When shopping for wedding gowns I always say the more dresses you try on, the better. This advice may make your local bridal shop salespeople cringe, but you've never worn a wedding dress before, and many people end up buying a dress completely different than what they originally had in mind. I encourage all brides to get a feel for each type of dress and how it will look on your body type before you commit. Also, certain types of fabric will be much heavier than others. If you're a dancing queen, you are not going to want to wear a dress that you have to lug around all night. The dress that appeals to your eyes may not work at all for your event once you try it on. If your local bridal store doesn't work with you on this, take a day trip to an out of town shop. You will only wear this dress once, and being uncomfortable (or not feeling absolutely drop dead gorgeous) could put a damper on your whole day. As for where to shop, I strongly encourage mom and pop type bridal shops, as on the whole they will give better customer service than franchises. You may get lucky at that shop that has the annual $99.00 sale, but for the most part, if the dress is really important to you, smaller businesses will care more about your purchase and understand your budgetary needs.
And speaking of budgetary needs, don't discount the idea of wearing a bridesmaid dress on your big day. I know, I know, we've all been bridesmaids too many times to put on another one of those God awful dresses, but hear me out. The average wedding dress runs about $1500.00. There are some brides that want intricate details and are willing to fork out the money for them, but many brides like the idea of a simple, sleek satin gown that's lightweight and shows off our curves (I know I did!). Many bridal designers make bridesmaid collections in long and elegant styles. You will have to use your imagination when trying on these dresses, as most shops only carry 1 or 2 samples of each dress, and they typically only have the season's hot colors (think coral, chartreuse and eggplant), but they CAN be ordered in white, ivory and champagne.
Insipired by a friend of mine, I investigated this option and ended up finding a dress I loved. Above is a photo of my "bridesmaid" wedding gown. It's from www.impressionbridal.com. Total cost: $175.00.
Another way to cut corners on the dress is to start shopping early! If you can start shopping about a year early, you may be able to get a great deal on a gown once the seasons change. Also, although designers constantly come out with new collections, many bridal gowns are classic and do not need to be updated year to year. You may find a beautiful, classic dress from 3 seasons ago that has been drastically reduced if you take the time to look.
For the "Non traditional" brides...you have literally TONS of thrifty options!
If you are a casual bride thinking about a short but elegant dress, please do not waste your hard earned money on a $500.00 "bridal" dress that looks just like a regular, short cocktail dress...Save your money for the good stuff, like adding bacon wrapped scallops to the menu, or buy yourself some gorgeous lingerie for the wedding night. Some of the short gowns are extremely detailed and absolutely beautiful, but more often than not, I see brides in a short, satin gown that looks like it came from Macy's prom section...Which, by the way, is EXACTLY what I suggest. If you can start shopping early, check out all of your local department stores around homecoming, winter holidays, and prom season (and again, don't forget to check out the bridesmaid dresses). This option is also GREAT for traditional brides looking for a "reception dress." Splurge on the fantasy ballgown for the ceremony and pictures, and after your first dance, head to your bridal suite to change into the white or ivory cocktail dress that you scored a deal on at the department store.
If you're a beach or backyard BBQ bride, check stores like American Eagle or Hollister. They almost always have sweet, cotton, white dresses especially in summertime. Dress it up with a belt and some cowboy boots or a thick satin ribbon from your local craft store.
When it comes to the dress, many of us can only envision looking like Cinderella, but the truth is there are many different kinds of princesses and every bride has a different style. Don't feel boxed in by what you "think" you should wear, and certainly don't be pressured by the first bridal shop that you visit to drop hundreds or thousands on a dress that you aren't sure about. Take your time, and when it's right...the dress will tell you.
Welp, here they are! My tips for getting through the most gluttonous holiday of the year. Please don't think I'm judging...I'll be eating my face off just like everyone else. Here's a quick rundown of my festivities. I try to keep things light with a small handful of berries or a half a banana for breakfast, before I head out on my morning run (I love a good turkey trot, but they are SOOOO early and this will be the FIRST Thanksgiving in 4 years where my husband will have the full day off!). After that I'll get in my daily does of COMPLETE nutrition with a chocolate shakeology, and once that's settled...COMMENCE MIMOSAS! It's a holiday tradition for me as I watch the Disney Thanksgiving day parade and start prepping my bird and his trappings. Typically I graze most of the day while I'm cooking, so no need for a real "lunch", and besides, dinner is usually served around 4pm. Trust me, once the food hits the table I will not stop eating til it's time for bed, so I'll be right there with you all trying to get back on track the next day!
One final tip that didn't make the list is to remember that you have to eat 3500 calories (in addition to what you burn off throughout the day) to gain ONE pound. 3500 calories is a lot. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT STEP ON THE SCALE FRIDAY MORNING, but if you should, PLEASE remember that you're likely just full of poop (literally) and if you follow the final step, you should be back to your pre-Thanksgiving weight in a day or two.
I get asked a lot by people that I coach or have followed my journey...how do you stay on track? Don't you get hungry for donuts or pasta or a 500 calorie grande caramel frappucino every once in a while? The answer is...YES! I wish I had some great motivational mantra to pass on that helped people turn down free donuts or not partake in halftime snacks on a Sunday afternoon. But I don't. The truth is, I'm just like everyone else. I get stuck in situations where I cannot for the life of me turn down a free treat. Heck, I every once in a while I'll go a few days without monitoring ONE THING that I put into my mouth. At times I have moments where I look at people at restaurants, ordering the fried onion with creamy dipping sauce (which we all know is just jazzed up mayonnaise), then housing a large burger and fries with no regret and not even a wince of "OMG I'm gonna vom" and think to myself "I should just be like that again...It was so much easier when I didn't think about what I ate...Those people seem so much happier." But the truth is, I know they aren't. I know that they go home and have acid reflux so bad that they have to pop tums like they are candy. I know that every year they have to go out and buy new clothes because they can no longer squeeze themselves into their old ones. I know that they secretly wish they could be the person who just sticks to a salad with oil and vinegar dressing...I know because I WAS that person. I had given up. I decided that food was what I loved and BY GOD if I couldn't be happy otherwise because my job sucked and I didn't have the life that I wanted, I would just be happy eating. And I was!...for a second. When that shrimp and grits/bacon, egg and cheese biscuit/pizza hit my lips, I was happy. I was content. An hour later, when I got home and put on comfy size XL sweat pants so that I could free myself from the deep, painful impression marks on my stomach that my pants left because they were so tight, I wasn't so happy. In fact, I was miserable. I hated what I saw in the mirror. I worked hard at the gym only to undo my results with a disgusting dinner. I had to live with horrible pictures of myself at my best friend's wedding. I was not living the life of my dreams. I was just EATING. That was it. Aside from a loving man that (praise Jesus) didn't care what size I was, food was ALL that I had.
Thank goodness I made some real, gradual, lasting, LIFESTYLE changes and am now happier than I've been in years, but that doesn't mean that I don't still struggle. I do from time to time! But when I am asked now how I stay on track, or when I have those brief moments of envy for the person at the grocery store who is buying bags of frozen onion rings, tons of refined carbs, and no veggies, I think back to the woman that I once was. I remember how she felt at the end of the day when she took her clothes off, or when nothing in her closet fit anymore because she had gotten so big, or how embarrassed she was when she realized she was the "fat bridesmaid." I may slip up. I may indulge. But I always get back on track, no matter how much EASIER it would be to say 'fuck it', because I never want to be her again.
People always ask me which program I recommend the MOST out of all of the beachbody programs I have done. It's definitely a loaded question. I have done SO MANY full programs, and sampled even more at great events like the annual coaching summit, where I've worked out with Shaun T, Tony Horton, Chalene Johnson, Autumn Calabrese, and more. Alas, everyone's gotta have a favorite, right? Well, I've picked out my top 3 for you here. They really are all great, and to this point, there hasn't been ONE that hasn't given me great results, but these are my top 3 recommendations!
I never thought that I would say this, but the program that I pushed back against the hardest when it first came out is the one that's my absolute fave. The 21 Day fix has gotten me the best results, sculpted my body, taught me how to eat properly, and never left me bored. There's no secret that this is the program that I recommend most to the people that come to me for help. Yes, I'm a coach. Yes, I get a commission when someone orders through me. But if I'm being honest, I feel like if this program were purchased by the government and implemented in schools, our country would not be suffering from such an obesity epidemic right now. There's really NO ONE that this program has not worked for, aside from the one person that I had purchase it and leave it in the box. If you're looking for something to start working towards your health and fitness goals, this is the one. Follow this link to order!
I have had a few other programs that have grabbed hold of my heart throughout my Beachbody journey though. The one that started it ALL for me as a coach, was Turbo Fire. True, TF is geared more towards the ladies (though I have known a few guys to get GREAT results from using the program). It's dancey and fun and features such tunes as "boom I got yo boyfriend." It's great for any girl that likes to shake her booty and I GUARANTEE that if you stick with it for 90 days you will have GREAT results. It also incorporates HIIT workouts, which are short but leave you feeling like a total badass (these are the ones that the guys like!) and give an you INSANE cardio workout. You ready to get in shape and build that confidence? Click here to get started.
Another program that I HIGHLY recommend is the new P90. Tony Horton calls this one the "on switch" to fitness. It really is very adaptable and virtually any fitness level can jump right in. If you aren't confident yet, you follow the modifier, and if you are more advanced, you follow the more "extreme" cast members. It combines a little bit of weight/resistance training, fun cardio, and even a few MMA moves with Tony's silly ad libs. If you're ready to jump in and get fit, this is the program for you. Click here to check it out!
I've talked about this a few times in the past. but it really does bear repeating...several times...monthly. I'm a fitness coach. I support people through their fitness program and give them my best advice on how to achieve their goals. There's NOTHING in my job description that says I am (or have to be) perfect. I have made a lot of progress over the past 2 years (You hear that? TWO YEARS! It did not come overnight, people), and while I really do consider myself to be in the best shape of my life, I still see myself as a work in progress every single day. It's been a LONG and HARD fought battle, and I still have a little ways to go, but what is important for me to share is that it's not any easier for me than anyone else. Because of my struggles with food, I will always fee like I'm just a hop, skip and a jump away from being right back where I started. In order to be healthy, I have learned that I have to deny my natural born instincts to devour an entire plate of nachos everyday, but I CAN enjoy them every now and then. That's been the rub for me...Finding that balance. I struggle to make good food choices, like broccoli and chicken when I really want a humungous bowl of fried cheese and carbs. Because of this INTENSE desire to eat something delicious (i.e. artery clogging), my weight has come off more slowly than most people on their fitness journey. I never want to "deny" myself totally, nor have I ever wanted to go on a "diet". I have created a lifestyle change (thank you shakeology!) where I know for CERTAIN that regardless of how long this cellulite takes to go away, or how many slip ups I have, I AM healthy (which is really all that matters, right?). There are days were I have to force myself to get up and work out. In all fairness, I DO really like a good sweat, and I have gravitated towards Beachbody programs because while they are totally doable for almost any fitness level, many of them leave you feeling like a complete badass, but there are certainly days where I just wanna lay on the couch and throw on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for the 487th time. But I do it. I get my arse in gear 6 days a week and press play. I eat chicken and asparagus or turkey burgers on whole wheat sandwich thins (fucking sandwich thins in place of a bun? Are you kidding me?) and a side of broccoli 5 nights out of the week for dinner and maybe two nights I'll splurge a little if I've kept the rest of the days clean. My point is here that I'm not perfect, and it's not any easier for me than anyone else (remember, I started out at over 200lbs). I'm not a super hero...I just keep going. And if you do the same, regardless of how long it takes you, you'll get to where you want to be. If you're ready to commit, reach out. I'm here, because I've been there.
About a year and a half ago, I decided to take a huge plunge. I joined Beachbody as a coach. I had done Insanity (at almost 200lbs!), and had amazing results...then stalled. Then I tried Turbo Fire (my soulmate workout!) and started to lean out but hadn't changed a lot with my "shape"! I was finally ready to really sculpt my body after getting rid of some of that excess fat and getting into better cardiovascular shape. I had heard about Les Mills Pump and KNEW that this program would work for me, so when I signed up as a coach, I ordered it and shakeology. I had tried shakeology before, and didn't commit to it so I didn't get any results. I saw the people in my challenge groups seeing these AMAZING results, and I knew that they were drinking shakeology, so I decided that I had to try it again and if I wanted to get results I HAD to go all in. If I was going to be a coach and represent this company, I had to trust them with my health, so I committed to a full 90 days of Shakeology with my program. Even before the package came I was picturing myself winning the $500 daily Beachbody Challenge.
I started the program with a challenge group, and I gotta say, it was SO helpful. I needed that support from people that were going through the a life change WITH me. The program starts off slow. Just a 20 minute "Pump Challenge" to get you acquainted with the movements and get your muscles used to lifting weights. People who are not new to fitness may be tempted to skip ahead here to the 2nd week, and that's totally ok as long as you are confident that you will not injure yourself. After that, you'll spend the remainder of the first month on "Pump and Burn", which is about 30 minutes.
What I immediately loved about this program is that it's only 3 days per week. I am most definitely a warm weather runner. I had started running after finishing Insanity the year prior, but went on "hiatus" for the winter and decided to try Turbo Fire until the weather was warmer. When I started LMP, since it was only 3 days, I spent two days per week focusing on increasing my mileage, one day doing "Flow" combined with "Hard core abs"(both of which come with the LMP dvd set), and finally one day as a full rest. For someone who is not a runner, the program suggests a 45 minute walk...You could also incorporate a cardio dvd like Turbo Fire's Fire 45 or T25 Alpha Cardio during those days.
I also loved the fun, upbeat nature of this program. Even though you're lifting weights, it's not all serious all the time. They play popular songs like Pink's "Raise your glass" and the trainers rotate every few sets, so you always have a different personality to look forward to. My personal favorite is Dan Cohen. He is goofy, but also super intense and motivating. There really is a "favorite" for everyone and there are tons of motivational quotes sprinkled throughout the dvd's.
So, moving on to Phase 2, you'll start to jump up the intensity a little bit with "Pump & Shred", which is 45 minutes. This is where I started to notice a good bit of progress in my body. I was feeling stronger and leaner, even though the scale had not moved too much (just about 3lbs in the first month, which one of my friends who had done the program before me had warned me was TOTALLY normal and to be expected when gaining muscle). After about two weeks of these workouts, you really kick things into high gear. In the last 6 weeks of the program, you phase out the 45 minute workout and are alternating between "Pump Revolution" and "Pump Extreme", both of which are about 55 minutes. THIS is where the MAJOR changes take place. I still hadn't had much movement on the scale, (about 6lbs total in 6 weeks), but I was SO much leaner. I almost let the scale defeat me, but with the assurance of my challenge group members who were going through the SAME thing, I kept going, but STOPPED weighing myself. I vowed not to weigh until the end of the 90 days. On day 90, I stepped on that scale and did my measurements. I was devastated. All of that work for only 8 measly pounds and a small handful of inches. Then..something incredible happened. I took my pictures. I decided to load them onto my computer and do a side by side comparison...HOLY CRAP! Here is what I saw!
This was 3 months worth of work. Not strenuous, back breaking, "crawling into bed at the end of the day because I can't function" work either! It was drinking Shakeology, lifting weights for at MOST 3 hours a week, and either running or walking my dogs for maybe another hour total per week. That's IT! I didn't change my diet drastically. I still went out on my weekly date night at a local mexican restaurant which had an ALL YOU CAN EAT NACHO BAR during happy our (!!!!) I still had pizza on Saturday night after my husband's home games and partook in "living room tailgates" with my fellow football wives during away games. I still got to go have drinks with my friends, and occasionally ate a donut or cupcake if there was one in the break room at work. But I DID commit to my workouts and shakeology. THOSE were my major life changes. I still cannot believe that I had SUCH great results in such a short amount of time, and thinking back to the way I felt during those last few weeks when the scale wasn't moving, I can remember feeling SO bad about myself. When I finally stopped thinking about it and stopped worrying about the scale...the magic happened. And no, I didn't win the $500 daily prize that I had envisioned myself winning, but (at the risk of sounding cliche), I really won the ULTIMATE prize. Looking at these pictures, then and now, reminds me of that saying that says "the time will pass anyways". It truly will, but if you COMMIT to at least TRYING to make changes, you WILL eventually find those results that you desire. You WILL look back and be so proud of how far you've come. Are you ready to invest a little bit of time into your health and fitness? Contact me. I'm here, and I've been there.
Hi! I'm Andrea Cummings. I am passionate about living a healthy lifestyle that I can MAINTAIN and that still lets me feel like I'm not being deprived. I like to exercise, but I also love to eat (nachos!). My main focus is to be healthy, not skinny, and to help others do the same! I love Jesus, but I also say fuck a lot, so if you're offended, I may not be the gal for you.