For many of us, the new year brings with it the nagging urge to try and shake down the wobbly bits that likely got even more wobbly over the festive period. But what’s the best/quickest/safest way to do it? Do you buy a celebrity DVD, try a faddy diet, do a detox or completely cut the carbs?
Well, if you’ve clapped eyes on Emma Thompson lately, you’ll see that the 57-year-old actress is looking amazingly good, having reportedly dropped two dress sizes in just six weeks by doing…none of the above.
Instead the Oscar winner has lost more than a stone and gone from a UK size 14 to a size 10 thanks to the holistic lifestyle plan: ‘The Louise Parker Method’.
“She’s not holier than thou, yet somehow miraculously gets my reluctant arse into gear and sometimes even keeps it there,” the actress wrote in the foreword to Parker’s book, Lean for Life.
“I love that her method is not a diet – and is genuinely sustainable – so I can have my glass of wine and manage to avoid spending the rest of the week eating cheesy Wotsits.”
Thompson also claimed that the qualified personal trainer and nutritionist is the only health and fitness guru she trusts. And she’s not the only one, the plan has also been rumoured to have helped the Duchess of Cambridge get back in shape after childbirth and Sandi Toksvig also credits the method for helping her transform her health and fitness regime.
So what is it?
Described by Parker herself as the “anti-diet diet”, the plan takes a holistic approach to weight loss that doesn’t involve chugging snot coloured smoothies, going dairy-free or ‘eating clean.’ Instead the method is focused on managing stress, consuming a balanced diet of high-quality ingredients and exercising every day.
You can sign up to an intense training course with Louise Parker’s team of experts, but the six-week course will set you back an eye-watering £4,500. Those on a more lemonade budget, can try a more stream-lined version of the method from home which is covered in her books – The Louise Parker Method: Lean for Life and The Louise Parker Method: Lean for Life: The Cookbook. Louise’s global team of dietitians has more than 11,000 devotees in 48 countries.
“My method is about more than just losing weight,” the health guru writes. “It’s about living a lifestyle that sustains you in optimum health, peak performance and clarity of mind so you are absolutely brimming with vitality. The side-effect of this lifestyle is that your body will transform into one that is exceptionally lean, sculpted, strong and graceful.”
For the first six weeks, the “transformation phase” involves “thinking successfully” – adopting a positive mental attitude and visualising your goals, “living well” – completing a digital detox every night after 9pm, sleeping 7-8 hours per night, and grabbing 20 minutes of downtime per day, “eating beautifully” – three meals and two snacks a day with each meal comprising lean protein, healthy fat and vegetables, and “working out intelligently” – by introducing exercise into your everyday, with a minimum of 10,000 steps per day and for at least 15 minutes a day.
The Lifestyle Phase is about sustaining your new way of living. The idea is that the Transform Phase will have changed your habits, so although no foods are on the must-not eat list, you’ll have been armed with the ability to decide whether any sugar-cravings are worth the consumption.
So what do other health experts think of the method?
Anna Magee, founder of Healthista believes Louise Parker has got things right with her core message. “There are many similarities between Louise Parker’s Lean For Life Method and Healthista’s Lean Energy Programme (available in a free e-book from January 21st from healthista.com),” she says. “Both programmes are created by experts in their fields, they focus on eating and exercising to feel good instead of chasing a number on the scales, on the importance of moving more and aiming to walk 10,000 steps a day, on writing down what you eat and on eating beautiful, fresh, whole food.”
Anna says both methods represent a shift in focus from dieting to lose the pounds fast to instead focussing on body confidence, vitality and health rather than muscles or inches or weight. “Weight loss will come as a by-product of programmes like this but feeling good is what will motivate you to continue,” she says.
Statistics from Healthista reveal that despite almost half (41%) of women trying at least one new diet plan in the past year, a staggering two thirds (64%) are still unhappy with the size and shape of their body. Primary reasons given for the failure of a diet include boredom, tiredness and the lack of a plan’s ability to fit in with the realities of day to day living. Other issues include hunger, feeling deprived of food and finding the diet too complicated. What’s more, nearly a quarter of women said a combination of all these factors stopped them sticking to diets.
According to Anna the key is making small, sustainable life changes rather than cutting out entire food groups and Christy Hyslop, weight loss practitioner and sports and exercise nutrition advisor agrees: “My plans are very similar to The Louise Parker Method,” she says. “I am also 100% against fad diets as is she, I strongly believe we have all been brainwashed into thinking we must count calories, count points, fast for days, juice, eat cabbage soup for a month (to name but a few) to succeed at weight loss. However this is just not the case.”
“Back to basics eating healthy whole foods, cutting sugar and increasing our levels of activity is the simplest way to achieve this,” she continues. “To re-educate and debunk all the rubbish we have been spoon fed by mass marketing of the diet industry requires a bit of support and guidance in the initial stages but once clients feel the benefits of eating well, enjoying food again and they regain control there is no going back.”
The Louise Parker Method – Lean for Life: The Cookbook by Louise Parker is published by Mitchell Beazley, £20 www.octopusbooks.co.uk
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