You can't pass a newsstand -- or even go on many popular web sites -- without being barraged by "new celebrity diets." You can have so-and-so's waist and whats-her-names legs. Even many of the really good fitness publications, like Men's Health, will show you how you can Ryan Reynolds' abs if you just do these four exercises and eat oatmeal for the rest of your life.
And for the most part, I don't pay attention. If I did, I'd go nuts. It's a part of the popular culture and I always reassure myself that is something people will try on, but probably not develop as a lifestyle. Distracting, yes, but rarely immediately dangerous. (article continued below)
Then a friend sent me an article from the Daily Mail. The journalist, a very funny writer, having been inspired by bikini pictures of Gwyneth Paltrow, had decided to go on a 30-day plan designed by Gwyneth and her trainer, Tracy Anderson. Now, Gwyenth is an actress -- I thoroughly enjoyed her performance in "Shakespeare in Love" -- and Tracy is her trainer who has achieved some notoriety working with her and Madonna, et al. This journalist followed th 30-day plan, which included focusing her eating on only seven different foods and a substantial amount of exercise. And she found that she started to feel weak, often feeling like she might blackout, and her body changed, though not as she had anticipated -- her hair lost its luster and her nails became brittle. She visited her doctor and found that she had been surviving on about 700 calories a day, and her protein and calcium intake were dangerously low. Not the healthy of choices to be sure.
Wandering into the world of celebrity diets, it is incredibly important to remember that these stars are in the business of looking a certain way: when they are not filming a movie, they can spend hours every day exercsing and be fed on a very regular basis by personal chefs. That is, very unfortunately, not possibly for almost all of the rest of us. So what do we do?
I contacted my friend, Dr. Mike Moreno. Mike is interesting because he is a celebrity in his own right: his book, "The 17 Day Diet, has been very popular and Mike has been a guest on many talk shows. But Mike is first and foremost a doctor. He wrote the book because it was drawn from years of working with patients one-on-one and helping people develop healthy habits. Here's what Mike said: "The goal of any good diet plan should focus on reestablishing a healthy relationship with food again. This includes food types, portion control, and strategic placement of these foods in our busy lives. The body is a complex entity, but with a little discipline and a structured, yet reasonable meal plan, and a little bit of exercise, success is inevitable."
Think of your body like a car: put sugar in the gas tank, you ain't going far. Weight and health are a result of balance in our lifestyles. If you go in any one direction, either binging on all the wrong things like cake and ice cream, or starving yourself on 700 calories a day, your body is going to respond very poorly.
The best way to achieve balance is not be reaching to extremes, but by simplifying: remove all the foods you know you shouldn't be eating from your diet and replace them with whole foods. Yes, I know that takes some thought and some work. But if you want good health and you want the change, you need to invest in yourself.
Not sure what those bad choices are? Educate yourself. Seek out reliable literature (this does not include US Weekly) to learn more about nutrition and, if necessary, speak to an educated professional who has the ability to communicate with you and help you with your personal needs.
The most important factor: have faith. A little education, a little focus and patience and you will find that success can be yours.
Do you have any questions or comments regarding celeb diets? Shoot me an email at email@example.com.
Follow Michael Feigin, M.S., C.S.C.S. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thefitnessguru