Resident bride-to-be Nadine fights to keep her fitness regime in tact for her wedding day (and after)!

The most important call a bride-to-be receives is probably the one to schedule their first dress fitting. After months of waiting, I’m expecting my call any day. I can’t wait to wear it again! Most brides prepare for their dress fittings by toning up or losing weight. I’ve been doing both: increasing fruits and veggies intake, avoiding fatty fried foods and even hitting the gym a few times a week. Although I love the results (7 inches so far!), because I’m petite and slim, I don’t want to lose any more weight or gain too much muscle. So I’m switching up my routine: more cardio and yoga.

Contrary to popular belief, this lifestyle change is about more than my dress or my wedding.  I turn 35 in May so it’s more about keeping a promise I made to myself on how I wanted to celebrate this milestone. Whatever your motivation, I hope these expert tips will help you achieve and maintain your fitness goals.

Balancing Act: There’s only one healthy way to achieve your wedding day weight: A combination of diet and exercise. Before beginning any weight loss or fitness program, be sure to speak with your doctor.

If you don’t exercise when you diet, you might end up losing lean tissue. That’s the svelte, sculpted muscle you want to keep. And just because you work out 5 days a week doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want. If you’re serious about getting in shape for your wedding day, you need to strike a balance between healthy eating and exercise. And don’t forget to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day!

The Basics: The formula for weight loss is simple: calories burned must exceed calories consumed. To keep your energy high, choose a safe, healthy eating plan that targets a loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week, which, for most of us, means consuming about 1200 calories a day. If you have a significant amount of weight to lose before the wedding — say 20 pounds — you’ll need to start your diet between 5 and 6 months before the big day.

Getting Started: Before you begin shaping up for your wedding, figure out you’re starting point.

Step 1: Pick a good start date. Go through your kitchen cupboards and get rid of items that could throw out you off track. Then stock your cabinets with healthy alternatives.

Step 2: Keep a food diary that includes what, how much, and at what times you eat, as well as any accompanying emotions you experience.  In time, you’ll notice your patterns and understand the triggers behind your cravings.

Step 3: Determine your fitness level. If you ask a personal trainer for a fitness assessment, you’ll likely be given a body composition test (where your ratio of fat to muscle is measured), a cardiovascular fitness test (tracked by your progress on a treadmill or step machine), a joint flexibility test (usually a simple “Sit and Reach” test), and a muscular strength test. If you don’t have access to a personal trainer, assess yourself by recording your body measurements, making note of how long it takes you to walk or run a mile, and doing as many sit-ups as you can in 60 seconds.

Aerobic Exercise: Cardio-driven big muscle exercises include walking or running, and are among the best exercises you can do to burn fat. Exercise at a moderate pace — one at which you could easily carry on a conversation. Start exercising in 15-minute increments, three times a week. As your endurance improves, increase your exertion level and your length of exercise time.

Resistance Training: If you’re looking to sculpt your body this can be a perfect complement to aerobics.  Start with low weights so that you feel muscle fatigue after one set of 12 to 15 exercise repetitions. As you build endurance, add more weight and increase the number of repetitions in your set.

Flexibility: Don’t forget to stretch!  Not only will stretching keep you safe from serious muscular injury, increasing your flexibility is essential to improving your overall fitness. Start by holding stretches for 15 seconds at a time, working your way up to 60 seconds.

Resolutions for Life: Once you’ve begun your healthy diet and exercise plan, there’s one big challenge left: Sticking to it! And not just until your wedding day. The key to long-term weight loss is making healthy eating and fitness part of your lifestyle everyday.

How are you getting in shape for your wedding day?