Be it diets, workouts or slimming strategies, most people are obsessed with the fitness ‘mantras’ of celebs and try to imitate them to lose those extra pounds and get into shape. Doctors have often sounded a word of caution about blindly following the workout and slimming routines of celebrities and going to extreme lengths like them to achieve enviable bodies. Reality TV star Kim Kardarshian’s recent Met Gala appearance is the latest trigger for the debate.
When Kim Kardashian turned up wearing the iconic Marilyn Monroe gown, she caught the attention of fashionistas across the globe. But when it was revealed that she lost 16 pounds in three weeks to squeeze into the outfit, she found herself facing a wave of criticism for not only promoting a harmful crash diet of eliminating sugar and carbs but also advocating unhealthy slimming strategies like the waist trainer, which run contrary to medical advice.
Kim Kardashian made waist trainers — corset-style belts that help slim the waist chiefly by tightly compressing it — a worldwide phenomenon. The trend is reportedly catching up in India too. Experts say they are downright unhealthy and can trigger a series of medical complications, including rib fractures.
Aman Puri, founder of Steadfast Nutrition, feels today’s slimming culture propagates losing weight as quickly as possible without following a suitable diet. “People employ many supplementary methods such as waist trainers, which provide momentary results but lead to long-term health concerns. Although it gives you the illusion that you’re losing weight, waist trainers cause your stomach to compress,” he explains, adding that wearing one may cause abnormal sweating, leading to loss of water weight. “If you use a waist trainer regularly, your core muscles may atrophy and shrink due to a lack of exercise,” he adds.
However, even if one is able to shed a few inches from the waist with this contraption, they may return once it is removed, even for a few days.
“Kim Kardashian looked beautiful at the Met Gala, but she has promoted unrealistic body standards and her talking about losing 16 lbs in 3 weeks to fit into Marilyn’s dress (which no one should get to wear) is appalling,” Gabrielle Starr, founder of the sports website Girl at the Game, wrote on Twitter.
“Waist trainers are made of thick fabric and a hard metal-like material and is worn around the midsection. When one wears it, it not only squeezes skin and fat but also crushes internal organs. Parts of the digestive system, including the oesophagus, stomach, and intestines, can be affected,” warns Dr J Anish Anand, Consultant Internal Medicine at Apollo Hospitals.
It has to be tight to give the appearance of a sleeker and smaller waist. “Those wearing it may temporarily lose a small amount of weight, but it will likely be due to loss of fluids through perspiration rather than loss of fat.
Tissues and muscles need oxygen but a waist trainer restricts this,” he says, adding that one may also eat less while wearing the trainer, simply because the stomach is compressed. “It is not a healthy or sustainable path to weight loss. Waist trainers can make it difficult to breathe comfortably, making it harder to exercise. The pressure can force acid from the stomach back up into the oesophagus, leading to heartburn,” he adds.
What makes it worse is, when the midsection gets squeezed, there is pressure on internal organs like the liver and kidneys and other organs. “With time, this can lead to permanent organ damage, decreased muscle strength, and sometimes rib fractures, nausea, fainting and bruising. Waist trainers are quick-fix solutions which are not long-lasting and can cause health problems,” asserts Dr Anand.
Bone and Muscle Degeneration
Women lose bone and muscle mass after the age of 35 years and to prevent osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteopenia, weight training is important as it helps maintain bone density and reduces the risk of fractures and fall-related injuries later in life. Focus on lifting more weight using the correct technique.
Being physically active lowers your risk of developing several commonly occurring cancers. Research shows that adults who participate in greater amounts of physical activity have reduced risks of developing cancers of the:
> Colon (proximal and distal)
> Esophagus (adenocarcinoma)
> Stomach (cardia and non-cardia adenocarcinoma)
Heart disease and stroke can be prevented by doing at least 150 min of aerobic training at moderate intensity. Regular physical activity can also lower your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels.
Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
Regular physical activity can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and metabolic syndrome, a combination of too much fat around the waist, high blood pressure, low High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol, high triglycerides, or high blood sugar.