Before & After: Brides' Incredible Shape-Up Stories

We interviewed brides across the country who triumphed over medical conditions, lifelong battles with the scale and grueling 6 a.m. workouts — even documenting their most challenging moments on national television! — to get fit for their wedding day.


Sarah Marino: "As with marriage, shaping up is about commitment, taking things slow and keeping an open mind."

The turning point:
"I had always been thin, but after being diagnosed with Graves' Disease (an autoimmune disorder caused by an overactive thyroid) and having my thyroid removed, I steadily gained weight over six months. My body went from producing too much thyroid hormone to receiving a proper dose via synthroid, a drug that thyroid surgery patients are required to take. As a result, I continuously put on the pounds after surgery despite eating healthier and getting regular exercise. I knew that I had many lifestyle changes ahead of me if I wanted to get back to a comfortable weight."

before weight loss photoafter weight loss photo
Left: "Before" photo: Courtesy of Sarah Marino
Right: "After" photo: Credit: John Agnello Photography

How I did it:
"After consulting with a nutritionist, I started by finding out my BMR (basal metabolic rate). This is the natural way that our bodies burn calories in order to maintain our current weight. The BMR formula for women is as follows: 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years). Once I calculated my BMR, I stuck to a controlled diet specific to my body's needs. The key factor: I kept a food journal to keep track of everything I consumed (and burned) each day. After a while, I was able to recall calories amounts in the different foods I was eating and I no longer needed to record everything.  

I've always loved yoga so I decided to practice bikram yoga regularly because of its detoxifying effects. In addition to increasing my flexibility and burning body fat, it also forces me to use my own weight as resistance to build muscle tone without bulking up. I also walk at least one mile a day and I use a 10-pound kettle bell about two times a week for weight training."

Favorite foods:
"For breakfast, I usually have one tablespoon of peanut butter on an English muffin, two Van's waffles, or Vita Tops (found in the freezer section). I eat at least one salad with vinaigrette dressing per day and opt for lean meat with vegetables for dinner. Since my husband and I are Italian, we both love a good pasta dish! One of my favorites is a gluten-free pasta or veggie pasta with Morningstar Farm crumblers and frozen peas tossed with red sauce. Portion control is key. My nutritionist told me to never deprive myself of any food item — it's better to have a taste or small serving that will stave off overeating." 

Advice for other brides:
"First, find your BMR, because it’s different for everybody. Also, do an exercise that you truly enjoy, whether its yoga, kickboxing, pilates, or bootcamp. Don’t go on a crash diet just to fit into the dress!"

bride and groom
Photo Credit: John Agnello Photography

Biggest challenges:
"Because my body changed so rapidly over a short period of time, I needed to constantly adjust what I was doing. It varies from person to person, but for me it was more dietary than exercise. Once I stimulated weight loss by not eating late at night and exercising portion control, I recorded what worked and stuck with it."

Where I am now:
"I lost 28 pounds and have noticed that I think more clearly and I'm more energetic now. On my wedding day, I woke up healthier and in much better shape than I had been 13 months prior."

Competed on
The Biggest Loser

Overcame a
thyroid disorder

harry potter engagement photos
Gave up crash diets
for good

breakfast at tiffanys engagement photos
Joined the Paleo
nutrition movement


Saw results using
Weight Watchers

Gave herself a "wedding do-over"

Became addicted
to Crossfit





45 marathons in 10 years? That would be 1 marathon every 11 or so weeks. Sounds like this lady might be lying. A marathon is 26.2 miles and no easy task. Maybe she means 5ks races or half marathon? 45 just doesn't seem correct.