I was curious as to what advice the sites for brides give for getting in shape during wedding season. Here it is:
From You & Your Wedding:
Diet and fitness expert Joanna Hall is well-known for motivating time-poor people into losing weight sensibly. These are Joanna’s top five tips for brides-to be.
1. If you’re trying to lose weight don’t be discouraged if your weight plateaus. Don’t pay too much attention to what the scales say – you know if you feel in better shape and muscle often weighs more than fat.
2. Try to follow a “carb curfew” by not eating carbohydrates (bread, pasta, etc) after 5pm. Eating protein and fresh fruit in the evening will make you feel less bloated (you’ll retain less water), help you sleep better and give you more energy. In two weeks it could help you lose as much as 41/2in off your body.
3. For a last pre-wedding weight-loss push, try a “double carb curfew”. Have carbohydrates for breakfast (something like porrige is perfect for a slow release of energy throughout the day) but none at all for lunch and dinner. You’ll notice results quickly but will probably only want to do this for a short period of time.
4. Make sure you do regular exercise. Walking is a fantastic way of getting in shape but you do need to make sure you’re walking at the correct intensity. First you need to find your optimum walk “break point”. To do this, start walking and then gradually speed the movement of your arms – this makes your legs move faster. Try to speed up your arm movements every 30 seconds. Almost break into a jog and then come back off that by 3-5% – that’s your optimum walk pace. Start with 5min a day and build up to 20min. A good pedometer will really help: my Small Steps Big Changes Pedometer (£10.99, joannahall.com) has won awards and comes in 8 different colours.
5. Lastly, if organising your wedding is making you feel stressed out, a weekly Ashtanga yoga class will help you tone up and give you a chance to relax a little.
WHAT TO EAT
So you’re engaged—that’s no reason to start choking down cabbage soup or bacon-only diets. Instead, make smart choices: colorful fruits and vegetables (low in calories, their high water content is filling); lean protein (eat it with veggies to absorb more of its energy-boosting iron, folate and B12); and whole grains and monounsaturated fat (found in almonds, olive oil and avocados), which “fight the spare tire, promoting that tiny waist every bride wants,” says registered dietician Connie Guttersen, Ph.D., author of The Sonoma Diet. To avoid dehydration— which can slow metabolism and increase your appetite—drink eight glasses of water each day. And for glowing hair and skin, nibble on foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as walnuts, salmon and halibut.
WHEN TO EAT
You don’t always have to cut calories to shed weight. “Try eating every three or four hours. It keeps your metabolism up, so your body burns energy most efficiently,” says registered dietician Keri Glassman, author of The Snack Factor Diet. And never skip breakfast—it’s the one meal nutritionists consider non-negotiable. “It gets your metabolism kicking and makes you less likely to pig out later,” explains Danielle Schupp, registered dietician at Reebok Sports Club/NY. “You don’t have to do a 40-yard dash from your bed to the refrigerator; just eat within two hours of waking.” Nosh on one or two snacks of 150 to 200 calories a day to curb hunger, and have lunch and dinner whenever you like—just don’t wait until you’re ravenous (when you’re most likely to make unhealthy choices) or within two hours of bedtime (digestion disrupts sleep, which studies have shown is crucial for weight loss).
HOW TO SNACK
To keep up your energy and boost metabolism, stock your pantry and fridge with 150- to 200- calorie snacks that combine fiber, protein and monounsaturated fat, says Glassman. She recommends a spoonful of peanut butter stirred into plain yogurt; thin slices of smoked turkey wrapped around a few celery sticks; low-fat microwavable popcorn; or a cup of strawberries drizzled with a tablespoon of chocolate syrup. If you’re in search of something sweet or crunchy, try frozen cherries or grapes, or air-popped “pizza popcorn,” kernels topped with a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese and oregano. “These foods are delicious, take a long time to eat and give you a lot of pieces for a small amount of calories,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, registered dietician and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. When running around town to dress fittings, avoid experiencing a drop in blood sugar (if your energy and mood plummet, you’re more likely to binge later) by carrying healthy, portable snacks, such as a drinkable yogurt, soy chips, a few whole grain Fig Newtons, an applesauce cup, string cheese or an energy bar containing fiber and protein (but make sure it has no more than 200 calories). Traveling? “Pack an insulated bag with a container of hummus, carrots, crackers and a small bag of cubed cheese,” suggests registered dietician Stefanie Bryn Sacks, culinary nutritionist for My Chef Direct, a personal chef, catering and wedding service in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Come prepared, and you’ll be less likely to eat the potato chips the flight attendants offer you.
EAT AROUND YOUR WORKOUT
Strategic nibbling can help you maximize the calories and fat you burn during exercise. Eat a 100- to 200-calorie snack one hour before hitting the gym if you’re even slightly hungry; otherwise, eat 20 to 45 minutes after. “Work out on an empty stomach, and you won’t have the energy to do as much as you could have, or you may feel nauseous due to low blood sugar,” explains Dr. Guttersen. “Eating afterward keeps your metabolism running on high for longer.” Sipping coffee or tea 30 to 45 minutes before a workout can also give your body a boost, she adds: “Caffeine helps release fatty acids into the bloodstream, enabling you to burn more fat.”
BOOST YOUR PORTION IQ
Controlling portions is the single best way to lose weight, says Schupp. Stick to a fist-sized portion of pasta (because carbs increase serotonin, a mood enhancer, we’re naturally prone to overeat them), and no matter how much meat you’re given, slice off a piece the size of a deck of cards (those four ounces are all you need). Blatner also suggests premeasured snacks or meals, like those from Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice and Kashi, which are usually around 300 calories (and often contain less sodium than most deli sandwiches). “Eat one or two of these as a meal each day, plus lots of veggies to help you feel full, and you will healthfully lose about a pound a week,” says Blatner. At the salad bar, select just one or two items containing fat or protein. The reason? “Every time you pick up the tongs and mindlessly toss in chicken, cheese and avocado, you add multipliers of 50 to 100 calories,” warns Schupp. At dinnertime, turn off Grey’s Anatomy: “When you eat in front of the TV, you are on autopilot, unaware of how much you’re consuming,” says Dr. Guttersen, “so you keep on going.”
FOODS YOU MAY WANT TO AVOID
Beware: The following foods—some may surprise you!—can seriously pack on the pounds. Dried fruit. “The water has been sucked out, so it’s dense but not filling,” says Schupp. “A big box of raisins—about two cups—has as many calories as a loaf of bread!” Be especially wary of sugar-coated fruits, such as mango, pineapple or papaya. Shiny vegetables. If a salad or spinach dish glistens, “it’s probably been prepared with a lot of oil and has tons of hidden calories,” Schupp adds. White foods. Sugar, crackers, white bread and white rice are refined carbohydrates that “contribute to weight gain and irregular blood-sugar levels, so you’re more likely to have energy highs and lows,” says Dr. Guttersen. Juices and sweetened coffee drinks. “Even the smallest size—usually 12 ounces, the size of a can of soda—can tack on 150 extra calories,” says Blatner. More than one low-cal drink per day. “Studies have shown that people who consume lots of artificially sweetened beverages tend to be more overweight. The drinks appear to stimulate a craving for sweets,” says Dr. Guttersen. Salty foods, such as soup, sushi, pickles, feta cheese and soy sauce “cause you to retain water and feel bloated—not exactly an ego boost before a dress fitting,” says Schupp. Creamy salad dressings. “Oil-based ones are less likely to clog your arteries and often contain half the calories,” says Schupp. Foods high in trans fats. It may sound like a tip from the obvious department, but it bears repeating: Fried foods and other treats loaded with trans fats will put you on the fast track to weight gain. Steer clear or eat these only in moderation (and infrequently). Alcohol. Cocktails contain substantial calories, which is why Karen Miller-Kovach, author of Weight Watchers: She Loses, He Loses, suggests limiting your intake by alternating a drink made with a noncaloric mixer (like rum and Diet Coke) with plain water or club soda. Diet desserts. “A low-fat sundae can easily top 300 calories,” says Schupp. “You’re better off having three Hershey’s Miniatures, which are more satisfying and add up to only 100 calories.” But you should partake in your favorite indulgence. “Give yourself 150 ‘play calories’ every day,” says Blatner. “Such small amounts of a favorite candy, cake or chips will not wreak havoc.”
FOODS YOU CAN EAT IN UNLIMITED AMOUNTS
“Bite for bite, vegetables have the lowest caloric content of any food group,” says Blatner. That’s why so many veggies are found on this list of foods that can be eaten without restraint:
• Celery • Broccoli • Asparagus • Cooked collard greens • Raw tomatoes • Jicama • Spinach • Bok choy • Leafy lettuce • Cabbage • Mushrooms • Snow peas • Onions • Zucchini • Cucumber • Cooked eggplant • Summer squash • Sprouts
FOODS YOU CAN EAT IN ALMOST UNLIMITED AMOUNTS
Fruits contain three times as many calories as vegetables—about 60 per serving—but they’re still much lower in calories than most foods and are loaded with nutrients. Low-cal fruits and other choices that won’t ruin a waistline:
• Air-popped popcorn • Cherries • Edamame • High-fiber flat bread (Wasa 7-Grain Crisp ’n Light Crackers are 20 calories per large cracker) • Blueberries • Low-fat cheese wedges (Laughing Cow’s are 35 calories each) • Apples • Tofu • Rice cakes • Grapes • Veggies with low-fat salad dressing • Oatmeal • Sugar-free Popsicles • Watermelon • Carrots • Chile peppers • Low-fat yogurt • Grapefruit