By Gail Dillon

Getting married is one of life’s biggest events and every woman wants to look and feel her best on her special day.

To achieve this, many brides-to-be exercise frantically for six or eight weeks and perhaps embark on a strict diet. Sure, they may lose weight and fit into their wedding dress. But a year later, the pounds often creep back on.

Bride-to-be Miriam Rosales, who is getting married July 6 in San Antonio, said she has a different plan in mind.

“After college I gained a significant amount of weight. I guess the ‘freshman 15’ caught up with me,” she said with a laugh. “I just started thinking, it’s a new life. I’m going to start a new journey, so I need to be a better me so there can be a better us.”

The 24-year-old kindergarten teacher is marrying Lewis Forero, an Army officer stationed at Fort Hood. The two met while they were students at Texas A&M and became engaged about a year ago. Rosales said through plenty of motivation and hard work, she dropped that “freshman 15” and shrank to a size four. However, she is not obsessed with the numbers.

“I just want to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” she said.

Rosales shopped around for gyms before she selected Heritage Park Fitness in Harker Heights.

“Heritage Park caught my attention because it’s a smaller gym,” she said. “It’s closer to my work, closer to my home, so I couldn’t use the excuse, ‘oh my gym is so far!’”

She joined a class called Training for Warriors last September and hasn’t looked back since. Jessica Davis, a Training for Warriors certified coach, teaches the class, which alternates strength training with intense cardio. Rosales attends the class six days a week and either takes a walk or a leisurely jog with her fiancé on Sundays.

Although Rosales wants her healthy lifestyle to extend far beyond the wedding, she admits that when she first started assessing herself, it was all about looking good in her dress.

“That’s how it started at first,” she said.

Later, she realized that goal was not large enough.

“It’s been more than just about losing weight,” she said. “Get in wedding shape? How about get in shape for your new life?”

Davis said she is not surprised Rosales met and exceeded her fitness goals “because she came in with the right mindset.”

“People are a lot stronger than they think they are,” she said, adding that when she first met the bride-to-be at a fitness event, Rosales struggled to flip a tire. She’s come a long way since then, not only dropping pounds but gaining muscle.

“Everybody has to start somewhere. ... Finding a support group is big,” Davis said.

For her wedding, Rosales is wearing an ivory Vera Wang wedding gown that required some alterations since it was first purchased.

“The (alterations) lady had to tell me, ‘you need to stop losing weight,’” she said.

In addition to working out regularly, Rosales made changes in her diet.

“I eat five meals a day — three meals and two snacks, plus plenty of water,” she said.

Her breakfast is often an egg, ham and veggie muffin, with fruit and peanut butter as her morning and afternoon snack. She likes tuna sandwiches for lunch (made with mustard instead of mayonnaise) and often has grilled chicken with quinoa and vegetables for dinner.

Her advice to future brides is to take your time and make a plan.

“I think the first step would be to ignore what everyone says and focus on what you want and what you need,” Rosales said. She also recommends not going on a “crazy diet.”

“I would say eat your three meals, eat your two snacks and make sure those meals are healthy and good for you,” she said.

But most importantly, taking “baby steps” is crucial.

“I did do a lot to get fit and stay fit, but it’s definitely been a process. It wasn’t right away,” she said.

Davis echoed this sentiment, “The key is to take it one step at a time.”

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