Couples planning a wedding as a health crisis sweeps the globe are experiencing pressures and anxiety like never before. Our hearts go out to each and every one of you. Weddings are as social as events come and making sure people are safe while approaching the ever-evolving situation is challenging to say the least.
While many aspects of life feel out of control right now, you do have control over your health and wellness. “Pandemic or not, wedding planning is a journey you take on together,” Empowerment/Health Coach Colette Lettieri says. “While incredibly overwhelming, try to focus on the fact that nothing is really changing, except possibly the date. You are still marrying the person with whom you are in love. If anything, you are going through that first major crossroads before saying ‘I Do.’ This fact is so important to acknowledge because it solidifies your relationship even more. Start by asking, ‘How can we help each other get through this period together?’”
We first spoke with Colette when she gave advice on how to look and feel your wedding day best. When we reached out to her for this post in early May, she was just wrapping up a school day with her daughters at home. As a reward for their hard work, Colette and her eldest daughter were going to spend the rest of the afternoon baking a gluten-free lemon-blueberry cake (Don’t worry, we asked for the recipe). “I get to spend time with her while sharing something I am really passionate about,” she added.
During our conversation, Colette emphasized ‘balance’ and ‘self-care.’ It was refreshing to hear a ‘health expert’ say, “Go ahead and have a cheeseburger.” Supplements you can’t pronounce, ‘clean eating,’ and the latest ‘elite’ fitness trends were not mentioned once. Colette understands that our daily lives have been disrupted and are now limited – no more gym classes, quick trips to the grocery store for that exotic spice to make dinner, or coffee with a friend at the local café. For her, it’s back to basics and taking stock of what is in our control and accessible in terms of food, exercise, and wellness. Here, she discusses what engaged couples can do together to stay healthy and sane when everything wedding-related is up in the air.
Wedding planning is a tedious process as is. Couples planning for their wedding during the current global health crisis are confronting stressful challenges on a whole new level. What are the first steps they should consider in order to stay healthy and positive when faced with such an overwhelming situation?
I look at health and wellness in terms of primary and secondary plates. Your primary plate covers your relationships, physical activity, career, and spirituality/self-care. Your secondary plate has your food and supplements. Consider your primary plate first. Does anything need more attention in order to maintain a healthy balance? For example, are you connecting enough with others? Rather than a short text, make it a point to call, FaceTime or meet with a friend or neighbor for a ‘safe’ driveway or stoop chat. Scheduling exercise is just as important as your work schedule – fitness apps and streaming classes are actually making working out at home easier than ever.
Many of us are making the adjustment to working from home. Have you implemented a start and end point to your workday? Do you have a room or space designated for work? If possible, try to work in a room with a door, so you can close the office so to speak once you are finished.
Regarding spirituality, houses of worship are no longer open. But you can still create your own at home. Many services are now being streamed online. With your partner, set up a call with your rabbi, priest, or minister. If you are not religious, try holding evening rituals together where you light a candle and share what you are grateful for, listen to soothing music, or just meditate in silence.
With these in check, you can now look at your secondary plate which covers food and nutrition. Most likely, you have more time to plan and actually cook your meals. Share making meals with your partner – they make breakfast and lunch and you make dinner. And take advantage of this time to cook healthy and satisfying meals together. Partaking in these responsibilities, you are laying the foundation for an enriched married life.
When we last spoke, you emphasized the importance for brides-to-be to secure a healthy support system. Social distancing means no more meetups with friends at the gym for weekly spin and Pilates classes. What tactful approaches can be implemented in order to keep up a fitness regime while staying isolated at home?
‘Social distancing’ is a terrible phrase. I prefer ‘physical distancing.’ Many people are connecting or reconnecting at a greater, deeper level. Meeting up at the gym is no longer an option, but you can wear your mask and meet up for a ‘safe’ run, walk, or bike ride. Remember rollerblades? I’ve seen more people blading around lately… So fun! My daughters love roller skating and I just ordered a pair. I can’t wait to try them out! On average, it seems that people are moving more because they want to close their laptop, get out of their house or apartment, and do something that makes them feel good.
Fitness apps and programs offer amazing classes and sessions for home workouts. For encouragement and accountability, round up your bridal party and plan to do a streaming class together. You can even download an app called Nudge and be the one in charge of making sure your party is drinking enough water, eating healthy snacks and meals, and most importantly moving.
As stress and anxiety increases, healthy habits are often the first to go out the window. Before, an extra glass of wine (or three) and a burger with fries and pizza were a weekend treat. For many of us, they are appearing on the menu more nights than not. What advice do you have for sticking to a healthy eating plan?
I am a true believer in balance. You are crushing it all day in your home office while keeping up with a workout routine. Evening rolls around and you want that cheeseburger and a glass of wine. Totally fine, but can you pair the cheeseburger with a nice side salad or roasted vegetables instead of fries? Craving just fries? Have them with a lean protein like fish or chicken. Or do you just want a comfort meal from your favorite restaurant to support the local small business community? Go for it. The next morning, trade the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich for a beautiful frittata or protein packed smoothie. Always just balance it out.
Our daily routines have been disrupted with the onset of self-isolation and ‘work from home.’ For many, any sense of structure has been overtaken by late nights watching everything on Netflix, which can result in ‘snoozing’ through the morning workout. What tips do you have for maintaining a healthy schedule when it is so easy not to?
I am a firm advocate of structuring your daily routines. While a little different now, Monday through Friday is still Monday through Friday. Binging a TV show late into the night is going to come at a cost. It’s going to impact how you feel, how you look, and your mood. Balance is key. You’ve just finished cleaning up from dinner after a long workday. Reward yourself with one episode, then have a book, a physical book ready to go. The phone, iPad, computer, and TV screen all affect our sleep. Reading at night is a stress reducer and helps to induce sleep.
On the flip side, many are using this time to get back in the kitchen and make nourishing, home-cooked meals. What staples should we be stocking up our pantry and refrigerator with?
Oat milk and almond milk are great dairy-free alternatives. Try to make sure that you have three to four fruit and vegetable options on hand. Kale, Swiss chard, and broccoli are nutrient packed and can be used in various recipes. For example, I’ll sauté broccoli for a stir-fry and then use the leftovers in an omelet or pasta dish later in the week. We have more time now. Many fresh vegetables and fruits can be prepped for the freezer. Look for snacks that are packed with fiber – Mary’s Gone Crackers are my go-to in the afternoons – they are gluten-free and have a solid crunch.
What foods should we be completely avoiding right now in order to maintain our physical and mental health?
Everything in moderation, nothing is off limits, just pair a ‘not-so healthy’ food with a healthy, nutrient-dense food. Many of us are turning to meals that bring up memories of being at home, a fun dinner party we had with friends, or a barbecue. Aspects in our life that we are missing right now. Yes, a candy bar is a silly choice. In the same breath, our simple joys are sort of limited right now. I see nothing wrong with having a decadent piece of chocolate cake or fruit tart at the end of the day. Just be smart and balance it out with your next meal.
The fitness industry has made many services and classes accessible online and available through apps. Do you have any favorites to recommend?
My list of favorites starts with Nike Training Club, Peloton, The Mirror, Aaptiv, and Pilates Anytime. Additionally, Peloton offers running, walking, and strength training classes that you don’t need a bike to do. Many local gyms are offering working deals to non-members where you pay as little as $5-10 per class.
What are your favorite healthy cooking apps?
Right now, I am finding that too much time on my phone and social media is not beneficial to me. Many of friends feel the same way. I am digging into my favorite cookbooks Eating Purely, Cooking in Color, and The Defined Dish for meal ideas and inspiration.
That being said, recipe apps and online sources are easily accessible. Getting those intricate spices and ingredients right now is not doable for most. Follow accounts and food bloggers who understand the situation we are all in and are offering, simple, easy, and nutritious meals to make at home. My favorites are My Sexy Veggies, Hummusapien, Love and Lemons, and Rootz Nutrition.
Many of us are holding ‘Zoom Parties’ and get togethers because we are unable to ‘physically’ meet with friends and family. Do you have any fun and creative suggestions for ‘Zoom’ gatherings?
My Mom is a phenomenal cook, I had her come on Zoom and teach my friends how to make a vegetable lasagna. We all poured a glass of red wine and watched and followed along with my Mom as music played in the background. We all agreed, none of us had laughed that hard in a long time! A virtual dinner party with your bridesmaids is a great way to stay positive and connected.
And I just started listening to the podcast called ‘Pop Fiction Women,’ which is hosted by two intelligent women who are attorneys. Basically they, dissect complicated female characters in books, TV shows, and film. Taking their idea, my group of friends are all watching ‘Dead to Me’ right now. Each week, we have a Zoom meeting to discuss the episodes with someone moderating each session. We joke that this is our way of ‘intellectualizing’ our binge-watching habits – no one is perfect. Because like a book club, we are having stimulating talks about the characters, their choices, and the major themes that run the narrative arch of this amazing show. Plan a Zoom gathering where all your friends discuss what they are reading, watching, or listening to at the moment. What music album or book is getting you through quarantine? A distraction that helps take our minds off what we are seeing in the news every day.
Sure, every bride wants to look amazing in her dress. But now more than ever, health, wellness, and beauty aren’t about vanity and how you look. Aside from sticking to a daily fitness and diet regime, what can we do to be our best in mind, body, and spirit when the world feels out of control and the future is uncertain?
It all goes back to looking at your primary plate and making sure all the elements are in check. How are your relationships? How is your home environment? Right now, many people are ‘cleaning house’ in every sense of the phrase – getting rid of the clutter around them as well as emotional baggage they have been carrying around. Extending an olive branch to others will do wonders for the soul. With spirituality and self-care, are you connected to something that brings comfort and stability? Take time to examine your career. Is it fulfilling and going in the right direction? Then follow up by looking at your secondary plate – food and supplements. This is an unprecedented moment that we are all going through together. Normal life has been disrupted. However, during this chaotic period, we have been given extra time to reflect, make changes, and plan for a healthier, happier, and brighter future.
Colette’s Go-To, Quarantine Recipes (click links below)