cardio can actually cause muscle loss and slow your metabolism down if it’s not balanced by strength training. “A lean and defined physique is the result of 80% clean eating and 20% effective exercise (i.e. a combination of strength training and cardio),” she says.
5. Hitting the gym too hard, too soon “Going hard and fast is admirable, motivating and exciting, but what happens to brides is, that in an effort to look the best they possibly can, they set the bar too high and ratchet up the frequency and intensity before the results are realized at their current level,” explains strength and conditioning coach and sports nutritionist, Brandon Mentore. The faster you adapt, the less your body will change and the harder you’ll have to keep working to see results. “Increase your efforts gradually, as if you were a professional athlete, and schedule your training properly so you don’t peak too early.”
6. Waiting until the last minute to shape up The stress of planning a wedding can be enough to derail even the most dedicated bride’s fitness and nutrition plans. Waiting until a few weeks prior to the big day to get fit is a bad idea though. “Many realize in the last minute they’re not quite where they thought they’d be and then they opt for crash-diets and insane workout schedules, which can lead to fatigue, muscle loss and even more stress,” warns Hundt. Her solution? “Plan your physical transformation as much as your wedding.”
7. Obsessing over being skinny Plus-sized certified fitness instructor, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick), thinks the number one health and fitness mistake brides make is focusing all their energy on looking completely different for the wedding photos, rather than learning to love the skin they’re in. “One of the best things I ever did for my marriage was learn to love the body I already had,” she says.
8. Thinking about the short term only Don’t want to pack on the pounds post wedding? “Then it’s important to have a short term goal AND long-term lifestyle plan that includes a healthy diet and regular exercise after you tie the knot,” stresses Oh. “Unfortunately, once brides get married and go on their honeymoon, many of them put on the weight they worked so hard to lose in the first place or additional pounds.”
9. Compulsively counting calories Not getting on the program soon enough leaves a lot of brides frantically counting calories and restricting to the point of starvation…not a good look! As Oh points out, “calorie restriction that occurs over an extended period of time results in a lack of essential vitamins and minerals, muscle wasting and a decreased metabolism. It’s best to stay within a safe range of calorie restriction (i.e., no more than a 25% decrease in calories consumed each day) and slowly reintroduce those calories once the wedding is over,” she advises.