How to get into shape for your wedding day

Photo donated by the groom for use in this article. Credit to Craig Bourke Photography.
Photo donated by the groom for use in this article. Credit to Craig Bourke Photography. | Source

Well, I don't know about you guys and girls out there in hubpage-land reading this, but I'm at about that age where more and more friends, colleagues and family members are tying the knot and entering holy matrimony and eternal wedded bliss.

Hopefully saying "yes" was an easy decision, but there's so many more decisions to be made between the proposal and the big day. Not the least of which involves finding the perfect dress for the bride. The groom has it easy, right? Shave, run a comb through your hair, black suit, maybe a kilt if it is culturally appropriate... a walk in the park really. For the ladies though, quite understandably you want to look and feel like a beautiful princess when you walk down the aisle.

So, perfect dress, perfect hair, perfect make up. Everything has to be perfect!

Leverage

As much as it is considered politically incorrect or poor form to suggest that people have to be thin these days... how can I phrase this without causing outrage? If you're going to have the perfect hair and perfect make up that we talked about, you might as well put some effort into your body as well, right? This is about what YOU want, which is to look and feel beautiful on your wedding day, and I assume also to be able to rock a bikini on the honeymoon.

It would be a shame to find that perfect bridal gown but then have to choose something else because "I can't pull this look off with these arms" or something like that.

Here's how I see it. I'm going to assume that we have 6 months between finding a dress and actually getting married. Maybe you even have a few extra months to work with. That's plenty of time to get into shape, and really what better motivation could you possibly have?

I say buy the dream dress, and even then, go ahead and order it in the size you would like to be, not the size you are now. This is a good way to really lock in that commitment and leave yourself no other option but to succeed and fill out that dress appropriately on the day.

Oh and... GUYS, you have to look good too! if you're the groom reading this, Substitute dress for suit as required.

So, to get into shape...

Getting into shape for a wedding isn't much different to getting into shape at any other time, except that you are working to a deadline and highly motivated. Here's the other thing though, this can also be a stressful time with so much to organise, so you need to keep that in check. Apart from meaning that you're not having a very good time, too much stress will actually produce a hormonal response that really makes it a lot harder to get the best results from your nutrition and exercise program.

With that in mind, it's important to have the right attitude about your training schedule. Training is your fun time where you smash through all of the frustrations of the day, get the heart rate up, adrenaline kicking in, and that major endorphin rush afterwards. If that doesn't sound like your past experiences with attempting to get into shape, you haven't been doing it right.

Begin with the end in mind.

This has become something of a catchphrase of mine, ever since I stole it from my coach. As I've said elsewhere, visualise yourself having reached your goal body type on the day of your wedding, and see it as if it had already been achieved. Now, already being in that sort of shape, what would you be doing to stay that way?

There's a tendency for people to start exercising with an idea of "I'll just do this, for now... and I'll start doing the serious stuff once I'm in shape". For example guys might say "I'll start taking a protein supplement later on, once I've put on some muscle", or a lady might say "I'll just walk on the treadmill for now, until I've lost some weight. Then I'll start a real exercise program".

Can you see the flaw in this logic? Basically saying "I won't start doing what's required to achieve my goal, until after I've actually achieved that goal". It doesn't really make sense, but people are more inclined to choose activities they associate with their current condition, rather than the condition they are trying to get into.

Whether you're a skinny guy trying to get a bit bigger, or bigger lady trying to get smaller (or some other combination of variables), if that's how you train, what's what you'll be. Don't train like a skinny guy if you want to be big, train like a big guy. If you're big now and want to get smaller and have a toned athletic figure, that's how you have to train. Now, that's not to say you're expected to match the performance of a more experienced athlete... but mimic their approach and their consistency.

I believe this is true for any goal in life. If you want to be successful, learn from someone who has already succeeded - not from someone who is just trying but not getting any closer.

Without getting too specific, here's the recipe for success:

  • Positive attitude. See training as something to look forward to, not a chore or punishment.
  • Visualise yourself already having achieved your goal, and act as if you had already succeeded.
  • Nutrition! This is key. No crash diets or starvation rations. Just like with your approach to training, you must have a realistic and healthy attitude towards food. Eat the appropriate amount to maintain your goal weight and body type, not too much and not too little.
  • Resistance Training. Four sessions per week, with a balanced full body program. Forcing your body to utilise the fuel you give it to build lean muscle is the best way to lose fat, especially while eating to support a (lower) goal weight.
  • Cardio Training. Believe it or not, this is usually of a secondary importance unless you are actually training for a cardio or endurance based sporting event. Since we're just training to look our best, a single High Intensity Interval Training session per week is sufficient in my opinion.
  • Stay active on the weekend with a walk through the park, a bike ride, a yoga class or whatever takes your fancy. During the week, find opportunities to take the stairs instead of the lift, and so on.


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