Why You Don't Want to Look Like Gwyneth Paltrow

07/02/2012 23:01 GMT | Updated 08/04/2012 10:12 BST

How do Hollywood stars maintain such great bodies? A recent article in Harper's Bazaar about Gwyneth Paltrow offers a glimpse into the regime she uses to maintain her slim physique

This sort of information is interesting because while most of our society struggles with being overweight, celebrities have to maintain not just healthy bodies, but often dangerously skinny ones too.

That's not to say that Ms Paltrow is dangerously skinny. In fact the article states that she is "lean and toned, with the streamlined contours of an athlete."

So how does she do it? Good genes? Good luck?

The truth is, even with the best of genes, to maintain a body like Gwyneth Paltrow's you have to work very hard. Especially as you get older. Indeed, Ms Paltrow was quoted last year as saying "Everything in my life that's good is because I worked my ass off to get it and to maintain it." This is not a woman who just coasts through life. The Harper's Bazaar article states that she does a 1.5 hours physical training session every weekday and is currently on a 12 week detox program of no gluten, no dairy and no sugar.

Do you want to work out for 1.5 hours every weekday and do a 12 week no sugar detox? Most people wouldn't. But the reality is, if you want a body like Gwyneth's you have to put in that kind of work.

We can admire the effort it takes to maintain a movie star body, but the danger arises when it corrupts our perceptions of health and fitness.

"I either look like a movie star or I am not healthy"

Not only is this misguided, but it makes a lot of people think that they only way they can be healthy is by replicating the diet and workout regimes of celebrities. Don't get me wrong, if you are motivated and able to replicate your favourite celebrity's health regime, then that's great, but for most people it's not going to happen. And then what? They give up. They reason that if they can't stick to an intense diet and fitness programme, then there's something wrong with them.

And there is no shortage of fitness and diet professionals to confirm the no pain - no gain message implicit in intense workouts and diets. But it is precisely this all or nothing approach that makes millions of people around the world feel guilty and repulsed by exercise and weight loss at the same time.

The mistake here is dealing in absolutes. You don't need to have washboard abs to be healthy. You don't need a supermodel physique to feel better about yourself. You don't need to look like a celebrity to feel great and look great. And you don't need to kill yourself at the gym or starve yourself on a fad diet.

There is an in-between. For most people, just increasing their day to day activity and cutting back what they eat a little can have dramatic effects on health and wellbeing. And that's something all of us can easily do and stick to.

It's all very well to admire celebrities health regimes, but the fact is, for most people in our society, just losing a few pounds of excess weight would be far more life-changing and good for us (as well as realistic) than aiming to look like Gwyneth.