These two things sort of go together in my mind, firstly because a lot of people associate dieting and weight obsession with girls, and secondly because a lot of girls have the idea that boys want tiny skinny girls.
I don’t know who it is that wants tiny skinny girls, but I suspect that it’s other skinny girls and fashion designers who find it easier to design clothes that look like they’re hanging on the rack because their models have the body of a coat hanger. Personally I don’t really have a physical type, but if I had to choose between two smart, creative people with identical personalities, my ideal body type would be someone who’s reasonably in shape, but curvy. Curves are sexy to me, and I think to most boys.I do like dating someone who I can throw around (or be thrown around by depending on gender/mood), but it’s not a prerequisite by any means.
In shape is not the same as skinny. Two of the sexiest girls I’ve known recently are people who never work out, but they have wonderful curves and are naturally in shape (lucky them). And my non-girlfriend B has a beautiful body, although she doesn’t fit the classic ‘hourglass’ shape.
So given that most boys don’t want super skinny girls, don’t go too crazy on the weight loss. I read a very interesting book during the summer that mentioned a study on eating habits. Apparently, people who are depressed tend to eat less in general. However, people who’ve been on a diet tend to eat more when depressed. You’re trying to force yourself to stick to some plan essentially forever, and then feeling bad when you can’t do it. It’s a recipe for unhappiness.
There are also a few myths about dieting and exercise that really bug me. And I do know what I’m talking about. I’ve read a lot of studies on dieting and exercise, I was in medical school (although I got bored and didn’t graduate) and my father is a doctor too, so I grew up knowing my myths from my facts. I was also an athlete for many years, and paying attention to diet is huge for athletes.
1. Doing situps will reduce your tummy fat. Wrong! Targeting exercise to a part of the body does not work. Fat does not get ‘converted’ to muscle, rather it gets laid down according to genetic patterns, and burned up according to similar patterns. In fact if you work out your stomach a lot you’ll probably get slightly bigger at first, as you’ll gain muscle but not lose any fat. Think about it, fat is there for protection and insulation. If I start doing situps, is my body going to get some message that I don’t need insulation there any more?
2. Eating fruit and vegetables will help you lose weight. Close but still wrong. Eating all carbs will never make you lose weight. To lose weight you generally have to eat less than 60g of carbs a day. That is not very much. We’re talking about 4 pieces of fruit there, or two chocolate bars. You’re actually better off eating a mix of carbs, protein and healthy fats if you want to lose weight. Fish, lean meat, pulses and tofu are your friends! This is one reason why the atkins diet worked. I’ve really struggled with this as I’m vegan and there aren’t many protein options for me, plus SSRIs (antidepressants) may cause carb cravings.
3. Juice fasting will help you to lose weight. ‘Fraid not. Juice fasting removes a lot of water from your body, and that will cause you to lose weight, but studies show that most people actually gain more weight back after finishing a juice fast. Juice fasting also screws with your metabolism. That sickness you feel on a juice fast isn’t ‘toxins’ being removed from your body, it’s your body moving into starvation mode and trying to get you to eat something.I should really write a whole separate post on why juice fasting and detox in general is bogus.
4. The best time to weigh yourself is early in the morning. Someone told me that this is when your body weight is ‘most accurate’. What? How can weighing yourself be anything but accurate?! Your body weight is always your body weight. Weighing yourself after you’ve not eaten for the longest time will likely give you the lowest reading, but it’s no more accurate than if you weighed yourself at lunchtime every day. Weighing yourself at a set time each day is important if you want to compare between short intervals or if you’re losing weight slowly, but if you weigh 10lbs more or less this week than last week, it’s not because you’re weighing yourself at a different time!
5. Weight loss = fitness. This is an old one that still clings to some people. Men particularly have trouble losing weight because it’s generally easier for them to build muscle, and muscle is more dense (i.e. heavier) than fat. That period of weight gain is longer for them, and the weight loss is more difficult. That’s why BMI is fairly meaningless, it doesn’t take into account someone’s musculature. If you’re on a sensible diet program that includes regular exercise you’ll probably begin with a weight gain, as your body lays down more muscle but you’re not able to burn enough calories to lose as much fat. Once you get fitter and can exercise more effectively, you’ll start to hit the fat burning threshold more often, and begin to lose weight.