get fit: michelle obama arms or bust

Confession: I wanted to look stunning on my wedding day. Not just good – STUNNING – and I’m pretty sure every bride aims for that feeling. Why else would we spend tons of money on the perfect haircut, Carrie Bradshaw-worthy shoes, eyelash extensions, manicures and pedicures, eyebrow waxes, “other” waxes, and juice cleanses leading up to the big day?? In fact, 80% of brides take some kind of action to slim down in the months leading up to their wedding, and 60% have a goal to lose 10lbs, or go down 1 dress size before they tie the knot (source: Brides magazine survey). There are many sworn methods out there but here’s the story of how I did it:

After many years of membership at NYSC and Equinox in NYC I knew I had to make a change. I never liked traditional gyms and there was no way I was going to fit marathon training between dress fittings, bridal showers, and wedding planning, but I was determined to find something to get my Michelle Obama arms. You see, my dress was strapless, it was a summer wedding, and I had a Caribbean honeymoon (read: bikinis) to look forward to, so I had to get busy.

About 5 months before my wedding I re-joined CrossFit Stamford. I had completed the beginner program at the gym the year prior but quit when my CT-NYC commute didn’t get me to class on time. With a new local job I re-committed and participated in the March On-Ramp, a month-long program with other beginners. During that month we learned how to safely perform common CrossFit movements, increased our general conditioning and got accustomed to training in a large CrossFit group. We learned the CrossFit lingo and bonded through tough workouts and sore muscles – and many of us got totally addicted.

CrossFit is all about short bursts of intense energy. There’s no hour-long cardio session on the elliptical or stationary bike. The workouts (WODs) are only 10-20 minutes long but during that time you get your butt kicked every which way. You do pull ups and push ups, sit ups and squats, and Olympic lifting-style weight training programs – all in under an hour. And it’s amazing.

You workout as a team, and after 4 years of college crew, a team was just what I was looking for. I found a workout buddy to push me and we went to the gym 3-4x a week. In between classes I did evening “happy hour” runs around my neighborhood. Rest days were minimal and my body got stronger, leaner, and more defined than it had been in years. For someone who has NEVER had any kind of upper body strength, being able to do pull ups (even with a purple band) was a HUGE accomplishment – and it showed in my arms and back.

We were married in August and 5 months of CrossFit got me to my goal: down a dress size and the confident feeling that my new Michelle Obama arms looked great in my dress.

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CrossFit worked for me, as it’s worked for thousands of people across the country, and I highly recommend it as a safe, effective, and FUN way to get in shape before your wedding! I bet you’ll even make a few new friends.

If you can’t join a CrossFit gym have no fear! Here are some essential Do’s and Dont’s to make sure you reach your goal:

Start eating better.
DO: Backing out 6 months from your wedding, start seriously considering what you’re putting in your mouth. Just be smart and healthy – think about incorporating more lean protein, vegetables, fruit, and nuts into your diet and less dairy (can lead to bloat), sugars and packaged foods (which can be high in salt). Have a summer wedding and can’t live without at least one Dairy Queen visit? That’s fine! Incentivize yourself for your progress with one “treat” per month instead of one per week.

DON’T: Start a 4-month master cleanse or begin skipping meals. Neither are sustainable and can be harmful to your immune and digestive system. The last thing you want is a honeymoon indoors because you let your body get run down. Take care of yourself, eat 3 meals a day and use healthy, small snacks to bump up your metabolism so your body can more efficiently use the fuel you’re eating.

Start moving.
DO: Hit the gym or find another way to get your body moving. Eating better alone won’t help you reach your goal – and cardio is a great way to maintain proper heart health. Try some new high-intensity classes at your gym like spin or kickboxing, or sign up for a road race or triathlon. The training schedule will help you stay on track throughout the months leading up to your big day.

DON’T: Think you have all the time in the world and wait until the month before your wedding date to start working out! You’ll stress out your body and risk getting hurt – and stress leads to break outs and pimples. Give yourself time – remember, slow and steady wins the race!

Use Weights.
DO: Weightlifting builds muscle, burns fat, and is the best way to tone arms and legs. If you go to a gym, set up a time with a personal trainer to teach you which weights/machines to use to tone specific muscle groups, and ask for a few exercises. This should be a free service from the gym and will provide you with a few core moves to incorporate into a weekly routine. Arms, specifically respond quickly to weight programs. Win!

DON’T: Think that weights = bodybuilder. You won’t get “thick” or “bulky” – you’ll just trim away the thin layer of baby fat covering your muscles and look toned and buff!

Commit.
DO: Realize that it’s gonna take work and commitment. There will be (many) days that you’d rather stay in bed or go to happy hour instead of hitting the gym, but motivate yourself! Cut out a photo of your dress and stick it up in your cubicle or office to remind you of the end goal. You can do this!

DON’T: Flake out. Losing weight and getting in shape takes a lot of persistance and energy, so making sure you get lots of sleep and eat right will give you the energy you need to press on.

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And most importantly, DO: Have FUN! If you can’t get motivated to get in shape for your wedding, what can you get motivated for!? It’s the one day you’re at center spotlight (unless you’re a principal dancer in the NYC Ballet), so make it count!

xoxo,
B

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