How I am getting in shape for the wedding

Cheers to 6 MONTHS before our wedding! On March 18, 2017, Cecilio and I will be saying our vows and promising each other a life of love and faithfulness till the end!

Throughout the course of our engagement, I've written blog posts about being self-conscious about my body while having lupus and taking prednisone, which has affected how I felt about myself during our engagement party and dress shopping. As my health has been getting better, my prednisone is tapering and I am currently taking 3 mg. I surprisingly started losing weight when I tapered down to 8 mg last year, from 158 to now 140 lbs. and hopefully reaching my goal of 120–125 lbs. I am all for self-love and positivity, but it's not mutually exclusive with wanting to reach a goal or better yourself. 

There's an unspoken ritual that once he puts a ring on it, you as the bride-to-be start running or going to the gym to look fabulous in your dress and you know that all eyes will be on you, taking endless photos (and sometimes not in the most flattering angles). 

In addition, you wanna rock your bod during your honeymoon, especially if it's at a beach destination (we will be going to Mexico). I personally believe that any body is a bikini body, but I want to exude confidence from the hard work I put into for mine, and look and feel sexy. And I am definitely not ignoring the inner health benefits because I want to protect myself against lupus flares, strengthen my bones (prednisone weakens them, so strength training is a must), and lubricate my joints. I want to increase my lifespan and beat the odds despite lupus, and live a wonderful quality of life with Cecilio.

But I want to talk about how I have been #SWEATINGFORTHEWEDDING. What are some of my favorite workouts?

Barre/ballet/Pilates-inspired workouts

I have only been doing any dance/pilates style workouts for my strength training. Personally for me, heavy weight lifting has bulked me up. I'm tired of the people who claim that it won't for women, and that light weights/yoga/pilates are useless. Most women know they aren't going to look like a bodybuilder, but they do feel thicker than they would like. Some women do look amazing from weight lifting (a family friend of mine shrunk into a size 0 while pumping the iron), but I am not one of them. Each body is different, so we should not be fitness-shaming others for their preferred activity. 

Personally, the ballet and barre workouts tone me up, strengthens my muscles and makes me feel more graceful and flexible. I feel like a dancer, and while I will never look like a ballerina, I am seeing "long" lean muscles developing. Also, heavy lifting is not good for my joints and my rheumatologist has advised me to not do so. Traditional barre, which stems from Lotte Berk (not to be confused with classical ballet), incorporates ballet, yoga, pilates, light weights and body weight training. Try pulsing your arms with 3 lb. weights 30 times without feeling like your arms are going to fall off. Or doing endless plies (squats with feet turned out) in 1-inch movements without feeling like your legs and butt are on fire. Oh yeah, and pushups on the toes are really encouraged. Most barre studios are insanely expensive (the stereotype of the barre-ista is that she is a 20-30 something year old tiny affluent woman who wears nothing but lululemon), so I have been only doing the DVDs. Among my favorites are:

The Bar Method: The founder, Burr Leonard, has trained with Lotte Berk (grandmother of the barre workouts you see today) but collaborated with doctors and physical therapist to create The Bar Method, a safe yet intense and effective workout. This is actually my main workout and I have been doing it for a month, and I love the results I am getting: sculpted arms, strong back and shoulders, tighter abs, whittled in waist, muscular calves and a smaller, firmer, rounder butt. However, I noticed that my thighs have gotten bigger and my pants have been getting tighter, but my thighs have changed shape: the outer thighs and hamstrings are rock hard and they are shapely instead of blobby. It's just that I carry a lot of weight in my thighs and the muscle is developing under the fat (whereas my upper body and abs have been shrinking), but I know I need to do some cardio. But, I credit The Bar Method for helping me go down further into pushups on my toes (something I could never do before, and I can't completely go down all the way for all reps yet, but it's something to work towards) and increasing my flexibility (doing the splits doesn't sound like a farfetched dream anymore). I have the Super Sculpting II and Advanced Dancer's Body DVD, and I subscribe to their streaming videos for $15 per month.

Physique 57: The moves are really similar to The Bar Method, only faster-paced and with heavier weights. It's like barre on steroids. There is an element of cardio into it, and while it's advanced, it's really fun. A lot of people get annoyed with Tanya Becker, the instructor, because she's always goofing around screaming with her bikini talk, but I personally find her fun and motivating. It's like working out with a friend. The music is has latin/techno beats and sometimes reminds me of when I go into Abercrombie & Fitch. I miss doing it because of the fun factor and the crazy endorphins, but I'll eventually go back to them whenever I get tired of The Bar Method.

Barre3: This is different from other traditional barre classes in which the movements are larger range and the neutral spine is emphasized rather than the tuck (tailbone tilting behind the pelvis). There is a lot more yoga-incorporated moves, less bikini talk and more emphasis on being balanced for the mind, body and soul. There are no pushups, and they have amazing core work. I subscribed to them twice for $15 a month, and they have 10 and 20 minute workouts if you don't have enough time. They target moms a lot, and there are a wide range of pre- and post-natal workouts. 

Ballet Beautiful: I really credit Ballet Beautiful for giving me a lean figure the last time I did not have to take prednisone. I started using her workouts before I found my wedding dress and was feeling really good. The instructor, Mary Helen Bowers, is known for training Natalie Portman for Black Swan and the Victoria's Secret Angels. The Ballet Beautiful approach is more about floorwork, stretching and traditional ballet, since Mary Helen Bowers danced for New York City Ballet. She deeply targets the abs, arms (her swan arms is a killer!), butt and legs. There are standing and cardio workouts, but most of the Ballet Beautiful moves are on the floor.

Blogilates: I found Blogilates in 2012 and I was hooked, but cursing at Cassey Ho. I love her perky demeanor, even while she slays you and kicks your ass. She is so many videos on YouTube here, so that normal women (and not just the lululemon crowd) can have their own success stories too. She also offers healthy recipes and discusses body image issues among women. She shows that you can work for the body you want while loving and accepting yourself even if you aren't society's ideal image of beauty. 


Me before my 45 minute treadmill session.

I am the type that needs to do cardio in order to see the number on the scale drop and to see my pants getting looser. While I have been loving my toned body from The Bar Method, I know that incorporating cardio will give me more dramatic results and shrink my thighs. I have a treadmill at home, and I found that doing walking/jogging intervals for 30–60 minutes at least 3 times a week shrinks me. I was doing that 6 times a week during my senior year in high school and shrunk down to 117 lbs. when Senior Ball rolled around. And not having music is NOT an option. It's a must in order to keep me going. I also love doing Zumba or any sort of dance aerobics, but I prefer doing them in a live class because it is easier to follow the instructor and not get lost.

Fun/recreational, moderate workouts (that don't feel like work)

Cecilio and I hiking in Lands End in San Francisco

What's the point of staying active if it's always going to be miserable? I want to have fun and take in nature while doing so. Cecilio and I love walking our dogs, and my mom and her boyfriend have been on that too. When we walk our dogs, we end up power walking because they pull and want to go fast. We have also been strolling around catching Pokemon, and it's a long trek since I am addicted to the game. When it's insanely hot, we swim laps at Cecilio's community pool. I've been trying to get us to go hiking more, and we were finally able to in San Francisco.


This is a tricky one for me because I do like to eat, and it sucks when what you eat contributes to 80% of your weight loss success. I would rather exercise more. I don't believe in strict dieting or starvation. I am more into moderation, and incorporating more fruits, veggies, protein and whole grain carbs. When I eat what I really want (like a creamy pasta at a restaurant), I save it for later as leftovers. My weakness is definitely junk food, so I am trying to cut that down. I love the classic avocado on toast (with pesto and cheese), and blending a smoothie with frozen fruit, almond milk and protein powder. My favorite salad concoction consists of baby spinach (spinach > kale for me), canned oysters from Trader Joe's with olive oil, cheese, baby beets, nuts, chopped bell peppers, broccoli sprouts and chia seeds. I could lay off the cheese, but I'd rather not.

With these habits, I want to not think of them as a short-term fix where I can go back to old habits after the wedding, but incorporate them for life. Not only to look rockin' in my dress or 2 piece swimsuit but to live feel amazing from the inside out and to minimize my lupus flares as much as possible in the future.

What's your favorite way to work out? What do you do to incorporate healthy eating in your lifestyle? If you are married, what did you do to to get fit?


  1. Loving the details in this post, it's so helpful for me and so motivating!

    Anika |

  2. I don't really work out but if I did I would definitely try a ballet inspired workout! It seems fun and effective, a lot of my favorite actresses do Ballet Beautiful.

  3. I really want to try pilates!

  4. I bet you had to do so much work to look good on the wedding dress. Thank you for sharing your journey through work out. I wish you the very best! :D


    1. You're welcome, and I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  5. 6 months until your wedding, that is so exciting! Thanks for sharing your tips, I'm one of those people who hate exercising no matter what and I've yet to find exercise that actually works for me. Good luck with your goals! <3


    1. Aww no problem, I'm glad you enjoyed this! Yes it takes trial and error to find something you like and works well with your goals!

  6. I'd love to try barre classes, but there still aren't any here in Italy. Maybe I could try the DVD's, but I'm not very good at working out at home.
    To stay healthy I like taking water fitness classes, like water spinning and water treadmill. There's just something about working out in the water that makes it more fun for me.

    1. Oh water spinning and treadmill! I love lap swimming. It really gets my heart rate up and feels so good for the whole body without impacting the joints!

  7. I love, love, LOVE your perspective here. Not as a short term fix, but as a lifestyle! I love that your focus is less on your body and more on living a long, happy life with Cecilio. And girl, you WILL! so excited for you!

    1. Thank you so much! I mean the body/physical motivation will always be there, but keeping my eye on the long term benefits make it so worth it!

  8. Thanks Hannah for sharing this. As a bit of a fitness enthusiast, I really enjoyed reading this :) you already look amazingly beautiful, but it's true that as a bride you want to feel the best you can about yourself. I love how you mentioned that not everybody needs to do heavy weight lifting... Again true, although obviously it's a very good way to workout and you can choose very precisely which muscle to strengthen or grow, but it's just not for everybody. Including me... I find it too boring :D
    And oh my goodness, only 6 months before your wedding!! So exciting <3 remember to enjoy every day as that time will go by really fast and you'll be a mrs in no time :)

    Hope you have a lovely week sweetie <3
    Emma xxx

    1. I immediately thought of you as I was writing this post! I love your enthusiasm and passion for fitness. I definitely do not want to undermine the benefits of weight lifting, but you are right, it's not for everyone no matter what the "experts" like to say. Us finding it boring enough is a good reason not to do it. Although I found some 80's DVDs (The Firm Classics) the incorporated interval cardio and heavy lifting and I loved the music and seeing the leg warmers (it was fun!)...I just did not like feeling bulkier.

      And yes it's going to be less than 6 months now! This year went extremely fast, I remember just going to a bridal show with Cecilio and trying on a few dresses with my sister in January, and now we are doing our DIY projects!

      I hope you have an awesome week too! <3

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