You have cut out calories and joined a gym, but are seemingly innocuous things stopping you from losing weight?
Researchers say you have to cut more other things to help losing weight:
1. Your oversized handbag
We know those extra Easter eggs don’t help your battle with the dreaded muffin top, but your handbag? After noticing some of his patients carry more fat on one side of their body, cosmetic doctor Michael Prager realized that it was often the side on which the patients held their oversized handbags.
“Before I perform laser fat removal I measure where patients carry fat, so we can measure inch loss post-treatment,” Dr. Michael Prager says.
“Many of my female patients carry more fat down one side of their body and their fat stores were uneven. The only thing these women had in common was their ridiculously big handbags.”
Postural expert Ivana Daniell says that Dr. Michael Prager’s observations are due to the effects of heavy bags on our deportment. Over time, bad posture leads to distorted fat distribution.
“Our posture affects where we store fat,” Ivana Daniell says.
“If you do more weight-bearing exercises on one side – i.e. by carrying a heavy bag – you’re not only activating the muscles more on one side, you’re also creating a muscular and skeletal imbalance which can affect fat distribution.”
Her advice? “Don’t carry so much, because it affects your posture, and good posture makes you look slimmer. And switch your handbag from side to side.” As well as evening out fat stores, this will also reduce pain in your neck, shoulders, and back.
2. Fake tan
For years we’ve thought a fake tan will leave us looking slimmer and more toned. But could it actually make us fatter in the long run? Scientists in Sweden have discovered that chemicals known as phthalates in self-tanning lotions make us more prone to weight gain and twice as likely to develop diabetes.
The chemical is also found in make-up, cleaning products and plastic containers. The study has raised concerns that phthalates can encourage your body to store fat around the stomach area because they disrupt the hormone balance (in a similar way to puberty or the menopause) which can cause weight gain.
Study author Monica Lind says: “These phthalates are making people obese. Many are used in body products like fake tan and they are absorbed into the body and bloodstream through the skin.”
For most women, continuously switching between chores is part and parcel of daily life. But new research has found that serially switching tasks exhausts the part of our brain that regulates self-control.
“When you help your kids with their homework, then respond to a work email on your BlackBerry, then go right back to algebra, you’re doing tasks that require very different mindsets, which is what we found saps self-control resources,” says Professor Ryan Hamilton, who worked on the study.
“Being busy also affects the food choices you make,” says personal trainer Dalton Wong, who trains Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence.
“If you’re so busy you can’t think straight, you’re more likely to grab a coffee and a pile of biscuits to keep going.
“However, while this type of snack provides a quick hit of energy, it will lead to more stress and exhaustion. Artificial sugar disrupts the body’s blood-sugar levels, leading to tiredness and more sugar cravings, and more than two or three cups of coffee will flood your body with the stress hormone cortisol.”
Dalton Wong advises never eating a meal while distracted (“You won’t chew properly because you’ll be in a rush, and this leads to bloating”).
He also says you should snack on nuts and berries, or vegetables and hummus, until you’re completely distraction-free.
That trusty wardrobe staple, a pair of black leggings, can hide a multitude of sins. But can wearing them too often make you fat? Sammy Margo, a physiotherapist who works with the England football team, has warned that too-tight leggings can cause your muscles to become lazy, which results in a flabby stomach, bottom and legs.
“Leggings feel good and look great, and I am as addicted to them as anyone, but there is a downside,” Sammy Margo says.
“They hold in and support the thigh muscles, buttocks and core muscles in your tummy, and do the job the muscles are supposed to do.
“As a result, the muscles are allowed to relax and switch off. So when we reveal our bodies for the first time as summer approaches, they are not as svelte or firm as they otherwise would be.”
Sammy Margo advises that people “should already be weaning themselves off their leggings if they want to look their best in time for summer”, and they should also try the String Workout.
“Suck your stomach in as far as it will go, then breathe out about halfway,” she explains.
“Tie a piece of string around your stomach at that point and keep it there all day.”
This ensures you’re working your abdominal muscles and not letting them get slack.
5. High heels
You wouldn’t believe it from looking at super-slim stiletto lovers like Victoria Beckham, but high heels can give you a pot belly. That’s the opinion of personal trainer Dax Moy, who thinks that wearing vertiginous heels too often can cause your stomach muscles to spill forward.
“Wearing very high heels causes the forward tilting of the pelvis, which allows the abdominal contents to spill forward, producing a pot belly which many women have wrongly come to think of as a fat stomach,” says Dax Moy.
Dalton Wong agrees. He says: “High heels can weaken your abdominals, leading to a tummy that sticks out just below your belly button. I tell my clients to wear their heels on the red carpet, but to slip them off once they’re sitting down.
“So wear them in a nice restaurant, but travel there in your trainers and put your heels on at the last minute. Then slip them off underneath the table once you’re seated. When you’re at home, walk around barefoot throughout the house. This strengthens muscles that have been weakened by wearing high heels.”