FOR years, Claire Richards has admitted defeat, saying that she is finally giving up trying to be slim.
"I GOT so sick of dieting," she said. "I felt happiest when I wasn't starving myself and decided that actually, this is me. I'm not meant to be a size 10. It's not going to rule my life any more. (Having) a big bum and boobs rocks."
It takes a lot to rail against the cultural condition that dictates that we all need to be slim, writes Tanya Sweeney, though no doubt most women would love to do exactly the same; to break out the biccies and give the boring gym workouts the heave-ho. Yet here's the question; can ditching the scales and giving up the ghost really be as liberating as Claire has made it out to be?
According to Unislim's (www.unislim.com) Fiona Gratzer, very few women are genuinely content being a larger dress size.
"I don't think a women can be happy if she is overweight," she notes.
"We have found in a recent survey that eight out of 10 Unislim slimmers were happier as a result of losing weight. They feel more in control of their life, they feel more confident, they can pick up clothes straight off the rack.
"There are so many positive side effects. I've yet to meet someone who is genuinely happy to be overweight."
Far from being accepting of their larger size, many give up dieting for good after they have tried several programmes and failed.
"We find a lot of clients are very sceptical and vulnerable when they come to us initially as a result," says Aisling Connolly at Motivation Weight Management (www.motivation.ie). "Most dieters look for a quick fix or miracle cure but unfortunately there is no such thing."
Rather than liberating themselves from the idea of dieting, many women are enslaved by the belief that one day, they will eventually get back to their ideal weight... often when they have the time/energy/resources to devote themselves to it properly.
It is a mindset that besieges most yo-yo dieters, because they rarely believe that making small but sustainable changes will yield them visible, immediate results.
"Women should be eating healthily for life, not thinking of it as a diet," asserts Fiona. "If you can implement small, manageable changes in your life you will enjoy long-term success. It's all about eating healthier, exercising more and enjoying treats in moderation. Many women are 'all or nothing', and moving away from that mindset can be a challenge."
Adding insult to injury is the element of procrastination; if you are the sort that leaves the healthy stuff until Monday (when you can give it your best shot), you are, alas, destined to fail. If we put off our efforts until later, this can be due to past failures ... or even a fear of slimming success.
"It has to be a part of your regular day," says Fiona. "You don't start next week. If you have that mindset, you will be stuck in the yo-yo dieting cycle. You have to get your mind right before you start."
Yet in an age when glossy mags carry many 'Lose a Stone In 4 Weeks' headlines and slimming products promise overnight results, the yo-yo diet is here to stay.
First coined by Kelly D. Brownell at Yale University, yo-yo dieters refers to those who have been successful in losing weight, but not so much at maintaining their goal.
Aisling notes that yo-yo dieting occurs when slimmers go back to their old ways, believing that their hard work is done. In reality, staying slim will require ongoing effort, even after the euphoria of getting into those skinny jeans.
"Most dieters unfortunately just diet and reduce calorie intake without dealing with the root cause of when and why they overeat in the first place and without changing habits and behaviours," she explains.
"Dieting merely treats the symptoms of a weight problem without treating the actual cause."
Rather, the key to slimming success is simple; don't let it take over your life.
"Slimmers can break the yo-yo cycle by getting rid of guilt feelings," says Aisling. "Our studies prove that guilt and perfectionism are the main emotions responsible for women overeating. Dieters feel they are either on or off a diet and feel guilty when they slip. We help clients identify when and why they slip. Then, they see that it's a great opportunity to learn from their mistakes in order to improve."