Planning a wedding is one of the most exciting ventures in a person's life. You know that you are preparing for an incredible moment that you will want to cherish forever, cameras will be flashing and the day will pass much too quickly. Wanting to look and feel your best is natural. You will be creating memories that will last for generations to come. Starting your new life together is also a deeply spiritual and transformational event. You are on the verge of beginning a new life and new partnership. To honor this occasion, I recommend a mind-body-spirit approach.
The best part of getting ready for your wedding is that once the date is fixed, you have a clear target around which to set your goals. And, the key to a mindful approach is first identifying in both your mind's eye and in your heart what you want to achieve, so that you can set relevant and attainable goals.
1. MIND: Visualize your special day. Imagine exactly how you want to look and feel on the big day. See yourself and your new spouse in your mind's eye, ready to take your vows. Incorporate sights, sounds, scents and flavors you will experience into your visualization. How do you want to radiate and project your inner happiness? What does it mean for you to look and feel your best?
Action: Write down your visualization in one to two paragraphs incorporating as many senses as you can.
2. HEART: Identify your motivation. Ask yourself, why is it important to me that I achieve this vision? If you know in your heart of hearts that you want to shine on this memorable occasion, then ask yourself, what habits are you willing to change to create those results? Keep in mind that if you want to look and feel differently on your wedding day than you do today, then you must change behaviors. If your answer is a confident yes, then you're ready to start setting goals.
Action: In one paragraph, write down your motivation by identifying what you want and why you want it. For example, "I want to be at my ideal healthy weight, because I want to look and feel my best. I want to feel calm and cool and get along with everyone at the wedding and reception, because I want the memories of our special day to be filled with love and joy."
Add this paragraph to the same paper as your visualization and post this in your closet, on your mirror, or somewhere that you will look regularly.
3. GOAL SETTING: Now that you have identified your "big picture" dream day, you need to determine what you need to do between now and your wedding to manifest that vision. Do you need to improve your eating habits? You will need to focus on eating a variety of fresh, minimally processed foods and whole grains. Do you want to increase your body's tone? Then, you know that you will need to become more active. Do you need to manage stress more effectively so that you can fully express and experience your feelings of love? You need to start some relaxation practices.
Action: Look at your visualization and your motivators and write down what goals you need to achieve in terms of behaviors (not results). For example, to create your ideal healthy weight, you know that you must improve your eating habits and get active regularly. To accomplish feeling calm and cool, you must begin practicing relaxation exercises.
4. BODY: Now, you are ready to set SMART goals for any training programs. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Studies show that setting SMART goals improves the likelihood of getting the results you want. You can revise your SMART goal each week, preferably on the same day, for example each Sunday, in light of how well you accomplished your goal the prior week.
For example, a training goal to improve fitness could include walking daily at lunchtime on Monday through Friday for 20 to 30 minutes. You need to define the goal based on a time, place and activity that you believe that you can achieve and adjust it on a weekly basis. For walking tips, check out "The Walking Deck: 50 Ways to Walk Yourself Healthy." To improve muscle tone, you can do some type of weight bearing exercise at least three days a week that challenges the major muscle groups. For detailed training plans, you can consult the "Everything Wedding Workout Book" or "The Strength & Toning Deck." Or, if you're super busy, check out "Fitness 9 to 5: Easy Exercises for the Working Week" for exercises you can do right at the office.
Action: Write down a SMART goal that is related to your exercise for cardio-conditioning each week. This would be some form of walking, jogging, biking, dancing, swimming or rhythmic movement activity, or combination of activities that you can do for 10, 20 or 30 minutes, ideally five days per week.
Write down a SMART goal for conditioning. For example, to tone your upper arms and chest, you could plan to work up to 15-20 push-ups at the sink every other morning after you brush your teeth.
5. SPIRIT: To keep your spirits uplifted and to manage stress effectively, I recommend adding some form of mindful exercise such as yoga or Pilates performed in a relaxed and restorative manner to soothe and calm nerves. If time is a challenge, simply begin a daily deep breathing practice where you take at least three to five minutes daily to sit comfortably with good posture and your legs uncrossed to practice deep diaphragmatic breaths. A good resource is "Pilates Fusion: Well-being for Body, Mind and Spirit."
Action: Write down a SMART goal as it applies to a relaxation practice. If you're also trying to improve eating habits, you could combine this with cultivating "mindful eating." For example, you can plan to take one minute before each meal to sit quietly and observe the breath before beginning to eat. This quiet time will bring you into the present moment, helping you to relax and to improve your concentration.
Most importantly, trust that if you take small steps each day toward your goals, you will move in the right direction to starting your new life with a commitment to bringing more health, happiness and love into your being. This, alone, is an incredible gift that the celebration of your love brings. Enjoy the journey.