Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wedding workouts

Every bride wants to be beautiful (and for some, sexy) on her wedding day.

Sadly, not every bride has the slightest idea how to look healthy and glowing. Some brides, after pouring so much into preparing for the wedding, march down the aisle haggard and almost lifeless, some even fainting from hunger and lack of sleep.

Like most successful weight-loss stories, the trick is to balance everything instead of cramming a diet, an exercise regimen and for the more desperate, relying on diet pills just weeks or days before the big day. Relationships take time, planning a wedding takes time and so does losing weight to fit into your dream wedding dress (and looking hot on your honeymoon!)

When I was young, I played a lot. Nope, not with computer games although we did have Atari (ok, so now you have an idea how old I am). My cousins and I would play hide and seek and climb trees in my grandparents' house during the summer. My parents would take us to the country club and my dad would always ask us to do 20 laps in the olympic-size swimming pool. During school days, I would play dodge ball with my classmates or participate a game we called "agawan-base" -- the object of which was to try to covet the "fort" of another team, tagging the opponents so they could convert to your team to eventually take hold of their original fort. It sounds complicated but as a child, it was just pure fun -- and maybe it was because of playing so much that I didn't grow up to be a chubby kid.

When I was in high school, I played volleyball with my barkada as much as we could. I wasn't a voracious eater but looking back, volleyball was the reason why I had strong arms and legs -- even if I had a pooch for a midsection.

I didn't have much physical activities in college and maybe that explains why it was in college that I was at my heaviest. Two years into the working world, I decided to join a gym and made it a habit to work out before I punched in my time card. Sure, I had to wake up earlier but at least I could get exercising out of the way early in the day.

After going through 2 pregnancies and getting older, I admit that getting back into shape is not as easy as when I was younger. So now I'm back in the gym on most days, attending yoga classes and at least one day of the week, I attend Tae kwon do classes (which I haven't done in the last 20 years).

No, I don't expect brides-to-be (and their future hubbies) to become gym bunnies. Like everything else in preparation for the wedding, we need to set aside some time for our bodies -- if we have time to attend meetings with our caterer, our dressmaker, our musicians, our make-up artists, uh, you get the point? Surely, you can set aside some time to prepare your bodies for your wedding day.

There is simply no excuse not to look good even if you're stressed with work or the wedding preparations. There are so many gyms in the Metro offering great equipment, good classes and other benefits. If you're like me who can't bear to look ridiculous in an aerobics class because of the quick changing of steps, you can try yoga where the movements are slower yet stretches your muscles, conditions your body and helps you relax in a way because of all the breathing. Could even be good in alleviating wedding-related stress! :-)

Some good gyms I know of are Fitness First, Gold's gym and Planet Infinity. Be sure to check with a doctor before engaging in any kind of fitness regimen!

If you think joining a gym is not for you, then maybe some kind of sport would be more enjoyable (and less expensive and non-committal than a gym, haha). Why not try badminton, biking or simply jogging around your village or your old school campus with your spouse-to-be? It might even prove to be a great venue for some pre-nuptial bonding.

Whatever physical activity you choose, remember that on our wedding day, we not only offer our hearts and minds to our spouses, but our bodies as well. That said, we must also take care of our bodies -- especially if we plan to have kids right away.

Don't just be beautiful on your wedding day, be healthy too!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cash or kind?

Gifts, that is.

Would it be better to have tangible, stereotype newlywed gifts or is cash/are cheques a wiser option so you can spend it anyway you wish instead of the possibility of being stuck with wedding gifts that may not be to your liking? Some brides would be clueless with a waffle-maker or a juice extractor. What would a couple do with five sets of pots and pans or 3 dozen flatware sets if they don't host parties often?

I've been cleaning my parents' house for quite sometime -- clearing out items that are no longer being used so I can either sell them in a garage sale or donate them to charity. In my clutter-clearing adventures, I've discovered an array of items that may have well been saved "just in case" but were hardly used. Or never used.

I believe this is mostly the case with Filipinos, especially those belonging to my parents' generation who tend to keep the more beautiful, more expensive things, especially those with "sentimental value" locked up in cabinets and drawers for fear of being lost, broken or tarnished (and are difficult to restore as if they were new).

An aunt now lives in Boston with her husband but they got married in Manila in the 1980's. She had about a dozen or more pairs of godparents and they were mostly politicians at the time so you could consider their wedding as one that was grand. Since she moved to Boston, she had to leave some of her wedding gifts here at home and as I clutter-cleared her house, I was surprised to find four punchbowl sets (I hear they were a fad in the 80's, haha).

In my parents' home, there are a lot of tea sets, glassware and flatware I don't remember ever being used.

Some of the things in my parents' house that have yet to see daylight.

In my own home, I have wedding gifts still in their boxes because well, we haven't found use for them yet.

So what's my point?

We get gifts that we don't use -- often or at all!

But don't get me wrong. I'm far from being ungrateful. When I attend weddings, I make it a point to find out what the couple needs -- his and her towels, perhaps? An espresso-maker? A funky lamp? And believe me when I say that having a wedding registry is a lifesaver. For one, it saves you the effort of mind-reading the couple because their registry list already tells you what they need or want from a particular store. Two, it already indicates the price of the items so you don't need to go through the entire store looking for one that fits your budget. And three, some stores even deliver the items straight to the newlyweds' home so you don't have to lug them to the reception.

In the 1980's, even probably during the 1990's, asking for cash in lieu of gifts is something that would have been thought of as tacky, even downright despicable. But nowadays, some couples are not only spreading their cash request through close friends and relatives but saying it in their invitations, albeit not outright "your gifts are ok but we prefer cash." Hahaha.

This "cash preferred" mindset for this generation may be a sign of the times where couples are more wise in spending their hard-earned money on things that they would really use. But some people are offended with a "cash box" by the registration table that makes guests feel as if they're "paying" to attend the reception.

My personal take on this topic is this: If you can't afford a lavish wedding and are expecting a "return of investment" from your guests by asking for money, I say postpone the wedding until you have enough money to spend on your wedding AND AFTER the wedding. Choosing to get married is one thing, but expecting gifts is another thing. People don't get married to get gifts. People get married because they're in love and they want to celebrate their love with people who matter to them. And people who truly matter need not bring gifts, they just need to be there.

If you invite people to your wedding and they bring gifts, good. Yes, even those you probably will never use. If they don't bring gifts, be grateful that they still attended your wedding.

I've heard of recent newlyweds who lost everything they had during Typhoon Ondoy and yet they're thankful that they still had each other. Awww. Sniff.

So for you out there who treat weddings like a business (unless you're a wedding vendor), repeat after me: "The most important things in a wedding are these: Me, my future spouse, and our love. (Oh, and someone to officiate the ceremony. Ok, throw in a few witnesses)."

On a final note, maybe you can look at gifts from my own experience -- when I was still single and I prayed for God to help me either accept that I will forever be single or if he could send me not the perfect man but the perfect man for me, God didn't hesitate to send me Rahyan. And if I thought long and hard enough, among all my wedding gifts, my husband is probably the best gift ever.

Cheesy, I know, but true. :-)