Co-authored by: Pam Archer & Maria LaBarbera
My first born, Maria, and I were talking about various subjects I could write about.. She said to me, “Mama, why don’t you write about all the things we have tried to lose weight?” I knew right then to cover this subject would go way over my word count allotment and could probably fill volumes, maybe even become a best seller. Why? Because what woman hasn’t read every article written on the subject, watched every episode of Oprah featuring weight loss, or tried every diet that promised the quick and most certain shedding of pounds? Show me a woman who hasn’t tried to eat grapefruit for a week, slurped cabbage soup until her breath smelled like she had dirty socks for dinner, snubbed her nose at all carbohydrates, eating only cows or pigs until she mooed or oinked, or cut back so much on calories that about the only thing she bit off was people’s heads, and I’ll show you a skinny woman!
The doughnut diet was my personal favorite. I called it the no holes barred diet. And how can we forget about the all veggies diet, or all meat, or all bread diet? And, the raw diet! Even God himself, when He asked for lamb, wanted it roasted! Remember the story about Cain bringing his veggies before the altar? God said, “Die, you fool!” I admit, this is an extreme twist on a biblical story. It wasn’t the veggies God had the problem with, rather with Cain’s disobedience. I think that Cain had anger issues too. But, think about it, all cows eat is grass all day and they are still fat. When you really think about it, they not only eat it all day, but they throw it back up and chew on it. So, are they bulimic?
My point is, we are always looking for shortcuts to little butts. We all want to be lean and trim without the grunt and groan. Such is the example of Maria’s attempt at a quick fix. It was only three days until her brother-in-law’s wedding. She hadn’t been so diligent at following her food plan. The trips through the drive-through for cheeseburgers and fries had caught up with her and she was feeling a little tinge of panic, because she wasn’t as trim as she would have liked. “Enough Mother, I’ll take it from here! You might embellish!”, she said.
“I was living in Texas at the time. A local day spa advertised on the radio a plan to lose seventeen inches in one hour. I had just received a gift of seventy-five dollars, otherwise I would never have considered it. I arrived at the front desk the next day and asked ‘where do I sign?’ The skinny blonde chick led me to the room where I imagined that I would exit looking just like her. I couldn’t wait to plop down my seventy-five dollars to indulge myself in an hour of rest and relaxation, burning away all those unwanted inches.
She asked me to strip down so she could record the measurements and reveal the reason I had been showering in the dark for the past six months. I soothed my damaged ego with the knowledge that in one hour from now I would look just like her.
You would think taking my measurements every sixteenth of an inch would alert an intelligent individual that something was not quite legit. I recalled thinking to myself why more people didn’t do this. This is about the time she opened the great chafing dish. I recognized the chafing dish, as I had seen them many times on the all-you-can eat buffets. This chafing dish was filled to the rim with Ace bandages, soaking in the miracle solution to all my problems. Barbie began at my ankles, wrapping me in those Ace bandages like King Tut’s chubby wife. Her job became increasingly difficult as she came to the problem areas. As she pulled the bandages tighter, the fat spilled over, requiring more bandages. See, this is easy I thought. She is doing all the grunting and groaning and I don’t have to do a thing but stand here and be humiliated. She also wrapped my face until it looked like it was smashed inside an elevator door. Then she put Baggies on my hands and feet to “catch the drippings”, she said. The only thing lacking was the pop-up timer. I managed to keep myself motivated to continue by thinking how proud my mom would be that I would now be so svelte that she could stop harping to me about my broadening horizons and the benefits of exercising. Barbie topped my head with a shower cap and wrapped an orange poncho around me. That’s when she informed me it was now time to leave the room and proceed to the next phase of treatment. Yea! It’s finally time for the spa treatment of my dreams.
As I waddled down the hall in my mummy outfit, in full view of the waiting room, I kept telling myself it was all going to be worth it to look like Barbie girl. It was at that moment that she flung open the door to my padded cell. It had a rubber mat, a TV, a VCR, and I’m sure a hidden camera. Perky, Torture Girl (formerly known as Barbie) put the MTV Grind Workout into the VCR and said to me, “the more you move, the more you lose. I’ll be back every fifteen minutes to ‘baste’ you with our secret mineral solution!” Is she crazy? Didn’t she notice the color of my skin? I move like a white girl! My hips where not made for all that gyrating. I started looking around the room for Bob Saget. I knew that he would not let this humiliation continue without awarding me at least $10,000.
Now comes the insane part. I actually tried to do it! I attempted to bump and grind my little heart out and hips off. It didn’t help that no one in the video was wrapped in Ace bandages, Baggies, or orange ponchos. Torture girl returned as promised. She unwrapped me and presented me with the revelation that I had miraculously lost 16 ¾ inches. I surmised that was mostly from the brain cells that fell on the rubber mat. Me, an educated, intelligent, and obviously gullible twenty-something had fallen victim to an obvious scam. I left the building thinking that at least I was slimmer in my wallet. That was where most of the lost inches came from anyway. I was very sure that this woman would be watching my video with her Swedish model cousins. I’ve heard that these are the kinds of videos that skinny people watch for entertainment.
I struggled to keep a positive outlook on the experience. When I arrived home I asked my sweet, supportive husband if I looked thinner, to which he replied, “I think your legs look smoother.”
I learned the painful lesson that not only am I an idiot, but that there are no shortcuts to weight loss. Deep in my heart, I know that video will surface somewhere on the Internet. Please don’t judge me. You never know when you might do something just as desperate.” – Maria Maria’s experience is not a rare one for women. We have all bought into the quick fix madness. It is a billion dollar industry. Her story is in no way a reflection of the numerous and wonderful spas that offer fabulous, relaxing treatments. The lesson to be learned from all of this is that there are no short cuts to weight loss. There is no substitute for eating a balanced diet and exercising on a regular basis. I said that I could write volumes on this subject, so I will save other stories for other blog posts. Don’t waste your money on diets that you can’t maintain for the rest of your life. Don’t buy any more books about fad diets or quick fixes. Save your money for a real treatment at a real spa. If nothing else, I hope that Maria’s experience provided the same comic relief and hysterical laughing spell that it gave me. Research tells us that laughter is very good medicine. It doesn’t require a prescription and it can help most anything that ails you. A laugh a day will keep the doctor away.