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Not another weight-loss ad

Christmas is over and the gyms are packed, it’s a never-ending tale. But why do we do it to ourselves every year?

In my house the effects of Christmas are lingering on. Not in the tree-still-up or Mariah-Carey-belting-out-of-every-speaker sense; it’s more half a box of biscuits here, a tub of Roses there, not forgetting the extra kilo (or two) that, much like an annoying house guest, has overstayed its welcome.

From October, spurred on by supermarket advertising and ‘deals’, we cram our fridges and freezers with mountains of food: “Ooo, a Christmas pudding to feed 35 people for £2? Of course, I need one of those for my family of 4” or “2-for-1? Great I’ll get 6”. It’s like a game of Tetris in the cupboards with all the boxes and bottles stacking up.

To the detriment of our health, we consume all this food and drink with gusto and uninhibited gluttony. So, it is no surprise as the New Year dawns, with waistbands stretched to breaking point and bloodshot eyes attempting to focus on the bathroom scales, that we resort to resolutions to help us create the new and improved ‘us’.

And what about those TV ads that encouraged such voracity? They are nowhere to be seen. Gone are the sumptuous chocolate desserts with the melting middle, the decadent cream cakes or fluffy roast potatoes. Now it’s all about diets and how to get the ‘summer body’. The influencers who last week were advertising the best turkeys and mince pies are now on detoxes, advertising gyms and meal replacement shakes.

Every year, Google searches for gyms spike in January, and membership purchases and foot fall soar[1]. Adverts for weight loss solutions dominate the media, many offering free membership for January – on contracts that will last far longer than our motivation ­­– with the promise of ‘guaranteed’ weight loss and healthy living plans.

So, we do it all. We join the gym, go to our local slimming group; heck we even vow to run the London marathon – that we’ve never run before is immaterial. We do anything we can to ensure we’re putting the same amount of effort into self-improvement as we assume everyone else is. Inevitably, in a matter of weeks, we give up. The adverts disappear; numbers dwindle at the gym (along with your bank balance as you continue to pay the monthly fee you’re now locked into) and things go back to normal.

Thanks to the annual carousel of fads, we follow the pattern dictated by influencers and advertisers; whether that is to do more of one thing and less of another. Difficult as it is to accept responsibility for our actions, we have no one but ourselves to blame for consuming 3,000 calories a day for weeks on end and then putting on weight. Ultimately, we are responsible and accountable for our own health and wellbeing.

[1] Swanson, A. (2016). NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS: WHAT YOUR NEW GYM DOESN'T WANT YOU TO KNOW. The Independent. [online] Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/new-years-resolutions-what-your-new-gym-doesnt-want-you-to-know-a6797716.html [Accessed 17 Jan. 2019].

21st January 2019

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