I think the media is largely to blame because of this! Women look at the various magazine covers and wish to look like the cover girls they see. "Oh! I wish I was that slim", "Oh! I wish I had her abs", and so on.
What they don't realize is the work that goes into that magazine cover. Most mag covers are air-brushed so the model looks 'perfect'. And many times, to look as 'fit' as they do, the models have to do all kinds of 'tricks' to look so 'perfect'. And these tricks can sometimes be dangerously unhealthy and should never be adopted long term to have that perfect bikini body! Even bikini models have an off and on season. Even they don't adopt those crazy plans all year round! Imagine cutting out fruit totally for weeks or even months! That can't be healthy! Loading up on proteins and cutting out carbs is also unhealthy for long term! These are some of the 'tricks' these models employ to look 'perfect'.
The only way to be healthy is to eat a healthy diet and exercise consistently. And please, drop the 'diet' mentality! By diet mentality, I mean : "I will strict in my diet until I lose this X pounds/kgs, then I can go back to 'normal eating". Nah-uh! This will never work! What will work is adopting a healthy lifestyle; which means eating healthy everyday of your life and exercising regularly and consistently!
Which brings me to the 80/20 rule. Eating like a rabbit all the time can get boring after some time. So, the 80/20 rule means : eat healthy like you should 80% of the time, and 20% of the time, you can eat the calorie dense food that you like an enjoy like ice-cream, cookies, potato chips, pizza, burgers and the like. But remember, watch your portion sizes ALL the time, no matter what it is you're eating. That's important too. Sure, you can eat unhealthy foods 20% of the time, but that's no licence to lose control and go crazy! Or you'll do more damage than good.
The reason for the 80/20 rule is : you do need to cut yourself some slack sometimes. Or your body will rebel and you'll binge, which will be even worse for you and your body. And you should not think of food in terms of good food and bad food. Just healthy and not so healthy food. It's all a question of balance.
And once you've reached your goal of a fitter and healthier body. You still need to maintain your weight loss. Which is why, once you go back to your 'normal eating', the weight will come back. Which is why, you must remember : a healthy lifestyle is for life!
Which brings me to my next point. You need both cardio (running, cycling, jogging, swimming, walking, etc.) and strength training (crunches, sit-ups, leg-lifts, lifting weights, etc.). Cardio is to exercise your heart and lungs and burn fat. And the strength training is to maintain and increase your muscles; which in turn will help you burn even more calories, even when you're sleeping!
And even when you think you've reached your goal and are already as 'perfect' as all you can be, you still have to maintain your new-found figure! Continue with the healthy diet and exercise! And remember the 80/20 rule! Or your new healthy eating habits will feel like a prison! And exercise!!!