Don’t let planning your wedding stop you from having a healthy lifestyle – here’s how to stay well in the run-up to the day
Effective and practical ways to be at your best
It can be tricky enough to stay in a healthy routine at the best of times – and if you add planning a wedding to the mix, it can start to feel almost impossible. After all, it’s not easy to keep your stress levels down when you’re dealing with guest-list dramas, or to carry on with WKDW ÀWQHVV FODVV WKDW PDNHV \RX IHHO JUHDW when every evening is taken up with venue research. And that’s before we take into account the extra alcohol you may be consuming – it’s a super-social time – or any pressure creeping in around losing weight for the big day. But nobody wants to turn up to their wedding feeling tired, hungry and PLVHUDEOH 7KDW·V ZK\ ZH·YH LGHQWLÀHG WKH main areas of planning that can sabotage your healthy regime, and asked leading experts how you can overcome them. Sadly, we can’t do the table plan for you, or get rid of that annoying guest who keeps demanding a plus-one – but we can help you feel your KHDOWK\ FRQÀGHQW EULGDO EHVW ZKDWHYHU the run-up to your wedding throws at you!
Whether you’re planning a large-scale celebration or an intimate party, planning a wedding can be stressful. And stress can have a serious effect on your wellbeing.
“It’s your hormones playing havoc – too PXFK DGUHQDOLQ ZKLFK LV DERXW ÀJKW RU ÁLJKW μ H[SODLQV GRFWRU DQG SHUVRQDO WUDLQHU Dr Hazel Wallace, author of The Food Medic for Life: Easy recipes to help you live well every day (Yellow Kite, £20). “Chronic stress can lead to high levels of cortisol. You might overeat
or stop eating – and it can even make you get more cold sores!”
It isn’t going to be possible to eradicate all sources of stress, so you need to take time to really look after yourself. “Have practices in your routine that make you feel safe and relaxed, whether that’s something like long walks or meditation – take time out to be calm,” says Dr Wallace. “Prioritise feeding yourself well as a form of self-care. Have regular mealtimes, as well as balanced snacks with good quality carbohydrates to keep your energy levels up.”
'LIÀFXOW\ IDOOLQJ RU VWD\LQJ DVOHHS LV D NH\ symptom of stress, and lack of sleep has been linked to all sorts of conditions, such as a weakened immune system and highblood pressure. There are lots of sleepinducing ideas out there, from pillow sprays to eye masks – but, counterintuitive as it may seem, getting more active may actually be the answer.
“Yoga and Pilates are both perfect for someone struggling to sleep, as they’re gentle and restorative enough not to overstress the body,” says Hollie Grant, an awardwinning trainer whose Pilates PT studio has a residency at The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. “Try to balance life out with low-intensity, mindful classes to prevent burnout. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime, as this can make it harder to drift off due to raised temperature and energy levels.”
It’s not just about your physical wellbeing. A wedding stress point that can really upset your emotional health is feeling under pressure to lose weight.
“Brides worry about not looking the best version of themselves in their photos,” says 0LFKHOOH (OPDQ ERG\ FRQÀGHQFH FRDFK
and author of Am I Ugly? (Anima, £9.57). “But we all need to realise that thinner does not mean better, more beautiful or more loveable. You shouldn’t need to change dress sizes to feel more valuable.”
Sometimes, brides-to-be can start to feel under pressure to lose weight because their friends and family assume that’s what they’re going to do. “Try to ignore diet chat,” says Hollie. “I lost track of the times I was asked which diet I was going to use in the run-up to my wedding, despite the fact I’m forever banging the drum for body acceptance. If someone begins to talk to y you about this, say you don’t want to engage in that type of conversation.”
One particularly dangerous result of the pressure of wedding weight-loss is crash-dieting. This often happens when a bride-to be has ordered her dress in a size or more smaller than she actually is ² VKH WXUQV XS IRU KHU ÀWWLQJ
and discovers that her JRUJHRXV JRZQ GRHVQ·W ÀW
Cue a frantic attempt to slim into it within a few weeks, using an extreme diet and exercise regime.
“In the short term, people see results when they’re cutting lots of calories, but it gives you the wrong mindset when it comes to your relationship with your body and food,” says Dr Wallace.
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not what you need when you have a million wedding to-dos to take care of. You risk making the run-up to your big day thoroughly miserable, particularly if you start avoiding events that involve food and drink – and the long-term effects can be serious.
“If extreme dieting goes on long term, you FDQ VWDUW WR VHH QXWULWLRQDO GHÀFLHQFLHV μ VD\V
Dr Wallace. “If it goes on long enough, your metabolism will start to compensate. You’ll be in a vicious cycle – you stop losing weight, so you cut out more calories, but your body catches up.” We know it can be hard if you’re feeling under pressure to be a certain size or weight, but please don’t punish \RXUVHOI WR ÀW LQWR D GUHVV
“Eat well and exercise,” adds Dr Wallace. “But do that regardless of the wedding – and remember, you can be healthy and beautiful while not being two dress sizes smaller.”
DRINKING TOO MUCH ALCOHOL
In addition to the day itself, there can often be a lot of socialising around your wedding. There’s celebration drinks with friends, the stag and hen dos, rehearsal dinner, ‘just-because’ drinks with your bridesmaids…
It can all add up, and the effects of too much alcohol on health, even in the short term, are well documented – from dehydrating your skin and leaving you prone to spots, to increasing feelings of anxiety. Dr Wallace suggests taking a balanced attitude. “Know your limits and pace yourself,” she says. “Swap every second alcoholic drink for a glass of water or choose alcohol-free cocktails.”
NO TIME FOR EXERCISE
Do you love that rush you get from your regular gym VHVVLRQ \RXU UXQ RU \RXU IDYRXULWH ÀWQHVV
class? The mood-boosting effects of exercise are well known, so if you have to curtail RU FXW RXW \RXU ÀWQHVV WLPH EHFDXVH \RX·UH
too busy with planning and wedmin tasks, it can have a negative effect on how you feel. The answer to the problem is to get more creative with your routine.
“It’s all about shortening your workouts by adding movement elsewhere,” says Hollie. “I know that sounds obvious, but walking or cycling instead of using the car will mean less time spent in the gym. You could also choose workouts that are based on HIIT (high-intensity interval training), as they are much shorter.”
“Thinner does not mean better. You shouldn’t need to change your dress size to feel more valuable”