If you’re go­ing to diet, fail qui­etly

Self-im­prove­ment schemes gen­er­ally don’t last, and al­ways get peo­ple’s backs up. Those who have ex­treme self-im­prove­ment plans for the new year are best ad­vised to keep it quiet.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - INBOX - By RHI­AN­NON LUCY COSSLETT

JUST as Christ­mas is tra­di­tion­ally a time of such ex­cess that by the end of it, all you can do is lie on the sofa grunt­ing, the dawn of a new year is viewed as a time for self-im­prove­ment.

Whether it’s di­et­ing, ditch­ing fags and booze, or com­mit­ting to that fluffi­est of no­tions of “be­ing a bet­ter per­son”, Jan­uary 1 acts as a nat­u­ral start­ing point for the turn­ing over of a new leaf.

I re­alise that, much like those peo­ple who shop online on Christ­mas Day, dis­cussing di­et­ing and ab­sti­nence be­fore New Year’s Eve is seen by many as sac­ri­lege.

For any­thing goes dur­ing this strange pe­riod be­tween the 25th and 31st of De­cem­ber.

And as I have a care­fully cu­rated cheese­board wait­ing, it pains me to have to in­voke the phrase “obe­sity cri­sis” at this junc­ture.

But the truth is that weight will have been on many peo­ple’s minds as they stuff them­selves with sausage meat in prepa­ra­tion for what­ever detox or cleanse is fash­ion­able this year.

Come Jan­uary, those on the Six Weeks to OMG: Get Skin­nier Than All Your Friends’ diet will be plung­ing them­selves into cold baths and blow­ing up bal­loons to ex­er­cise their abs.

Mean­while, those on Bey­once’s pre­ferred Mas­ter Cleanse diet will be in­gest­ing noth­ing but a funky­tast­ing “lemon­ade” com­prised of lemons, maple syrup and cayenne pep­per.

All those poor, mis­er­able sods on the 5:2 will be snap­ping hor­ri­bly at their friends and rel­a­tives while try­ing to take the short trip be­tween their desk and the miso soup place with­out fall­ing over.

Those on juice di­ets will be on the toi­let.

Ev­ery­thing, in other words, is noth­ing if not ex­treme.

The myth of self-im­prove­ment makes it thus.

It’s com­monly stated that many di­ets fail for this very rea­son: they set un­re­al­is­tic goals that are im­pos­si­ble to stick to.

Even Bey­once, a woman who once de­scribed her­self as “a nat­u­ral fat per­son dy­ing to get out”, has a “cheat day”.

Yet, there are those who per­sist in the face of the ac­cepted scien- tific wis­dom of “eat less, move more” by at­tempt­ing the kind of pun­ish­ing regimes that not only make them mis­er­able, but en­rage and frus­trate those around them.

In this world, where it’s ei­ther su­per­size or su­per­skinny, there is no longer any mid­dle ground, as a web­site’s mock-up of a “plus-size Bar­bie” il­lus­trated this week when the de­signer gave her a quadru­ple chin.

It’s the toy equiv­a­lent of watch­ing Gwyneth Pal­trow in Shal­low Hal.

Ei­ther you have a doll so ex­tremely pro­por­tioned that she can’t stand up with­out top­pling for­wards, or one that looks like a Bar­bie in a com­edy fat suit.

Ei­ther you look like you’ve made the au­di­tions for the new se­ries of My 600-lb Life, or you’re look­ing “pale, drawn and dan­ger­ously thin”.

This is es­pe­cially true of women, but is also in­creas­ingly be­com­ing the case with men.

Look­ing at cer­tain cor­ners of the me­dia will have you won­der­ing where all the nor­mal-sized peo­ple with nor­mal ap­petites are, a phe­nom­e­non that I sus­pect par­tially ac­counts for Jen­nifer Lawrence’s pop­u­lar­ity as the only ac­tress who is bru­tally hon­est about what she eats.

Or­der­ing McDon­ald’s from the red car­pet be­cause the sup­pos­edly oblig­a­tory pre-awards cer­e­mony fast­ing was too much to bear is an act that is guar­an­teed to en­dear you to a gen­er­a­tion of hun­gry women.

What­ever form they take, ex­treme self-im­prove­ment mea­sures are fre­quently des­tined to fail, and are guar­an­teed to get peo­ple’s backs up.

They are also vul­ner­a­ble to sab­o­tage.

Sit in the pub and say you’re giv­ing up smok­ing and it’s only a mat­ter of min­utes be­fore some­one waves a ciggie in your face.

Go to a party and say you’re not drink­ing and peo­ple will de­mand to know why, even if the an­swer is more in­for­ma­tion than they bar­gained for (“An­tibi­otics,” she re­sponded. “I’ve got chlamy­dia.”).

Some peo­ple’s loved ones dis­cour­age them from los­ing weight, and can even en­able their bad habits.

It’s a phe­nom­e­non tack­led hi­lar­i­ously in the John Cooper Clarke poem Get Back on Drugs, You Fat ***k.

It’s why I have come to be­lieve self-im­prove­ment is best con­ducted tem­per­ately and on the sly.

Not only is a cy­cle of binge­ing and gorg­ing doomed to fail, but it’s too easy for other peo­ple to com­ment on.

Now, back to that cheese­board. – Guardian News & Me­dia

It’s com­monly stated that many di­ets fail be­cause un­re­al­is­tic goals that are im­pos­si­ble to stick to are set.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.