Buff Bride

When the wedding day is approaching quickly and you are scrambling around trying to lock-down vendors, pricing and details, the last thing you are probably thinking about is fitness and diet. I got together with Emily Waters, a NASM certified personal trainer in the DC area and asked her a few questions. Hopefully, her motivating responses help get you up off your butts and moving around!!

NAE: How did you get your start as a personal trainer?

EW: I joined a new gym about 3 years ago and with my membership I got a free personal trainers session. I always had this vision that personal trainers were only for rich and famous people who had the money to pay for it. During my first session I LOVED it. I’ve always enjoyed working out and I’ve been playing a bunch of different sports since I was very young so this wasn’t a surprise to me. I felt so good after my session that I decided to do something for myself and buy a package. It wasn’t cheap and I was hesitant to spend the money on it at first, but it was so worth it in the end. Not only did I lose 12 pounds in the first 2 months (my goal wasn’t really to lose a lot of weight, I really just did it because it was fun to me) but I toned up a lot more and I realized that I was a lot more passionate about fitness than I realized. As I continued to meet with my trainer I realized that I was capable of doing everything he was doing. So I started looking into getting my personal trainers certification. I bought the materials, studied on my free time, took the test and passed. After that it all started with a friend of mine who knew someone who was too intimidated by the trainers in her gym and wanted someone to come to her apartment complex gym to train her. It’s now been about 3 years and I have 7 clients that I train 4 days a week, after my full-time job, in my apartment complex gym. I LOVE IT.

NAE: What is your favorite part about being a personal trainer?

EW: I have two favorite things. First, I love seeing my clients accomplish new goals. When they are able to do a workout that they could barely do when we first started, or when they sign up for a race (I recently had a client start running and has since ran a half marathon and done a few sprint triathlons) and get so excited to tell me how well they did, it’s an amazing feeling. Not only is it a sense of accomplishment for them, but I can see a change in my clients attitude when they meet their goals. Every one of my clients is happier and more excited now that they are more in shape and able to do things they couldn’t before, or wear things that they never fit into before. My first client ever doesn’t meet with me anymore but she’s since gone on to be as much of a fitness fanatic as me and she still sends me pictures when she buys a new cute outfit and is so proud to be able to look good in it. I’ve been fortunate to have most of my clients change their way of life and actually make working out a priority for them, even without my help. It makes me feel like I impacted their lives in a positive way.

My second favorite thing is being able to put my clients through difficult workouts to test them and show them how far you can really push yourselves. A lot of people do not push themselves nearly as far as they should/could. Sometimes my clients will call it torture (while it’s happening) but afterwards I always ask them how they feel and 9 times out of 10 I hear, “I’m exhausted but I feel so good!” I love to hear, “I hate you” during the workout because it means I’m doing my job and not one of them has ever stayed mad at me:)

NAE: I wake up pretty early in the morning to get to work. What is a good 10-15 minute workout that I can squeeze in before heading to work to help wake me up and get me moving for the day?

EW: This is tricky because it’s difficult for me to give a good workout without demonstration. I will say though, that it’s always better to do a quick 15 minute workout then no workout at all. In fact, an intense 15 minute workout to start the day can sometimes be enough. Note…“sometimes” is key here. It really depends on how “in or out” of shape you are and what your goals are. If you are trying to lose weight, while 15 minutes is always better than no workout at all, it might not be enough to reach your weight loss goal. If you were to do a quick 15 minute workout I would highly recommend that it not only be intense, but that you attempt to work your entire body. After all, it’s only 15 minutes and you want to get the most out of the little amount of time that you have. A very effective way to burn calories and keep things interesting is to do circuit training. Select 2-3 leg exercises (lunges, squats), 2-3 upper body exercises (push-ups, dips), and 2-3 ab exercises (it’s much easier to look these up than to have me say a name without an explanation…trust me, there are a ton out there). You can find a ton of exercises online if you simply type in “ab exercises” or “leg exercises”. They will likely have demonstrations online. Once you select the ones you want to do simply rotate through them quickly, only taking a break after you’ve done each exercise. For example: 10 squats, 10 push-ups, 10 ab exercise, 10 lunges, 10 dips, etc. Doing them back to back, without breaks, will get your heart rate up and create a cardio workout session in addition to strength training, which are both key to losing weight and staying in shape. Cycle through all the exercises a total of 3 times. It will be quick, intense (Push yourself! Don’t be a slacker!), and will give you a total body workout. Mix it up to keep things interesting and invest in dumbbells and other exercise equipment to add variety and work different muscles.

NAE: What is the best workout to squeeze into your lunch break?

EW: Depending on what your job is, it might be difficult to do any sort of strength training or cardio because you might have to be dressed professional. I recommend leaving a pair of sneakers in the office and taking a brisk walk everyday during your lunch break. Recently I started a mid-day tradition in my office called “stairs.” At 1pm, whenever everyone is done with lunch and hitting that wall where they just want to take a nap and not go back to work, we all (the people willing to cooperate with me:)) go out in the hall and since our office is on the 8th floor of a 12 story office building, we talk down the stairs to the bottom. When we get to the bottom we walk all the way back to the top, catch our breath and come back down to the 8th floor. It takes a total of about 10 minutes and really gets your heart racing but isn’t long enough to make people sweat or take up too much of your time. I can’t say that there is a “best” workout for your lunch break, but I can say that anything you do to get up and get moving is much better than sitting around all day. Just make sure that a walk to the vending machine or across the street to McDonald’s isn’t your “activity” for the day 🙂

NAE: Since wedding gowns usually cover most of your body, with the exception of upper back and arms, what do you suggest as a workout for these areas?

EW: Again, this is tricky, without demonstrations, but if you Google “upper back exercises” you will find a ton of options. Push-ups, lat pull-down (need a machine in the gym), shoulder press (machine), bicep curls (can use dumbbells, bands/tubing, or a machine), or dips are all good. I would also recommend asking someone in your local gym to show you a few upper body exercises. Most will be very willing to help. Or take the time to look at the little picture/instructions on the exercise equipment. Almost all machines show which muscles it works and how to perform the exercise. I would give more suggestions but I know a lot of stuff just by memory (some things I have my own names for) and I’m not as good as Fitness or Shape at explaining workouts step by step. If you are serious about getting in shape though and determined to look your best on your wedding day, there are a TON of resources out there and it won’t even require much research. Even if you Google, “wedding, exercises” you will see a ton of information to help you get in shape for your big day.

NAE: What is the most common misconception about getting fit?

EW: I would say that there are two. First, that it’s too difficult to try or that you have to be very drastic/severe with your diet and exercises choices. Yes, you do have to be very conscious of what you eat and you cannot eat poorly and expect to see the same results, but you do not have to live off of carrots and lettuce either. You can splurge every once in a while and have a cookie or a dessert. The key is to just watch your portion size and to not make a habit of it. If you deprive yourself completely, you will end up over-indulging. What you hear/read in all the magazines/TV shows/etc. is true. Don’t think that it won’t happen for you or “but I can’t do this because…” or “but I’m different because…” It’s not true. Everyone can lose weight and/or stay fit. You have to be willing to make the change first, and then willing to stick with it. Don’t beat yourself up if you slip up one night and over-indulge with pizza. Start over with your next meal and eat healthy. If you make yourself/let yourself feel guilty all it is going to do is ruin your attitude and you won’t be able to stay focused. Be willing to put in the time and effort (because it won’t be super easy) but don’t look at it as an impossible challenge. Set little goals for yourself and work toward one thing at a time.

The second misconception is that “I don’t have enough time” to workout. If you were to give me your schedule for the entire week I guarantee I could call you out on it and find time for you to workout.. The truth is, most people don’t make working out a priority and therefore they don’t have time. You have to be willing to possibly give up a TV show or an hour wasted on Facebook (you know you do it). You might have to go to bed a little earlier so you can get up earlier and workout. You might not be able to go to every happy hour after work because sometimes you have to choose going to the gym instead. I workout 6 days a week. Every day after work I go to the gym for an hour. This is part of my day. If someone asks me to do something between the hours of 4 and 5pm any day of the week I say that I am unavailable. That is my workout time. It’s a priority. It’s something I “have” to do. If something does come up and I have to miss a workout, I will make sure that I then workout on my normal “day off.” It’s about committing to your health. No you don’t need to workout 6 days a week and if you miss a workout, it’s not the end of the world, I’m just trying to show you how making it a priority will force you to make time for it. Also, like I said before, it doesn’t have to be an hour either; you can very easily fit in an intense 15 minute workout and see results.

NAE: How far in advance should you start working out to look stunning on your wedding day?

EW: ASAP. It really depends on how much change you want to see in your body and how much time/effort you are willing to put into it. Obviously, the sooner you start the better chance you have of losing more weight and/or toning up for your big day. If you get engaged and plan your wedding for 3-5 months away, you won’t have as long, but it doesn’t mean you can’t increase the time/effort you put into it and still see results. I feel that everyone should be concerned about the health all the time, and not just concerned with looking good for their big day, BUT I completely understand wanting to feel/look your best and I encourage every bride to be to use this time to motivate themselves to get into shape. I would like to see all new brides keep up their exercise routines and use it as a new way of life. So I say ASAP because not only will you be happy with the results you see but when people get into better shape, it almost always leads to more positive things in other areas of their life. The happier you are with yourself, the happier you’ll come across to other people and it just becomes a positive experience for everyone involved. It’s a win/win! You always read stories about people who lost weight and it changed their life. It’s true, it really does happen! Even if you are just looking to tone up a little, you’ll feel better about the way you look and I would be willing to bet that you notice positive changes in your self-esteem and outlook on everything.

NAE: Pump me up: Any other tips for brides looking to get fit??

EW: Don’t let getting in shape and losing weight ruin the fun and excitement of the fact that you’re GETTING MARRIED! It’s such a happy time and so much fun to plan everything and share your happiness with all your friends and family. Go into it with a positive attitude and if you really are looking to get into shape but you know you have a way to go, find a buddy or someone who will encourage you and support you. You need a positive person who is going to encourage you when you aren’t in the mood to work out or when you’ve dropped a few pounds but then you hit that plateau and you get discouraged. Whether it is your fiancé, your maid of honor, or your mom, ask someone to be your fitness buddy. That person doesn’t always have to work out with you, although that would be a bonus, but they have to be willing to support your efforts to get fit. Tell them to suggest going for a walk the next time you want to hang out, rather than meeting up for drinks or ice cream. Call them when you are feeling lazy and tell them that you want them to motivate you to get to the gym or to get out the workout DVD and just do it. Losing weight and getting in shape is as much of a mental thing as it is physical. You can’t get your body to where you want to be physically if your mind isn’t where it should be mentally.

Also, if it helps, print out pictures of your wedding dress or even your honeymoon destination (where you might be wearing a bathing suit…) and put them up on your fridge, in the cabinet where you normally look for snacks, in your closet near your workout clothes, or on your desk so you see it when you’re wasting time on the internet. Any little thing to remind of your goals and what you need to do to achieve them will help!

Ok, where’s the treadmill?! Seriously, she just makes me want to get out there and burn some calories!

If you have other questions for Emily or are in the DC area and looking for someone to kick your butt, you can contact her at emily.waters5@gmail.com.

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