"Lose Weight Now!" "Get a Flat Tummy in 3 Days!"

by Alexandra Allred

Now, that I have your attention.don't you just hate those headliners? But in this fast food world we live in, where everything is instant, why not lose weight instantly and effortlessly? You can get instant credit, instant grits and instant service, why not instant weight loses?

This month every magazine -- both men and women's health -- have promises of new diets, new training techniques or the new pill that claims to burn fat while you sleep. Everyone wants to have the perfect body with limited effort. Never mind that ephedrine -- the key ingredient in most fat burning dietary pills is responsible for 81 deaths and hundreds of victims of strokes, heart attacks and/or seizures. People are popping those pills like crazy, willingly taking grave risks rather than work off their holiday fat the old fashioned way. Recently in a poll conducted by Ladies Home Journal revealed that more than 50 percent of women would give up a year of life if they could attain their ideal weight and stay there. A year?!

They'd give up a year life but won't give up 30 minutes a day just to work out?

My friends know this is a sore spot with me and usually try to spare me the finer details of their diets -- Sugar Busters, Atkins, Liquids...but I am aware of some of the most common complaints. Jenny Craig, Nutra System and Weight Watchers can get expensive; dieting alone seems hopeless and joining most gyms is both intimidating and costly. And when it comes to women, losing weight becomes a very emotional issue that requires a support team and understanding. Whenever I read those quick-fix promises in magazines I always wonder why people don't understand you can't just diet or go for a walk every once in a blue moon and expect to look like Demi Moore. Having spoken to Demi Moores trainer while working on a women's athlete book, I can tell you that Demi works out harder than a roping horse on rodeo day. Nothing is for free.

Only about five percent of dieters are successful after a year. The only way to lose weight permanently is to diet and exercise at the same time. Part of the problem is that fat cells in obese people like to hold onto their fat. Endurance training makes fat cells more responsive to the hormone adrenaline, which makes the fat cells release fat into the body more easily. Jan Hawkins gets that.

Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony at Curve -- a strength-training program for women that is designed to take only thirty minutes and offer great results -- here in Midlothian. After members of the Chamber of Commerce left, I had an opportunity to talk to the entrepreneur about Curves. I knew I liked her when she addressed the "quick fix" syndrome right away. "I'm here to get women motivated, help them reach their long term goals and keep them coming back." Self-esteem, she says, is a huge issue with her clients and one she understands completely. "You can't diet alone. In fact, I don't even really talk [to clients] about dieting until we work on a fitness routine. You must become physically active before you can expect results."

And the results are already coming in. With ages ranging from 10 to 82, Hawkins is seeing a change in her clients. Hattie May Heist, 82, has already developed muscularly, showing an improved mobility in her ankles. On the day I was there, Tracey Bryant - former Ms. Fall Festival '95, Ms. Lake Whitney '01-'02 and contestant in the Ms. Lubbock and Ms. Texas pageant and her mother, Karen, were working out. While the beauty contestant simply wanted to get/stay firm and train with some privacy, her mother wanted to lose some weight. In just three weeks, Mrs. Bryant has already lost a dress size and is becoming more determined than ever, hitting the circuit four times a week. The training?

In addition, Hawkins holds her "Permanent Results Program" -- a weight loss management class every Monday for members. Already women have lost anywhere from 15 to 30 pounds, making the "Top Losers" chart. "Every woman deserves an hour and a half to herself," Hawkins says. This is the place. Ironically, when I got home, I saw a Curves commercial and I could better appreciate its slogan: Curves . . .Where your dreams are our goals" and "Discover the power to amaze yourself."

But here is the hard cold truth. Only 20 percent of Americans work out more than 100 days in a year. Hawkins hopes to change those statistics here in Midlothian, as do I. Flat abs in three days? I have a headliner of my own. It goes: WORK FOR WHAT YOU REALLY WANT! Here's to a bright new year!

Alexandra Powe Allred, former member of the US Women's Bobsled team, took part in a study with the renowned Dr. James Clapp III on how extreme exercise affects the placenta during her second pregnancyi. She earned her second black belt while pregnant with her third child and continued to teach bootcamp style kickboxing throughout that pregnancy.

Allred received her B.A. from Texas A&M University in 1991. She has worked with U.N. officials to incorporate "Games for Girls," was nominated Mom of the Year by iParenting.com for her contributions to research in obstetrics and gynecology, named Author of the Month by Qcircuit.com, and has been featured in numerous national publications and radio shows.

Today, Allred serves as the fitness/nutrition expert for www.pregnancy.org and as an expert in court trials on Title IX. She continues to teach kickboxing and talk to youth groups about the importance of health, happiness and proper nutrition. Allred lives in Midlothian, Texas with her husband, Robb. Together, they are raising their three children and large array of animals. Alex is the author of 17 books, including Athletic Scholarships for Dummies, Entering the Mother Zone: Balancing Self, Health & Family.

Copyright © Alexandra Allred. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.