Shedding pounds for your wedding day is pretty routine for brides, who want to transform themselves for the perfect day, the perfect dress and the perfect picture that will immortalize their union with the perfect man.
A Cornell University study found that engaged women, on average, want to lose 20 pounds before their wedding day, and they will do just about anything to do it.
This includes Bridal Bootcamps, severe calorie reduction and one extreme example in which a women went on a feeding tube to get down to her goal weight.
But what about once the vows are done, who is up for a challenge to see if the flattering figure can be regained after all those years? Eyewitness News found women who may have participated in the hunger games as brides, but have since wised up and figured out their own way to maintain the wedding day physique.
SoHo Trainer Terri Walsh, creator of the ART Method LINK, has hosted bridal boot camps for years.
"Pictures are forever," she tells brides. "A bride should look for a class that fits their need to meet a deadline."
Walsh has had so much success getting women ready for their big day, they keep coming back even when the honeymoon is over.
She says most of her brides try their dress on once per year, "and that tends to keep them motivated."
Buff Brides author Sue Fleming says when women start to like fitness, they are able to maintain their weight better. She has trained hundreds of brides all over the Tri-State Area who are preparing for their big day.
She has two tips - start with small, attainable goals and find a partner to work out with you.
"We all need some goals down the line," she said. "A birthday, a wedding, a special event, if that's what gets you off the coach, then right on!"
Here are three women who have all been married for more than 20 years who can still fit in their wedding dress. They share their stories and their secrets on how it's possible to stay buff beyond being brides.
Amy Frogley, from Manhattan, has been married 25 years and has four children ages 15 to 24 years old. She comes from a family where obesity is a problem.
"I have a father who's thin and a mother who's overweight," she said. "So I knew at early age I could go either way and it kind of scared me."
As she began having children, she would gain weight butt to back. But Amy kept a secret weapon that served her better than any scale - a pair of jeans from when she was a teenager.
"I decided these jeans were going to be my scale," she said. "From then on, I played a game with myself. And every time I had a baby, I would see how long to get in those jeans again. It's been the best thing for me. It became a competition with myself. I can still get in them!"
She watches what she eats and works out. When her skinny jeans get snug, she cuts out sugar and flour, and avoids packaged foods.
"I don't drink my calories, I eat them," she said.
She also spends hours walking the dogs every week and takes dancing lessons with her husband. She warns against shopping "for the next size up." Buying clothes should be a reward, not a punishment, she says, so don't keep buying bigger sizes. Instead, work to fit into your current size.
Her resolve to stay in shape just paid off, as she surprised her husband on their 25th wedding anniversary by still fitting into her wedding dress.
"I can," she said. "It's tight, but I can do it. It's the biggest gift that I gave myself and my husband, and because obesity is such a big problem in my family, it's huge that I can still get into that dress."
Jessica Guff, of New York City, has been married almost 25 years and has two children, ages 19 and 21. She was married in her 1980s Oscar de la Renta dress.
"My big issue back then was starving myself so I could fit into the dress, and I basically starved," she said. "And yes, it fit, but kind of, barely."
Jessica become a mother and gained weight during her pregnancies. She struggled with weight, like most moms do, but tried to engage fitness whenever she could. The stress of family and work were balanced with all the other challenges of life.
"I had breast cancer in 2006," she said.
But even when she was sick, she stuck to her fitness routine. She found a trainer at La Palestra in New York City and began a personalized cardio, strength training and nutrition regime that gave her success. Now, her wedding day dress not only fits, it's too big. She shows one of her warmup routines called the "Tibetan Rites" and says they are her secret to energy and eternal youth.
"They got me past that and into fitness in a way that I could be the wedding dress on and have it be loose," she said.
Jessica as also transitioned from just fit into an athlete. She has completed the New York City Marathon and is now doing triathlons.
She understands the temptation women have to do less for themselves as they do more with family and career. But she stresses that her success came from making time for herself.
"I used to run around the soccer field at my kids' games," she said. "Finding the minutes throughout the day to focus on fitness is so important."
She said her workouts are so important, she schedules them.
"I put it on my calendar lunch date," she said. "I build everything around it."
Finally, she points out that while all you really need to work out is a pair of shoes, spending money to get good advice is a wise investment.
"Make the investment and get someone who knows what they are talking about and tell you what you need for your body," she said.
Her next big adventure is the Nantucket triathlon.
Donna Pollack, from Westchester Harrison, has been married 22 years and has two grown children. Her second child, a boy, weighed 10 pounds at birth (and she's only 5 foot 2!). She had gained the baby weight and moved to the suburbs, where there was not a gym close by. But then she was introduced to a brand new exercise program.
"I started doing pilates and I fell in love," she said. "It took my 700 hours here at the TruPilates studio to train to be an instructor, for me that's about three years to become a teacher."
Donna says she had always kept her wedding dress as a memory.
"I never thought I'd put it on again," she said. "When that thing finally zipped, I was like, yes!"
Her study of pilates became the habit that she needed to always stay in shape. She says women should find something they like to do. Even though pilates was once foreign to her, she was able to start slow learn the steps.
"It's nice to have something you can walk into and feel comfortable doing and know the routine."
And she believes there is an exercise program for everyone. Donna says women should never give up on their appearance. She says it's important to like yourself and be able to look in the mirror, and that if there is something that you don't like, know that you have options.
Beyond pilates, she says her secret to staying slim is that she's a big napper.
Are you able to fit in your wedding dress? Send us your name, how long you've been married and your tips for staying fit. Be sure to include your email. Upload both your before (wedding day) and after (now) pictures to http://iwitness.7online.com/ChannelGallery.aspx?c=7534. You can also email your story to Amy.E.Freeze@abc.com.