Winning at weight loss

Published: September 7, 2015
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DESIGN BY HIRA FAREED

DESIGN BY HIRA FAREED

As our lives get busier, it is becoming exceedingly difficult to make time for elaborate diet regimes. In such circumstances, crash diets seem to be the only way forward

How often have we watched a friend go on a crash diet just to fit into a particular outfit for an upcoming event? The same friend seems to do little to keep the pounds off once the crash diet is over and whines about how fat they have become within a few weeks’ time. The vicious cycle continues unless they alter their way of dieting completely.

To begin with, it’s a good idea to list down the changes you want to see by the end of a diet. Figure out the reason why each of these changes are important to devise a long term solution to your weight problem. Ideally, one should look at diets as a means to break our eating patterns, to make way for a new, more balanced regime. It is also important to understand that dieting is never a standalone solution. It might help you reach your ideal weight, but to stay there you must complement it with at least a little exercise. Nonetheless, we have shortlisted three of the most popular crash diets from around the world. Read through, pick your favourite and look great at your next big night!

Popular Diets And Their Results

1. The Cabbage Soup Diet

This all-you-can-drink-plan professes that the more cabbage soup one consumes, the more weight they will rid of. The fat-burning soup contains a negligible amount of calories so you don’t have to worry about anything, no matter how much of it you drink. Dieticians state that by adhering to the Cabbage Soup Diet for seven days will result in immediate weight loss – almost one pound a day! There are a few food items that supplement the soup but generally, 90% of your food intake consists of cabbage soup for the duration of the diet.

Does it work?

Farah Riaz, newlywed school teacher, shares her experience of the Cabbage Soup Diet with us, saying that she did it to appear skinny at her wedding. “A few months before my wedding, I quit my job to get some much-needed rest and started to obsess with being skinny. After all, every girl wants to look great on her big day and so did I,” shares Farah. “The main attraction for me was that the diet was just a week long and my research and online reviews suggested great results.” Nonetheless, following the diet proved much harder than Farah had expected and by day three, she had grown bored of the soup. “I remember I cheated on day five, although I did manage to lose five pounds still. Unfortunately, I gained everything back during all the post-wedding dawats.” And would Farah do it again? She isn’t too sure. “I would diet but definitely not this way as it makes life too boring,” she says. “Not to mention, with being back on the job, it will be super hard to stay committed to a stringent diet.”

2. The South Beach Diet

The two-week diet plan consists of a first and an optional second phase. It starts out by restricting the intake of saturated fats and most carbohydrates. Sources of the latter are, however, progressively added over the course of the diet, along with a little more saturated fat in the final phase. Phase one requires a great deal of patience and restriction but once you are through with it, you are good to go. Dieters are encouraged to eat three meals and three snacks per day. But then after the first two weeks, there is almost no structure to their food. This means no counting carbs! There are some suggestions for adding carbs back in, but the choice is left up to the individual. This helps one learn how additional food affects them and seek guidance as to which foods to add and in what quantities.

Does it work?

Saulat Asim, a 39-year-old fitness enthusiast, gained a considerable  amount of weight after moving to the United States. “I never had any weight issues while in Pakistan mostly because I was always involved in too many things and kept active. That changed once I moved to the US and the shift in lifestyle and nutrition led to weight gain,” shares Saulat, who gained close to 20 pounds in a matter of months. Once people started to point it out, she decided it was time for drastic measures. “I tried the South Beach Diet twice and it worked great both times as it gives one the freedom to taper off after the strict first phase.” Saulat also points out that this method doesn’t suit everyone, so it’s important to know your own body and pick a diet accordingly. “The second time around, I was more aware of the fact that I was dieting to break a pattern. I have now incorporated exercise and portion control in my daily routine so I don’t think I will have to do the diet again.

3. The General Motors Diet

Yup, you read that right. The leading car manufacturer General Motors has actually conjured up a rather successful and popular diet plan, effective for people of all ages. It involves one week of taking only the specific food items prescribed. Dieters are expected to have lost about five to eight kilograms by the end of the diet, provided that they follow it to the tee.

Does it work?

“It started out as a spur of the moment pact with a friend who was looking for a diet buddy. I had never done anything like this before so I agreed to it,” says literature student Huma Mukaddam. “Initially, it was easy. The first two days went quite smoothly although the bananas and milk day was definitely the hardest. It had me begging for real food, seriously!” For Huma, having a diet buddy helped a lot as they motivated one another every time they felt weak. “All in all, I lost two pounds which is not much. But I did not expect to lose any weight at all so it was a pleasant surprise. The diet also made me more aware of how the human body works and motivated me towards fitness. I also realised the importance of working out as well.” Out of the two pounds Huma lost, she regained one over the impending three months as she made no effort to maintain her weight. “I don’t know if I would do this diet again, though. I think it would be better to try a different one,” says Huma when asked if she would recommend the GM Diet to others. “This time, I would also like to go into it with a better understanding of the goals I wish to achieve from the experience, which is a readjustment in my eating pattern, rather than losing a few pounds.”

The GM Diet Plan

How to lose weight in 7 Days

Keep it off

Most people who avoid diets have but one excuse to offer: you gain more than you lose after the diet is over. What they don’t realise it that a diet isn’t the solution by itself but part of the solution. Use the diet to reach your target weight but work hard to maintain that weight once you are there. “Look at a diet as a way to break the pattern; a way for you to discipline yourself. If you don’t practice self-control, it’s your fault and not the diet’s,” says Saulat. Read on for some easy post-diet steps that will help keep the extra flabs away.

Weigh yourself weekly and be mindful of your diet. Exercise regularly, even if you’ve gained back only a few pounds. It’s always easier to lose a little weight than a lot.

Exercise is cumulative so even if you don’t have time for a workout one day, walk or ride a bicycle instead of driving. Bypass the elevator and take the stairs. Go for a walk after dinner. Find ways to incorporate movement into your day, no matter how tired you may be.

Eat breakfast every day to kick start your metabolism and prevent overeating through the hours. Make healthy food choices, such as oatmeal or fruits. Add protein to your breakfast, whether it’s a peanut butter sandwich or eggs.

Curb the size of your portions! This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a big meal or a heavy dessert every once in a while, but don’t use the fact that you’ve reached your target weight to justify binge eating. Keeping a food journal or entering your intake into a smartphone app will help keep you accountable.

Resort to healthier ways of dealing with anxiety, especially if you tend to eat more when you are stressed out. Instead of hitting the fridge or the couch when you feel stressed, take up a yoga practice, meditate, soak in a hot bath or go for a walk with a friend.

Hurmat Majid is a subeditor at The Express Tribune. She tweets @bhandprogramme

Published in The Express Tribune, Ms T, September 6th, 2015.

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