Wacky weight loss
Who says you have to survive on salad or be a slave to the gym in order to lose those extra pounds? Many people have found less conventional techniques to manage their weight. One famous example is Jared, the guy who has relied on a steady diet of Subway sandwiches for the past two years -- and lost more than 245 pounds in the process.
Other individuals have followed equally unorthodox paths to weight-loss success. "There is no one diet or exercise regimen that suits everybody," says Janine Whiteson, a New York City-based nutritionist and author of "Get a New Food Life." "Each person has their own likes, dislikes, lifestyle, eating habits, and physical and emotional issues with food. As long as you seriously mind your health, it's important to carve your own [weight-loss] niche."
From wearing Saran Wrap to eating only soup for a month, meet ten women who succeeded in slimming down using their own idiosyncratic (dare we say weird?) techniques. Should you take a page out of these dieters' diaries? We also asked the experts to give us the real skinny on these unusual take-it-off tactics:
The Peanut Gallery
"I once did what I called 'the humiliation diet.' I used to work in a very casual office, where I made a habit of announcing my weight each week at the Monday staff meeting. If I lost weight, I told my co-workers to applaud. If I gained, they were instructed to boo. The whole office really got into it. Luckily, I was applauded more than booed -- I ended up losing 30 pounds in three months!"
-- Lori Couthran, 35, legal assistant, Beaumont, Texas
Expert weigh-in: "The peer pressure pushed her to achieve her goal," says Whiteson. "But to be sure she maintains her weight, Lori should find a steady support system beyond the workplace by teaming up with a workout buddy."
The Pig Out
"I'm a fast-food junkie, so two months before my wedding, I told myself that I was going to eat all the junk food I could handle in one weekend. That way, I wouldn't be tempted to cheat at other times. It worked. I ate so much that I didn't even crave one french fry afterward. I managed to lose 12 pounds, although two of those were probably the pounds I gained over that one weekend!"
-- Michelle Lynch, 32, stay-at-home mom, Greenville, South Carolina
Expert weigh-in: "This worked because it was similar to aversion therapy [attaching a negative stimulus or response to a behavior you find rewarding and doing so until it becomes unpleasant and no longer enjoyable]," says Leslie Bonci, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. "But you don't have to give up or get sick on your favorite foods to lose weight. The key is portion control. A small cheeseburger and fries is only about 500 calories. Just stick with a balanced diet."
The Foot in Your Mouth Diet
"I drank this horrible concoction made from horse-hoof extract. I called it the foot-in-your-mouth diet. I wasn't allowed to have anything but this special juice for a week, and I lost 10 pounds! It tasted awful, but at least it worked."
-- Paula McLeod, 40, stay-at-home mom, Dallas
Expert weigh-in: "Was this woman on 'Fear Factor'?!" asked Whiteson. "This is the same old scam as the grapefruit diet or the Hollywood juice diet, regimens that dehydrate your body, causing you to lose dangerous amounts of water and lean muscle tissue, hence the weight loss. The problem is you often gain the weight back within the next 10 days!"
The Moon Walk
"My girlfriend and I tried a program where you had to wear these herbal bandages all over your body and then put on these blue space suits for 45 minutes. We looked ridiculous, but we lost three pounds in less than an hour."
-- Monica Maynard, 25, education manager, Kansas City, Missouri
Expert weigh-in: Never put on herbal bandages, which could contain ephedra, a substance that can cause high blood pressure and rapid heart rate, counsels Bonci. The expert nutritionist also cautions that these so-called space suits are designed to cause dehydration, but the weight loss will last only until you drink a few glasses of water. Overall, this weight-loss strategy is uncomfortable and potentially very dangerous!