Why are celebrity weight loss stories so compelling? Obviously part of it is the same reason why people read about celebrities in general. But there is an added factor with the weight loss story: the hope that you will learn about some new way to revolutionise your own weight loss.
We know celebrities shape our attitudes towards body image but they also affect the way we think about losing weight. And not in a good way.
Here are five myths that celebrity weight loss stories promote, that undermine our own weight loss.
Myth 1: The Quicker the Weight Loss the Better.
Every day I see a new celebrity weight loss story about how quickly a celebrity has "bounced back" from pregnancy weight to a swimsuit body. And if you're Jessica Simpson, you get the pressure for not having bounced back quick enough.
But it's not just post-pregnancy where there is an obsession with speed of weight loss. Most celebrity weight loss stories dramatise fast weight loss as being more impressive.
But the fact is, quick weight loss is hardly ever lasting weight loss. If you are looking for an escape from yoyo dieting, then best to take the focus away from "how quick will it work?", to "how long will it last?"
Myth 2: Lettuce and Boiled Vegetables is a Great Weight Loss Diet
Beyonce was reported as summarising her post-pregnancy weight loss regime as "They had me on the treadmill, eating lettuce"
"Eating rabbit food" is often associated with the celebrity weight loss regime. But overhauling your normal diet with lettuce or any other form of deprivation is not a good plan for most people, because let's face it, who wants to deprive themselves for the rest of their life? When you go back to eating what you used to eat, you'll gain the weight back.
The better approach is to make small, gradual changes to your regular diet.
Myth 3: The More Drastic the Better
Tied in with getting quick results, is the "no pain, no gain" approach. You're not doing enough to lose weight unless you've really taken it to the extreme. Lady Gaga captured this attitude with her controversial tweet a few months ago: "#Popstarsdonteat".
Most people think that weight loss requires a superhuman effort with drastic changes to what you've been doing. And that involves sacrificing fun and enjoyment.
Well it's not true. In fact, if you are going to continue your new changes for the long-term, you need to be able to have fun (eat out and travel amongst other things) to make sure you stick with it.
Myth 4: Pushing Yourself at the Gym is the Key to Weight Loss
Most celebrities heavily emphasise exercise as a big factor for their weight loss.
But especially for women, if you rely on exercise alone to lose weight, you will be sorely disappointed. For women, limiting your calorie intake (eating less) is much more important than exercise (exercise is of course still good for you).
To put it another way, these celebrities who lose weight may have punishing exercise regimes but they are also not eating cheeseburgers on their days off. And if they were, then it's doubtful that exercise could ever compensate.
But the most important point is that you don't need to go to extreme lengths to exercise. Especially if you are relatively inactive, it's best to start very slowly and then build up. The sad thing I often see, is people who get put off from doing any exercise, because they think it's either got to be painfully intense or not worth doing it at all.
Myth 5: Washboard Abs are the Aim of Weight Loss
Celebrity weight loss stories often leave us with the impression that there's no point trying to lose weight unless you get to the end-goal of looking like a supermodel?
But did you know that if you're overweight, even cutting back your weight by 5% can have a positive effect on your health?
If you need to lose a large amount of weight, forget the eventual goal for now. Just focus on a small goal that you know you can achieve. Even a small amount of weight loss can make a difference to how you feel. You have to let these small victories nourish you as you head to the bigger goal. Be patient and persistent.
Celebrities Don't Help with Weight Loss.
Celebrities are nice to look at, and they provide many of us with entertainment (and something to write about) but please don't get your weight loss advice from them.
For more about a behavioural approach to weight loss click here.
Also on HuffPost UK, celebrities who have lost a considerable amount of weight:
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