How celebrity weight loss and fitness journeys are setting people up for failure, according to experts

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Kris Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian and Kim Kardashian, pictured here attending the 2019 E! People's Choice Awards, have been open about their diets and fitness routines. Experts call this problematic.
Kris Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian and Kim Kardashian, pictured here attending the 2019 E! People's Choice Awards, have been open about their diets and fitness routines. Experts call this problematic. (Photo: Getty Images)

According to Kim Kardashian and Kendall Jenner, who have long been criticized for promoting unrealistic body standards, there's no reason why the average person shouldn't be able to achieve what they have.

"I think we get up, we do the work," Kardashian explained to Andy Cohen during the Keeping Up With the Kardashians finale reunion special. "We work out." Jenner added, "We all really enjoy taking care of ourselves and being healthy, so I think if anything, the only thing we're really trying to represent is just being the most healthy version of yourself."

The Kardashian-Jenner family isn't alone in perpetuating the perception of what an ideal body type is. Log onto social media and you’re bound to see at least one celebrity transformation photo. Whether that’s a star flaunting their post-baby “snap back” or a newly muscular physique in order to tone up for a movie, it can seem like celebrities simply have it all together when it comes to achieving their fitness and diet goals. If model and actress Emily Ratajkowski can get back to her pre-pregnancy body in two weeks, and Sophie Turner can sport toned abs shortly after giving birth, well, is it just discipline that's stopping the average person from doing the same?

Related video: Kim Kardashian denies family pushes unrealistic beauty standards

Of course, it isn't actually that simple — and believing that the only thing stars have over the average person is self-control and willpower simply isn't true. According to the experts who spoke with Yahoo Life, comparing oneself to celebrities is always a losing game when it comes to fitness goals. 

Anna Victoria, a personal trainer and the CEO of the Fit Body App, explains that the advantages stars have that the average person doesn’t can range from multiple nannies to private chefs and personal assistants who take care of their every need.

“Having all those at your disposal allows for more free time to work out consistently,” she explains. “Furthermore, something that makes this false narrative even more damaging is the fact that it’s partly, or entirely, their job to look a certain way. That isn’t the case for your average person so it’s unfair to hold them to the same standard that celebrities hold themselves to.”

While she notes that motivation is something everyone needs in order to succeed, it’s a lot easier when other daily tasks are taken care of by other people.

“Even having access to fresh, natural food is a luxury not everyone has,” she notes.

Nutritionist Denvyr Tyler-Palmer adds that quick transformations, which are often “glorified” in the media, set a particularly unrealistic example.

“If people aren't seeing quick results, they think something is wrong,” she says. “In reality, change simply takes a long time for the average person. Not to mention, many celebrities go to unhealthy extremes in order to maintain this ‘ideal image,’ distorting what we believe to be healthy and acceptable. This is why we see [some] celebrities struggle to maintain their figure even with unlimited resources. If it is common for celebrities to struggle, then it is undeniable the average person will too.”

And, of course, there’s the issue of not knowing what results were achieved with solely diet and exercise. "Unicorn" genetics, and plastic surgery, can make it so that no matter how hard one works out or exercises, one can’t achieve the same look as their favorite celeb.

“Even if someone worked out and ate as close to ideal as possible, they still wouldn't be able to produce the same results that cosmetic surgery can,” says Tyler-Palmer. “Our genetics also determine where we store and lose fat. Nutrition and fitness can only alter these things to a degree.”

Personal trainer and the founder of Bloom Training Tony Coffey adds, “The fact that certain celebrities do not disclose cosmetic surgery when attaining any physical change does pose a potential problem, especially for the younger generation who view these individuals as idols. It sets up unrealistic expectations for what change actually looks like. Meaningful weight loss, or any body composition change, takes real time, consistency, and an incredible amount of patience — not the illusion that undisclosed surgery creates.”

While some celebrities may not make for the best fitness inspiration, there are certain influencers who can positively affect one’s journey, according to Coffey. It’s all about honesty.

“Following real people who share the ups AND downs in their fitness journey is incredibly important. People like Kasey Jo Ordivas, Jordan Syatt, Kendall Strauss, and Mike Mathews inspired me to put out a completely transparent image, highlighting the highs and lows of my own fitness journey, while emphasising education to give people the confidence and understanding in their own fitness journeys,” he says. “Following people who inspire, who educate, who are positive, and who don't hide anything are the people you want on your feed to help you along your journey.”

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