Shape Up for Your Wedding Day
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This is one of the most exciting times of your life. The days, weeks and months ahead will be filled with activity. In all of the hubbub and excitement, it's easy to neglect yourself and your health. This basic routine, which begins six months before your wedding, will help you keep on track taking care of yourself. Keeping healthy will give you the energy you'll need to do all the things which have to get done. You owe it to yourself!

Six Months Before Your Wedding Day
If you feel that you need to firm up or lose a few pounds, this is the time to begin. To achieve the results you want, while maximizing your energy level, you will need to start your program at least 24 weeks before your wedding. There is no quick fix here, so if you're serious, set aside time for at least three sessions in four, six-week cycles. As always, it's wise to consult with your doctor before undertaking any exercise or weight loss program. If you can afford to do so, make an appointment with a nutritionist or dietician. Such consultations are usually not too costly will compliment whatever fitness program you decide to embark upon.

Begin to be "water conscious." There is no better gift that you can give your body than water. Experts recommend between eight and ten glasses of water every day. This simple routine, a regular intake of water, will fulfill your body's natural thirst, flush toxins from your body and hydrate your skin.

Snacking is a natural outgrowth of stressful periods in your life, but now that you are being especially weight-gain conscious, you need to make sure that your snacks are low in sodium. Extra salt in your diet will bloat you and leave you feeling puffy, so watch out for the "hiding sodium" in items such as canned soups, chips, pretzels and many beverages.

Generally speaking, free weights are the fastest way to tone your body, particularly your upper torso. Lighter weights with higher numbers of repetitions will work best. This will achieve toning without adding bulk.

Begin every session with warm-up walking (twenty minutes for the first few weeks, increasing gradually to between thirty and forty minutes). These are some guidelines for basic firming and tightening exercise. They are not etched in stone. Your doctor or fitness center personnel can provide you with a variety of programs. If your budget can manage it, consider several sessions with a personal trainer.

These are some basic exercises that address the tough spots in your body . . . your waistline, your upper arms, your legs, thighs and buttocks. Persevere and you will benefit in any number of ways, both physically and emotionally. Good Luck.

For Your Waistline
Lie down on the floor, flat on your back. Bend your knees in a 45-degree angle. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Lock your fingers behind your head and lift your shoulder blades off the floor as high as you can. Breathe out as you rise and breathe in when you lower yourself back down to the floor. For the first six weeks of the program, do three sets of fifteen repetitions. For the second six weeks, do three sets of twenty repetitions. For the third six weeks go to four sets of twenty repetitions and for the last six weeks, maximize with 120 crunches in any groups or sets with which you are comfortable (e.g., two sets of sixty repetitions or four sets of thirty repetitions, etc.)

For Your Upper Arms
Stand about three feet away from a counter top, or any other stationary object of that height. Place your arms at shoulder's length apart. Keep your body straight. Bend at the elbows and bring your cheeks level to the counter top. Push away back up to a standing position. If you do not find this difficult, you can try the "classic" pushups, off the floor. For the first six weeks, do three sets of between twelve and fifteen repetitions. For weeks six to twelve, do four sets. In weeks twelve to eighteen, work up to five sets. Finally, in weeks eighteen through twenty-four, go up to six.

For Your Hips, Thighs and Buttocks
Begin in a standing position, feet a shoulder's length apart. Step about two feet forward on one foot, while bending both legs at the knees. Drop as close to the ground as you can without actually touching it. Bring your leg back to its original position. Repeat the same lunging movement with your other leg. Follow this incremental schedule: First six week sessions: alternate six times with each leg for three sets
Second six week sessions: alternate up to eight times for four sets
Third six week sessions: alternate up to ten times for five sets
Fourth six week sessions: alternate up to twenty times for six sets

If followed "religiously," this routine, combined with a program of good eating habits, will help keep your body fit. Staying healthy will give you the extra push to arrive at your wedding day feeling the best you can!

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