The Stay-Sane, Get Strong Workout Plan for the Bride-to-Be

Because strong > shedding for the wedding.

Photo: Getty Images/PeopleImages

Let's get one thing straight: You do *not* need to lose weight or fit into a certain dress size to be worthy of love. But it's been proven time and time again that exercise boosts endorphins to sky-high levels (bye-bye, bridezilla vibes) and stronger muscles will help you feel like you're having your own red carpet moment as you walk down the aisle to say "I do." (And if you need a little dose of self-love, here are 5 easy steps to boost your confidence.)

With that in mind, we spoke to Lynn Bode, a personal trainer with over two decades of experience and the owner of the online fitness program Workouts for Brides, for her wedding weight-loss plan (AKA your stay-sane, get-healthier, bust-stress plan) to help you make it through the wedding prep feeling less frazzled—and make it to your honeymoon happier and healthier than ever before. (BTW, we love Julianne Hough's thoughts on dieting before her wedding.)

Getting Started With This Wedding Weight-Loss Plan

Rather than using the time leading up to your big day to whittle yourself down to some magic number, take this time to become your healthiest you. You don't necessarily have to hit the books and research—though meeting with a nutritionist or trainer can offer a solid indication of how you might start your regimen—but do get familiar with the basics. Bode advises focusing on what she says are the "four critical principles": cardiovascular exercise, good nutrition, strength training, and stretching. "All four components are necessary to reach your goals in a healthy way," she says. Pair our 30-day cardio HIIT challenge with this ultimate guide to clean eating to check cardio and nutrition off the list. Then hit the final two principles with Jillian Michaels' 30-minute, full-body workout and 10 before-bed yoga poses to help you sleep better.

Find Your Perfect Wedding Weight-Loss Plan Workout

Choosing an exercise and diet plan may seem harder than deciding on your reception venue. But as with any big decision, it just takes some narrowing of choices. Of course, whichever one you decide to follow, you'll want it to offer maximum energy and fun—both during and after your workouts and meals. Beyond that, you may want to consider your desired stress style (length, shape, and fabric) or the ~assets~ you want to show off most before choosing a workout plan for you, but it's also important to consider your current physical abilities. (Completing a marathon within two months is a lofty goal for someone who's never owned sneakers; beginning a regular jogging routine, however, isn't.)

Get granular with your plans: Research recipes and plan meals in advance; schedule workouts in your calendar and keep them as you would any other appointment. As you're choosing your regimen, keep your expectations in check. (And remember that exercise might just be the least important part of the weight-loss equation.) "A good rule of thumb is that you can lose between four and eight pounds in a month," Bode says. "If your wedding is only two months away, don't fool yourself and cause unnecessary stress by vowing to lose 40 pounds. Determine the true timeline you are working within and accept the realistic number you can achieve."

Eating During Your Wedding Weight-Loss Plan

You know that whole way-to-their-heart-through-their-stomach adage? The same goes for you: Feed yourself well during this potentially nutty time, and we promise your relationship with yourself will be better, not to mention your rapport with your partner, your boss, your tailor, etc. (Discover how many calories you're truly eating—plus how many you need to stay well-fueled during this crazy-busy time.)

Whether or not you decide to start a new fitness routine (or amp up your existing one), the amount of extra exercise you'll be doing requires some serious fuel. Follow our 30-day healthy meal planning guide for a jumpstart. And remember: When you eat is important, too. Science says you can hack your metabolism by timing your meals like this.

"Not eating enough can sabotage your wedding weight-loss plan efforts just as much as overeating can," adds Bode. (Get the scoop about why eating *more* might just be the secret to losing weight.) "When you don't eat enough, your body begins holding on to all the calories you consume and turns them into fat. So, even if you lose weight on a starvation diet, you aren't doing yourself any favors because the lack of nutrition will diminish your muscle mass while increasing your fat storage."

And, Bode says, consider the type of calories you consume. High sugar and high fat—typical fast food and processed food characteristics—will make you feel sluggish. "If you just can't find the time for home cooking, head to a healthy grocery store and pick up frozen meals that aren't drowning in chemicals and preservatives. Also, buy some healthy snacks that are portable for taking with you on-the-go." (

Ease Wedding Stress Before the Big Day

A bride-to-be makes an average of 177 decisions during her engagement, according to a survey—so it's no wonder you're feeling a little frazzled these days. While it may seem laughable to add another "Must" to your list right now, scheduling in downtime to stand on your head, hit a matinee, cook something from scratch, or sneak in a nap can change the dynamic of your whole day. Need an mindset shift? Turns out even just thinking about your loved ones can help you deal with stressful situations.

3 Wedding Weight-Loss Plan Tips from Readers

You're not in this alone! Consider the Shape reader advice ahead as you build your buff bride agenda.

  • Hit the barre. "I have always been a runner and a walker, so I kept that up two or three times a week and incorporated Bar Method into my workout about twice a week in preparation for my wedding. Bar Method really helped tone my body-especially my arms-and I would recommend it to everyone. It is an incredible workout. I also used WW online to help with my diet." — Lizzy, San Francisco, California
  • Cross train your brain and body. "For my wedding weight-loss plan, I started doing Exhale's Core Fusion, which fuses core conditioning, Pilates, the Lotte Berk Method, interval cardio training, and yoga. Going to class motivated me in a group setting and focused on total body toning with extra focus on the core, which was my target area. The class bridges the mind and body to improve overall well being while fulfilling my fitness goals—a perfect workout to clear my head from the stressful planning leading up to the wedding! It was my favorite hour of the day and really kept me balanced." — Stephanie, New York City
  • Call in reinforcements. "What worked best for me before my wedding was getting a personal trainer. I knew that having someone there to motivate me would really keep me going. Not only was it really fun, but my husband (then fiancé) also did sessions with me from time to time. I started about eight months before the wedding, doing one session a week with my trainer, amping things up as the date drew closer. Even if someone is tight on cash, I would recommend a smaller package just to learn your way around a gym, what works best for your body, and get direction so you can do it on your own." — Jaime, Hoboken, New Jersey (We're playing matchmaker! Here's how to find the best personal trainer for you.)
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