How to Get in Amazing Shape for Your Wedding

Christine Avanti, author of Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food, and a recent bride, shares her personal — and healthy — big-day tips.

newlyweds1. Create healthy party menus.
I did exactly that, none of my guests gained a pound — and my wedding was in Rome! Consider healthy fare like grilled portobello mushrooms drizzled with a balsamic reduction instead of breaded fried mozzarella sticks, or chicken satay on a stick instead of spicy hot wings dipped in mounds of blue cheese dressing. Offer your guests a dessert like grilled pineapple with a low-fat yogurt honey dip. At my shower, the dessert table featured luscious summer berries with cashew cream instead of cake. At every party, I served a selection of Skinny Vine wines: Slim Chardonnay, Mini Moscato and my personal favorite, Thin Zin. At only 86-95 calories per 5-ounce pour they were a huge hit.

2. Eat every four hours to keep energy and metabolism humming at optimal speed.
It doesn’t have to be a challenge if you try these simple snacks: Pear or apple slices with almond butter — according to the journal Nutrition & Metabolism, almond butter helps keep blood-sugar levels stable; bell peppers and hummus — the high vitamin C content in peppers has been linked to lower stress levels, and hummus is loaded with fiber, protein and MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids) — MUFAs are clinically shown to reduce stress and belly fat; olives — a recent study from the University of Southern Queensland found the phytochemicals in olives to be "significantly slimming." Additionally, olives contain MUFAs. Get healthy snack ideas here ►

3. Fitness tracker wristbands.
My fiancé, Jonathon, and I both started using the Nike FuelBand, which calculates daily steps taken. This was a huge motivator for both of us because we were constantly competing to see who had racked up the highest number of steps at the end of the day (I often turned up as the winner at 16,000 steps). Plus, this tool provides daily, weekly and monthly reports on steps, distance covered and calories burned.

4. Yoga booty, anyone?
Stress can wreak havoc on your waistline, causing the release of excess cortisol, a hormone that increases belly fat. Stress can also cause insomnia — and sleep deprivation can cause an increase in the appetite and hunger hormone ghrelin. Are you starting to see the snowball effect here? To alleviate all that wedding planning stress, Jonathon and I did hot yoga at least once a week. The deep breathing, stretching and intense sweating helped us forget about any disagreements over flowers or music. Hot yoga is also a great way to tone up your core, derrière and arms. Learn which yoga style is right for you ►

5. Hire a tough trainer.
To amp up my usual exercise routine of doing cardio while reading Bridal Guide or watching TV, I begrudgingly agreed to work out with a fitness trainer and my fiancé. I did not want to get bulky, but instead go for toning up my muscles. Equinox Toronto trainer Joseph Kakish proved to be the perfect coach, giving Jonathon heavier weights and having me do more — and I mean way, way more — reps, using lighter weights, as well as seemingly endless lunges, dead lifts, jump squats, push-ups, pull-ups...oh…the list goes on and on. Thanks, Joe, for kicking our butts! Try the W.E.D.D.I.N.G. workout ►

6. Take lessons to prep for your first dance.
And if you choose swing style, you’ll burn approximately 500-600 calories per hour! Jonathon and I took lessons at Arthur Murray three to four times per week for three months before our wedding. We learned swing, fox trot, rumba, waltz and tango. The studio offers unlimited free group classes if you are signed up for private lessons, so we did two group and three private lessons per week. The nice thing about Arthur Murray is that they are global, so we took lessons even when we were traveling. Now that the wedding is over we are continuing our lessons and plan to compete in Hawaii this year. Cha cha cha! Get tips for choosing a first dance song ►

Photo Credit: Alfredo Cacciani