So you have found the person of your dreams and are looking to spend the rest of your lives together. Congratulations! Now the planning starts: finding a venue, hiring a band, sampling dozens of tasting menus and encouraging Grandma to begrudgingly cancel her Friday Bridge Club to attend your ceremony.
However, as much as we might not want to admit it, looking good on our wedding day is up there in most wedding goals – better than good, in fact, as this is your day to be the centre of attention. Nobody wants to do a Kate: marry the most eligible bachelor in the land only to be upstaged by your bridesmaid’s exquisite, gravity-defying posterior as you walk down the aisle.
Trying to lose weight for your wedding day is such a big concern among brides-to-be in particular that a whole industry has sprung up to help them shed unwanted extra weight before the big day. According to a study by the Atkins group, six months before the big day is the best time to start trying to slim down and the average weight loss comes in at just over five kilogrammes.
So how do you keep your expectations, diet and workout in check? We’re going to get some tips on nutrition and exercise from the experts. Men, pay attention as these can apply to you too!
Living in Malaysia, we all know that there is a cornucopia of tantalising food on offer, which often makes sticking to a healthy eating plan tricky. Taking up a fad diet can be tempting, but their popularity doesn’t guarantee efficiency as everyone’s body marches to a different tune. You might even find that only some aspects of them work for you.
National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) International Certified Personal Trainer, Ronald Sim, says that the NASM general nutritional guidelines for weight loss place a greater emphasis on small but more meals throughout the day as well as increased physical activity:
• Make small decreases in food and beverage calories, and increase physical activity.
• Distribute protein, carbohydrate and healthy fat throughout the day and at each meal.
• Consume less than 10 per cent of calories from saturated fat.
• Choose whole grains and fibre-rich fruits and vegetables over refined grains and simple sugars.
• Limit alcohol consumption.
• Schedule no fewer than four and as many as six meals a day. This helps to control hunger, minimise blood sugar fluctuations, and increase energy levels throughout the day.
• Avoid or minimise empty calories and highly processed foods, which contain many calories and do little to provide satiety (fullness). If you can’t resist the temptation, be sure to eat lesser calories in your next meal to balance up the gain.
• Drink plenty of water (minimum 9-13 cups per day).
• Weigh and measure food for at least one week in the beginning. This will make you more aware of caloric values and serving sizes, as well as decrease the likelihood of underestimating the calories in certain foods. Easiest way to start is using an app or website to estimate calories.
• Take sufficient multi-vitamins and minerals.
MAKING FITNESS A PRIORITY
While a good diet is certainly key to the weight loss journey, the best way to not only achieve great results but also transition into an overall healthier lifestyle is to pair good eating habits with exercise. Hitting the four cornerstones of cardiovascular exercise, eating healthily, strength training and working on your flexibility are usually required for any good training regime and will go a long way towards making sure that weight stays off once you have lost it.
“As Confucius says, ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’. For someone who doesn’t do regular exercise, the best way is to set a specific goal and start a weight loss programme you can commit to,” says Ronald. “Start with the most realistic duration you can commit to and increase it whenever you can, be it 20 or even 10 minutes a day.”
For the best results, you should push yourself to the limit during your workouts, even if you can’t sustain it for long. “To burn the highest amount of calories, you must perform the exercises until you are almost reaching the point of failure – for example, running on the treadmill at the highest speed you can sustain for 20 minutes,” he says.
If you have the spare cash, hiring a personal trainer is highly recommended even if it’s just for a few sessions as they can assess your fitness, teach you the proper techniques and tailor a programme specifically for your needs and goals. If your dress is backless or sleeveless, working on your glutes isn’t going to make your arms miraculously thinner! Don’t overdo it, however, as you can damage your metabolism or injure yourself if you’re not careful.
BEGINNER BUFF BRIDE(GROOMS)S
Work – and generally, a lack of time – is one of the most common excuses to put off working out, but Ronald points out that there are a variety of simple exercises that can be done anywhere such as standing to take calls, doing half-squats in your seat, walking wherever possible, taking the stairs and even moving a water bottle to shoulder level and back while standing on one leg. They might seem small, they will still make a difference.
“Desk jobs are killer for posture,” notes Yeoh Ee Ling (former dietician, now Education Manager at Fitness Innovations (M) Sdn Bhd). “You should practise static stretches and core activation. If you’re just starting out, you can try two days of cardiovascular training for 20-30 minutes at a steady state with moderate intensity, then change it up with two days of upper and lower body circuit training in a week.”
It's proven that staying committed to an exercise and diet plan is easier when you have a training buddy. If both you and your partner have the same goals to get a bit leaner, why not sign up together? It’s a nice way to bond and the achievement is so much better when you can celebrate with someone – plus, looking good together is always a bonus.
There are also hundreds of fun and innovative ways to burn calories; you don’t have to jog the same old route among the traffic of Mont Kiara week in, week out. If the machines look a little too intimidating for you, most gyms now also host high energy fitness classes like Zumba, Spinning, Pole and BodyPump, which are conducted by certified professionals in an exciting environment – and you’ll be able to work off the energy of the crowd around you for extra motivation.
Bottom line is, the clock is ticking and if you’re serious about losing weight, the time to get started is now or you never will! Even making small changes to your routine and diet at home can have a big cumulative impact on how you look six months down the line.
“Delaying your wedding body transformation will start you down the path of never-ending excuses. You can start your exercise routine and diet with something as simple as 10 minutes of jogging or brisk walking, plus reducing your calorie intake by 10 per cent from your previous count, to gain momentum. Then, you can improve your programme from time to time,” says Ronald.
Though your short-term goal might be to look good in your wedding suit, fight the temptation to quit and don’t stop your regime after the day is over. True fitness goes much further than simple aesthetics as you’ll have more energy and hopefully, live a happier life. Don’t just do it for the pictures – make it a commitment from the both of you as the first step towards a healthier life together.