Get With the Program: Avoid Undermining Your Fitness Efforts, With These 3 Essential Tips

As amateur athletes and weekend warriors in pursuit of our wedding-fitness perfection, many of us struggle to find that balance between training and diet, as life, leisure and celebratory happy hours vow to sabotage our efforts. We spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on gym memberships, personal trainers and boutique classes over the course of a year striving to fit into that figure-hugging wedding gown, or look toned and tight in that designer tux. But these significant mental, physical and financial investments risk turning belly up when we ignore these 3 important factors: 

1. Good Sleep is Essential.

Any health or fitness professional will attest that quality sleep is key - but what exactly is “good sleep,” and how does your sleeping position affect getting it? After a long day at the office and a tough workout at the gym, you slip into bed and most likely, retreat into a popular position: on your side or on your stomach with one leg bent at a 90-degree angle, often referred to as a modified free fall. These unsupported skeletal positions lead to muscular imbalances and can trigger hip, knee and lower back pain and delay or prevent your recovery from work and workout.  Make the most of your time between the sheets and snuggle up to a king… sized pillow between your knees (side sleeper) or under the elevated leg (stomach sleeper).  The goal is to keep spinal alignment with the pelvis and to rest your muscles evenly. You’ll wake up ready for that next day’s physical and mental challenges.  

2. Alcohol Equals Sugar... Equals Calories. 

In the months leading up to your wedding, celebrations large and small are par for the course. Which means that your intake of alcohol is likely to skyrocket. When surrounded by coworkers, friends and family, we tend to ignore our caloric intake, and indulge in drinking to pacify a barrage of feelings - and then end up hating ourselves the following morning. It's just not worth it. You work too hard to never see a change in the mental and physical composition you are working so hard to maintain in advance of your big day. Rather than sabotage your fitness efforts at the bar in a single night, take control of your tab and be honest with yourself.  Start small.  Give those high-structure mixers a rest and enjoy your spirits solo, or with ice or water. If undoctored spirits just aren't your cup of... Tito's, then club soda is the answer you've been looking for.   It provides the perfect trifecta: no calories, no sugar, and full-on hydration. 

3. Water is Everything

Many Hollywood stars are making headlines these days with their secrets to eternal youth.  What's at the top of their lists? Water, and lots of it.  You can't live without it, and chances are you're not drinking as much as you could, or should. Very few natural resources boast benefits including clear skin and energized muscles.  And with corporate wellness programs on the rise, you probably have unlimited access to this game-changing beverage at the office, so take advantage, and fill that glass again and again.  Making simple changes outside the office is easy too. Drink that glass of water your server brought to the table, before you order your first round of drinks.  Fill your reusable bottle at your favorite studio before your workout begins and top it off before you leave. Be good to yourself. You deserve it.  And your wedding-day bod will thank you. 


Getting In Shape for Your Wedding is Easier, and Way More Fun, Than You May Think

The big day is coming.  How's that fitness regimen going? If you're feeling depleted, low on energy or stressed out by the demands of dieting and daily workouts - stop, breathe, and get ready for some relief. These five simple pro-tips, and real life advice from to-be-weds just like you, will change the way you think about pre-wedding fitness. For real. 

1.       Set realistic goals.

Forming habits take time and you’re running low on hours in the day.  Resolve to set a short term fitness plan in action that yields respectable results in a 6-week time frame.  Be sure to control as many variables as possible by choosing a program that’s not weather dependent or in a location you otherwise would never visit.  Also avoid long term commitments to a new gym as this deters the point of starting small and easing into a new fitness plan.   Whichever you choose, vow to sweat one hour per day, 2-3 days per week.  It’s really that simple and you’re worth it. 

2.       Find that mind/body workout.

High impact workouts often become counter-productive as your body struggles to maintain proper form.  Low impact strength training, such as Pilates, allows your mind to focus on deeper muscle connections.  Find a boutique group class to surround yourself with like-minded individuals and remove distractions often found at the gym.  The Pilates reformer creates a personal space of controlled resistance to build core strength while gaining longer, leaner muscles for a refreshing total body workout.  Whichever you decide, choose a whole body workout to keep you balanced physically and mentally. 

3.       Your body talks.  You should listen to it.

It’s midnight.  You haven’t eaten all day and your eyes are burning but you’ve got 3 more emails to send. Two aspects of your fitness plan require priority: One, sleep should never be taken for granted rather held in the highest regard just like your soon to be mother-in-law.  Ignore her and she gets cranky.  Embrace her and life is grand.   Two, learn to use your food as fuel.  Denying your body a meal is bad for the soul and your social life.  You owe it to yourself to grasp a basic knowledge of fat, protein and carbs and their complement to your workout and well-being.  

4.       Don’t force fitness on your fiancé.

Your fitness goals are clear.  His are not… and that’s ok.   If you two met running a marathon, then by all means, keep each other motivated and moving! If you met in a bar and quickly realized his idea of fitness was his and her gamertags, remember why you love him, put your feelings in cute bag, sweat it out at Pilates class and meet him for breakfast afterwards.  This 6-week plan is about your well-being.  It’s about tuning out distractions, making better choices and becoming a better version of yourself inside and out.  Stick to the plan!

5.       The scale is your enemy.

Stepping on a scale will make or break your morning so let’s avoid the latter and just say we did!  Keeping a photo journey of your progress keeps you focused on what’s important – the way you feel.  Snap a pic once per week, preferably in the same place and position.  With your fitness plan in action, you’ll begin to notice real changes in your body’s composition alongside subtle improvements in your demeanor and posture.  While that first picture may not be your finest moment, the last side-by-side comparison will give you the confidence (and photo proof) of all your efforts!  

Jess Hughes is a native Houstonian and founder of Citizen Pilates.