My Journey by Donna Karan

As brides, we’ve all been there: that panicky thought that hits the moment we go to try on wedding dresses and we decide our bodies need to look their absolute best for “The Big Day.”

Suddenly, those who have never done a squat are signing up for Crossfit, workout gurus are upping their daily workouts to two-a-days, and the dieting begins (and ends abruptly with any engagement celebration … then begins again …) in the months leading up to the wedding.

What can be hard to remember amidst all of the chaos is to take a little time for yourself to actually relax and find peace of mind during the wedding planning months. And it is just as important to care for your mind as it is to care for your body, but sometimes, that can be a hard balance to strike.

Fortunately for us, there is a voice of reason who can provide us with the tools we need to look and feel our best on our special day.

Jennifer Dene’s fantastic website, one-on-one and group plans, e-mail updates, training plans, e-books, and overall coaching makes her a godsend to the busy bride.

How did you come up with your program for brides?

Shortly after I got engaged I gained 30 pounds. It was pretty bad timing! I had recently moved to the United States from Sydney, Australia, and had a lot going on in my life that led to this sudden weight gain.

While this impacted my self-esteem as a pilates and fitness trainer, I also felt totally anxious about how I would look and feel on my wedding day (and in my wedding photos).

As the date approached I was desperate to lose weight and, against my better judgement, I
turned to extreme diets and exercise routines. Not only were these methods totally ineffective, they made me feel miserable and detracted from my engagement experience. I realized that if I was going to get results then I had to create my own program that was specifically designed for the health, fitness and lifestyle goals of a busy bride-to-be.

Once I had reached my ideal weight, and learned to release the stress and anxiety of wedding
planning, I started working with other brides who were in the exact same position. And Mind Body Bride was born.

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When should brides start preparing for the body they want before their wedding?

I recommend starting as early as possible; it should be at the top of the list next to selecting
a date and finding a venue.

Brides have so much going on that the thought of following a strict fitness and nutrition plan
is often too much to handle. Having time to take a more gentle approach to getting in shape,
and having the permission to enjoy a treat, or take a day-off from working out, is going to get
the same results in a more fun, relaxed and realistic way.

It’s also more enjoyable to go dress shopping when you feel confident in your body, rather
than buying a smaller size and turning to unhealthy quick-fixes to fit into it at the last minute.

What is the most important thing a bride can do for her overall health?

Eliminate crash-diets and negative self talk. That is the Mind Body Bride mission, to teach
brides how to look and feel amazing without diets and deprivation, and it all starts with
changing how you think.

By focusing on whole-life wellness, not simply weight loss, she will see results more quickly,
and feel more inspired to keep her amazing results after the honeymoon.

By whole-life wellness I mean eating nutritious and delicious food and exercising in a way
that suits her body type, but also prioritizing mental and emotional health with stress-management techniques, self-care exercises and not losing sight of the romance in her
relationship, even though she is busy wedding planning.

What is the simplest thing a bride can do for her health?

Drink more water and get more sleep. Amazing things come from feeling hydrated and
rested, such as having more energy, fewer mood swings, reduced bloating, weight loss and
clearer skin. So drink up and enjoy those naps!

What are some of your favorite superfoods that a bride can enjoy?

I don’t place emphasis on using particular superfoods in my programs, simply because they
are often more expensive, harder to access and not everyone likes the taste. For me, going
back to basics and basing meals around vibrantly-colored vegetables, whole grains and
high-quality proteins is the key.

Having said that, if you are already accustomed to using superfoods, some of my personal favorites are:

Spirulina is an amazing source of protein, nutrients and has an ideal ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids (1.5:1).
Sea vegetables are high in minerals, contain natural iodine to maintain a healthy thyroid and have anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which is amazing for brides.
Berries! Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries … I love them all! I generally keep my sugar intake low, so berries are my fruit of choice when I want something sweet. They are also packed with antioxidants and fiber.

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If a bride is going to incorporate three exercises into her wedding-prep program, what should they be and why?

Weighted lunges. Sculpting beautiful legs is a priority for a lot of my brides. Even if you
can’t see them under the wedding dress, they make you feel confident and sexy (plus there is
that honeymoon swimsuit to consider). The leg muscles are some of the largest in the body and they burn the most calories during and after the workout, so women who have a higher ratio of muscle to fat will burn more calories throughout the day.

Steady state cardio. Cardio has been given a bad wrap in the past few years, and while it shouldn’t be the only form of exercise in a bride’s routine there is an important place for it. While any cardiovascular exercise uses both glucose (the sugars stored in your body) and fat for energy, low-intensity cardio burns a greater percentage of fat than high-intensity training – although the latter burns more calories overall. Cardio is also a great stress buster.

Core work. This is not a specific exercise but an important focus area nonetheless. A strong core will improve posture, flatten the belly and keep the spine safe and healthy during other
workouts. Pilates is my favorite exercise for this.

Who is your health and fitness inspiration?

There are so many inspiring women and men in the health and fitness space, it’s hard to
name just one! People that first come to mind include Lorna Jane (fitness and now nutrition),
Sarah Wilson (I Quit Sugar), Nat Kringoudis (hormonal health), Jennifer Gianni (Fusion Pilates)
and, randomly, Jamie Oliver, who has done amazing things to get people cooking at home.

What is your overall goal with your program, and how do you see it evolving in the future?

My priority is to help brides look and feel amazing on their wedding day without diets and deprivation. It’s not just about weight loss. Every bride has a different goal for the program, ranging from toning to stress management to learning how to eliminate bloating and clear up her skin. In our weekly calls, I tailor the program content to suit her lifestyle and ensure that she reaches her specific goals.

It was really important to me to create a program that is simple to follow and quick to implement. I want my brides to spend more time enjoying their engagement, and less time worrying about health and fitness. It’s also important to me that the new habits she develops are simple enough to continue for life happily ever after.

Finally, a big part of my program is accountability and motivation. I text and email with my brides everyday to help them stay on track and reach their goals.

Later this year I will be releasing my first online group program, with bridal fitness and nutrition e-guides planned for early next year. I think it would also be fun to do something for the grooms, so that could evolve at some point too.

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How should people get ahold of you if they need your help and expertise?

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