Fit for the Wedding: Expert Tips for Shaping Up (cont.)

Fix What You Don't Like

Once you have the dress, Fleming says, put it on, stand in front of a full-length mirror, and look at the parts that will be exposed.

"This is particularly true if you have less time to make the changes. You want to concentrate on the areas that will be seen first," says Fleming.

So, for example, if thighs and arms are both jiggly, but the dress has a long, full skirt and a strapless top, go for the upper-body workout first.

For a strapless dress, "work the shoulder, biceps, and triceps," Says Forleo. For a backless creation, she says, concentrate on the core and back muscles.

"You can always help a midriff with a tummy-control undergarment, but there's no faking exposed arm muscles, " says Forleo.

Fleming agrees. "For most women, it actually is the upper arms, upper back, and shoulders that command the most immediate attention," she says, with most concerned about getting rid of the "waddle wave."

"They don't want to lift their arms to toss their bouquet and see jiggle!" says Fleming.

Fortunately, both Forleo and Fleming agree that working with free weights brings about a quick shape-up for the upper arms.

"The arms do respond quickly to weighted exercises," says Forleo.

Getting the Look That Lasts

Regardless of what areas you want to "fix," experts tell WebMD that the one area every bride and bridesmaid should pay attention to is her posture. It's the quickest way to enhance your overall look.

Where do you start? Forleo says it's with exercises to strengthen the quadriceps -- those upper thigh muscles that will help you to "stand tall in new shoes for an extended period of time," she says.

Wrightington advocates exercises to build back and shoulder muscles as well. " You want to strengthen the core so that you stand taller and straighter and you get that nice lean, long look to your neck and shoulders," he says.

But how exactly do you firm and tone these muscles? Fleming says that for the quickest overall wedding workouts you need just two things - dumbbells and a stability ball.

"These two pieces of equipment can give you a really effective workout for your core, and tone all your basic muscle groups, including your shoulders and upper back," she says.

For example, she says, by sitting on a stability ball and lifting dumbbells above your head, you're not just working out your arms and upper back, but engaging your core muscles - the area in your midsection.

"Essentially, sitting on the ball forces you to work more muscle groups. You improve your posture, you pull in your abs, and you burn more calories as well," she says.

Fleming also advocates the use of free weights over resistance machines because, she says, "you can't cheat."

"With free weights, both sides of your body have to work equally hard, whereas with a machine the stronger side of your body will do the work for the weaker side -- so your weaker side remains weaker," she says. If you have a limited time to get in shape, building both sides of the body together gives you a more balanced appearance.

Finally, Forleo says, don't forget to include cardio in your wedding workout.

"Not only can it help you burn fat, sweating will improve blood flow, remove toxins from the body and help the bride-to-be sleep better at night -- all factors that will lead to that glow being captured in the photos that will last a lifetime," she says.

Regardless of what activity you choose, the experts tell WebMD that 30-45 minutes a day, three to four days a week, is the maximum for pre-wedding workouts. And all say you should spend the day or two before the wedding concentrating on relaxation, not fitness.

Says Wrightington: "If a light workout helps you to relax, then that's what you should do. Otherwise, realize that whatever you're going to accomplish, fitness-wise, it's already done."

The final piece of advice: Fleming says to take a day or two to relax and reflect on the upcoming event, and the healthy new life you're about to begin!

Published June 6, 2007.


SOURCES: Sue Fleming, certified personal trainer; director, BuffBrides.com; creator, Buff Fitness programs (in books and on DVD) and the Buff Brides Show on the Discovery Channel. Keith Wrightington, CFCS, director, FitWright Health and Movement; creator, Blushing Bride Fitness Mini-Intensive Program, Dedham, Mass. Marie Forleo, certified personal trainer; star, Women's Health Wedding Workout DVD.

© 2007 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.


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