This article is brought to you by E Squared Health Coach, Nichole Bates.
You’ve got your soulmate. The ring. And you just said yes to the perfect dress! Now, what? As a former bride myself I know my next step was to make sure that those common features (my back, arms, booty, stomach, etc.) all looked awesome! Pictures last a lifetime, right?
While there are endless promises of the perfect exercises to tone that one area of your body you want to look just right for your big day, we need to let you in on a little secret: if you think you can “spot reduce” by focusing on just exercise, think again.
Let’s redefine spot reduction to what it really is: toning muscle and losing body fat so that you can actually see the tone of the muscle.
But don’t give up on those sculpted shoulders or toned tushy just yet -- here are four toning tips to help you achieve your best body for your wedding day!
Toning Tip #1: Better Nutrition - “Abs are made in the kitchen”
Okay, technically, abs (and other muscles) are developed and toned in the gym, but you won’t be able to see them unless you’re also supporting your exercise routine with good nutrition. This doesn’t mean you need to start measuring all your food or counting every calorie. You do however need to make sure that you’re eating the right way to help your body BURN fat rather than store it.
Looking for a generic meal plan? You won’t get one of those from us at E Squared Health! Our coaches discuss your current nutrition habits with you and help you create sustainable change to reach your wedding day goals and maintain them even after the big day is over. We believe in instilling knowledge in our clients so they can continue with good nutrition habits long after we’ve stopped working together. We also aren’t going to force a specific style of eating on you - we want to help you figure out what works for YOUR BODY and your lifestyle.
Toning Tip #2: Reduce Stress - “Hormones 101”
Let’s talk about sex -- sex hormones that is. Hormones help control things like your thyroid (which is important if you’re trying to optimize energy levels and lose body fat!), your blood sugar, and even your ability to put on lean muscle mass (which you’ll need if you’re wanting to sculpt your body for your wedding day!).
If you’re under chronic stress (long term stress that is unmanaged) your hormones can become unbalanced. Specifically, you have a master hormone called pregnenolone, and ideally, your body would use 50% of it to make your sex hormones (this is a good thing that promotes a healthy sex drive, the ability to make new muscle tissue and make DHEA which is important for your immune system). Your body would use the other 50% to make progesterone and ultimately, cortisol, which is your primary stress hormone. But, if you’re under chronic stress (wedding planning, anyone?), you start to use MORE than 50% to make more cortisol, which can lead to fat storage, especially in your belly. This also leaves less left over for your sex hormone pathway.
At E Squared Health, we know that stress comes in many forms from many sources. We use our proprietary Stress Score to help us best understand where the majority of your stress is coming from and help you to implement stress management strategies. We can even help you to tweak your workouts and nutrition to optimize your sex hormone pathways.
Toning Tip # 3: Effective Exercise - “Work smarter, not harder”
Anyone who has ever tried to get toned has fallen victim to the common misconception that you need to use lighter weights and do more repetitions or you must do lots and lots of cardio.
THIS. IS. FAKE. NEWS.
If you’re looking for toning and definition in any body part you should actually consider picking up a heavier weight and doing fewer repetitions. WAIT, WHAT? I know -- sounds scary right? Afraid of getting bulky? Don’t be!
Using light weights and doing a lot (15 or more) of repetitions is a great starting place if you’re just starting out with exercise. It’s a great way to build a base and minimize the risk of injury. However, eventually, you will need to lift heavier weights with fewer repetitions to avoid plateauing and continue to tone your muscles and lose fat.
Wondering where cardio fits in? Ditch the hour-long elliptical workout and try HIIT (high-intensity interval) training. You will help direct your hormones down the happy hormone pathway (your sex hormone pathway), and away from the belly fat pathway.
Toning Tip #4: Know Your Numbers - “Body fat vs. weight” ”
Now that you know that spot reduction isn’t really a thing, let’s also get real about how to measure success. It’s time to say goodbye to your scale and hello to your body fat percentage. The scale tells you how much you weigh, but tells you nothing about what your weight is made of. And if we had to guess, you care more about looking toned, curvy, and lean than you care about how much you weigh. So why measure weight by itself?
Our clients all receive a monthly body composition assessment and analysis as part of their coaching -- we are able to show them the progress that they are making when it comes to fat loss and muscle gain (don’t worry - we don’t mean “bulky” muscle gain!).
As a Forever Bride member, you are able to go through a month of nutrition and fitness coaching with an E Squared Health Coach -- for free! No strings attached. You will start out with an assessment of your body composition, fitness levels, and stress score. Then, you’ll meet with your coach to talk more about your goals, and receive a custom health plan. Your coach will do a follow up coaching call with you (also free!) and then help you get scheduled for a reassessment so you can compare your results with where you started. Schedule your first appointment or talk to a coach for free now!