My Pre-Wedding Fitness Routine

It has taken me so long to write this post... so, sorry about that! It was such a weird journey and one that I don't really want to highlight as a "road to weight loss" but instead more of a "journey to being healthy."

(all the photos in this post are straight from my camera roll -- no editing or light adjustments)

See, when we talk about workout routines and shredding for the wedding a lot of stress and stigma comes from the number on the scale. It's actually one of my biggest pet peeves -- when girls will message me asking about how much weight I've lost because that's not what this is about.

My trainer always said, "No one is more motivated than a bride" and she's right. How many times in your life do you have a serious, set-in-stone date like your wedding? Sure, there can be goal dates but they can usually be moved as many times as you like. But for a wedding? Not so much. So I took that motivation and let it guide me over the past year and a half. And I've learned a lot from it.

First being that a wedding will break even the healthiest of brides.

I used to struggle with body image when I was younger. Around college, I started to really love who I was and how I looked and never really looked back. I have a wonderful relationship with my body and I love how I look. I've been 5'6", 150 for like 10 years (minus that one year of college lol) and I've never been in the mindset of changing it.

Whenever I have worked out it's always been to get healthier and to take care of my body. When I got engaged I started getting flooded with questions over my weight and how I plan to lose it, how I'd look in a dress, how my body will work with an unforgiving silhouette, what my workout routine will be, and so on. Some questions came from people (I'm sure) with their own body insecurities, but also from those who didn't mean their comments to be hurtful. It's just such a norm to expect all girls to want to lose weight.

So much so that people didn't (or maybe still don't) believe me when I was sharing my journey. They would say things like "If you're not trying to lose weight, why are you working out?" "Why are you eating a salad if you're not trying to drop pounds?" It got to the point where I started talking myself out of working out.

Even my first trainer, who (now that I'm no longer with him I can share that he was so not the right fit for me) wasn't listening to my goals and needs. He only thought I was there to lose weight. He convinced me I needed to do because I was "overweight." I'm rambling now, but you get the point, right?

I went into the process of working out to be healthier and stronger and everyone along the way tried to tell me otherwise, and I listened. The process broke me. I think the real turning point was when we were heading home for the 4th of July and got stuck in St. Louis. I had planned out my dinner ahead of time (a sweetgreen salad) so I'd make good choices when traveling. But with our delay not getting us to a hotel until midnight, it made me extra hungry.

And there I was, standing in the mini-mart at the hotel trying to pick a snack. Frantically looking at the calories, carbs, and sugars to try and make the best decision when all I really wanted was a bag of chips. Worried about my calorie intake for the day, I started crying in front of the Kind bars and left to my room empty-handed, hungry and sad.

I've never been one to deprive myself of food, but there I was -- just like in high school -- looking at myself in the mirror and convincing myself I was fat, ugly, and not worth it. It was horrible. The whole weekend home I would talk myself out of foods, count every single calorie, and be upset when I slipped.

It was unhealthy and thankfully, I recognized the path I was going on before it got worse. As a frame of reference, before I started at the gym I hadn't weighed myself probably since college. When I started with my trainer, we were charting my weight twice a week. And that messed with me a lot. Here I was trying my best, doing what was asked of me, working hard, depriving myself of food and the charts weren't changing.

So I woke up and thought what the fuck am I doing? And stopped tracking. I stopped tracking calories, stopped weighing myself and stopped worrying about it. I hit reset and refresh and worked hard to get back to being me.

And I did! I think a big difference as well was starting with a new trainer about a month out. She actually listened to me and what I wanted and within the month I had seen the biggest change of the past year. But it came with a lot of hard work, blurred days, saying no, and resetting my thinking. So here's what I did:

One Year Out: About a year out from the wedding I really got into doing classes and testing out different studios in the city. It all started on a press trip to Nantucket when we did a Barre3 class and I was sore for like two weeks! I knew it was a good time to starting getting into a routine and try out different options before nailing something down. 

I talk about it more in this post, but I fell in love with barre and dance classes. Barre was my way to tone and work my muscles and dance was a way for me to add cardio and let out some stress. I was loving Classpass to try out different studios and fell in love with these!

6 Months Out: About six months out (you can read my full routine here) I was really getting into a good routine with classes I loved and was going about 4-5x a week alternating between Barre3, hot yoga at Y7, 305 (dance class) and SLT (pilates). My schedule really just worked around what Classpass credits I had available, what times were available and the day of the week.

I would say the biggest thing in this timeframe was finding and doing SLT which is a megaformer pilates class. I did an unlimited one month package with Ashby and wrote about my experience (with before and after) here. I was seeing great results and was keeping really consistent with it. I think I was doing SLT 2x a week, Y7 2x, Barre3 on Friday's and 305 when I had any other day open. 

3 Months Out: While I LOVED my classes, going to the West Village and Chelsea 5-6 days a week was really taking a big chunk out of my day that I just couldn't afford. Between the 20-30min bike ride there, the hour class and the same 20-30min bike home, it was just too much. So I decided to look into a gym nearby.

I have a gym in my apartment but I was really on the hunt for one that offered classes during the day, had a pilates studio, and offered personal trainers. I ended up signing up at Lifetime at Sky and loved it. My first ever job was at a Lifetime Athletic in Chicago so I knew the gym had a good reputation and that it was worth the monthly membership.

When you sign up, you get a free onboarding session with a personal trainer so I decided to try it out. What drew me to a trainer, especially with my wedding coming up, was personalized routines designed to fit my goals. Long story short, I fell in love with the idea, got a trainer and started working with him in June. You can read more about the trainer, the gym and my routine here in this Q&A.

I stopped going to Barre, yoga, and dance but I still kept up with my pilates classes about ~1-2 times per week depending on my schedule (with it ramping up to 2-3x a week about two months out). But what I really loved about personal training is that I liked how the routines were custom to me and my needs. About 1 1/2 months out, I got a new trainer (Xio) and everything changed. 

1 Month Out: It was like night and day with Xio. I started working out harder than I ever had before. During our first workout I almost threw up twice! She is super detailed about what you should be doing, feeling, and looking like during the routine. She is up close on the floor helping you tweak and making sure you're doing it correctly. The attention to detail is what I think really changed it all. She knew my goals: to gain more muscle, to define my back and arms and to debloat in time for my wedding day.

My schedule around this time was a bit excessive but I still had a small part of me saying this is what needs to be done to be beautiful. I wasn't totally out of the woods, but I was getting there. I was doing 3 Solidcore classes (M/W/F) and two personal training sessions (T/TH) a week and relaxed on the weekends. It kept me busy but it was really a great way to get every part of my body in shape.

I noticed that they each workout helped with one another too. I got stronger in Solidcore just like I got stronger in personal training. I was working hard, gaining muscle, defining my shape and feeling really good.

But a big part of this was what I was eating. After I had my breaking point, I told Xio that I will not count calories (she agreed it was a bad idea) and instead had me start an elimination routine each week. First cutting out sugar, then carbs then dairy. Each of which our body is addicted to and has a hard time digesting. Cutting these out would help me focus on eating a lot of protein, veggies, and fruits (natural sugars were ok).

Note: this is not something sustainable long term, as your body needs certain amounts to properly function, but we wanted to reset my body and this was the way we chose to do it. Sugar was easy, carbs were not. My body really went through a serious withdrawal phase that left me very lethargic. Some days were better than others but I can see why it's not sustainable long term. It did get better but the start was rough.

I was loading up on protein and veggies, and the things I was eating did make me feel a lot better. I was able to eat more without worry, feel good about my choices. After my body got used to the new routine, we would find times where I could have a cheat treat but I could feel the difference when I'd eat carbs and how much slower I felt.

This was me a few days before the wedding. I felt good, my muscles were defined and my hard work had paid off. I lost 4% body fat from the time I started personal training to my last workout. Since my wedding,  I've been back to eating carbs, sugar and dairy like normal but I have been more mindful about what I'm putting into my body.

I'm still trying to eat a ton of protein (mainly chicken) and will go for seconds before I get more carbs. I've also been finding new ways to eat and enjoy veggies (which I didn't before) so really the whole process of my routine before the wedding has set me up for my future. 

I never planned on staying with my old trainer after the wedding but with Xio, I just don't know how I can leave her. We've set new goals and are continuing to workout 2x a week building muscle and maintaining my healthier way of living. 

It's nice to have someone to hold you accountable because now that the wedding has passed, it's easy to make excuses on why you don't want to go or are having a bad food day. But Xio helps keep me in line, is a great support system for my overall journey and an awesome resource for questions. 

I haven't been to Solidcore since the wedding but I do want to get back soon. It's such a good workout and I really enjoyed it but I've just been a little lazy and am giving myself a break. Other than that, I've been doing great, feeling awesome, eating what I want, and weight training twice a week. 

In terms of physical weight, I started my personal training at 149. In my last workout pre-wedding I came in at 144 and now, two months later, I'm 145 (which I've always just rounded up to 150 lol) So, really not much change. What I have seen is that my muscle percent has gone way up. I love that they show through, that I'm looking more toned (especially in my arms and back) and I'm stronger than ever. And I've never been happier!

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