I want to lose weight for my wedding. What's the best way to do it?
- It's OK to have aesthetic goals for your wedding, and understandable if brides want to lose weight.
- Slower weight loss is usually more sustainable, and also allows you to enjoy your life more.
- Eat in a small calorie deficit and prioritize resistance training, fat loss coach Anjuli Mack and nutritionist Jamie Wright advise.
I'm getting married in a year and want to lose some weight (I know brides shouldn't feel they have to lose weight, but I just want to feel my best). Do you think it would be better for me to lose weight slowly over the year, and do it gently? Or have weight loss periods and then breaks? Or do it more intensely just for a few months before the big day? I'd probably like to lose about 15-20 pounds. Thanks!
— Bride to Be
Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials! How exciting.
There's a societal expectation of brides to lose weight for their weddings, but no one should feel pressure to do so. That said, you also shouldn't feel bad if you have a certain vision in mind for how you'd like to look on your big day.
"There is definitely nothing wrong with wanting to lose fat for a wedding or any other reason," personal trainer and fat loss coach Anjuli Mack told Insider. "You don't need to justify it — your body, your choice."
15-20 pounds is a very achievable amount of weight to lose in a year — about one pound a week is considered healthy weight loss by experts, but the more fat you have to lose overall, the more you can healthily lose each week — which puts you in a strong position to experiment and reassess.
Slow weight loss is generally more sustainable
Research suggests that slower weight loss is more sustainable, and it also allows you to live more of a normal life and still enjoy, say, your engagement drinks and wedding cake tasting.
"The more aggressive you are with the deficit, the more consequences you will have to suffer, such as increased cravings, lower mood, and reduced performance," MyProtein nutritionist Jamie Wright said.
However, some people do better with short, sharp diets, and it can be motivating to see results.
"I personally prefer to just push through a shred and have it shorter rather than longer where I feel like I'm always dieting," Mack said.
If you have a busy social life, you can reassess as you go and take breaks as you need to, whether because you're mentally fatigued, have a vacation, or feel like you've hit a plateau.
One approach Mack suggests is:
- Aim to lose 10-12 pounds through 12 weeks in a calorie deficit.
- Spend one to four weeks at your maintenance calories.
- Move to a slight calorie surplus to aid muscle building.
- Drop your calories again two to three months before your wedding to lose any extra fat.
This strategy would help you achieve "a totally different body composition of more muscle, less fat, more strength, energy and confidence," Mack said.
There's no one right way to approach it though, we are all individual, she said.
Having a long timeframe allows you to "totally transform mentally and physically," Mack added, and you might just develop a new lifestyle that sticks.
Create a gentle calorie deficit and resistance train
To lose weight, you need to be in a calorie deficit.
Start with small changes by increasing movement, water intake, and sleep, and reduce alcohol and takeout, Mack said.
To ensure you lose fat and hold on to muscle (creating a "toned" physique), it's important to resistance train as well, while also eating a high protein diet and getting enough sleep — try not to lose rest over wedding admin.
Research suggests that resistance training leads to fat loss, muscle gain, increased metabolism, and higher calorie burn after exercise, among other benefits.
If you're already training regularly, aim for weight lifting five times a week, but the changes you make will depend on your current lifestyle, Mack said — if you currently walk 5,000 steps a day, try and increase that, for example.
Wright recommends dropping your daily calorie intake 10-20% lower than your estimated maintenance, so if you're currently eating 2,200 calories a day, aim for 1,760-1,980 calories.
This would be a modest deficit, which leads to slower, likely more sustainable results.
Mack advises monitoring your progress with photos and measurements rather than solely the scale, not only because weight fluctuates for various reasons, but also because what matters most is how you look and feel on your wedding day, not a number.
Avoid fad diets and obsessing over your weight
Eat regular meals in a structured, but not rigid, routine, Wright said: "It should be plant-centric, richer in 'healthy' fats from plants and oily fish, and higher in protein." But don't cut out carbs and your favorite treats either.
Try not to let your desire to lose weight consume you and lead to over-restriction.
"You want to look fit, athletic, strong and confident," Wright said. "Not frail and miserable after a year-long obsessive drive to achieve a lofty weight loss number that leads you down the path of various fad diets and excessive exercise routines."
Although you have a goal in mind, be mindful of maintaining a healthy relationship with food, exercise, and your body.
Don't let your weight loss overshadow your wedding and add even more stress to what is often an already stressful time — it's meant to be fun! And that doesn't require being your smallest self.
Wishing you well,
As a senior health reporter at Insider and a self-described fitness fanatic with an Association for Nutrition-certified nutrition course under her belt, Rachel Hosie is immersed in the wellness scene and here to answer all your burning questions. Whether you're struggling to find the motivation to go for a run, confused about light versus heavy weights, or unsure whether you should be worried about how much sugar is in a mango, Rachel is here to give you the no-nonsense answers and advice you need, with strictly no fad diets in sight.
Rachel has a wealth of experience covering fitness, nutrition, and wellness, and she has the hottest experts at her fingertips. She regularly speaks to some of the world's most knowledgeable and renowned personal trainers, dietitians, and coaches, ensuring she's always up to date with the latest science-backed facts you need to know to live your happiest and healthiest life.
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