How to Get Fit Before the Big Day

Gather expert tips from Jillian Michaels on getting in shape for the wedding.

We asked world-renowned trainer and health expert Jillian Michaels for her advice on staying motivated while planning a wedding, getting in shape before the big day, and maintaining your fitness level after the honeymoon!

Photo: Jodee Debes Photography

After you've said "yes" to the love of your life's proposal, it's time to start planning a wedding! For many, it's also a time when getting in shape becomes of the utmost importance. No matter what your current fitness level may be, most brides-to-be want to look their best when they walk down the aisle. Thousands of photos will be taken by your loved ones and photographer on the big day, not to mention you'll want to feel like your best self during all of the events leading up to the moment you exchange vows with your beloved.

From watching what you eat, to getting on a consistent exercise plan, and also making sure you get enough sleep despite the stress that planning a wedding may bring, there a number of ways to look and feel your best before you say "I do" in front of friends and family. Whether you're on the mission to get in shape on your own, or you're working together with your spouse-to-be or bridesmaids to meet your goals, the most important thing is to stay consistent and not get burned-out.

We asked world-renowned trainer and health expert Jillian Michaels, who has a special "Wedding Warrior" bridal bootcamp program on her My Fitness app, for her advice on staying motivated while planning a wedding, getting in shape before the big day, and maintaining your fitness level after the honeymoon! 

1. How can you stay motivated to work out while you’re busy with wedding planning?

The key with motivation, no matter what the occasion, is establishing a "why" – a reason to do the work associated with the goal. A wedding day is a pretty big “why". Most of us want to look and feel our best, so focus on how confident, strong, and sexy you will feel walking down the aisle.

2. Which muscles should you prioritize leading up to a wedding?

Personally I believe in training the entire body. This is how you will look and feel your best. Total-body training will burn more body fat and tone every muscle group. That's why the bridal boot camp workout program in my app is focused on total body training with HIIT intervals.

3. Which exercises are best for which bridal gown silhouettes?

Again, I train to get the entire body in shape, and for that reason, an exercise like push-ups is going to be better than something like shoulder presses. This is because a push-up works multiple muscle groups at the same time, so it’s more efficient and burns more fat. Things like squat thrusters, push-up variations, plank variations, weighted lunge variations with upper body exercises like lunges with biceps curls, dips, pull-ups or assisted pull-ups, and HIIT intervals will condition your entire body quickly.

4. How important is diet to a fitness routine?

Diet is a crucial component to any successful fitness regimen. This is because you can eat your way through any amount of exercise. Think about it for a second: one order of French fries or even a slice of pizza is equivalent to the calories burned in roughly 30 minutes of intensity training. So being sure to watch how much you are eating is paramount to slimming down and toning up.

5. How far in advance should you start working out to get in shape?

This really depends on where you are starting from. If you have 20 pounds you want to lose, I’d give yourself at least three months. If you are really just talking about losing the last 10 pounds and going from good to incredible, with the right workout, you can do it in six weeks provided your diet is also on point. That’s why I have over eight meal plans in my app for people to choose from. If you aren’t focusing on both diet and exercise at the same time, the progress will be slow.

6. What should a bride do if they suffer an injury but still want to tone up?

You can work around any injury. If it’s a lower-body injury, you avoid impact and get into things like boxing, rowing, upper-body weights, and isolated leg exercises. If it’s an upper-body injury, you simply reverse this logic. You would do lower-body weight training, jump training, sprints, core, etc.

7. How do you avoid burning out when embarking on a new fitness routine?

There are many ways, but first and foremost, you have to establish your “why": a detailed outcome and goal that you can visualize and emotionally connect to. It’s this “why" that allows you to tolerate the work and the sacrifice associated with achieving your goal. So think about walking down the aisle, how your grandchildren might just have your wedding photo on their wall one day, or feeling super sexy in your bathing suit on your honeymoon. And, if you train the right way and eat the right way, you will get great results, which also helps you stay the course.

8. What do you recommend for a pre- and/or post-workout snack?

I don’t build eating schedules around fitness. Your eating schedule should happen over a 9-12 hour period during the day with a 12 hour fast window overnight while you sleep. This would look like breakfast, then three to four hours later a snack, then three to four hours later lunch, then three to four hours later dinner. You can reverse the order of lunch and snack if you'd like. With this schedule, you don’t eat again after dinner until 12 to 16 hours later for breakfast the next day. This allows your body to maintain energy, stabilize blood sugar, and allow an overnight fast window for your body to do “housekeeping” – which essentially means it culls dead cells and focuses on other body functions other than breaking down food. This is great for overall health and anti-aging.

9. What's a good way for couples to motivate one another while also planning a wedding?

I think the key is to get on the same page. One of the top reasons people cite for falling off a health and fitness regimen is because their significant other wasn’t on board. That being said, making sure you are both on the same page and want the same things can really help, otherwise your partner might feel threatened and unconsciously try to sabotage you by ordering pizza, etc. Communication is key. Be sure to talk about what you want for the future for both of you: a long, healthy life together, looking good and feeling good, and having great sex, for example. Staying fit helps accomplish all three.

10. What are your tips for staying motivated to work out and being healthy after the wedding?

The great news is that maintenance is way easier than losing or getting back in shape. If you are at your goal, you don’t need to worry about eating less than you burn in a day in order to lose fat. You can eat a bit more, be a bit more lax with your workouts, and go three times a week if things get busy without seeing much of a change instead of five, for example. The key is to simply not overeat – if you don’t overeat, you can’t gain fat. Maintain your fitness with a minimum of three, focused thirty-minute workouts a week and that will keep you in solid shape. 

Jillian Michaels tips for getting in shape before the wedding day my fitness app wedding warrior program

To get more information about the app and access a six-week bridal bootcamp program with unique workouts that alternate between 40-minute strength days and 25-minute cardio days to get you in shape for your trip down the aisle, click here. For more inspiration, discover five healthy habits for engaged couples, learn six fitness tips for brides-to-be, and get more health and fitness tips.