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When it comes to getting in shape for your wedding – whether there are months, weeks or days before the big day – it’s never too late or early!

 

A well-rounded fitness routine can help you deal with this stressful and exciting time and, of course, look great. If you’re looking to slim down and tone up for those gorgeous wedding outfits, here’s some helpful information.

 

Fitness and Our Body

 

 

Let’s take a look at why we should stay fit – and how we can!

 

1] To Stay Healthy

 

When someone is bedridden or doesn’t work out, their muscles get smaller and weaker, bones lose mass, and fat accumulates. Our body is designed in a manner where physical stimulation is required for cells to keep working efficiently.

 

Exercise can help control stress levels, cholesterol levels, diabetes, and obesity.1 Obese fat, in turn, can lead to inflammation, which causes a number of lifestyle diseases like heart disease and cancer.

 

2] Weight Loss

 

Body fat is simply stored energy (calories). To lose fat, more calories need to be leaving your fat cells than entering them.

 

To put it simply, fat loss requires more calories going out than coming in.

 

Studies have shown that when people eat less than our body needs in extreme diets, they end up gaining back the weight eventually. Sustainable change, through improved diet and exercise, is better for long-term results.2 This is also better for our health, which eventually translates to how we look.

 

Aerobic exercise (cardiovascular exercise a.k.a. “cardio”) is any exercise that gets your heart rate up and gets more oxygen pumping through your body. Running, cycling, aerobics, zumba, are all examples. Cardio is an excellent way to keep your blood pressure in check and burn calories. It’s especially good for losing belly fat.3, 4 This unhealthy fat tends to build up around your organs and causes many lifestyle diseases.

 

Strength training helps the different muscles in your body become stronger and more powerful, and boosts your metabolism. It includes using weights and resistance equipment, or even your own bodyweight (eg. press-ups, squats and some yoga exercises). Strength training actually is more effective when it comes to weight loss than cardio is! This is because muscle burns more calories than fat. So the more lean muscle tissue you have, the more calories you burn. But a mix of both is ideal for weight loss and overall health.5

 

3] Muscle tone and Endurance

 

It doesn’t take a genius to know that toned muscle always looks better than limp, floppy muscles. Contrary to popular belief, working on your muscle-tone will not make you pump up like a body builder (it takes a lot more than that).

 

You know that pain you feel in your muscles when you work out? That’s because of lactic acid. When our body uses up energy during muscle contraction, lactic acid is a by-product.

 

The body first needs to break down muscle before building it back. The soreness following a workout is due to muscle breakdown by lactic acid. At this point, a good amount of amino acids (from proteins) in your blood will help the process. That’s why people often take a protein shake or eat lots of proteins on workout days. In fact, protein intake has been shown to reduce food cravings and increase metabolic rate too.6-9

 

Toning up your muscles, via stretching, strength training, sports, or yoga, will help you get fit. The stamina you build up would also go a long way in helping you keep up with the rush of wedding preparations and activities!

 

 

Additional Tips for Fitness

 

Here are some tips to help you with your fitness goals.

 

1] Drink water

Dehydration can cause serious problems in the body. We lose a lot of water working out, so make sure you aren’t thirsty by staying hydrated through your workout and throughout the day. Some evidence shows that drinking sufficient water can cause mild, temporary increases in metabolism, which help in weight loss.10, 11

 

2] Diet rich in protein

The recommended amount of protein is 0.8 g per kg body weight. But if we work out, it is better to aim for a little more than that. As mentioned earlier, amino acids from proteins help build muscles.12

 

3] Include fibre in your diet

Fibre doesn’t just keep you full for longer; it also keeps the gut healthy by maintaining its good bacteria, which is thought to aid weight loss.13

 

4] Don’t completely cut out carbohydrates (carbs)

Completely cutting out carbs from your diet is the most popular technique to have a calorie deficit, but it is not a good solution. You should definitely reduce your carb intake, while sticking to fibrous carbs (like whole grains). But by avoiding carbs altogether, the protein and fat from your diet will need to be used as energy, taking away important nutrients from your skin, hair and other parts of the body.14

 

5] Get micronutrients from your diet

Micronutrients are those nutrients you need in small amounts in your diet i.e. vitamins and minerals. A balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables can help you acquire them. Some nutrients from plants, like carotenoids and resveratrol, may help in muscle endurance as well. They will help you get a better workout and their antioxidant properties will help you look good and feel great.

 

6] Flavour your meals with herbs and spices.

Many ingredients found in the kitchen of an Indian household have compounds that help with weight management and muscle endurance. Some of them include fenugreek seedsgarlic and chilli peppers.15

 

7] Take breaks!

As important it is to challenge yourself, it is a good idea to know your limits too. Studies have shown that taking short breaks may boost exercise performance and so gives you a better workout.2 Also, extreme exercise can cause injuries and produce free-radicals that are involved in ageing and diseases. But only you can determine what extreme means for your body. All in all, push yourself to get a good enough workout and consult a trainer if need be.

 

8] Women who exercise regularly often have less menstrual pain.16 To help prevent menstrual cramps, make exercise a part of your weekly routine.

 

9] Get a good nights sleep

Less than 6 hours of sleep night after night (sleep debt) causes hormonal imbalances that make you gain weight. It has been associated with obesity, since it is thought to alter hormones that control appetite.17, 18

 

 

As you can see, small changes in your lifestyle, rather than crash dieting, is what you need to look good on your wedding day and beyond. Why not take this opportunity to also feel great every day by adding exercise to your routine.

 

 

References:

 

1. Fletcher GF, et al. Circulation 1996, 94(4): 857-862.

2. Curioni C, Lourenco P. International journal of obesity 2005, 29(10): 1168-1174.

3. Ohkawara K, et al. Int J Obes (Lond) 2007, 31(12): 1786-1797.

4. Ismail I, et al. Obes Rev 2012, 13(1): 68-91.

5. Stiegler P, Cunliffe A. Sports Medicine 2006, 36(3): 239-262.

6. Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Regul Pept 2008, 149(1-3): 67-69.

7. Leidy HJ, et al. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2011, 19(4): 818-824.

8. Veldhorst MA, et al. Am J Clin Nutr 2009, 90(3): 519-526.

9. Weigle DS, et al. Am J Clin Nutr 2005, 82(1): 41-48.

10. Boschmann M, et al. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2003, 88(12): 6015-6019.

11. Boschmann M, et al. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 2007, 92(8): 3334-3337.

12. USDA. Protein and Amino Acids. Dietary Reference Intakes  2015  [cited]Available from: http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/DRI/DRI_Energy/589-768.pdf

13. Slavin J. Nutrients 2013, 5(4): 1417-1435.

14. Finner AM. Dermatologic Clinics 2013, 31(1): 167-172.

15. Seo DY, et al. Nutr Res Pract 2014, 8(2): 177-182.

16. Abbaspour Z, et al. The Effect of Exercise on Primary Dysmenorrhea, vol. 6, 2006.

17. Leger D, et al. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology.

18. Wiley TS. Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival. Atria Books, 2002.

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