Pat Henry

WE'VE ALL seen the recent photos of Dawn French (53), who has lost a huge amount of weight. The comedienne, who was well known for her curvy frame at the height of her fame, has shed four stone in recent times.

She's not the first celebrity to have slimmed down dramatically and she won't be the last.

Having recently spent a great evening with the wonderful Maureen O'Hara when she showed some of her famous costumes, I noticed how tiny they were. Her waist size was 18 inches, size 6. She said, every week, the studio would insist you weighed in. If you gained weight, you did not get paid. Which was a pretty good incentive to stay slim.

Barely a day goes by without another celebrity revealing their new body shape. Some look fantastic, while others look gaunt and thin. You may ask how do they achieve such a dramatic transformation of their bodies in a short space of time?

If you want to lose weight and remain healthy, there is no magic formula. You have to work hard to lose weight and to keep it off.

Medically, it has been proven that the safest way to drop weight is to lose one and a half pounds of fat per week -- not muscle -- achieved by 60pc dieting and 40pc exercise. And when it comes to the training itself, the most effective exercise is weight training with moderate weights. Just enough to put pressure on the muscle to break down fat and repair with good food.

The emphasis is on burning fat, not muscle. So exercise and change to a low-GI diet.

If you're serious about losing weight, then alcohol and junk food have to go. You certainly shouldn't crash diet.

Your body frame will ultimately determine your body weight.

You should find a trainer who has experience in helping people achieve their perfect weight and can devise a fast and intensive routine that follows a low GI food plan.

When it comes to exercise, three hours per week is enough -- you need time to recover and you need to have a life, too. Don't become a fitness bore, driving your family and friends crazy with being over-zealous with your newfound exercise regime.


You shouldn't use celebrity weight loss as your gauge. Celebrities have their own methods when it comes to weight loss and they aren't always healthy.

Today many, even slim, celebrities are going the route of gastric bands. Some go on diet pills and other substances and the latest is weekly human growth hormone injections -- beyond 25/30 years of age the level of human growth hormone decreases which can result in increased body fat, weight gain, poor skin and muscle tone, etc.

Many articles on celebrities claim their weight loss is down to hours of exercise, power yoga, Pilates, etc. That's true in some cases, but in others they are taking products or pills that speed up the process.

Unfortunately, the public are left discouraged when they don't get the same results.

Quick weight loss will only result in rapid weight gain when you eat normally again. I have seen this happen so many times -- you cannot live on protein shakes, powdered soups or bars and expect to be healthy.

This was well documented in the 1950s in America, in a great book called Overweight Society. Starvation diets, liquid diets etc will result in muscle and water and only a little fat loss. The body will use muscle for energy, all firmness will disappear and skin tone will become soft. You cannot live on these programmes without damaging your health -- just look at some of our own celebs.

They get the 'lollipop' look, the head being out of balance with the body, very thin arms and legs and no hips or natural bust. Some women get so thin that they grow more body hair to protect them from cold and their monthly cycle stops.

So the message is to be sensible about weight loss and exercise and get expert advice. Losing weight is rarely a short journey but the physical results and health benefits will be worth the effort.