New Year, New Expectations

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What are your New Year’s resolutions? To lose seven pounds by February? That no matter what you will avoid pasta like the plague? Or that you will take up at least four new sports so you’ll be ready to compete in Rio in 2016? Any of those sound familiar? Well honestly you’re not alone.

For the last however many years, I have promised myself that I will lose a dress size in time for my birthday in March, learn to like running and that a diet of smoothies, soup and salad is not delusional but perfectly healthy. This usually lasts for about three weeks, but by the end of January quite frankly I’m devastated that despite my determination I don’t magically look like Blake Lively. So to console myself I become the carb queen and put back on half the weight I lost.

But on the day that it has been revealed that MP Jo Swinson wrote to magazine editors asking them not to glorify fad diets and exercise myths in their January issues, I have to question how far are these editors responsible and why are we not taking responsibility for ourselves.

Dietary features such as ‘How to beat the Christmas Bulge’ or ‘The January Detox’ I would argue are more common in weekly magazines rather than monthly glossies, who tend to promote fitness tips and targeted workouts online. However, I do agree to an extent with Swinson that these sorts of articles can be damaging health wise as we put the pressure on ourselves to be as svelte as possible.

Juicing becomes a buzz, and everything must be liquidised because it sits longer in your stomach keeping you fuller for longer, which is fine for one meal but all three meals shouldn’t be like that: Long term it’s just not good for you!

As soon as spring starts to blossom, it’s out with the Christmas detox in exchange for ‘How To Get The Ultimate Bikini Body’. We are bombarded with images of long, lean limbs and abs that only most of us can dream of. It’s not just females that are targeted with images, men feel the pressure to be toned and slim for the summer months ahead with the male equivalent magazines. All year round we are advised on what we should eat, and what we need to do to achieve the results, not just in the January issues.

But how far should magazines actually be taking responsibility. We all know that the best way to lose weight is to do more exercise and be mindful of our food intake. So why do we look to magazine articles for advice and inspiration?

Is it because we don’t want to face the reality that the healthiest way to lose weight is sometimes the slowest way, even if we are more likely to keep it off? We live in world where we want fast everything; fast food, faster internet connection and fast results. However, it is about time we took responsibility for ourselves and our own actions. We took the time to enjoy the festive treats; therefore, we should also take the time to work on reversing the consequences if we are not happy with the couple of pounds we put on over the festive period.

Magazines want the reader to trust them; they don’t want to be giving out ill-advised suggestions on how to reach the body beautiful, if anything they want the reader to be happy with who they are. Features on how to make the most of your shape, or dressing your figure are becoming increasingly popular, as well as positive thinking articles.

What the public needs isn’t more advice articles on how to blend beetroots and do 100 squats a day, but some common sense. Having the will power to say no to that third biscuit or no to having an extra twenty-minutes in bed and instead do some light exercise is enough to make a difference. If you want to make changes, you have to be willing to put the time and effort in to make it last. Relying on a quick fix advertised in a magazine or newspaper isn’t the answer; it promotes a lack of a commitment to the change.

It is unfair for just magazines and the media to come under fire. It places blame where others should be taking responsibility. The public are all well aware of air-brushing and the retouching of images, even though some companies claim they are now not using this, we need to take the images with a pinch of salt. No two people will ever look exactly the same, so why are people still convinced that they will have a body to match Miranda Kerr and David Gandy if they follow a double page spread advising them to cut out certain food groups.

There is nothing wrong with having a body-inspiration, mine was aforementioned at the beginning, but I know that I will never look exactly like her. I would love for my legs to be lean and toned like Blake’s, but cutting my calories to an extreme deficit isn’t the answer. Educating ourselves on food and the best exercises is. We also need to think realistically. We’re busy people and have a lot going on, so a three week short term goal isn’t likely to be achievable but perhaps a three month goal is.

2012 saw the greatest summer of sport in our generation, and watching how happy and healthy the athletes looked whilst competing, I for one felt inspired to get up and do sport for myself, not just because it’s part of the package to an ideal body. Athletes look after their bodies not just physically but also mentally, and sometimes that emphasis is often lost amongst all the physical things we are advised to be doing.

Goals broken down into mini stages, for the majority of us are likely to be successful, making the overall aim much more achievable. In the words of Elle Woods “Exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy.” Meeting goals makes you feel good about yourself and putting you in a positive mindset to carry on. If you’re looking for some new exercises and advice look in Label for Sports’ demonstrations targeting specific areas.

So perhaps 2013 is the year not to blame some magazine’s fad diets and disgusting tasting detoxes for why we lost our determination to be fit and healthy, but to take responsibility for our own actions. You only get out what you put in. So let’s put the effort in to look after ourselves physically but also mentally, and stop blaming the media entirely for our false expectations.

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