Ahhh, celebrity diets. The age-old ‘I lost 50lbs by eating nothing but grapefruit covered in salt water and lizard’s tears’ diet is a staple of trashy magazines (full disclosure: I love trashy magazines). When you’re tucking into your second helping of chicken nuggets, it’s easy enough to think ‘TOMORROW I will start the Master Cleanse because if Cheryl Cole can do it, so can I!’ whilst flicking through Heat magazine. It doesn’t take long, however, to realise that the whole ‘quick fix’ solution is a bit of a myth. But still, celeb diets continue to hold their appeal because they’re a bit of a reminder that, for all their apparent perfection, celebrities are still just like us.
Case in point: Jessica Simpson. During her pregnancy, she gained a huge amount of weight – and to my mind, that’s her business. I’m not going to say whether I would or wouldn’t gain a lot of my weight back if I was pregnant, because it seems like one of those things that depends on whether your cravings include cucumbers and lettuce, or pizza and cake.
Almost immediately after having the baby, however, she signed a $4million deal with Weight Watchers to become their new ambassador – and is now the subject of endless articles about how she’s struggling to lose the weight, is miserable, depressed, blah blah blah. It’s a strange spin on the usual post-weight-loss unveiling, and one that I’m not 100% isn’t going to backfire on Weight Watchers’ behalf.
Don’t get me wrong – I think as these things go, Weight Watchers isn’t exactly evil. It’s not perfect, but they’ve got a reasonable grasp on healthy(ish) eating and exercise, and I’ve seen it work for people in the past – so I don’t have anything against them. But when your spokesperson is having what looks like the worst time ever hitting the gym, it’s not exactly encouraging. She’s recently tweeted to stress that Weight Watchers haven’t put any pressure on her to lose the weight – but if she’s as unhappy as she looks every time she leaves the gym… Well, it’s enough to put me off going – and I bloody love working out.
And that’s the difference here – if she’s miserable, putting in ridiculous gym hours, and not eating in a way that satisfies her, then it’s just not sustainable in the long-term. Meaning that, while hopefully it won’t play out like this, she’s a prime target for the aforementioned trashy magazines to drag her down if she gains the weight again.
What intrigues me about the celebrity diet industry is that when you think about those celebs who’ve lost a huge amount of weight – particularly among the girls – almost all of them credit some sort of diet plan for their success. That, or surgery. And it makes me wonder if it’s a chicken and egg situation - if Weight Watchers approaches you when you’ve gained the pounds and offers you a significant amount of money to lose the weight before you’ve done it… Do you say yes? Or more cynically – if you lost weight for whatever reason, through whatever method, and then were approached by a business like Jenny Craig, for instance, to say that your weight loss was a result of their products – would you do it?
I’m not going to lie about this – I think if I’d been offered $4million to lose my weight before I started, I’d probably have done it, because I’m a poor student and if Belle du Jour can fund her PhD with sex, then I could definitely fund mine by going on a diet. But alas, I am not a celebrity – so the opportunity didn’t present itself. Now I’m nearly there though? No way would I let on it was some miracle diet that got me here. For any money.
Because while I’d really appreciate the cash (and if anyone’s interested in starting the Katie-Needs-New-Clothes-Fund, I’m open to that) I think there need to be more people out there waving the flag for eating well and exercising in a way that’s sustainable. As Mr-Trainer-Nutritionist-Expert-Man has told me all along, if you’re doing a diet that you can’t imagine being able to keep up for the rest of your life, then it’s probably not going to work. Be it shakes, meal plans, Master Cleanses, or whatever – there’s no way you’d want to eat that every day. For the next seventy years.
Celebrity weight loss is all well and good – and don’t get me wrong, I will continue to read about them in my lunch hour while I’m munching away on something far more tasty and nutritious than a spiced up lemonade shot. But in the real world, real food and real exercise is the only way you’ll lose the weight, and keep it off. It’s harder than the quick fix approach – but the payoff is that you won’t have Heat magazine circling your cellulite on their front page.
Totally worth it.