Almost all wedding weight loss goals start with a number.
A number on the scale.
Typically, that number is 20 pounds less than the current number on the scale.
And it’s this number that takes firm control over your emotions and actions the final weeks or months before the wedding. This number leads to feelings of guilt and anxiety, and irrational behavior such as hours of fasted cardio and cutting out carbohydrates altogether.
Although the result of said behavior may drive you closer to that number, it also significantly increases your risk for rapid weight regain and a history of yo-yo dieting and body image issues.
Many brides put too much weight into the scale when preparing for their wedding. They live and die by what number they see every morning and their reactions and emotions manifest throughout the remainder of their day for better or for worse.
This is not a healthy way to prepare to lose weight for your wedding.
The number on the scale is just one piece of the progress puzzle. More importantly, striving for a specific number on the scale is an unhealthy goal – you should be more concerned about how you look and feel on your special day, regardless of that number.
The quicker you understand and appreciate this, the more freeing your life will be. If you put too much weight into the scale – see what I did there – as your sole indicator of progress, you’ll set yourself up for an unsustainable approach to weight loss and an unhealthy relationship with the scale.
Keep reading to learn just how unreliable that pesky number is and where you should focus your energy and effort when determining progress and how to adjust your wedding weight loss or wedding workout plans.
The Number on the Scale isn’t All it’s Cracked Up to Be
The scale is not only one of many pieces of the progress puzzle, but it also may be the most unreliable piece. That’s because many variables impact the number you see.
- Previous Day’s Food, Fluid, and Sodium Intake– Eating and drinking more or less food than usual the day before you step on the scale will have a direct impact on the number you see. Eating more, drinking more, or choosing saltier foods than usual will lead to a bump on the scale. The latter related to an increase in water retention to help your body dilute and excrete the sodium.
- Previous Day’s Wedding Exercise Plan– A high-volume exercise session (think more sets and a higher number of repetitions) may increase muscle damage and inflammation, which leads to water retention and a bump on the scale. Additionally, a longer than usual workout or beginning a completely new workout will have the same effect.
- Wedding Planning Stress– Stress increases the production of the hormone cortisol, which influences water retention and balance within the body, thus, can impact the number on the scale.
- Previous Night’s Sleep– Your sleep schedule impacts the food and fluid habits throughout the day: when, what, and how much you eat and drink. It also impacts fluid balance and hormone production in the body. Collectively, these variables may influence the number on the scale.
- Menstrual Cycle– The five to eight days before your menses you experience a large shift in hormones and major increase in fluid retention. As you can image, this will be displayed on the number on the scale to the tune of seeing a number a few pounds higher than usual.
Look for Other Indicators of Progress
Although the scale can provide valuable information when determining the effectiveness of your new eating and exercise habits, it’s not the only piece of the progress puzzle. Your energy levels, exercise performance, body composition, well-being, confidence, and understanding of nutrition are far more valuable indicators of progress than that pesky number on a clunk of metal.
Would you rather drop 20 pounds in the final few weeks before your wedding, yet, feel like crap throughout the day, regress in the gym, and constantly feel on edge with your fiancé and family? Oh, and have a significantly greater likelihood of rapidly regaining the weight after your wedding…
Or, would you rather drop 8 pounds during the same period, yet, notice a marked increase in energy, exercise performance, and well-being, and a significant boost in confidence that you foresee yourself being able to carry these new eating exercise habits with you into your marriage and into the foundation of healthy eating for your family?
Hopefully, you’d prefer the latter.
The former leads to frequent hunger and continuous fatigue. Ultimately, it primes you for an unsustainable approach to weight loss and blinds you from seeing that many other positive changes are taking place.
How to Track Progress
Tracking your wedding weight loss progress should include a collective overview of multiple variables. To provide yourself with accurate and reliable information, I recommend you include the following strategies:
- Weigh-In Three Mornings Per Week
The scale may not be the only piece of the progress puzzle, but it carries enough weight to be mentioned as a top strategy for tracking overall progress. It’s even more valuable when you are able to acknowledge that the number on the scale will fluctuate (because of the reasons we just discussed) and control your initial reaction. To best view long-term progress, track the change in your weekly average weight and use this to help you make an informed decision about how to adjust your wedding diet and exercise plan.
I recommend you target a rate of weight loss of 0.5 – 1.0 percent of your bodyweight per week. That’s 0.9 – 1.8 pounds per week for a 180-pound bride. Losing weight any faster than this will greatly increase the likelihood of muscle loss and rapid weight regain. Not to mention it may lead to an emergency dress alteration that you didn’t budget for!
- Take Progress Photos Every Two Weeks
Pictures are far more valuable than the number on the scale. They provide a real-time assessment from every angle and help you to notice change throughout your entire body versus judging change based on an unreliable number.
I recommend you take progress photos wearing a bikini or a sports bra and compression shorts and that you plan to take in the same spot with the same clothing each photo op.
- Take Body Composition Measurements Every Two Weeks
Body composition measurements tell a better story and highlight progress better than the scale will any day. I recommend you take measurements at the following sites:
- Upper arms
- Mid-upper thigh