No matter how excited you are to wed the love of your life, running down the aisle in heels and a pricey gown might not be the smartest decision. Running before your big day, however, just might be - especially for those brides looking to slim down.

"Cardio is the most important step. You can't start to tone your problem areas until you lose the fat that's on top of them first," says Katie Brumley, personal training manager. "Doing cardio for 30 minutes a day usually just maintains your current level. To lose the extra weight, increase it to 45 minutes to an hour and you will start to see results."

In addition, Brumley encourages every bride-to-be do some heavy lifting beyond coordinating the flowers, food and finances.

"Women don't have the level of testosterone that men do, so they won't 'bulk up,'" she says. "This is an excellent way to tone those problem areas and it will increase the amount of calories you burn as well." Brumley also says to be sure and lift enough weight to fatigue the muscle.

"If you are not feeling any fatigue then you aren't lifting enough weight," she says.

Perhaps tantamount to the fitness is nutrition, which tends to be where most women go to dangerous extremes.

"Starving yourself or starting a crash diet to shed as much weight as possible just to fit into your gown is a really dangerous decision," says Angeline Widmer, a certified health counselor. "Consuming fewer than 1,200 to 1,400 calories a day, for most women, causes the body to go into crisis mode and store everything as fat. Which is the absolute last thing you want to do going into your wedding day."

Widmer recommends keeping a food diary to make sure you don't go above or below 1,400 calories a day. Stress eating is common during the wedding lead-up, and all of those unhealthy splurges consumed during moments of weakness really add up - and can sabotage your ultimate goal. Widmer suggests swapping high-calorie snacks, such as candy, potato chips and ice cream with fresh fruit, pre-cut vegetables and low-fat dairy.

"Weight loss and body toning don't happen overnight so start early and don't get discouraged if your progress seems slow," Widmer says. "Developing these good eating and exercise habits will serve you well throughout your marriage. Being healthy for your entire life is even more important that being a size 4 on your wedding day."

Matthew M. F. Miller is the author of “Dad's Guide to Pregnancy For Dummies” (Wiley, 2014)

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