WEIGHTY ISSUES. BUT ARE THEY?
Nothing grabs a news headline like a failed celebrity weight-loss attempt.
Kirstie Alley (left) is well aware of this, as is Oprah (below left).
Our very own Magda Szubanski copped it nicely after her speculated failed weight loss journey joined the UK riots and a looming financial crisis as ground-breaking news on a recent Wednesday evening.
What is it about weight loss, or rather weight-loss struggles that interest us so much?
Is it that we revel in the fact that others, no matter how rich or well-known, too can struggle with the battle of the bulge, or simply that we are all so weight obsessed that the magazines and television producers know that a weight headline will guarantee them ratings, no matter how light on the story?
Without a doubt it is human nature to use others’ misfortunes to make us feel a little better about our lives or, in this case, our own weight battles.
If celebrities can remain popular, wealthy and hugely successful with some extra weight, this almost gives us permission to do the same.
Mind you, we love seeing thin celebrities just as much, because they epitomise what many of us would really love to be: thin, popular and hugely successful.
The reality is though, that it tends to be much easier to be too fat than too thin and the entire weight loss industry’s foundations are built on the fact that the process of losing weight, and keeping it off, is actually extremely complicated.
While reality television weight loss shows may explain the transformation of individuals who lose 100-plus kilograms as a simple balance of calories-in versus calories-out, significant weight loss in the real world it is a different story.
It is for this simple reason that so many of us struggle with our weight on an ongoing basis.
The Herald Sun reported last week that Magda Szubanski had parted ways with Jenny Craig.
Weight loss is hard, very hard and it takes much time, commitment and energy to lose even a few kilos, let alone 30 or 40.
As a weight loss specialist I can honestly tell you that to successfully lose and keep off 20 or more kilos you are looking at a life-long commitment and at least a two-year weight loss intervention.
Yes, calories-in versus calories-out are one part of this but there are also numerous other metabolic, physical and psychological variables to consider that don’t just make weight loss a specific science but also extremely hard.
Not only do both diet and exercise regimes need constant monitoring and altering, hormone testing in consultation with an endocrinologist is often necessary.
In most cases, there are behavioural interventions required to teach us how to control our eating behaviour in different situations and perhaps, most importantly, there may also be significant psychological variables needing attention.
Now, this is not to say that weight loss is impossible. In fact, the benefits of losing weight and, more importantly, learning to control it long-term will always outweigh the negatives as individuals ultimately regain control of their body and their lives.
What it does mean is that for any individual who battles with their weight, whether it be a celebrity, your best friend or yourself, is that weight control is complicated and we never know what is really going on physically, emotionally or mentally for that person.
And this could not be truer than when it comes to the celebrities we know and love, whether they are too fat or too thin.
We simply do not know what other variables may be impacting on their ability or desire to lose weight and keep it off, and the truth is, it really is none of our business. In fact, the best thing we can all do is to concentrate on controlling our own weight because, to be honest, that is hard enough.
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*Susie Burrell is one of Australia’s leading dietitians with degrees in both nutrition and psychology. Susie regularly appears on Channel 7’s Today Tonight and Sunrise and is a regular contributor to Woman’s Day and SHAPE magazines. Susie released her first book, Losing the last 5kg last year and has a nutrition practice in Sydney. For more information go to www.susieburrell.com.au.