Getting in Your Top Shape

Taking that first step with a new shape-up program is always challenging, yet also exciting. Think of it as starting a training adventure that will peak during some of the most memorable moments of your life. If you have the commitment to get married, you can harness your spirit of commitment to get in your best shape ever. As in any relationship, your positive attitude about yourself will help you through many challenges. However, finding the right program for you is just as important as your dedication.

Know Before You Start

Brides are beautiful because they glow from within, reflecting the love and joy that they feel. As you prepare for your important day, keep perspective on why you're training and what your training will do for you. Radiance from within is really the result of optimal health and well-being from taking good care of yourself in mind, body, and spirit.

You're training to be the best you — not to look like a supermodel or a celebrity — but to embrace your best self. To achieve this goal, you need to consider what it means. True wellness includes physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual dimensions. These components are all interrelated.

Components of Wellness

The components of wellness include the following:

  • Physical wellness—The health of your body is affected by whether you maintain minimal levels of physical fitness, whether you eat nutritious foods, and whether you restore your body with quality rest. It is negatively affected by harmful habits such as smoking, overeating junk foods, or excessive consumption of alcohol.

  • Mental wellness—Mental health refers to the strength of your reasoning abilities and cognitive skills — whether you are able to learn, understand information, and apply knowledge.

  • Emotional wellness—Emotional well-being consists of feeling good about who you are. A positive attitude in life contributes to emotional wellness. Whether you effectively manage stress can negatively affect your mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

  • Social wellness—Enjoying a strong network of friends and family, even a close relationship with a pet, is important to staying healthy, strengthening your immune system, and improving the quality and longevity of your life.

  • Spiritual wellness—Spiritual beliefs, independent of physical needs of the body, are also an important component of well-being. Feelings of inner peace and harmony with yourself and the world around you contribute to your spiritual health.

The program in this book provides a holistic approach that primarily focuses on the physical aspect of your overall wellness, while including tips and information regarding how to enhance your health in other dimensions so that you can achieve total well-being. Creating total wellness is really a matter of adopting healthy habits that integrate each of these aspects for a balanced approach to living well and producing health, which will serve both you and your spouse well during the many years of your married life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about half of all deaths in the United States are related to behaviors that can be changed. Studies show that if you follow a way of life that promotes health, you can add as much as 20 years to your life. This is true even if you adopt healthy habits at the age of 50.

Components of Fitness

Like wellness, fitness consists of a variety of elements that together create physical health. A broad definition of fitness is a state of well-being in which you have a low risk of developing health problems at a young age and you have plenty of energy to participate in a full, active lifestyle.

Fitness is also achieved on a variety of levels. You can exercise to enjoy fitness for a healthy life or you can train to achieve the fitness of an Olympic athlete. Neither approach is better than the other; it simply depends on your goals. The wedding workout program in this book focuses on fitness for health, which includes cardiovascular fitness; muscular strength; muscular endurance; flexibility; body composition; and balance, agility, and coordination.

Cardiovascular Fitness

Cardiovascular fitness is also called aerobic fitness or cardiovascular endurance, and refers to the condition of your heart and lungs. The more efficient your cardiorespiratory system is, the more able you are to use oxygen to create energy for continuous physical activity. If you have good cardiovascular fitness, this means that your heart is strong and conditioned and your lungs are healthy and efficient.

Muscular Strength

Muscular strength refers to the maximum amount of weight that you can lift at any one time — the force you can exert in one effort. This is also called your one-rep max. For example, if you can do only one squat while holding forty pounds of weight, that is your one rep max for the squat. Developing high levels of strength generally results in larger-sized muscles. Take a look at bodybuilders or power lifters for an idea of the results of working on muscular strength.

Muscular Endurance

Muscular endurance is the number of times you can lift a sub-maximal weight continuously over time without becoming tired. For example, if you can do twenty squats before your legs become too fatigued to do another one, that is how much endurance you have in your hip and thigh muscles. Developing a lot of muscular endurance typically results in leaner muscles. Take a look at the legs of marathon runners or karate experts.


Flexibility relates to your ability to move your joints fully and freely. For example, if the muscles in your lower back and in the backs of your legs are flexible, you can bend over and touch your toes. Flexibility is specific to each joint. For example, your hamstrings may be flexible but the muscles around your shoulders might still be tight. Maintaining flexibility gives you ease and grace in motion — perfect for gliding down the wedding aisle.

It's easy to be sucked up into the constant barrage of details that fly your way when planning a wedding. Don't lose yourself in all those details. Remember: All wedding and no play make you a dull bride-to-be! Exercise is one way to take some much-needed time for yourself along that busy road to the altar.

Body Composition

Body composition is the term used to describe the components of your body that, when added up all together, make up your total body weight, meaning that it represents how much of your body is fat and how much of your body is not fat (muscles, bones, organs, and other vital tissues).

Knowing your body composition is more valuable than knowing your weight. Body composition takes into account that some of us are larger-framed with bigger bones, whereas your weight does not. When you want to lose weight, you want to lose fat, not valuable lean muscle, and certainly not important bone density.

Balance, Agility, and Coordination

Balance, agility, and coordination are related to the neuromuscular system, in other words, the degree of effectiveness of the connection between your mind and your body. The more practice that you have executing moves that require balance, agility, and coordination on a progressive basis, the more you will improve these skill areas.

Poor balance is a leading contributor to falls in older adults, which can have fatal consequences. In the United States, one out of three adults over age 65 fall. Twenty-five percent of people over age 50 who fall and break a hip bone die within the first year following their hip fracture. Unless you actively practice, you begin to lose your balance skills starting around age 30.

Principles of Fitness Training

To achieve fitness in all six components of fitness, a good training program includes four training principles. These are known by the acronym FITT:

  1. Frequency — This refers to how many days per week you need to do particular exercises.

  2. Intensity — This relates to how hard your body's working during exercise.

  3. Time — This principle concerns how long the exercise session lasts.

  4. Type — This refers to the kind of exercise activity.

For example, to get aerobically fit, you need to exercise at least four days a week, at 40 to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate, for at least 30 minutes, by doing a rhythmic activity that uses the large muscles of the lower body such as walking, jogging, swimming, or bicycling.

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