by Amir Khan, US News & World Report
After you pop the question, the wedding planning begins. While your fiance is off figuring out flowers, table settings and dresses, it’s the perfect time for you to make a plan of your own – a fitness plan. The months between your proposal and when she’s coming down the aisle are just enough time to not only get yourself in shape to look (almost) as good as she does in the thousands of wedding pictures, but to make sure your marriage is much less “in sickness” and much more “in health.”
Cut the carbs and up the protein. If you’re trying to look better in your suit or tux, it doesn’t start in the gym, says personal trainer John Rowley, founder of the 52 Million Pound Challenge that aims to get Americans to lose 52 million pounds this year. “The most important thing is nutrition. You need to watch what goes into your mouth.”
[Read: Best Diets for Healthy Eating.]
Rowley, who recently helped his son get in shape for his wedding, is an advocate of cutting carbs out of your diet completely. Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of fuel, he says, and eating too many is like filling your gas tank to the point that it overflows – spilling out as fat throughout your body.
While giving up carbs is no doubt difficult, you can eat all the protein you want – “preferably from lean sources,” Rowley says. “A good thing to keep in mind is that the fewer the legs the animal has, the better it is for you. Fish is better than chicken, which is better than beef. If you love red meat, try bison meat instead of beef.”
In addition to upping your protein intake, make sure your fat intake is from “good fats” such as coconut oil and olive oil, Rowley says, and be sure to drink plenty of water – not soda or other sugary drinks.
Avoid cold feet with a post-workout cold shower. Once you settle into a habit of healthy eating, you should start to see the pounds drop off, and that’s when it will help to hit the gym, says Rowley – who should know. At the Brooklyn gym he ran, he hosted such famed weightlifters as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. “Make sure you focus on resistance exercises and weightlifting,” he says. “You don’t have to look like Arnold, but the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism.”
Going to the gym three days per week is enough to see results, Rowley says. As for routine, he advocates working out your chest, shoulders and triceps on Monday, legs on Wednesday, and your back on Friday. The whole workout should take about 20 minutes, he says, and you can tack on 15 minutes of cardio afterward. Just make sure not to rest more than 20 to 30 seconds between sets.
Let’s face it – no one wants to see their beer belly sticking out of their tuxedo in their wedding pictures. But Rowley says one of the biggest mistakes grooms make is trying to target their belly fat by doing sit-ups and crunches. “There’s no way to target fat to lose,” he says. “Some people might lose it from their belly first, but others lose it from their hips or their face first. It’s based on your body. Do it long enough, and you’ll see the results where you want them.”
Be flexible – in marriage and with your spine. But just being in shape isn’t enough to look good for your wedding day. You need to improve your posture as well, says Kenneth Hansraj, an orthopedic surgeon at Mid Hudson Regional Hospital of Westchester Medical Center in New York. “No one wants to see a hunched-over groom standing at the altar,” he says. “Posture is king.”
So what is good posture? It’s positioning your ears above your shoulders and your shoulder blades back. Practice this position frequently, and it will become a habit. And once it does, you’ll notice that you’ll not only look better, but feel better, too. “Studies show that when you take people and correct their posture,” Hansraj says, “their testosterone levels increase and their levels of the stress hormone cortisol goes down.”
[Read: 3 Ways to Find Your Wedding Zen.]
In addition to practicing the position, do some stretching exercises to help improve your posture. “Posture is all about flexibility,” Hansraj says. “Bend your head and neck forward and backward and side to side, feeling your spine stretch as you do. Then, do the same with your back while standing up.”
Say “I do” to working out together. While following this advice will help you look your best on your wedding day, doing it alone is a missed opportunity to bond with your spouse, Rowley says. “It’s an opportunity for the couple to get in shape together,” he says. “Going after a similar goal together strengthens relationships and can really prepare you to face the challenges of marriage.”
Put everything together and you have a recipe for much more than a happy wedding day. If you make fitness a habit, Rowley points out, “it’s going to continue throughout your marriage and help you live a long, healthy life for your wife and kids.”
Dr. Hansraj says “Improve your Posture”