Why we can't diet like celebs

Christine OMaley
Friday, March 18, 2011
Image: Getty
We don't have the time, the money or the staff that celebrities have access to and yet we look to them, with their flawless figures, for weight-loss inspiration.

When we see Gwyneth Paltrow sporting an itsy-bitsy bikini as she nears 40 (watch the video below), or Heidi Klum strut her stuff on the catwalk just six weeks after giving birth, we're led to believe that we too can slim down on a celebrity crash diet. But we're often doomed to fail.

According to dietician Geraldine Georgeou, celebrities' approach to dieting is not only "weird and wacky'' but "unhealthy and unrealistic''.

"Celebrities leave everything to the last minute. They've got to go to a show or lose 10kg for their next role,'' Georgeou says.

"It would be nice if they looked at their whole health.''

If Lady Gaga had put health under the spotlight she might not have collapsed during her New Zealand tour last year, with some reports claiming she crash-dieted in a bid to squeeze into her outrageous stage outfits.

The pop star is reportedly taking better care of herself these days, however — albeit on a wacky diet of "white foods" including tofu, turkey slices and coconut water.

VIEW GALLERY: Hollywood's unhealthiest celebs

According to Georgeou, a successful diet needs to be tailored to the individual, and there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to achieving a healthy body weight.

While Atkins might work for Geri Halliwell and Madonna may remain lean on a diet of macrobiotic food, it doesn't necessarily mean it will work for you — or be the healthiest option.

Georgeou says that rather than jumping on the latest celeb-endorsed fad, we need to take on a healthy and realistic approach to food — which doesn't exclude food groups, potentially leading to problems down the track.

"People need to see a diet is a way of eating for life,'' Geraldine says, adding that it comes from the Greek diaita meaning "way of life''.

Georgeou offers these tips for permanent weight loss:

  • You need to set realistic goals. You're not going to get back to the size you were when you were 18.
  • Healthy weight loss is about 1kg a week.
  • Before changing your food choices seek medical advice.
  • Look at measurement loss not just weight loss.
  • Remember, being happy and having energy are results.

Unrealistic fitness
Celebrities have the means and motivation to dedicate their lives to their bodies — and indeed their livelihood depends on it. But we can't all be like 52-year-old Madonna, who reportedly keeps her body toned with two-hour work-out routines six times a week in which she mixes dancing with other types of cardio training as well as crunches and weight training.

We have jobs, families and, thankfully, are much less likely to have our derriere photographed in the magazines! And let's face it, we have better things to do than spend every available hour in the gym.

Chris Foy, from Vision Personal Training North Sydney, says a realistic goal that will deliver results is two half-hours of weight training and three cardio sessions per week.

That's on top of a healthy diet.

"We work on 70 percent nutrition and 30 percent exercise," he says.

"The amount of time it takes to work off some foods just isn't worth it."

Remember, incidental activity counts too, so walk to the shops instead of driving, take the stairs instead of the lift and a stroll around the block on your lunch break.

Addressing underlying causes
Sometimes, even all the resources in the world can't help the celebs keep the weight off.

The weight-loss program Jenny Craig famously helped Kirstie Alley return to a lingerie-fit figure, but the star yoyoed right back to where she started, while Oprah Winfrey struggled with her weight for years, finally discovering a thyroid condition was to blame.

At her Sydney clinics, Geraldine analyses blood tests and DNA searching for insulin resistance, low vitamin and iron levels or hormonal imbalances, which can block the benefits of exercise and require specific diets.

Sometimes emotional issues can also be to blame for weight gain.

"Many people (including celebrities) who engage in yoyo dieting are unsuccessful in keeping the lost weight off because they fail to address the underlying issues,'' clinical psychologist Ros Sparrevohn says.

"As soon as their painful emotions are triggered again they return to their original eating patterns and the cycle continues.''

Sparrevohn recommends seeking professional help to help deal with these issues.

Stick to a healthy, balanced diet (check out the low-GI diet for inspiration) and hit the gym three times a week and expect to see the scales head in the desired direction — but accept that it will take time. Or if you're still searching for celebrity inspiration, look to Jennifer Aniston who maintains her million-dollar-bod through good ol' exercise and fresh, nutritious food.

Have your say: have you tried a celebrity diet?

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