The Truth About Size Zero, a documentary originally screened on ITV1, 7th March 2007, followed Louise Redknapp as she revealed the truth about what is involved in attaining a 'stick thin' body.
By following a crash diet and intense exercise regime, 32-year-old Louise tried to reach a size zero figure in a 30-day experiment.
Here is a week-by-week account of what she went through, physically and mentally, to expose the dangers of extreme dieting and discourage other people from attempting crash diets.
Before the Experiment Began
|Weight||7 st 10 lbs|
Louise had a thorough medical with nutritionist Dr Adam Carey, who advised her not to go through with the experiment, but he agreed to monitor her throughout in order to help get the message across to people that crash diets are unhealthy.
She also visited LA, where she had her first encounter with Barry from 'Barry's Boot Camp', the most popular fitness destination for Hollywood stars who want to shape up fast. Barry was to be in charge of Louise's diet and exercise regime in her quest to reach a size zero.
It is widely perceived in LA that anyone who wants success must be a size zero. Louise discovered she could not fit into a size zero dress, but arranged to have one flown in from LA to her home in the UK, in the hope that at the end of the 30 days she would be able to get the zip done up.
Barry from Barry's Boot Camp flew in to the UK to help restock Louise's cupboards.
Carbohydrates were out, and Louise was to spend 30 days surviving on oats, omelettes, berries, fish and greens, with only fist-sized portions at that. Louise reached the supermarket checkout with a fairly empty trolley.
Barry set Louise an exercise regime consisting of a 3-mile run plus an hour of weight training each day. She found herself getting up at the crack of dawn to work out before she went off to work.
Despite it still only being week 1 of the experiment, Louise was already finding the diet plan difficult and boring, and she felt exhausted. She found the exercise strenuous and hard to fit in around her work and family commitments.
Louise became very hungry in the evenings, and went to bed early in order to avoid being tempted by food.
|Weight||7 st 4 lbs|
Louise was finding her quest to be a size zero very unglamorous, and her life was no longer how she would like it to be. She was irritable and constantly felt hungry, and having to prepare her family's food when she could not have any was difficult.
At this point her energy levels were still very low, she was snappy and grumpy and difficult to live with, even her dogs were bearing the brunt.
Feelings of isolation started to kick in as Louise realised how much her diet and exercise commitments were encroaching on her social life.
Louise was falling behind with her exercise regime.
She was becoming increasingly worried about her husband's attitude toward her shrinking body, as she noticed her ribs were beginning to protrude.
On top of this Louise had a cold, interrupted sleep patterns, dry and flaky skin, dark circles under her eyes and stomach cramps, and she worried she may end up with an eating disorder.
Another visit to Dr Adam Carey revealed Louise's Body Mass Index was on the verge of being unhealthy and he urged her to quit the experiment. Approximately 50 percent of her weight loss was fat, while the other 50 percent was muscle mass.
Louise became upset about what she was doing to her body and realised how ridiculous it was to deprive her body of what it needed. She felt vulnerable and out of control as a person due to the lack of food.
Despite her doctor's concerns as well as her own, Louise continued on with the programme, as she still felt strongly about the size zero issue.
|Weight||7 st 1 lbs|
The intense diet and exercise regime was taking its toll. Louise was fed up, weepy, hungry, paranoid, and did not have the energy to do much with her 2-year-old son.
She realised there were so many more important things to do in life other than aspire to look like someone with a so-called 'perfect figure', yet her mission to become a size zero was running her life.
Even though she was mentally and physically exhausted, Louise continued with her job as presenter of The Clothes Show Live. She found it difficult to concentrate and learn her lines.
Louise discovered she was beginning to think differently about food. She felt guilty for eating the smallest thing, even if it was something she had been told she could eat. She started to understand how people begin to lose control when they are dieting.
The detrimental effects on Louise's health were becoming more serious. She was suffering from stomach cramps, throwing up on an empty stomach and feeling weak and dreadful.
In a last ditch attempt to reach the elusive size zero Louise headed back to Barry's Boot Camp in LA where she was put through her paces one last time. She also took some desperate Hollywood style measures in the form of deep tissue massage, mud shrinkage, endermologie and acupuncture treatments to become thinner.
|Weight||6 st 13 lbs|
|Dress Size||4 - American 0|
Louise got down to a size zero and fitted neatly into her size zero LA dress. But how did she really feel about it, and what were the consequences?
In 30 days, Louise worked out for a total of 52 hours and ate less than 800 calories per day. She hated every minute of it and felt exhausted. She found the whole process extremely hard and did not get a full night's sleep since it began.
Another visit to the doctors showed Louise's BMI was on the border for a diagnosis of anorexia. She was unwell, and no longer a normal, healthy young woman.
Her oestrogen levels dropped to that of a post-menopausal woman, the long-term effects of which could be infertility and osteoporosis. She lost 5lbs of muscle mass, leading to a decreased metabolic rate.
Louise was now dangerously underweight, after a total weight loss of 11lbs.
Despite her 'success' at being able to fit into the dress, to Louise, it represented the difficulties she had had to face in order to get in it, which outweighed any positive things she might feel about losing a bit of weight.
The size zero dress, which had haunted her for 30 days, found its way into the bin, along with its best friend, the tape measure.
Even though Louise feels being able to get into the dress was not worth the quality of life she lost and the effect it had on those close to her, she hopes it will make people aware of just how bad crash dieting is and think twice about doing it.
Louise hopes to have a daughter some day, and she wants her to grow up in a society where she can feel as though she can be any size she wants without judgement.
The size zero experiment was exactly that, an experiment. Louise had people overseeing the whole process, before, during and after. Anyone thinking of trying to replicate the experiment themselves is likely to become quite ill, especially if they follow this type of regime for many weeks, months or years.
Louise's health recovered after two months of a supervised re-eating programme.