The lead-up to a wedding is an exciting time (noted from a on-lookers perspective as opposed to personal experience), and over the years, we have helped quite a few brides to be , and grooms to be, into shape for the big day. How much time is required to look the part for the big day depends on what you want to achieve, and how committed you are going to be to the process, but starting 24 weeks out from the wedding is enough time to make a substantial improvement with the right system. You can starve yourself of food, energy, and vitality in the weeks leading up to your wedding (which is what most people try to do in my experience), or you can get stuck into a process that will not only having you looking and feeling great on the wedding day, but also set you up for a lifetime of health and wellbeing. In other words, you can use the run-up to your wedding as a spring-board to long term health. Double win!
So here are 5 steps you can take to get into shape for the big day and beyond;
1. Fix your food up.
There are some basic non-negotiable when it comes to food. For example, drink 2 litres of water per day, eat 3 meals per day, save your carbohydrate sources for after your training sessions, and avoid high sugar foods like your life depended on it. Another basic essential is to establish whether you are eating too much, or far too little food in comparison to your general energy expenditure on a day to day basis. Working out energy intake vs energy expenditure is way beyond this quick post, but its essential to make sure that you are not consistently taking on more than you are expending if you want to drop weight. You can learn how to use MyFitnessPal and track your energy intake with an estimation of the energy you are expending, tweak your portion sizes up or down to find the sweet spot, or get help from a coach that knows what they are doing. Overall your measurements should be trending downwards over the weeks. One of the best things you can do with your nutrition is build review your current eating routines (What do you have for breakfast? What time are your meals? What is your most damaging food habit? When do you fall off the wagon?), and build new routines that are easy to maintain, replace the negative ones, fit your daily patterns, and support your goals.
2. Regular strength training.
This is one of the absolute best ways to build muscle and burn fat, but beware, all strength training is not created equal. Your strength training should be done regularly (2-4 times per week), focus on quality movement, and improve your function as a human being. I do not recommend engaging in strength training (or any form of training for that matter) that has the sole purpose of burning energy. With the end outcome in the main position, it means that technique, the quality of the movement, and the process of progression and long term engagement plays second fiddle to simply working up a big sweat. Personally speaking, this type of training is very short sighted, un-inspiring, and a risky business when it comes to health and injury. When you start into strength training, it should be a process that develops as you get stronger and more mobile. You should be moving on to more complex variations of the exercises that you start with as you move through the process, as opposed to simply pushing an arbitrary weights machine with more weight loaded on it. Again when it comes to getting on the right road with strength training, seek out a coach that knows what they are talking about.
3. General Activity Levels.
Once you have sorted our your nutrition, got started into some meaningful and regular strength training, the next thing to look at are your general activity levels. Tweaking your portion sizes is one way to get the right energy balance so that you are loosing body-fat, and tweaking your levels of general physical activity upwards is another. In reality a combination of the both will work best. Track your daily step count with an app on your smartphone to estimate how many steps you take each day. Aim for an average of 8000 per day if you really want to get things moving. If you work at a desk, and find it particularly difficult to get the step count up, sneak steps into your day by taking the stairs, parking a bit farther away, walk to the next bus stop, do 10 minutes before work, at lunch, and after work etc. You will be surprised at how effective the frequent small doses can be.
4. Home Training.
If you want to go the extra mile having a go-to home workout to supplement your strength training is a great way to do that. I recommend that your home workout lasts about 20 minutes, and consists of bodyweight exercises that feed into the strength training program They can be movements like single leg squats, lunges, press ups, planks, and maybe some work on the home chin-up bar or gymnastic rings.
5. Wiggle Room.
If you are going about this the right way, i.e. giving yourself adequate time to achieve your goals, then allowing a bit of wiggle room to go off track, miss a home workout, or take a break for a coupe of days while you organise something important, is a crucial part of the puzzle. Going in gung-ho is great, but what's more important is sustaining your effort all the way to the big day as opposed to going flat-out for a few weeks then falling of the wagon. This is a tactic that I use every week myself. I try to save my treat-meal for Saturday afternoon, and that keeps me mostly on track during the week. Having your food, your routines, strength training, and general activity levels on-point (as well as allowing yourself adequate time to hit your goals) means that you can allow for this wiggle Room.
This is an example of what a typical week could look like if you were going the extra mile to get in-shape for your wedding;
Monday: 60 minutes of Strength training + 6000 daily steps
Tuesday: 20 minutes home workout + 10,000 steps
Wednesday: 60 minutes of Strength training + 6000 daily steps
Thursday: 20 minute home workout + 10,000 steps
Friday: Wednesday: 60 minutes of Strength training + 6000 daily steps
Saturday: 30 minute home workout or outdoor activity + 10,000 steps + treat meal
This article is by Ainle Ó Cairealláin MSc CSCS.