The media says…
If you read the media, you’ll hear it often repeated that the pressure we feel to be thin comes from ‘thin ideals’ presented to us by … the media! But let’s stop for a second, and think about all the stuff that is in the media too – all those adverts for chocolate, and wine, and ice cream. Suddenly, it seems that there is something of a mixed message. Do I strive to look unrealistically thin, or do I treat the media as a game of “Simon Says” and consume all the fattening products it advertises?
My balancing act
The answer, of course, is neither. I might be slightly seduced by the latest ads or the look of the catwalk model, but that’s as far as it goes. Taking a balanced line isn’t as easy in practice as sounds, though. Well, not for me at any rate! And I guess that the western world’s obesity and diabetes stats – as well as the proliferation of fad diets – would bear this out.
So, how does my balancing act work out? Essentially I never follow what’s commonly referred to as a ‘diet’. Rather than go on a ‘weight loss’ programme, I aim to keep my weight down by various means
- Exercising for a minimum of 150 minutes a week
- Always refusing ‘empty calorie’ snacks that are nearly 100% sugar. (Okay, nearly always refusing!)
- Making any adjustments necessary as I go along
Long term gain means less pain
You know those slightly desperate sounding articles that proclaim you can lose x pounds in x weeks and be slim for the beach? I’m not knocking them – since I haven’t tried them. But what I do know is that a short term and dramatic drop in calorie intake isn’t going to suddenly give you a trim belly. In fact, the weight you lose might not even be body fat but muscle, if you’re on a very short term ‘diet’.
Much, much better to get that belly in shape by assiduously (but never excessively) exercising. If there’s not enough time to get in shape for this year’s beach season, then start planning for the year after. Not just because sustainable weight loss is long-term, and healthy, but because a short (and probably ineffective) crash diet would delay me getting started on the real diet.
I honestly don’t feel in any way that I am making sacrifices – just changing habits. Having rules like not eating sugary snacks can be difficult in the beginning as adjustment means effort. But a few weeks in and it is genuinely surprising how the palate changes – most of the stuff I used to crave is stuff I wouldn’t even think about now. In fact I’d happily swap a pile of any of them for an apple.
Sadly there’s no secret to sustained weight loss. In fact it’s all very, very straightforward. Persistence and consistency, for me, are at the heart of it. None of which means I’m perfect – far from it. My weight can go up and down the same as for anyone else. However, by being pretty careful about what I eat, weight gain is never sudden – which is nice!
[photo credit: Helga Weber]