Add two new celebrities to the weight-loss game: Jessica Simpson and Janet Jackson. Simpson, who is still pregnant, reportedly signed a $3-million deal to lose the baby weight with Weight Watchers, and Jackson is representing Nutrisystem and has already lost 10 pounds in her first month.
Celebrities publicly losing weight is nothing new. Jennifer Hudson's amazing 80-pound weight loss for Weight Watchers has certainly been popular, sparking a guest appearance on Oprah and multiple commercials featuring Hudson singing. Over the years, we've also watched Kirstie Alley's weight yo-yo up and down, from her time acting as spokeswoman for Jenny (formerly Jenny Craig) and later losing weight again while on Dancing With the Stars. And just last month, Mariah Carey debuted her 30-pound weight loss after also representing Jenny.
It's no surprise that big companies like Weight Watchers, Jenny and Nutrisystem are using celebrities to promote their weight-loss programs. The right spokesperson can be a powerful way to motivate people to lose weight, says Ellen Granberg, a Clemson University sociology professor who studies long-term weight loss.
"Successful dieters I’ve interviewed have sometimes mentioned celebrity spokespersons as an important factor in getting them to try a diet," she says. "As long as the diet itself is healthy, I think celebrity spokespeople can be a useful way to do outreach."
So what is it about some celebrities that inspire us more than others? Granberg, who has lost 100 pounds and kept it off for 15 years herself, says that it's all about being able to identify with someone.
"It’s about wanting to believe it’s possible, that it can happen for me, she says. "For that reason, I tend to find the most successful one’s most inspiring."
But what about those celebrities who aren't as successful? And those stars — like Kristie Alley — who seem to yo-yo between weight-gain and weight-loss? Granberg says that she's learned that even watching a celebrity fail at losing weight can help.
"In research I’ve done with successful dieters, failure —sometimes many, many failures — is a part of how they learned to succeed," she says. "Knowing celebrities struggle too could potentially be helpful there — as long as they eventually figure it out!"
All of this celebrity inspiration can have a downside though. While watching a celeb drop pounds can be motivational, once they've actually lost the weight it can be disheartening. After all, celebrities have professional stylists and photographers to help them look their best. So those of us in the real world though can feel a bit deflated when we lose weight and feel better, yet don't look or feel like a movie star, Granber says.
Bottomline though, seeing celebrities lose weight is just a starting point for most when it comes to starting a weight-loss program, Granberg says. Actually losing the weight and keeping it off, takes much more than celebrity inspiration. It takes encouragement, everyday support from others, a solid commitment and "the inner wanting" to lose the weight, she says.
Are you inspired by celebs who lose weight? Who inspires you? And why?
Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomedGirls.com and FitBottomedMamas.com. A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.