Weddings are among the biggest days of our lives and along with the excitement, love, the beauty of the grand event, it can also come hand in hand with a great deal of stress and pressure; on oneself, on the relationship. These can take a toll on the physical and mental health of those whose day is meant to be the most precious of their lives so far. Friday speaks to health and well-being experts in the UAE on ways to ensure the big day remains healthy and happy all the way from proposal to honeymoon.
First up, ditch the crash diet and brutal training regime. Jenna Lincoln, a holistic health coach at Body Inc. says: ‘We all know that crash dieting is a bad thing, but still at times of “need”, such as weddings or other big events, we mistakenly think it will be ok, because it’s just a short-term fix. However, as scientists look deeper into the effects of how low-calorie dieting has a long-term impact on hunger and appetite hormones, it’s becoming clearer that doing an eight-week low-calorie diet leading up to your big event can have you struggling with your weight for as long as the following year. Constant yo-yo dieting could also be why you feel the need to yo-yo diet your whole life.
‘If we put our bodies through a low-calorie diet, eating way under the calories a day we actually need, the body will adapt.
‘You may get to your big event fitting into your dream dress, but your skin and hair will most probably look limp, and you will most likely have water retention from high cortisol [the stress hormone] being too high. After the big day you may get sick, because your body has been so run down and running on empty. When you go back to a more normal calorie intake, your body will not know how to deal with the excess calories it’s adapted to live without. The result: weight will pile on.
‘Just as you cannot plan your wedding well in a few weeks, do not try to change your body quickly, either. The more weight you have to lose, the more time you should give yourself. Plan to reach your goal weight at least a month before the big day so as you can focus on stressful things around the event, your body will be in good health to deal with these stressors.’
A steady loss of 300g for people with a few kilos to lose, and up to 1.5kg for those who have over 15kg to lose, is a healthy amount of fat to lose each week, she adds.
Dr Qudsia Anjum Fasih, family medicine specialist at Medcare Medical Centre in Rashidyia, agrees: ‘The subcontinent is no exception for the pressure on young population to look smart, handsome or beautiful with regards to body shaping. The genotyping and phenotyping of this part of the world makes them easy prey for weight gain and then due to peer pressure, they go for exertional weightloss programmes.
‘Then there are the demands of mothers seeking brides for their sons; everyone looks for external beautifying features, pressurising girls more than boys.’
Dr Qudsia recommends that those considering dieting just before their wedding consult a doctor or a nutritionist well in advance so they will receive proper medical advice on nutrition and a balanced diet for weight maintenance.
Dr Vishal Pawar, specialist neurologist at Aster Specialty Clinic, International City, wants you to get some sleep. ‘Weddings are one of the most precious moments of life. While wedding traditions and customs may vary greatly among cultures, the one common factor is: pre-wedding anxiety.’
The specialist says that anxiety just before the wedding can encompass a series of thoughts racing through one’s mind.
‘There are many anxiety-provoking thoughts that may flash through the mind, but some of the more common ones are: “What will happen?” “How will it happen?” and “What will Mr X or Ms Y think?”.
‘These thoughts lead to the activation of a part of the nervous system called the sympathetic nervous system, which leads to several symptoms including restlessness, sleeplessness and tremors.’
Dr Vishal compares sleeping to formatting a computer. ‘Our brain is a super-computer that continuously creates thoughts that drain the brain battery. Sleep gives rest to the brain, acting like a charger. Sleeping well daily is very important, especially during periods of stress. It plays an important role for the memory, abstract thinking, decision-making, mood and to control irritability. It is also important for immune function. There are wider health impacts, too: ‘Sleeplessness can reduce immune function and lead to susceptibility to infections,’ he says.