Get Slim Before Saying “I Do”

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 Genevieve de Manio

There's no better accessory to a gorgeous wedding gown than a sleek, toned figure. But achieving a buff bridal body takes serious commitment—just like marriage itself! Dr. Martica Heaner, exercise physiologist and nutritionist, recommends starting to train a year to six months before your wedding date (or at least three months, if you're waiting till the last minute). Follow these tips to shape up and slim down, so when the big day arrives, you'll look and feel picture perfect.

1. Zero in

Most wedding dresses reveal the arms, shoulders and back, so it’s a good idea to focus on these areas when weight training to get great muscle definition in that strapless, low-backed gown. Target your upper body with pushups, shoulder raises, and bicep curls, or try this bridal workout designed by Dr. Heaner.

Be sure to work in more cardio workouts such as walking, running, cardio machines and aerobics classes in addition to strength training. "Your workouts should combine strength training to firm up flab and cardio to create a leaner silhouette," says Heaner.

La La Vazquez followed this formula to shed 13 pounds before her July 10 wedding to NBA star Carmelo Anthony. Vazquez, 30, hits the gym with Gunnar Peterson (who has trained Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian). "I work out with him every single day. It's for an hour and not on the weekends."

2. Think before you drink 

Between your engagement party, your bachelorette party, and myriad other pre-wedding celebrations, you’re likely to spend a lot of time with a drink in your hand.  Keep in mind that festive, fruity cocktails are often loaded with calories. So when your friends raise a glass to you, make sure yours is holding light beer, white wine or club soda with a twist of lime.

3. Try to relax

Celebrity fitness trainer Holly Perkins, who has trained Adrian Grenier and Susan Ward, recommends yoga for upper-body toning and to stop stress in its tracks. "I love intermediate level moving yoga like a Hatha or Vinyasa class," says Perkins, who also recommends easing up in the days before the wedding. "Two to three days of R&R before the day will cause a decrease in the hormone cortisol and therefore a release in water. You want to arrive feeling fresh and rested. Get a massage 3-5 days before the day and take one or two naps in the days leading up."

Also, take inspiration from Carrie Underwood, 27, who stayed remarkably calm and cool ahead of her July 10 wedding to Canadian hockey player Mike Fisher, 30. "I'm not a big stresser — Mike would love me if I weighed 800 pounds," Underwood says.

4. Ban bloat

Looking great on your wedding means avoiding foods that promote water retention and puffiness. Perkins recommends following this schedule for eliminating problematic foods:

4 weeks out:  Cut out bread, pasta, crackers, boxed cereal, sugar, alcohol, soy

1-2 weeks out:  Cut out salt, protein bars, bananas, beans, broccoli, nuts

"These foods all contribute to either water retention or gastrointestinal disruption and bloat. It's not that broccoli is "bad" for you,  it's that it contributes to belly bloating.  The goal in the last two weeks is to decrease water weight so that you look as lean as possible," says Perkins.

Foods to eat: Dark green leafy vegetables like kale; salmon; other fish, grapefruit, apples, green tea, dandelion tea.

Susannah Detlef is the Diet & Fitness editor at MSN

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