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Mirror mirror on the wall... am I the slimmest of them all?

We’ve all waited for that moment: we wake up, look in the mirror and miraculously we have the body that we have always wanted. No exercise was needed, there was definitely no dieting involved (in fact we had been eating four times as much, including excessive numbers of cream cakes and brownies) and yet thanks to some incredible weight-loss, body-toning fairy, we have woken up looking better than any celebrity that has ever existed. It sounds fantastic, until a few hours later we look in the mirror again to realise our bodies haven’t changed at all and that we must have seen the earlier visions of body-perfection in our dreams. Let’s face it, there are no two ways about it, eating well and getting good doses of exercise are the only ways to get that perfect body. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons why people keep trying to lose weight but just can’t seem to shift it.

We’ve have all starved ourselves. It makes sense right, if we eat less calories we will definitely lose weight? We don’t have breakfast (a coffee will do), then perhaps we have a coffee again for lunch...we must be on our way to the perfect figure right? Well not quite, because as soon as we get home from work, we have eaten our weight in pasta, finished two packets of biscuits whilst the pasta was cooking and eat two family sized servings of tiramisu to round it all off. The problem with not eating for long periods of time is that when we do eat, we end up consuming three times more food than we need because we are very hungry. Worse, if we consistency starve ourselves, we could end up reducing our metabolic rate and in turn our ability to lose weight. Ancel Key carried out a large scale study on starvation in 1950 which is still referenced today. The participants of this study showed a 40% decrease in their metabolism due to 6 months of “semi-starvation” at 50% deficit of their recommended total calorie intake. So starving ourselves might mean more than just eating too much tiramisu in the evenings, it could also severely affect our metabolic rate and therefore our ability to lose weight.

So instead of starving, we may try counting calories. Scientifically this makes so much sense: if input is less than output we must be losing weight. Even the NHS has a calorie counter on its website to help us to lose weight and lead a healthy lifestyle. So we start our day with a bowl of cereal. The packet says that one serving is only 200 calories. So we generously fill our bowl and pour our semi-skimmed milk (so proud of ourselves for the healthy choice we are making) and enjoy our breakfast. Yet as we are putting the cereal box away, we notice that it is significantly lighter. We look inside and realise that we must have eaten at least half of the entire box. Turns out that the 200 calorie, 30 gram portion that we thought we were eating, was only the first few teaspoons of our massive meal. It is in fact very difficult to accurately measure out calorie counted foods, especially if we leave our taste-buds in control. Worse, we spend the whole day scrutinising the packets of everything we eat to ensure that we have only eaten 1,000 calories. Then we go for a small 120 calorie glass of wine and before we even realise we have ordered (and finished) an entire bottle of wine and are stuffing our faces with the greasiest, unhealthiest, 2,000 calorie meal that we could find. Our weight loss plan fails again.

Ok so we have desperately been trying to starve ourselves and then suddenly we come across an advert that promises us that we can lose weight without trying, if we eat a magical pill twice a day for a month. It must work…ten celebrities have tried it and they all look great. So we sign up for the free introductory offer and then religiously pop the odd-looking pink pill morning and night, all whilst eating three times more than we would usually. We get frustrated when one month later we don’t look as amazing as we wanted. Checking our bank balance we are also distraught when we discover that we have accidentally signed up to a year-long, thousand pound subscription for this strange, useless pink pill. Sure you’ve lost some pounds but they have come from your bank account and not your waist-line.

So after starving yourself, counting calories and popping pink-pills, are you going to wake up, look in the mirror and miraculously have the body that you have always wanted? Chances are that you won’t and you might end up slightly heavier, slightly unhappier and slightly poorer if you have tried any of these three options. Maybe if we were less hard on ourselves when we looked in the mirror everything would get easier. We should wake up and realise that we look pretty amazing now (curves and all). Then if gradually we want to exercise a little more and make slightly healthier food choices, it will never be punishment for not being slim enough but will be a reward for being amazing already and for wanting to look even more incredible. Mirror mirror on the wall…am I the slimmest of them all … “No but you are pretty damn sexy”.

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