Stop the excuses, changing your lifestyle is only route to fitness
AS any dieter knows, it is much easier to make excuses than to begin the uphill battle to weight loss.
Excuses such as 'I had a hard day at work' or 'I got bored' have been found to be common reasons for quitting a diet with a staggering 86 per cent of dieters making excuses as to why they can't lose weight.
From Atkins, to juice diets, cabbage soup to raw food or last year's celebrity craze, the Dukan diet — reportedly a favourite of Carole Middleton and Jennifer Lopez — it seems we are a nation who want to shed the pounds without putting the hard graft in.
With Christmas come and gone, it is reckoned today is the day many people will begin to officially shed their post-Christmas excess pounds.
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But with so many diet books and celebrity-endorsed fitness DVDs on the market, it can be a nightmare understanding who is giving good nutrition and diet advice and who, quite frankly, needs a good talking to.
Swansea-based personal instructor Robert Clarke says the best way to lose weight is to simply to stop making excuses and commit to a new lifestyle change.
"It's all very well saying you want to lose weight," he says.
"But it's like anything in life — if you want it so badly you need to put the work in.
"I hear excuse after excuses for reasons why people can't lose weight. People say they eat for comfort, they are bored or do not have time to exercise.
"But these are just excuses.
"If you are bored find something to do. Go for a walk or play with the children.
"If people are serious about losing weight they need to take control, adapt their lifestyles, face their demons and make small steps.
"They need to eat a sensible balanced diet and get in some exercise. Enjoy regular treats but know when enough is enough.
"If you have a special occasion or event, enjoy yourself and give yourself a break. Just get back in the groove as soon as possible.
"Now Christmas is over, don't feel pressurised by quick-fix diets in magazines, follow a steady weight loss programme and be realistic with yourself. There is no quick fix. You don't get results without a bit of pain.
"People should not look on celebrities as role models. They often have to take drastic action for their work. The diets they go on cannot be sustained for a long period of time. If they are told they have a photo shoot in a month's time, they need to do something quick to make sure they look good for it. But often their images are touched up so they look better than in person."
Equalities Minister Jo Swinson recently wrote an open letter asking magazines to "shed the fad diets and fitness myths" in their January editions.
She wants them to promote healthy lifestyle to readers instead of "irresponsible" short-term solutions which encourages readers to jump on fad diet bandwagons.
"I am opposed to any diet that is encouraging you to lose weight at a miracle speed, which is an unhealthy speed, or cutting out food groups, or skipping meals," she says.
"Any of these kind of fad diets actually can have negative health consequences, and most diets don't even work anyway."
The British Dietetic Associations Association says it has heard it all about diets — the good, the bad, the weird and the whacky.
"As much as we all would love it to be the case, there is no magic solution to losing weight and keeping it off long term, says Sian Porter, consultant dietitian and spokeswoman for the BDA.
"There is no wonder diet you can follow without some associated nutritional or health risk and most are offering a short-term fix to a long-term problem.
"It may be obvious, but if you want to lose weight you need to make healthier choices, eat a nutritionally balanced and varied diet with appropriately sized portions, and be physically active.
"In a nutshell the solution for most is to, eat fewer calories, make better choices and move a bit more!
"On a serious note, glamorous images of celebrities saturate our daily media in all forms. These celebrities have an army of people to help them to keep looking good, which is essential to their livelihood and plenty of money to do whatever they think it takes.
"A lot of these images are airbrushed and retouched to give celebrities an unachievable body image that does not exist in real life, yet many aspire to. Some people look at these images and will try anything they think will help them achieve the 'perfect' body.
"If you have some weight you need to lose, then do it in a healthy, enjoyable and sustainable way.
"In the long term this will achieve the results you are after."
According to research, body dissatisfaction in the UK has never been higher. The pressure to conform to the impossible stereotypes in advertising, magazines and on the catwalk is overwhelming, and low self-esteem, depression and eating disorders are all on the up.
Swansea actress Melanie Walters launched a new campaign this year to help educate people on the truth about photo editing in magazines.
She says: "Too often, we open a magazine or turn on the TV and see a retouched, airbrushed image of a gorgeous woman — not a wrinkle, stretch mark or pimple in sight. It has become far more acute where people are using harmful sunbeds, whitening their teeth to extreme, going under the knife. They are even developing eating disorders while trying to fit into the media's idea of the 'ideal'."
"Everyone has their hang-ups."
Mel admits she started experimenting with different diets to change her body shape.
She went through a period of yo-yo dieting in her 20s and found it hard to maintain a balance.
"I went on a Ryvita and cottage cheese diet but I'd be so hungry by the afternoon that I'd binge on a loaf of white bread and ruin it.
"I dieted as a young actress in an attempt to 'get the look' to be cast as a young romantic lead. I wanted to be Tess in Tess of the D'Urbervilles, not the plump peasant friend in the background."
Mel says her secret to being happy in her own skin is learning to not acknowledge the farcical pictures in the media, and not succumb to the pressure. As I've grown older I've learnt to accept myself for who I am. Life is about striving for what you want, it's not about how you look."
Robert's running up a huge boost for charity— page 20