This week our blog post is by our friend, Abby Stanley. She is going to give a few tips for getting healthy for your wedding day! Abby Stanley is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). She has a BA in psychology and is completing a Master’s of Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Kansas Medical Center. For more information and meal ideas follow her on Instagram @abbystanley121 or contact her via e-mail at [email protected]
Engagements bring feelings of excitement and visions of a happily ever after. However, sometimes the pressure of planning a wedding can create anxiety and stress. For most brides anxiety-producing thoughts come from pressure to look perfect for the big day. Here are some helpful tips to make sure you arrive at the altar healthy, happy, and with your sanity intact.
- Start making changes NOW!
The single most important piece of advice I can give soon-to-be brides is to avoid crash dieting. I have heard countless accounts from brides who go a on a strict crash diet to shed pounds for their wedding. Although they are successful, their story always ends back where they started. Studies have shown that once the wedding and honeymoon are over most women will regain the pounds they lost, and then some. To prevent this from happening to you, it is important to think of this as a lifestyle change; one that you will be able to maintain, “’til death do us part”.
The best way to avoid crash diets is to start making changes as soon as you “say yes”. You can’t move your wedding date because you didn’t lose that extra bit of weight or your arms aren’t quite as toned, as you’d like them to be. So throw away the “I’ll start tomorrow” excuses and begin making changes TODAY! (For readers who may not be engaged yet, it is never too early to start working towards being healthy).
- Fuel with whole foods
Research shows that making dietary changes has the biggest impact on weight loss. The truth is you can’t exercise off a bad diet. The good news is, there is one dietary switch you can make that will help you meet your goals. Although advice from the internet and social media may tell you otherwise, the solution is NOT restricting calories or signing up for the latest weight loss shake. These methods may produce short-term weight loss, but come day three of the honeymoon when you’re basking in the sun, 6 Mai Tais deep, waiting for your order of poolside nachos to be delivered, you may already be on the path to regaining weight.
The solution, to gradually lose weight and maintain the weight loss long term, is to focus on eating real, whole foods. Simply put, this means choosing foods that you can hold in your hand and easily identify. For example, you can easily identify an apple, fillet of salmon, pepper, avocado, almond, etc. The easiest way to switch to a whole foods diet is to buy foods that don’t have a nutrition label. If you go to the store and get a fresh avocado, it is unlikely that it has a nutrition label. For foods that do have labels the key is to look at the ingredient list. The ingredient list should be short and only state items that are from a whole food source. For example, the only ingredients in peanut butter should be peanuts, and possibly salt. By choosing whole foods and keeping ingredient lists short and pronounceable you will cut out a lot of unnecessary sugar, salt, chemicals and other food additives that may hinder weight loss.
- Keep stress in check
Planning a wedding can quickly turn into a daily stressor. Stress can be one of the greatest inhibitors to weight loss. Stress activates our body’s fight or flight response, which causes an increased release of the stress hormone, cortisol. Over time this can slow down metabolism, increase your body’s fat stores, and put a stop to your weight loss attempts. This is why it is important to remain relaxed during you wedding planning.
A great way to stay relaxed is to keep your focus on the true reason for the big day. Guests will not know if you had to change your flowers two months out because the hydrangeas weren’t available or remember if the flower girl threw a hissy fit before walking down the aisle. Put the event in to perspective. As long as, on your wedding day your loved ones surround you both, the day will be perfect. It may be beneficial to adopt a stress relieving practice during this time period. This could be attending a yoga class, morning meditation and coffee, quiet evening walks, or just generally taking 20 minutes each day for you (bubble bath anyone?). Also, don’t be afraid to delegate. Friends and family are usually more than happy to help with anything they can. Just remember to politely ask for help, and not demand it.
- Make sure to move
Although diet may be the biggest contributor to weight loss, physical activity can provide an added boost. My advice is to be active, but don’t overdo it. Again, you want this to be a lifestyle change that you can maintain years from now. Going to the gym for 3 hours to sweat it out on a treadmill may produce fast results, but you are not going to be able to keep it up post-honeymoon and beyond. Also, too much exercise can cause stress on the body (see #3 for why that is an issue).
Simply being more active throughout the day can produce results. The energy expended from everything we do that is not related to sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise is called non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Studies have shown increasing NEAT may be important to weight loss and maintenance. One of the easiest ways to do this is to create a standing desk at work or at home. Stack books or old shoeboxes on top of your desk until they reach a height at which you can comfortably work.
If you decide to add intentional exercise it is smart to join an exercise class or possibly hire a personal trainer. This will allow guidance in your regimen and ensure you are getting the most benefit from your time. Just remember, whatever route you take, make sure that the routine is something you can maintain once the big day is over and real life sets in.
- Recruit an accountability partner
Being held accountable for our progress can determine whether we are successful or not. Find someone you trust and ask them to take on this challenge with you. The engagement period is the perfect time to begin making changes as a couple. Recruit your fiancé to make these healthy lifestyle changes together. Not only will he benefit from it, when the honeymoon is over you both will return to a healthy environment that ensure you remain successful. Another option is to ask your maid of honor or better yet, create a support group by enlisting all of your bridesmaids to make changes with you.
- Last minute fixes
Maybe you are just now reading this and your wedding is in 2 weeks or you didn’t take my advice to start early. How can your best focus your efforts and look fabulous on the big day? Professional photos are one of the biggest expenses of a wedding and you definitely want these to turn out great. Although you won’t magically be able to reach your goal in 1-2 weeks, there are steps you can take to ensure that you look and feel beautiful in these pictures.
First, make water you best friend. Ditch the soda, juice and other sugary drinks and focus on drinking plenty of water each day leading up to your wedding. Second, increase you healthy fat intake. The cells in our body have a phospholipid bilayer, which is comprised of beneficial and essential fatty acids. Healthy fats in our diet help strengthen this barrier and keep moisture inside the cells. The combination of drinking more water and eating healthy fats will result in healthy looking skin. You can increase your healthy fat intake by eating lots of olive oil, avocado, nuts, salmon, flax and chia seeds, and using coconut oil as a body moisturizer. Lastly, especially in the days leading up to your wedding,, avoid highly processed foods and alcoholic beverages. For some, these foods can cause bloating or dehydration and may impact the way your skin looks in your photos.
If you follow these simple steps you should look fabulous on your wedding day. If you feel like you need a bit more guidance reach out to a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) to help create a personalized plan for you. Remember, the most important thing is to enjoy the day and celebrate the amazing love you have in your life!