When I was engaged, one of the most surprising things was how ubiquitous talk of pre-wedding prep could be. There's definitely social pressure to look your best on a day where you'll squeeze into a wedding gown and pose for hundreds of photos and and be the centre of attention. Personally speaking, I wasn't looking to achieve a dramatic before/after transformation, but I did use the wedding as an incentive to change habits for the better. These lifestyle tweaks are common sense even if they're not common practice, they're fairly easy to incorporate, and they'll yield noticeable results if you start from day one of your engagement. Best of all, these are the sorts of habits you'll want to keep up long after the wedding is done.
Find an exercise you like and do it regularly
Why not use the wedding as motivation to find a workout you love and make it a habit? Sign up for a personal trainer, get a gym membership, or sample classes at that boutique yoga/barre/spin studio you've always been curious about. If these options sound too expensive, you could also consider taking up running; joining a recreational sports team; swimming at your local pool; or using a DVD, fitness app, or YouTube video to get your sweat on at home.
Whatever you do, just be honest with yourself about what you like and what works for you. Personally, I get bored easily and I'm prone to skipping workouts or not pushing myself as hard as I could. If it were up to me to drag myself to the gym the workouts would never happen, or if they did they'd most certainly be halfhearted half hours on the elliptical. The Bar Method works for me because it's a fast-paced all-over workout; having to schedule classes and show up ensures I go regularly; and having an instructor who calls me out when I'm slacking keeps me accountable.
Beyond weight loss and fitness goals, regular exercise is an excellent way of boosting your mood and managing stress during the planning process. You can even turn it into mid-week date nights like the boy and I did: With weekends increasingly devoted to wedding errands, we would go to our respective workout classes after work and meet up for dinner afterward. It was a great way to get a workout in and de-stress, and squeeze in quality time that wasn't all about the wedding.
Eat more fruits & vegetables
A demanding day job, ramped-up workouts, wedding to-do lists—call me crazy, but I think the last thing a bride-to-be should do in such stressful circumstances is make herself even more stressed out by cutting calories on a fad diet or juice cleanse. The easiest way for me to "diet" without actually dieting was incorporating more fruits and vegetables into my meals and eating smaller portions of carbs (but not cutting them out entirely). Not only did this increase my micronutrient intake and instantly make my meals much healthier, the fibre from the fruit and veggies kept me full and I never felt deprived. Plus, this change was sustainable after the wedding because I wasn't cutting out entire food groups or following a bunch of complicated rules.
Drink more water
We've all heard about the benefits of drinking more water, but for brides-to-be it takes on a whole other level of importance. Good hydration habits keep you from mistaking your body's thirst signals for hunger pangs and sabotaging the improved eating habits you're trying to develop. Drinking enough water promotes a glowing complexion and keeps you going before, during, and after all those pre-wedding workouts.
Get into the habit of drinking a glass of warm water with lemon first thing in the morning, before your morning coffee. Carry a bottle around with you and refill it often. Try recipes for infused water like strawberry basil, mint cucumber, or a blend of berries.
Find a beauty/skincare regimen that works for you
Finding your beauty groove isn't just about achieving glowing skin and smooth, shiny hair; for me, it's also about making relaxation and self-care a priority. Going into the wedding, I saw Kathryn of Collective Skincare for a Dermalogica or Tata Harper facial every 3 months. I also added supplements and products into my routine that would even skin tone and enhance radiance; started doing at-home exfoliations and masks twice a week; and applied a hair mask and body scrub once a week.
If you are the type who considers "soap and water" a skincare routine, start with the basics like removing your makeup before bed; applying SPF daily; and finding a cleanser, eye cream, toner, serum, and moisturizer that work for you. If you've been struggling with skin issues, now might be a good time to visit a dermatologist or aesthetician and formulate a plan. Check out this Q&A I did with Kathryn of Collective Skincare about pre-wedding skincare for more tips, as well as this breakdown of my pre-wedding skincare regimen.
Get more sleep
One of the easiest and most effective ways to look and feel our best involves not doing anything particularly active or intense, so why is it that so many of us struggle to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night? I still struggle with insomnia at times even when I follow my tips for getting a good night's sleep, but the benefits are worth it. Sleep regulates your metabolism and food cravings; gives you the energy and willpower to follow through on your daily goals and not skip workouts; regulates your mood and lets you think with greater clarity; and decreases cortisol, the stress-inducing, belly-fat-promoting hormone.
Try to keep things in perspective
An engagement lasts weeks, months, sometimes years. There will be days when you skip a workout, the numbers on the scale don't seem to budge, one of your vendors messed up, you have a pimple on your chin, and so on and so on. There will be setbacks and stressors large and small. When they happen, be gentle on yourself and don't beat yourself up too much mentally. It's okay to feel bad in the moment, but try to remember these things: One, wellness is a journey; and two, no matter what happens, you're a lucky girl who gets to marry the love of your life, and to quote Bridget Jones, your partner loves you just as you are.