January’s not over yet, which means there’s still time to put in place those well-intentioned New Year fitness plans. And this year, I have an added incentive – after all, every bride wants to look her best on her wedding day (plus, there’s the honeymoon bikini to think about).
In the spirit of getting my talented pals involved in my wedding as much as possible, I’ve asked my, quite literally, fittest friend, Danielle Bellas, to help whip me into shape for the big day. The super-toned singer and fitness enthusiast documents her glutton-for-punishment training schedule on her fitness blog, along with the latest diet news and fitness trends. Here she is on her own wedding day:
Danielle will be drawing up a gym programme for me, based on my individual goals (to tone-up and get more definition). But for now she has given me (and any other brides-to-be out there who want to look amazing in their wedding dress) five rules to live by. Whilst Danielle is not a trained fitness professional as such, her qualified strength and conditioning coach husband David Bellas, owner of one of the most chiselled six-packs I’ve ever seen, can verify the facts:
1. Adopt a clever diet
Heard the saying that your body shape is 80% diet, 20% exercise? Whether or not the percentages are scientifically correct, what you eat plays a major part in how you look, according to Danielle. Being an avid foodie, I’m delighted to hear that the way to a fitter body is not about starving yourself, it’s simply about being more discerning and organised when it comes to what and when you eat. Danielle advocates switching to 5 smaller meals a day, starting with a nutritious breakfast (porridge, scrambled eggs or omelettes with spinach and ham are all good options), then aiming to eat lean protein and green vegetables every two-three hours to keep your metabolism raised and your body burning fat (eg half a chicken breast and a palm size serving of green beans). Reducing the amount of sugar you consume daily is also a must – so start scrutinising those food labels.
2. Go high intense at the gym
Let’s face it, a lot of brides are just interested in loosing inches. If this is your goal, try high intensity interval training (HIIT) next time you work out. For example, sprint all-out for 30 seconds, then take the pace right down for 60 seconds, switching to sprinting again and so on. The same can be done on a rowing machine – go hell-for-the-leather for 150m, then rest for 30 seconds, and repeat.
3. Pull your weight
Danielle assures me that if I want a flat tummy, lean arms, toned legs and a bottom to rival Pippa Middleton’s then I need to get off the treadmill and into the weights area. But won’t I just look big and bulky, I ask? No, comes the answer, that’s body-building, and an entirely different kettle of fish, apparently. Instead, I need to think about weaving ‘compound movements’ into my workout. 'Exercises such as deadlifts, squats and chest press will hit more than just one muscle group, which is far better than just spot training areas of your body,’ she says. But remember, when it comes to lifting weights, it is extremely important to get your technique right, so seek advice from a qualified personal trainer or the trainers in your gym before you try, to help safeguard against injury.
4. Try online workouts
If you’re on a tight budget, or you just can’t get to the gym, all is not lost. There are many great and free workout videos online to get you sweating and shifting the pounds. Try ELLE’s three part Best Body Bootcamp, devised by founder of Twenty Two Training, Dalton Wong, or ELLE’s Bikini Bootcamp, an easy to follow four week programme by Bodyism trainers Lee Mullins and Nathalie Bomgren (they’ve worked with ELLE cover girl Rosie Huntington-Whiteley). Two of Danielle’s favourites are Zuzana Light's intense fat-burning ZWOW workouts and Cassey Ho's Pop Pilates, available on blogilates.com.
5. Invest in a personal trainer
No, personal trainers don’t come cheap, but hey, neither do weddings, and having the one-to-one guidance and support of a trained fitness professional at your beck and call could make all the difference when it comes to realising those pre-wedding fitness goals. If you're on a strict budget, you don't have to commit to a block of sessions: having just one or two could be all you need to get you on the right track and feeling comfortable using free weights and machines. Many personal trainers also offer bespoke bride and groom joint sessions, which can not only work out cheaper, but could also help you motivate each other.
Pictures: IMAXTREE, Matt Lever, Annabel Staff