You can't pass a newsstand, or even go on many of the popular web sites, without being barraged by "New Celebrity Diets." You can have so-and-so's waist and whats-her-name's legs. Even many of the really good fitness publications, like Men's Health Magazine, will show you how you can have 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, but probably not develop as a lifestyle. Distracting, yes, but rarely immediately dangerous.
Then a friend sent me an article from the Daily Mail UK. 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 celebrities. This journalist followed the 30-day plan, which included focusing her eating on only seven different foods and a substantial amount of exercise.
She found that she started to feel weak, often feeling like she might black out, 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 exercising and being fed on a very regular basis by personal chefs. That is, very unfortunately, not possible 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 he 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." (Emphasis added.)
Think of your body like a car: put sugar in the gas tank, and you ain't going far. Weight and health are a result of balance in our lifestyles. If you go in any one direction -- either bingeing 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 by 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? Leave a comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Feigin, MS, CSCS, is the owner of The Fitness Guru, a DUMBO, Brooklyn-based health and fitness company. For the last 25 years, Michael has helped thousands of New Yorkers (and folks from other parts of the world) achieve their health and fitness dreams.