Gemma's Adventures in Shopping: Incentive Shopping

Gemma Cartwright writes...

My weight fluctuates as much as Lindsay Lohan's hair colour. I won't lie, it's not because of my glands or my slow metabolism or anything like that. It's because I don't exercise as much as I should, I eat too much junk food and I drink wine. Lots of wine. I have a life and I'm not willing to give it up to be a twiglet. The past few months - cold weather, lots of parties, denial-inducing tunic dresses, thick tights - have taken their toll on my body and I'm now paying the price. I stood on the scales the other morning and wanted to crawl back into bed and cry.

Luckily for my innards, I'm a firm believer in the basic principles of weight loss: if you want to drop the pounds, you need to stop eating so much rubbish and start doing more exercise. I'm a Weight Watchers advocate, none of this South Beach / Atkins crap for me. But I also have another trick, one I wouldn't recommend, but which helps me to stick to my diets even during the most PMT-ridden days. It's Incentive Shopping, and it works much better than any other method I've tried...

Incentive Shopping is a fairly simple idea. You buy something that doesn't fit you, and you slim into it. Yep, now you see why I'm not really recommending this to you, I'm just explaining it. While it may work for me, slimming to fit into current fashions isn't really setting a great example.

So let's just clear something up first of all. I'm not trying to fit into a size zero. I like my curves, but sometimes I let them get out of hand. When I did my first spot of incentive shopping, I was a UK 16 and I was trying to fit into a size 14 dress and take myself out of the 'overweight' category on the BMI scale. More recently, I dreamt of finally shoehorning myself into my beloved Paper, Denim & Cloth jeans. Their label states they have a 31 inch waist...hardly Victoria Beckham territory, but better than my previous 'fat' jeans from Mavi. I did manage to slim into them at the end of last year, and they proceeded to fit me for about a week. Then Christmas happened and it all went horribly wrong.

Not happy with having a pair of overpriced jeans I can't wear, I've now added insult to injury by adding another incentive piece to my already overstuffed wardrobe. This one came from Zara, a shop I believe is made with one purpose in life - to make normal women feel like heifers with their ridiculously small sizing. Despite being a large, my beloved new grey waistcoat-top dress barely does up over my (B cup) boobs. Of course, my impulse-buying self saw this slight tightness as a challenge, not an excuse to save myself £40. Unlike most people, who complain they lose weight off their boobs first, I find it a real struggle. So if, in the next month or so I lose weight on my boobs and back, this dress will be a true indication of my Weight Watchers willpower.

The trick to incentive shopping is to only ever consider it when the item in question is only a tiny bit too small. There's no point in going for a pair of trousers that you can't get past your thighs or a dress that won't zip up because of a four inch gap. They'll be out of style before they fit, even if you do succeed with your healthy eating / exercise regime.

And please, don't try this if you're already slim. If I find out anyone has bought anything in the evil size zero as an 'incentive' I will personally come around your house and force you to eat cake. Lots and lots of cake.

Gemma Cartwright is Fashion Editor for Shiny Media, and founder of Catwalk Queen. She's never going to fit into those jeans until she gives up drinking.

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