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A wedding diet is not a piece of cake

USA Today, April 6, 2011

When Prince William and Kate Middleton get married later this month, they'll probably look regal on their wedding day — slender, toned and handsome.

But many brides-to-be and grooms-to-be don't have those royal bodies, and they work hard to lose weight before they tie the knot.

After all, they'll probably be photographed and videotaped throughout the day, and the albums, portraits and videos will be life-long keepsakes, so they both want to look their best, says Robyn Flipse, a registered dietitian in Bradley Beach, N.J., and co-author of The Wedding Dress Diet.

Brides especially are often highly motivated to reach a healthy weight and get in great shape because they're "the star of the show," she says.

A wedding is a powerful motivator, and "I don't see anything wrong with that motivation," Flipse says. "It can be put to good use to overcome some sloppy eating habits and lack of interest in exercise."

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Taking a healthy approach to weight can make the difference between being a glowing bride and Bridezilla, she says. And for men, there is a risk of arriving at the ceremony with sore muscles and an aching back from being overambitious at the gym.

Those who try to lose 20 pounds in the couple of weeks before the wedding by fad dieting or starving themselves may be miserable, Flipse says. "They are going to show up feeling drained. Their skin will look sallow and saggy because they have been dehydrating or starving themselves. Anyone who is underfed and trying to use willpower to not eat is going to be cranky. You don't want to look horrible from starving and have a miserable personality to go with it."

Instead, pace yourself, she says. Flipse recommends allowing about six months to lose 25 pounds or so. If you're getting married this October, you can safely lose 20 pounds before then. If you've got a June date this year, aim for 10 pounds, she says.

Most people lose about a pound a week. Some, especially men, may be able to lose two a week. You can accomplish this in a healthy way by going to Weight Watchers, working with a registered dietitian in private practice, using another reputable weight-loss plan or turning to websites such as my or, Flipse says.

Exercise is key. Brides often focus on toning their upper arms and upper body, which may be visible in their dress; men often focus on the upper body and abs to be sure their cummerbund isn't too snug.

Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian in Chicago, encourages people to enlist the help of their fiances with healthy pre-wedding changes. "Not only will the support make it more likely to get to your wedding day goals, it's also important for life after the honeymoon." Unhealthy behaviors can be contagious, she says. If one person adopts healthier habits, but her partner is a junk-food junkie/couch potato — that influence can sabotage the best of intentions, she says.