Getting in shape to look your best

It’s a few months before one of the most important days of your life and doubt has moved into your head and spirit, camped out like an unwanted guest.

The “what if” syndrome is running amok, and questions are swirling — to the point of dizziness — about the guest list, food, bride’s maids’ job descriptions, shoes, and the most important thing in any wedding: How you are going to look in your gown? What if it doesn’t fit? What if you can’t wear the backless or sleeveless number you’ve fantasized your whole life about because of — dare I say it? — your weight?

No problem. It is common for the bride (and many grooms too) to set out to shed a few extra pounds or inches to get the body they want for that perfect day. The good news is that it can be done and it is not as daunting a task as you might think. There is no bad news, by the way.

Here are a few helpful hints to shed extra poundage while embarking upon the ever-mysterious task of making a permanent lifestyle change.

THREE SIMPLE RULES

Rule No. 1: Realize that losing weight is in fact a process. As with Rome, your new, buffed body will not be built in a day.

Rule No. 2: Begin with the end in mind. Think about how much weight you wish to lose and determine the number of calories you need to consume each day to achieve your goal. Normally this works if you have a year to make this lifestyle change, but if you have less time, work with what you have.

Think of it this way: A 140-pound woman needs roughly 2,100 calories a day to sustain normal body functions. If she reduced her daily calories by 300-500, she would then consume 1,600 or 1,800 calories a day. Reducing her calories by 500 a day would result in 50 pounds lost in a year; at 300 calories a day, the same woman could lose 30 pounds a year. A 210-pound man, on the other hand, requires about 3,150 calories a day and with the same adjustments could realize big weight-loss benefits.

Rule No. 3: Diet (for most people) accounts for about 60-70 percent of weight loss. The remaining 30-40 percent is due to physical activity. To build your new body, you will have to get moving! You can do so by doing lunges and squats as you vacuum the carpet. You could also rake leaves or bring in firewood to burn 335 calories and then stack the wood to burn 188 more. Or get the calorie-burning benefit of hobbies, such as dancing. How about working on that snazzy first dance for a half-hour each day to burn 193 calories?

HELPFUL HINTS

• To save up to 500 calories a day, eat half of what you’ve been eating. Become a member of the lean-plate club, not the clean-plate club.

Having lived through the Depression, my mom thought it was a crime to leave food on your plate. But as it relates to your personal health and well-being, this is something that you can do without losing any sleep. Calories saved: about 150-300 calories per occurrence. Weight loss achieved as a result: Priceless!

Don’t let eating out jam you.

If you eat out an average of three times per week, as many busy people do, you stand a good chance of gaining an extra 45 pounds a year. The reason is the mammoth serving sizes offered in too many sit-down restaurants.

Do yourself a favor and savor the flavor of your meal by concentrating on the companionship and company rather than scarfing down the entr