"Battle of the Bulges"
The Daily Mail
August 30, 2001
As Kate Winslet loses four stone and Catherine Zeta-Jones struggles to stay trim, who is really winning the celebrity war of the waistlines?
For most new mums, looking sexy is the last thing on their minds. But in the competitive world of celebrity there is so much pressure to squeeze back into slinky designer dresses that giving birth is merely the starting gun in a race to get back into shape as quickly as possible.
Such is the trend for instant post-natal downsizing that even celebrities who were once renowned for their curves are embarking on rigorous eating and exercise programmes - which often see them shrinking to a smaller size than they were before they became pregnant.
The latest battle is between Catherine Zeta-Jones and Kate Winslet, both well-known for their womanly figures, who have struggled with their size since their children were born.
If giving birth is a life-changing event, then the biggest effect it appears to have had on this pair is to propel them into a frenzy of dieting and exercise.
Kate, who is reported to have tried a Brussels sprouts-only diet in her pre-motherhood days, claims not to have starved away the four stone of excess weight she was carrying after her baby was born ten months ago. Rather, she sought the advice of a face-reader, who analyzed her complexion and features and prescribed a healthy eating plan in line with the principles of Oriental medicine. Together with twice weekly gym sessions and regular swimming, Kateís curves have been trimmed.
Just after pregnancy, she was a size 14 to 16. After shedding her weight, sheís a slender 10 to 12. "I was cynical, but I was given an eating plan and the weight fell off," Kate says of facial analysis. "My skinís better; I never feel tired; I feel just great."
Catherine, who ballooned to 11 1/2 stone as a result of pregnancy, appears to be struggling to regain her figure. After Dylan was born, she exclaimed: "Oh my God! The babyís out but nothing has changed! Iím still the same shape."
She promptly shed three stone within eight weeks of giving birth to become a svelte bride last November, going from a 16 to a 10. Apparently, she started exercising while still in hospital, then hired a 150 pound a day personal trainer, who put her on a walking, hiking and gym programme. Out went the pizzas and steamed puddings she is said to have craved during pregnancy, and in their place came the no carbohydrate diet that half of Hollywood credits with keeping them in shape. She even posed in a black basque for the cover of Vanity Fair magazine just 11 weeks after the birth. But now it appears the weight is creeping back and she looks more like a size 12.
On holiday recently at the exclusive resort of Le Saint Geran in Mauritius, despite the warm weather and spending lots of time photographing Dylan on the beach, she shunned her usual skimpy bikini and remained covered up in a loose, full-length sundress. She didnít wear a swimming costume for the whole holiday. She was also spotted clutching a packet of cigarettes, a habit she had kicked when she was pregnant. Perhaps she sees smoking as a weight-loss aid.
Kate, however, seems to have won the weight war, posing for magazine cover in a sexy basque. She has dieted sensibly, losing weight over six months, rather than crash dieting like Catherine did. And Kate breast-fed for three months, which also aids weight loss. It would have been difficult for Catherine to breast-feed because of her strict regime.
Kate also has the advantage of being six years younger than Catherine. Itís much easier for your body to bounce back from childbirth at 25 than at 31.
So for new mothers who despair at the sight of yet another drop-dead gorgeous celebrity figure regained quicker than they could warm their babyís bottle, there are advantages in taking things at the pace nature intended.
Catherineís strict dieting seems to have worked only in the short term and she may be losing her battle to maintain her lithe figure.
Dr. Wendy Doyle, spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association, carried out a study into the diet habits of new mums, the results have been published in the British Journal of Nutrition. She suspects that Catherine and Kate may be feeling worse for wear after their attempts to shrink back to a size ten. "Breast-feeding sometimes, but not always, helps women to lose weight," she says. "But if a new mother restricts calories as many celebrities seem to do, it can take up to a year to recover from the nutritional and physical demands of pregnancy. Their stores of iron, folic acid and essential fatty acids will remain low, which means they could feel tired and lethargic."
And given that their natural body shapes are not at the scrawnier end of the scale, Dr. Doyle thinks that both Kate and Catherine have had to work doubly hard to look the way they do. They will have felt hungry and miserable at a time when their bodies require extra calories to stave off exhaustion.
The question that needs to be asked, says Dr. Doyle, is whether it is worth the effort. Having a baby does not signify the end of a womanís reign as a sex goddess, but you should not feel under pressure to lose weight quickly.
Scientists last year showed significant weight gain persists for longer than a year in only one new mother in four. Those who put on the most weight did so simply because they had increased their calorie intake and stopped exercising while carrying their child.
Pregnancy is the one time in their lives when women have a reprieve from conforming to societyís ideal of how you should look. So you should not worry about weight gain - it will come off eventually with sensible eating and exercise. In the meantime, switch the focus from calorie-counting to enjoying your baby.