My jeans are tighter than usual. I would like to blame an erratic washing machine but there is a roll of pudgy flesh at the top of my Levi’s indicative of a burgeoning muffin top. I have been over indulging and it shows.
I suspect my cake-like appearance began in the middle of November when I celebrated my birthday (followed nine days later by Billy’s birthday and Christmas shortly after). It always seems futile to “be good” during this six week festive period. So I hurtle headlong down the helter skelter of weight gain grabbing numerous chocolates, mince pies, cheese and sausage rolls on my way topped up with lashings of wine (mulled and otherwise).
I’ve identified the cause but what is to be done to reverse this trend?
I could, like 60% of Britons, pledge to lose weight as a New Year’s resolution. The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they are seldom for life and, unlike dogs, they aren’t cute and cuddly and are therefore very easy to abandon.
On the other hand, it is very easy to find the guilt led motivation to lose weight because everywhere you look there are people offering to help you through articles, books and weight loss schemes. Take a look at some of the diets being touted as the next big thing for weight loss in 2013.
Just the word “diet” conjures up images of enforced privation and misery. I hate being told what I can and can’t eat. I’m not a chocoholic but the moment I’m told to eschew the brown stuff (or anything else) I crave it all the more. Then there is the matter of sustainability. Many diets claim to offer dramatic results over a short period of time (like the Drop Zone diet). They may well work in the short term but how many people slip back into their old habits and a larger clothes size once the diet is done and dusted? There is also the economic impact to consider. Some diets necessitate investment in costly meal replacements (such as Slim Fast). Others prescribe a diet based on a restricted list of high quality, and therefore expensive, ingredients (such as the protein based Paleo diet). In either case you stand to lose plenty of pounds and I’m not talking about the weight kind.
Of course, not all weight loss plans are flawed. Companies like Weight Watchers provide sound advice and vital support support for people concerned about their weight. With approximately 1.3 million members across the world they must be doing something right. I joined Weight Watchers after the birth of my first son, managed to shed my baby weight and have largely kept it off. But let’s not forget that Weight Watchers et al are part of the very lucrative diet food industry. In 2011, worldwide consumers spent almost $5 billion on Weight Watchers branded products and services (including meeting attendance and internet subscriptions). In the UK alone the diet food sector was valued at over £5 billion in 2010. So yes, these companies serve a purpose but their primary focus is to make money, not to make you slim. Plus there is evidence to show that many of the low-fat alternatives (such as biscuits and yoghurts) sold in supermarkets are not necessarily saving you as many calories as you think they are. And they seldom taste as good.
I like this online article by Daniela Soave about the anti-diet of which she says:
“The anti-diet encourages us to accept and value our bodies, to recognise that dieting is harmful, and to think about how and what we eat.”
In other words, use your common sense and:
- Eat less crap (in my case cakes and crisps. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have the odd full fat treat but Mars bars for breakfast are probably a bad idea);
- Eat more healthy stuff (more fruit and veg, less chips and cheese);
- Cut down on the booze (although there is no evidence to suggest that giving it up entirely for a short period does you any good);
- Get plenty of exercise (even if that’s only walking. Get a dog if necessary for encouragement. Just remember they’re for life not just for the duration of your diet, anti or otherwise!).
Crucially, be happy with who you are. As Arabella Weir says, “The reality is that the vast majority of us are predisposed to be a certain weight.”
There is absolutely no point in trying to compete with the (often airbrushed) pictures of various svelte actresses and models found in the media. I’ve often dreamt of waking up next to Jonny Depp but is the Green Smoothie diet really going to make me look like Vanessa Paradis (or whoever else he is shagging at present)? Of course not! What I do know is that rather than jumping on the diet wagon like so many people if I follow the advice above the muffin top should reduce over time and my jeans will feel less like they are cutting me in half.
Now where did I put the last of the Christmas cake?