Why Celebrity Post-Pregnancy Weight-Loss Stories Suck
Because there are no miracles, just hard work (and personal chefs)
Us Weekly applauded Beyonce for doing it in five months; People magazine praised Jennifer Hudson for doing it in just two. Finally, the ladies had lost that godforsaken baby weight—60 and 35 pounds, respectively—gained during their pregnancies (and rightfully so damnit - though tabloids would have you believe it a burden to keep the packed-on pounds for even a few weeks after).
It's the same cover story every month; one star is successfully seeing digits drop on the scale, while another poor soul is struggling to shed much of anything. Both, however, are unwanted sources of pressure for new moms nationwide who are aiming to lose the weight, but would probably prefer to do so at their own pace and likely don't have the help of personal chefs.
As en experiment, Tracie Egan Morrissey, a New York-based blogger who had gained 80 pounds during her pregnancy, decided to try the same "miracle" weight loss methods celebrities allegedly used. She spent nearly $8,000 in the process.
The five-meals-a-day diet delivery plan Morrissey received for a month cost $1,282.33; the biweekly sessions with her personal trainer for 11 months totaled $5,160; and there was a $250 visit to a special weight-loss doctor. Yes, eventually she was able to fit into her pre-pregnancy pants, but it wasn't easy. It took 13 months.
“I did feel that pressure to lose the baby weight, I can’t lie about that [but] I didn’t drop the weight in a few weeks,” Morrissey told ABC News. “[While those things] were helpful and facilitated weight loss, it wasn’t this quick, instant thing. It showed me there may be something a little bit more going on. [Celebrities] are doing more than what is even being reported in those tabloids.”
So why are readers still attracted to what they know to be untrue? Clinical nutritionist Stella Metsovas suggests it's because the stories are more appealing than our reality.
"The public finds these stories fascinating because they are the polar opposite of our growing obesity epidemic," said Metsovas. "It's the ying and yang working at its best to sell media, and the trend seems to be a race of who looks best after giving birth."
Celebrities certainly sign up to run that race. Jennifer Hudson slimmed down from a size 16 to a 6 on the Weight Watchers plan - and documented the whole thing via sing-songy sales pitches. And Mariah Carey lost 30 pounds in three months on Jenny Craig - and then danced around in a commercial, baring her midriff for all to see.
It seems even celebrities fall victim to the pressure of appearing perfect. And that's a desire that's not uncommon for women, according to Dr. Susan J. Mendelsohn, a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of body image issues.
"Society in general puts a great deal of emphasis on an ideal body image that suits about two percent of the population naturally," said Mendelsohn. "Unfortunately, many women—new moms for sure—are vulnerable to the advertising that our nation spews at us, the thousands of messages about how to look better, younger and thinner. The thin ideal is harmful because it implies that if we're thin, we are flawless, but the ads don't account for unique differences in size, shape, and weight—and a woman's body changes over time due to hereditary and biological aspects, so it should never be judged for those qualities."
Additionally, the increased attention new moms receive only adds to their anxiety.
"A new mother has been a mother less time than not, and socially [she] receives less attention after the birth of her baby than during her pregnancy," said Kimberly Friedmutter, a life management expert. "Women who lose weight quickly generally have a high attention threshold which is necessary for them to maintain self-esteem."
So what should new moms do if they're not fortunate enough to afford a personal trainer, chauffeur, chef and nanny?
Eric Garrison, a certified sexuality counselor, said, "Breastfeeding, if done properly and consistently, can burn between 600 and 700 calories a day. Five days of breastfeeding can lose one pound of weight."
Kelly Rennie, a fitness expert and model—and a new mom—said, "Get outside and walk - fresh air is not only good for you, but the baby. Find a exercise routine that fits into your schedule, maybe something at home. Hydration is important. And nutrition - eat lots of vegetables, fruit, protein, and healthy fats."
Jody Cranston, owner of fitness center Connection: Corporate Health in Vancouver, kept it simple. "Stick to the basics that work: diet and nutrition, and cardio and resistance training four times a week."