It is rare the bride who actually looks like one of those staged beauties in the magazines. (And if she does it is because she hired a darn good photographer.) Those walking clothes hangers from the bridal pages have been dressed and sculpted by professionals. Her waist is miniscule, her tummy invisible, and her full bust line is imaginary. 

And even though the wise bride-to-be knows that trying to measure up to that photoshopped fantasy is ridiculous, many a maiden will embark on a regimen to remake herself before the nuptials. The main reason being that with all the photos of you at the wedding you want to look like you could at least give those magazine marauders a run for their money. Not to mention making your always-better-than-you cousin (and her mother) a little jealous of you. In a word: VANITY.

Let’s replace that with another word: HEALTH. If you have pounds to lose (or gain) before your wedding day, choose to do it for your health. Embarking on a lifestyle that includes regular exercise and more water than soda will help you sail through the wedding process. You’ll have a brighter complexion, a calmer disposition, and more energy for everything. And you only have to make small adjustments.

You don’t have to be a gym rat to exercise. You just have to be conscious of how much you move and make 30 minutes of your day dedicated to moving. Take a walk (take your sweetie with you), take the stairs, and park further away from your office or the store. Every little bit helps.

If you do decide to join a gym, grab the opportunity to meet with a personal trainer. Tell them what you want to accomplish. It might be an ideal weight or chiseled upper arms. The trainer will work with you to devise your program and will help keep you on track. You can also enlist your bridal party to participate in your new healthy lifestyle, because you know they need it too, and of course, because you care about them.

By keeping the “HEALTH” mantra in your head, you’ll more easily select foods that support your fitness goals. Maybe you’ll skip the bacon or the bun on your burger. Or you’ll opt for an apple rather than the apple pie. You could start to see that most restaurants provide meals that are actually two portions, which means you’ve got dinner for two or for two nights! Coincidentally, your heart-throb might jump on the healthy bandwagon with you, which is a great way to ensure wedded bliss.

Managing the foods you eat and adding the time for exercise will also reduce your stress level. Better food choices mean you won’t crash into an exhausted mess after a sugar or caffeine high. And the time you spend walking or working out is a great opportunity to clear your head and escape from the wedding details. These healthful adjustments will make you more focused, in the moment, and in control of your thoughts and actions.

Avoiding a restrictive diet plan lets you enjoy all the parties that will be held in your honor. You can choose to have your cake; just go for the smaller piece. Or get the corner slab you really want and then do another 50 crunches to burn it off. (You REALLY do have to do them.) This way you’ll have a plan and a goal so you won’t be a cranky dieting Bridezilla forcing yourself to sip ice water while glaring at your betrothed who is diving into the guacamole. Or suffering through the feeding tube diet of 500 calories per day (this is real and ill advised) with your brain so foggy that you barely function. Not to mention how chic you look walking around with a feeding tube.

Your wedding isn’t about pounds and ounces. It is about love. Remember that your beloved loves you; all of you. A healthy, happy you is a definite bonus, but not at the cost of you believing that you’re a failure if you don’t look like a fake magazine bride.

What everyone wants to see on your wedding day is a bride that is glowing with happiness, beaming with the love, and confidently gorgeous because this is the best day of her life.

That picture of perfection will be you and size doesn’t matter.

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