There is nothing like having a big event on the calendar to set the panic-diet bells ringing. Whether it’s for a holiday, wedding or a reunion we invariably seek out quick-fix solutions — such as miracle fad diets, extreme boot camps and strict calorie counting apps — in an attempt to achieve our ‘perfect’ body.
Suddenly, all focus is directed on the new ‘improved’ you that will arrive at the event several dress sizes smaller, with little consideration given to the practicality, or safety, of how you achieve this slimmer body.
While there is nothing wrong with wanting to shape up to feel a bit better about our appearance, many people tend to put themselves under a lot of pressure to achieve an unrealistic goal in an equally unrealistic time frame. More often than not, this has the opposite effect, with failed diets only resulting in people feeling worse than they did to begin with, and possibly even gaining extra pounds through comfort eating as a result.
In short, goal dieting simply does not work. Here’s why:
1. We don’t give ourselves enough time to lose our desired amount of weight
Goal dieting generally involves losing weight quickly, with the expectancy of seeing a significant change in a short space of time. This type of dieting is commonly used when an event is fast approaching and we panic that our body isn’t ‘beach-ready’ or ‘photograph friendly’.
Unfortunately, dropping a dress size or two in a matter of weeks is neither realistic nor healthy. In order to achieve a trimmer physique through diet and exercise alone, lifestyle changes would need to start several months prior to the date in question. According to the NHS, the recommended weight loss programme involves losing between 1lb and 2lb per week. Although that may not sound a lot, it is still the equivalent of 1-2 bags of sugar!
2. Fad dieting is not sustainable
When was the last time you looked at a diet shake or a micro-portion of kale and thought “yum, that looks delicious”? Chances are, the answer will be ‘never’. For most people, eating and drinking is an enjoyable, social experience and sticking to a strict calorie controlled or meal replacement diet can be extremely stressful — not to mention time consuming — when every mouthful needs to be pre-planned.
Cutting out all indulgences can also make us feel pretty miserable, making strict diet plans even more unrealistic to sustain for extended periods of time. Before long we inevitably slacken the rules and possibly even binge for a while, before falling back into bad eating habits. Subsequently, any weight that may have been lost is quickly regained.
3. Crash dieting makes the body hoard calories
The fact is, the body needs a certain amount of calories to function. When it realises that these calories are being taken away it naturally starts to hold onto them, making it increasingly difficult to lose weight. George L. Blackburn associate director at the division of nutrition at Harvard Medical School explains: “If you crash diet for two weeks or so, your metabolism will temporarily slow down, so the exact dieting effort results in less and less weight loss. Your body is conserving energy to keep you from losing weight too quickly.”
4. It is almost impossible to spot reduce
Have you ever successfully lost a few pounds but found that the weight fell off your face rather than your hips? Unfortunately this is a common complaint among dieters as it is virtually impossible to pinpoint exactly where the weight will come off.
According to James O.Hill, executive director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the University of Colorado, you cannot target weight loss from specific places. And where you do lose weight depends largely on where your body stores fat and also on your genetics.
Quick-fix diets involve dropping weight quickly which means that the weight that you most recently gained is generally the first to go, hence it being harder to shift areas of stubborn fat — such as on the hips, thighs, chin or stomach — that have been problem areas for a while.
How to shift stubborn fat – realistically
We don’t need to tell you that the only sustainable approach to shaping up is to start replacing high-calorie foods with low-fat alternatives. The trick is making healthy eating a way of life rather than seeing it as a quick fix-weight loss solution. Don’t take the all-or-nothing approach or you will soon become bored and fall back into bad habits. Find the diet that is right for you, make sure it includes a few treats here and there and be patient!
Exercise is the other obvious solution to burning excess calories, although again it is all about finding a regime that fits into your daily routine. Vowing to hit the gym five nights a week isn’t always that practical, so find an activity that you enjoy and create a workable schedule that will complement — rather than take over — your life.
Although it is highly unlikely that you will see a huge difference in the three short weeks prior to the big event, over time you will start seeing positive changes to your silhouette. This gradual process will mean that your body gets used to your new healthier regime, meaning that your chances of success will be much higher!
Aside from making positive lifestyle changes, non-invasive cosmetic treatments such as Sculpsure can also provide a safe and effective solution for instantly reducing particular areas of stubborn fat. As the treatment involves physically dissolving fat cells the end results are permanent, creating a long-term slimmer silhouette.
Body confidence is about much more than the image that you see in the mirror. There is no point achieving the ‘perfect’ body when your face looks drawn and stressed from being chained to an extreme diet and exercise plan. At the end of the day when you look back on pictures of the big event, it’s highly likely that your happy smile will be far more noticeable than your dress size.