‘Tis the season of Fall weddings! Whether you are getting married yourself (congrats!!), or taking part in a ceremony for someone close to you, chances are you will end up as part of a wedding at some point sooner than later. I always say that the first reason to get fit is for function – to be healthier and better equipped for everyday life. But sometimes you want to work out for more aesthetic reasons. Looking good in a wedding (or bridesmaid) dress is one of them.
Now I could be like hundreds of other blogs and give you a “simple” or “easy” path to lose all your excess weight and look like a goddess in a dress. But I’ve got news for you. There is no “easy” shortcut to get the perfect body. In fact, there is no perfect body. And you know what? That is actually a really good thing. Because once you put in the work required to get very fit and healthy, you have something to actually be proud of. To get fit in real life, you have to overcome many struggles and much difficulty. There isn’t just some “easy” recipe you can follow that “magically” gives you a “perfect” body. That being said, let me bust a few myths to drive my point home.
Myth # 1: You can work out for a week and look like a totally different person. I see this on Pinterest all the time… workouts that promise to get you “wedding dress ready” in a week. Ummm… no. Sorry but it just doesn’t work that way. For anyone. I promise.
REAL LIFE: It takes 4 weeks of hard, consistent exercise before you start to notice a difference in how you look and feel. It takes roughly 8 weeks before you change enough for anyone else to notice. I mean think about it. If you are an average person with an average lifestyle, you have years of bad habits that have created the physique you currently have. That can’t be undone overnight. It can definitely be done, just not as fast as you and I might like. But good news! There are certain exercises and workout strategies that speed up the process significantly. I’ll share some of those below.
Myth # 2: The goal is to be skinny enough to fit into a small dress.
REAL LIFE: Please, please, please never believe this lie again after you read this post. The goal is not to lose a bunch of fat so you can fit into your dress. Your body has so much more to offer you than that. What really creates a “toned” body is not endless fat burning cardio. The most efficient type of cardio (interval training) will burn the fat that is covering up your muscles, but if they are weak and underworked, you will end up like a stick figure. Not quite the look you’re going for I assume. If, however, you have been combining strength training with interval training, you will have strong, toned (in a lean, feminine way) muscles to add shape to your body when you wear your dress. That is the goal. Strength + a healthy weight = a great look for the wedding day.
Myth # 3: You can wait until the last couple of weeks before the wedding to start working out.
REAL LIFE: I hate to break it to you but you need at least a full month, if not two (preferably 6 months) to make a significant change in the shape of your body. Don’t procrastinate.
The most efficient wedding workout plan:
(Disclaimer: There is NOTHING wrong with being overweight for your wedding. Seriously. People aren’t going to judge as much as you think they are. Please don’t follow the below workout plan in an effort to look good so you won’t be embarrassed. We all have physical imperfections and there is absolutely nothing wrong with letting them show on your big day. The point is the marriage anyway. If you are just looking for a plan to change your body because you want to get fit and look good for the sake of being fit and looking good, then by all means, read on.)
Okay so I have gone through a lot of trial and error to develop this workout plan. And yes, I have been a bridesmaid in a wedding and will be the pianist for a wedding in a few weeks so I know this works in a “I-wanna-look-good-in-front-of-everyone” situation. Everyone is different with different needs, but these specific exercises and workout strategies have been proven time and time again to be the most efficient and effective way to change your body. The key is that you have to stick with it long enough to see and feel the results. If you give up after a week or two, you have not really tried the workout plan. Just sayin.
If you need to lose weight:
If your main concern is that you are 15+ lbs. overweight and you want to slim down, follow the “Month 1” plan (below) for as many months as you need until you get down to being 10 or less pounds overweight. (Don’t get too hung up on the number on the scale by the way. Just basically do Month 1 for as many months as you need until you feel pretty close to a size you like.) In addition to turning you into a 24/7 fat burning powerhouse (because interval training burns fat for hours after your workout is done), Months 1 and 2 will tone and strengthen all the shapely muscles, including muscles you didn’t know you had. I’m not going to lie, this workout plan will be tough. As a rule, your results reflect the effort you put in, so I’m not going to apologize for making these workouts difficult. Anyone can do them, you might have to take a lot of breaks at first and modify the exercises, but if you are really serious about changing your body, you have to be willing to put in the effort and not give up. The effort is what makes the change, now how perfect you can do each exercise. The first two weeks will be the hardest. Keep that in mind when you want to quit.
Some of the workouts I’ve written below follow the Tabata format. The idea is that you work really hard for a short burst of time, rest for an even shorter burst of time, and repeat for a given number of rounds. This constantly keeps your body guessing so it never gets the chance to plateau, and supercharges your metabolism so it continues working in your favor for hours after your workout. For a Tabata, you push yourself for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and repeat for 8 rounds (4 minutes). So when I say to do 10 Tabatas, you are doing 10 rounds of: 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, for 4 minutes. 10 Tabatas equals 40 minutes. I promise that sounds way more complicated than it is. You will feel overwhelmed at first but your body and mind will adapt fast. It will be worth the extra beginning struggles, I promise. If you need to, just look up some tabata workouts on YouTube. If you are a visual person you might get the idea faster that way.
Month 1 — Wake up your metabolism and get it working overtime.
Rest Day: Sunday
Active Rest Day: Thursday, 30 minutes jump rope/running/power walking
All other days: 10 Tabatas, alternating the following exercises in the following order. Rest for 1 minute between Tabatas if you need to.
- Sumo Squats
- High Knees
- Jump Rope
- Curtsy Lunges
- Hip Bridges
- Jumping Jacks
Month 2 — Torch your muscles to add some shape and definition while burning off the last few pounds.
Rest Days: Sundays and Wednesdays
Monday and Thursday: Upper body workout (outlined below)
Tuesday and Friday: Lower body workout (outlined below)
Saturday: HIIT (outlined below)
Upper Body Workout:
10 minutes jump rope
5 sets of 5 pull-ups
5 sets of 8 bent over dumbbell rows
5 sets of 8 push-ups
5 sets of 5 bicep curls + shoulder presses
15 minutes jump rope
Lower body workout:
100 hip bridges
100 curtsy lunges
100 donkey kicks (per leg)
100 russian twists
100 jump squats
HIIT: Tabata format, 10 tabatas, alternating the following 2 exercises
- Squat Jumps
So in summary, for best results, give everything you’ve got to the Month 1 plan until you are pretty close to your ideal “wedding dress” weight, then torch your whole body with the Month 2 plan for that extra definition/shape. I know the above workouts can be intimidating. It will be very tempting to follow some of those easier, more magical sounding workouts on Pinterest, but I’m begging you not to. At least give Month 1 a try for a full month before you quit. It is extra challenging to get you results that much more effectively and efficiently. You can do it. Anyone can do it. No matter how much modifying you have to do to get through it, please give it a shot. It could make a huge difference in your body before your big day.