x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Teen life: Why do teenagers go all out to shed the pounds for summer?

As summer approaches, teens are making an effort to achieve the perfect 'beach body', girls by dieting and boys by taking supplements.

I am rendered astonished time and again at the effort my fellow teenagers put in to achieve what they perceive as the perfect body. The slightest hint of bingo wings and we all go rushing off to the gym to pump iron until we collapse.

Overpriced FitFlops are dutifully purchased for wear around the house in the tentative hope that if we wear them long enough, we will obtain legs like Beyoncé's. No matter if the farthest we've walked in them is from the sofa to the bathroom.

I agree that maintaining a healthy BMI is important. I just can't help but marvel at the sheer stamina of some friends who have tried diet after diet and sprain-inducing salsa classes, and can enthusiastically welcome the newest fad of surviving on turnips for a week.

It astounds me how they can still look a foul artichoke and asparagus smoothie in the eye and resist the temptation to stuff it down the throat of their preposterously hippie yoga instructor. Excuse the rant but I'm afraid I have very little patience with anyone with the self-control to refuse saturated fat when offered, having no restraint myself.

Now that the sultry days of summer are here, teenagers are headed straight to the beach or the swimming pool to cool down, and slowly undergo the transformation into wrinkly fingered prunes.

Of course, we simply can't emerge out of the house if we haven't got "beach bodies" with concave stomachs.

Sadly, we'll need to work out, but the searing summer heat has kindly ensured that it is impossible to step out of our air-conditioned homes for a quick jog. The house imprisonment means we're bound to hog the entire contents of the fridge, unless we have a willing chauffeur and a membership to FitnessFirst.

My friend Callie sailed in one day to announce that she was fed up with eating steak for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and was going to switch to biltong instead. She's on a meat diet - at least at the time of writing; no doubt she'll switch to a Paleo one tomorrow. I think she's ticked off fruit-only, cabbage soup and a couple more regimes with unpronounceable names over the past month. To be fair, it seems to be working for her. Hello, green-eyed monster.

The guys seem to be following the motto "the bulgier the better". Exercising lots or swigging protein shakes made from lentils and pulses doesn't worry me. What does are muscle-building supplements - creatine phosphate, for example, which is perfectly legal and available without needing a prescription. It's produced naturally in the body but can have side effects such as muscle cramps or kidney damage when taken in large quantities.

Teenagers are infinitely reckless and aren't too fussed about regulating quantities; it's disquieting that there is no way of monitoring their intake except trusting teenage boys' common sense. Those last four words sound suspiciously like an oxymoron.

Nevertheless, I've been toying with the idea of stopping my whining, getting fit and perhaps going easy on the carbs this season. There's London Dairy in the freezer to make a perfectly carb-free start.


Lavanya Malhotra is a 17-year-old student in Dubai

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