5 Ways To Nourish Your Pre-Wedding Body That Don't Involve Dieting

Congrats, you're engaged, and it's time to start planning your wedding. Of course, there's a lot to do. Finalize the guest list, organize the seating charts, hire a caterer, find a location, and book a honeymoon. Plus, on your big day, you'll want to look your very best. But attempting a physical overhaul in a potentially short amount of time can add a lot of stress to an already hectic schedule. "Some people overly buy into the idea that they're supposed to look a certain way when in reality there is an infinite array of body types and sizes," Dr. Katharine Phillips tells Refinery29 about pre-wedding stress. "The constant pressure of media messages can fuel a type of thinking error called 'should statements,' meaning that we think we 'should' look a certain way or be a certain weight, even when it's not realistic or right for us." 

People weren't built to be the same size or weight, but as a bride, there's a lot of pressure to reach your definition of a "personal best" by your big day. However, restrictive dieting can only compound stress and anxiety. If you want to feel your best inside and out when you walk down the aisle, there are plenty of options to get you there without a crash diet.

Hit the gym

Getting a few good workouts in a week shouldn't just be about losing weight. Instead, the healthiest way to look at it is as an opportunity for stress relief and the chance to feel stronger and more confident. So start hitting the gym regularly, and soon enough, you'll notice a change in your mood. Before you know it, that glow will radiate outward, and you'll look better as well. Just be sure to take it slow and use proper form when working out, whether that means using lighter weights or investing in some quality sneakers. The last thing you want is an injury before your big day.

Exercise can help you achieve that "natural glow" by regulating your hormones. "While it might seem counterintuitive, raising your heart rate can reverse stress-induced brain functions," mental health counselor Joanne Frederick tells Shape. "Exercise is a mood booster and has been scientifically proven to decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression," she adds. 

Anyone planning a wedding can tell you there is no more stressful time than the months leading up to the big day. Stress causes cortisol to rise, and the best way to combat that is with a healthy dose of endorphins. Frederick explains, "Physical activity raises endorphins in the body, which are the brain's feel-good chemicals. Even light exercise throughout the week can be beneficial, [which is why] many doctors will recommend this to patients before prescribing medication."

Try some yoga

If thrice weekly weight lifting or long-distance runs sound intimidating, try something low-impact like yoga. Hot yoga or more physically intense vinyasa yoga can be a great way to get your heart rate up significantly if you're injured or want to prevent injuries. Yoga is also an excellent option for those interested in lengthening and toning. 

Don't think it's all about your body, though. Yoga is just as much about the mind as it is about anything physical. Practitioners are encouraged to focus on their breath, which is also a tenant of mediation. It calms a busy mind and allows you to ground yourself during a hectic day. The skills you develop through a consistent yoga practice will be useful as you embark on your wedding planning journey. As with many healthy habits, the more regularly you do it, the greater the benefit. "A consistent practice will lift the spirit, relax the mind, and strengthen and stretch the body, among other benefits," says Nicole Glor, fitness instructor, and yoga practitioner, tells Prevention. "With yoga, you can quiet your mind and find joy by moving your body and controlling your breath."

Cut down on alcohol

Ok, this might sound like dieting, but it's more complicated than that. Recent studies have shown that alcohol is much worse for your health than we originally thought. For example, an explosive 2023 study suggested that even low levels of alcohol drunk regularly can seriously affect your health. "Risk starts to go up well below levels where people would think, 'Oh, that person has an alcohol problem,'" Dr. Tim Naimi told the New York Times. Essentially, the issue is that prolonged alcohol use damages your DNA, making it more difficult for your body to fight diseases like cancer.

Cutting down on cocktails is both good for your long-term health and also has some short-term benefits. Many people find that cutting back on drinking gives them more energy. The boost in energy likely comes from being more hydrated, as excess alcohol can majorly dehydrate you, thanks to its chemical makeup. "By inhibiting or blocking [vasopressin], [alcohol consumption] leads to less water retention ... exacerbating that dehydration effect," Dr. Larry Nolan told Wine Spectator. To combat this, he suggests you make an effort to "incorporate water before, during, and after [alcohol] consumption to help combat that water and electrolyte loss."

Visit the spa

Another great way to feel and look your best without dieting is by showing your body a little love. Many brides opt for extensive facial treatments before their big day. Whether that means hydra facials, PRP, or micro-needling, it's easy to rack up a big bill at the spa. However, the body often gets overlooked in all that time and money brides spend on their faces.

There are many excellent spa treatments that leave your body glowing and help relieve mental stress as you get into the nitty-gritty of planning. If you're feeling overwhelmed, opt for something soothing like a hot stone massage and feel the tension melt away. There are also more invasive massages, such as deep tissue Swedish massage or cupping. Make a day of it and get a facial and a mud bath while you're there. 

There are also options that are best for brides experiencing pre-wedding inflammation, such as lymphatic drainage. The procedure is performed by a specialist who uses their hands to drain stagnant lymph from select parts of your body. "Lymphatic massages use a lighter touch to reduce swelling that happens when medical treatment or illness blocks the lymphatic system," Marcia Degelman, a certified massage therapist, told US News

Get creative with your hydration

It might sound simple, but hydration can have a huge impact on your health inside and out. If you're planning to shell out the big bucks for skin and body treatments you'd be wasting your money if you weren't simultaneously doing your best to stay hydrated. "At the cellular level, drinking water is great as it flushes the system and hydrates our bodies overall," Dr. Margarita Lolis tells Byrdie. Drinking more water will make you feel your best and can provide you with long-lasting energy and the irresistible glow every bride strives for on her wedding day.  

Hydration is also vital to keeping your skin looking top-notch. If your skin is dry, your best bet is a good moisturizer. But if it's dehydrated you need water, water, and more water. "In general, a healthy, hydrated person looks healthier than a person that is dehydrated. The skin usually reflects this," dermatologist Dr. Corey L. Hartman explains to Martha Stewart

For some, drinking water is easier said than done. It can be hard to build a habit if you lean toward sugary drinks or coffee to get you going. To make it a little more fun, experts suggest swapping your plain tap water for something carbonated with a little bit of citrus. "It can be difficult to transition from sweet drinks to water, but flavored seltzers and sparkling water can help," Lauren Sullivan, a dietitian suggests to Cleveland Clinic. "Water, whether plain or carbonated, is better than high-calorie, sugar-infused drinks."