According to Personal Trainer Jessica Cooke, achieving a perfect body through fad diets, gimmicks and pills is not the way to go. “These methods to get in shape can be extremely bad for your health, and often make you gain more weight than the weight you lost, once you stop,” says Jessica. “Diet pills and meal replacement shakes can lead to bad skin, hair and nails, constipation, diarrhoea, dizziness and fatigue.”
Jessica advises eager brides-to-be that the best way to lose weight and shape up for your wedding is through a combination of a sensible diet and regular exercise. This way, you stand some chance of sustaining your weight loss long after the honeymoon tan has faded.
Getting the diet right
Jessica favours a low-GI diet for achievable, healthy and sustainable weight loss that not only helps you look your best, but makes you feel great too.
The glycemic index or GI is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream have a high GI. Carbohydrates that break down more slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the bloodstream, have a low GI. When eating carbohydrates, the advice is to aim to always eat foods which are low-GI, examples of which are porridge, muesli, non-starchy vegetables and fruit, whole grains (rye, spelt, oats, and wheat), nuts and pulses.
Like many trainers and dieticians, Jessica promotes eating carbohydrates earlier on in the daytime, and avoiding them after 5pm. When we eat refined sugar, drink caffeine or feel stressed, a powerful hormone called Cortisol increases in our bodies. Cortisol causes your blood sugar to spike, leaving you craving sugary, starchy foods. At dinner try swapping pasta/rice/potatoes for a side salad or non-starchy vegetables and make sure to drink water throughout the day (two litres approximately).
Make sure to eat two small snacks between meals to keep your blood sugar stable and prevent you from overeating at meals. A handful of peanuts or a small piece of fruit is ideal as they can be carried around. Other nutritious snacks include a tub of natural yoghurt, ten or so cashew nuts or a spread of hummus on Ryvita or oatcakes.
Cardio v. Resistance
Enjoy one treat evening per week to help keep you motivated and on track, this will prevent you from falling off the wagon entirely after the wedding. Taking regular exercise, in conjunction with a healthy diet, will ensure you look your best. Running is a great way to exercise as all you need is a pair of runners and some motivation! Walking, swimming and fitness classes are also great forms of cardio and will help you burn off unwanted fat. These are all activities that can be carried out in groups so why not drag your bridesmaids along too?!
Cardio is a brilliant way to exercise and if all you want is to get your weight down for the wedding then that is fine. On the other hand, if you want to look toned and sculpted, you will have to do some resistance training. Think about the areas that will be on show – maybe your back, arms, shoulders, collar-bone or maybe your dress is very fitted around the stomach? Resistance training will tone all these areas up. Lifting weights, using dyna-bands or taking part in a circuit or pilates class are all great forms of resistance training.
The 80/20 Rule
After your wedding day, enjoy your honeymoon, but get back on the wagon once you return. Remind yourself of how confident and healthy you felt when you were making healthy food choices. Live your life by the 80/20 rule, being healthy 80% of the time. You always feel better when you exercise, you always feel better when you eat well.
Jessica Cooke is a Personal Trainer based in Galway who has recently launched The 40 Day Method, an online fitness and weight loss website, combining a low-GI diet with 20 minute workout videos, 5 days per week.
Visit www.40DayMethod.com and check out Jessica’s blog for tips, diet plans and motivation.
From the Forums
Main image: Oxfam Sport Luxe Collection | By Karen Birney
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Former editor, current contributor, (she just can't let go!) Karen enjoys writing fashion but is known to dabble in decor from time to time. Her favourite section on the site is the Real Wedding section, followed closely by the Health & Fitness forums.