(BPT) - Summer is often synonymous with wedding season. For most of us, wedding season means looking forward to drinking, dancing and cake. But for the bride (and groom), it means tightening, toning and trimming to get in shape before the big day.
Michelle McCormick, personal trainer at Life Time - The Healthy Way of Life Company knows the pressure brides and grooms often feel. She understands that all eyes are on the couple from the moment they walk down the aisle until the last dance of the night.
'When I work with brides and/or grooms-to-be, I tell them it's usually best to start thinking about their health and fitness goals about three months before the wedding day to allow plenty of time to set goals, establish a regular routine and adjust to a healthier diet,' says McCormick. 'Crash diets or extreme exercise programs are not something I ever recommend given the risks for injury or illness before the big day.'
McCormick, who believes that shedding for the wedding is a great opportunity for the bride and groom to support each other, suggests a four-week plan broken up in increments.
Weeks one to four: Nutrition and exercise education
Focus on creating new and healthy habits. Nutrition is key when trying to lose weight, decrease body fat, or increase your overall health. Begin with a fitness program that incorporates weight training and cardio intervals. Start with two or three days of weight training, two or three days of cardio and one day of Pilates or Yoga. McCormick recommends couples lay out a nutrition plan that consists of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats with each meal between 300 and 600 calories.
Carbs should mostly consist of fruits, vegetables and complex carbs such as lima beans, squash, sweet potatoes and black eyed peas. Try to avoid simple carbs made with refined sugars such as candy, fruit juice, sodas and packaged foods.
Proteins should be lean and free of hormones and antibiotics whenever possible. Try chicken, almonds, turkey, fish, flank steak or even tofu. A good protein powder can also be used in the morning, throughout your day or after a workout to add protein to your diet.
Make sure to get monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats, known as 'good fats' into your diet. These fats help increase your good cholesterol while lowering your bad cholesterol and boosting your immune system. Incorporate olive oil, sunflower oil, coconut milk, avocados, soybean oil or flaxseed oil to your recipes for a healthier meal.
Weeks five to eight: Creating momentum for your wedding day
In this phase, McCormick suggests focusing on switching up exercise and cardiovascular routines. Working with a certified personal trainer might be a good step - or for those on a tight budget, group fitness classes are a great way to shake up a workout routine. Try personal training or group fitness one or two days every other week and continue with a healthy nutrition schedule.
'Remember, 80 percent of your success will be from your healthy food choices,' says McCormick.
Exercise should include one to two weight-training exercises per body part once or twice a week. Try to continually switch up the amount of weight and the number of repetitions to help stimulate change within your body. Continue this routine two to three days per week and add in another day of Pilates or Yoga. Focus on having three to five meals throughout the day.
Weeks nine to 12: Sleep, relax, and enjoy
In the final weeks before the wedding, it is important to continue the fitness and nutrition routines you have developed over the last few months. However, a new focus on rest and relaxation is key as the big day approaches and life can start to feel a bit stressful. Try taking a Yoga class in the evenings to help you sleep better at night and use a sauna for 10 minutes at least three days a week. Remember, you can eat well and exercise perfectly but without sleep, stretching and resting, your adrenals have a higher chance of not functioning efficiently.
Exercise should consist of cardio coaching three to four days per week, weight training two to three days per week and Yoga or Pilates one to two days per week.
At the end of four weeks, brides and grooms will feel great and be ready to face the world as a married couple. 'I get such joy seeing the progress brides and grooms-to-be make as they prepare for their big day and to live a healthy way of life forever,' says McCormick.