Guide to Getting in Shape

All eyes will be focused on you on your wedding day. Look and feel your best with a sensible training program.

According to a recent survey of Bridal Guide readers, 63.4% of engaged women plan to start a diet in the months leading up to their wedding, and 74.2% say they'll embark on an exercise regimen. Is it any wonder? The pressure to look absolutely fabulous on your wedding day—no second chances!—can be intense.

Problem is, that pressure can lead some brides-to-be to go on crazy crash diets (the grapefruit diet, that inane cabbage-soup diet—who comes up with this stuff?) to trim down in a big hurry. But the results can backfire: You may shed some pounds, yes, but starving yourself or eating unhealthily in that crucial time before the wedding can leave you tired and sallow-skinned, with dull hair and dark circles under your eyes. Not pretty. Plus, you want to feel flush with love, not faint with hunger, as you exchange your vows.

Be realistic. Take into consideration your height, current weight, time frame, and level of activity before you set goals.That said, there's no reason you can't get in great shape in time for your wedding day. Hang on, we'll give you the secret formula… Drum roll, please… 1. Eat less. 2. Move more. Oh, and you should also adopt some sensible wedding-day weight-loss tips, like these:

  • Don't be ruled by numbers on a scale. If you're exercising and getting toned, you may lose inches before pounds. Use a favorite pair of jeans, and how you feel as a guide.
  • Replace negative messages with positive ones. Not: "I'm hopelessly fat!" but: "I did great today by replacing chips with air-popped corn. Tomorrow will be even better."
  • Make small, but effective, changes. Use mustard instead of mayo; vinaigrette dressing rather than ranch; low-fat or skim milk rather than half-and-half in your coffee.
  • Visualize the way you hope to look. But remember: Imagine your own personal best. There's no sense implanting a picture of Heidi Klum in your head.
  • Did well this week? Reward yourself with a non-food treat: a manicure, a new lipstick, a bunch of flowers.

It's great to use your wedding as motivation for getting in shape, but don't let working out become just another source of stress.

Don't get overly ambitious and order your wedding gown three sizes smaller because you just know you'll lose the weight—what happens if you don't? Most gowns can be taken in considerably if you do achieve your goals, but few can be let out sufficiently if you don't.

You can spot-develop particular muscles with the right exercises, but you can't spot-reduce weight (well, short of liposuction). In other words, you can firm up those upper arms by working your biceps and triceps, but that won't fix all the jiggle if you still carry extra pounds in general.

Weight-Loss Myths—Busted!
On a diet? Check your outmoded myths at the door for real results.

Myth: I should severely cut calories to speed loss.
Wrong! If you drastically limit calories (under 1,200 a day for most women) you put your body on "starvation alert"—it'll slow metabolism. You need fuel to burn fuel.

Myth: I should totally stop snacking.
Not so smart! Sure, you should cut out late-night Haägen-Dazs, but healthy snacks help you regulate your hunger so you don't overeat at meals. Good choices: low-fat cheese; fruit; low-fat yogurt; pretzels; carrot or celery sticks.

Myth: I should banish all "bad" stuff, like fatty foods, candy, chocolate…
Bad idea! Deprivation leads to frustration, anger—and binging. If you crave chocolate, have a piece and savor it. If a juicy burger is calling your name, answer it—and compensate with exercise.

Myth: "Fat-free" on the label is a green light to eat.
No way! Many fat-free foods have as many calories as their full-fat versions. Our motto: Better to have a little of what you fancy—a handful of deliciously fatty "real" chips—than a whole bag of unsatisfyingly dull fat-free ones.

Share your tips: What did you do to get yourself ready for the big day?