Forget fad diets and cosmetic procedures, the best way to nail the Most Beautiful Bride Ever title is to balance body and mind...
If you let it, the lead up to your wedding can be a touch stressful. So, embarking on a crash diet that could leave you feeling like you've had your joie de vivre lipo-suctioned, is not the best plan. Besides, malnourishment is so 2005. Of course you want to be the best version of yourself, on this day of your dreams, but who's to say that that person is half the one you usually are? Don't you want your groom to recognise the woman he proposed to? That woman was so amazing, he asked her to spend the rest of her life with him.
Instead, why not take this as an opportunity to make a few small lifestyle changes, updating how you nourish your body, beautifying from the inside out and starting life as Mr and Mrs with a fully serviced engine.
Somewhere back in the 1990s we became fat phobic. Calorie counting was a global obsession and fat-free was the benchmark for healthy food. Given the continued rise in obesity, it's obvious that this didn't exactly work out. Like carbohydrates and protein, fat is an essential nutrient, meaning it is an important energy source that your body requires for key functions, such as absorbing the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. On the surface, this means healthy skin and hair, but on a deeper level they are essential for reproductive health, immune function, brain and bone health ... and that's just to start.
Recent studies have shown that standing tall is linked to emotional health. According to researchers in a San Francisco State University, carrying yourself in a more upright position can improve mood and energy levels, while slouching is a real downer. You don't need to start walking around with a book on your head (well, your fiance? might think you've lost it), but if you can strike a more powerful pose on a regular basis, you can trick your mind and your mood into a happier, more confident place.
Choose to wear a veil because you want to channel Princess Grace, not because you think it will hide frown lines, enlarged pores and sun spots. Dr Jessica Wu, a Harvard-trained, Hollywood-based dermatologist and author of Feed Your Face (St Martin's Press, €19.50), believes you can make your skin look brighter and smoother in one month, just by eating regularly. ?Not eating for hours can cause your blood sugar to plummet. When you finally do eat, your blood sugar shoots up, attacking collagen and tissue.? She advises eating snacks that combine fibre with protein and healthy fats, every three hours.
There's much evidence to suggest that sleep deprivation may cause weight gain, by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering the levels of hormones that affect our appetite. According to the Sleep Center at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Ohio, poor sleepers also have a higher skin age, more lines and wrinkles, dullness and a compromised skin barrier that loses water more quickly. If that wasn't enough to encourage more snooze time - deep sleep generates the secretion of important proteins that strengthen hair follicles and help prevent thinning hair. So, cut back on caffeine, step away from the table plan and switch off all blue screen devices, at least three hours before bed.
Exercise is not solely intended to keep your body bangin? ... it's there to keep your mind balanced, too. Throw in the skin benefits - when you exercise, you help flush toxins out of your body - and you've got yourself a winning formula for looking and feeling great. Turbo-charge your workout with vitamin C - new research shows those who take 500mg daily burn 39 per cent more fat when they exercise. Working out will also help you release some of that anxiety built up from deciding who should sit next to pervy Uncle Pete.
Rosaleen McMeel @rosiemcmeel
Illustration by Kitty Moss kittykittymoss.com
This article originally appeared in Volume 1 of BASH. Volume 4 is on shelves now.