What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
When I say I’m doing something “for science,” my friends know that “science” means “xoJane.” And this time, the science I’m doing is testing out some of the silliest parts of the newest fad diet, “Six Weeks to OMG: Get Skinnier Than All Your Friends.” If you missed my original post about the diet, you can check it out here.
First of all, I don’t want to be skinnier than all my friends, as the title of the book promises I can be. And even if I did, it would be damn near impossible, because some of my friends are naturally very thin and willowy beings, while my sturdy German forearms are genetically predisposed to rolling out dough for, I don’t know...strudel?
I share the same body type as my great-grandma Charlotte, whose large-busted and broad-shouldered carriage served her well for 96 years. That body type, my friends, will never be “skinny” and I accept that.
My history with food, weight and dieting is long and complicated. At my heaviest, I weighed around 165. Then, it seemed as if the minute I hit my goal weight of 135, I got pregnant and gained 60 pounds, thanks in part to eating all the bread I had not eaten in the year prior. After Oliver was born, I settled into a weight of around 145.
I tossed out my scale a couple of years ago, and outside of doctors’ appointments, I don’t really know how much I weigh at any given time. These days, I just pay attention to how my clothes fit: if they’re getting a little snug, I know it’s time to cut back on the cheese and wine, because I sure cannot afford to buy a whole new wardrobe in the next size up.
The truth is, there is part of me that sometimes still wants to lose about 10 pounds. Not really for health reasons, if we’re being honest. It’s purely vanity; when I weighed 135 pounds, I thought I looked better. But lately I've been feeling like that 10 pounds is less important to me than eating copious amounts of coconut milk ice cream. Life is short, and I want to eat all the things.
So even though I detest dieting and diets and I hate feeling like I’m not as thin as I’d like to be (and hating that I hate that I'm not as thin as I'd like to be), here I am testing out part of “Six Weeks to OMG,” because, what if taking a cold bath every morning DOES make me lose weight, in spite of my love of ice cream? I would incorporate into my routine in a minute, if that were the case, even though I think it’s silly.
As much as I want bodies to just be bodies, I am a flawed human who wants to improve myself, and sometimes, for me, improvement means reaching and maintaining a goal weight. I still think fad diets are dumb, though.
So. Here’s what I did every morning, for one week:
1. Had a big glass of water upon waking
2. Took a cold shower
3. Drank a cup of coffee
4. Waited as long as I could before eating breakfast
What I didn’t do: alter my diet* or engage in any extra physical activity. The reason for this is that I wanted to test out only the “fad” part of the diet; the rest of the diet, as explained in the book, is really just the simple math of calories in/calories out.
The first step of my one-week experiment was to weigh myself. Since I don’t own a scale, I had to dust off the Wii Fit, perhaps the most passive aggressive fitness device ever. I fired it up, and instead of shaming me for not logging in for almost a year, Wii Fit’s message to me was, “I haven’t seen Jeff in a while. Is he OK?” Oh snap!
My weight is not that far off from what I thought it was. But my little Mii made a sad face and hung her head in shame at my BMI. Body-shamed by Wii!
Big Glass of Water Upon Waking
The big glass of water first thing in the morning was easy for me; that’s something I do anyway. I find it uh...helps get my digestive system “going” so that everything operates more "smoothly," and it also helps prevent headaches, to which I am prone.
Venice A. Fulton/Paul Kahn, author of “Six Weeks to OMG,” recommends a 15-minute bath in cold water (between 59 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit). But I’m a shower person -- something about taking a bath makes me feel like I’m just sitting in my own filth and not really getting clean.
Fortunately, he says you can replace the 15-minute baths with three-minute showers, so that’s what I did. I started with the shower at a normal warm temperature, took care of my actual washing business, then gradually turned down the hot water until I reached a cold temperature. Then I stood there for as long as I could handle -- probably under a minute the first few days, and a couple of minutes by the end of the week.
What I found was that while I dreaded that cold shower every morning, I felt amazing after. Invigorated. YOU WERE RIGHT, VENPAUL. I was wrong, OK? Cold showers do not suck as much as I thought they would.
I love coffee, so drinking it is no problem for me. What IS a problem, however, is drinking it on an empty stomach. Because, IHTM: I Ripped a Hole in my Stomach This One Time by Taking Ibuprofen. Fun! (Not Fun.) The ulcer is long since resolved, though, so I decided to take a chance and do this step.
I’m glad to report I didn’t rip a hole in my stomach. But after a week, I've developed a sexy eye twitch.
Waiting to Eat
Ignoring hunger, for me, is sort of crazy. This part was really rough. I held out as long as I could most days, but then what happened is this: I ate the shit out of my breakfast. Not only did I devour it in just a few minutes, but I found I ate more than I normally would have, just because I was so. Freaking. Hungry.
The most interesting part of all this is that after the cold shower/coffee combo, I felt energized; if I hadn’t been studiously avoiding any exercise over my normal amount, I would have definitely gone for a walk or a run before breakfast, because I was really fucking wired. I'm willing to concede that maybe there IS something to all of this.
So. After a week, did I miraculously lose pounds/inches/internal organs?
Well, here you go. When science goes wrong.
Nope. Gained a pound.
Would I have lost weight if I’d followed the rest of the diet (exercise, mindful eating, eating whole foods, portion control, etc.)? Most likely, because in my experience, doing all of those things is what makes me lose weight.
Results of my totally scientific study are as follows: Fad diets are still crap. Cold showers and coffee did wake my lazy ass up. But I will never skip breakfast again, that shit is bananas.
I have a new diet mantra, which I’m going to print out and put on my fridge: Being thin will never feel as good as not starving tastes. You guys can steal that if you want.