So while I was sitting on a plane to China for 14 straight hours (in economy plus, no less…no chance of sleeping much) I had a chance to catch up on some reading. I like to read a magazine when I first get on the plane, because I know there will be a lot of interruptions until we really get in the air…I find a magazine more conducive to stops and starts as the person in the window seat needs to get past you, the person in the seat next to you is determinedly pushing their too big carry-on into the overhead bin and the flight attendants tell you how to fasten your seat buckle (“insert the metal fitting into the buckle”). As such, I found myself reading an article in Harper’s Bazaar called “The Fat Whisperer.” I was hooked from the opening paragraph in an “oh, this is going to be absurd, I just know it” kind of way:
She doesn’t exactly whisper. But bodywork specialist Mary Ascension Saulnier is known in Hollywood as the Fat Whisperer, thanks to her near-mystical spot-reduction abilities….her techniques involve everything from hot pepper to rubber pants.
In the article the author signs up for six weeks of treatments with Saulnier, a former pilates teacher. The treatments, which rotate weekly and cost from $40 to $750 (yes, 75 + a zero), are meant to “flush the fat and firm skin.” In addition to the weekly treatments the author is instructed to follow a “killer 30-day detox diet” that eliminates caffeine, dairy, sugar and saturated fat. Do we really need to go any further? Already we have suspect “treatments” that are a) expensive and b) involve things such as hot pepper and rubber pants, an “expert” whose background is as a pilates instructor, a detox diet that involves significant restrictions and la-la land (aka Hollywood). Any time a weight loss plan involves some kind of treatment, gimic, weird fitness routine, etc along with some kind of severely restricted diet, guess which one is going to be responsible for the weight loss and so-called “sculpting?” I can tell you before reading any further that any “results” from Saulnier’s methods is going to be from the diet (few details are given of the diet, so it is hard to say how healthy or unhealthy it is, but anything called a “30-day detox diet” is suspect in my book). But let’s just run with this, because if nothing else it is amusing and mind-boggling that celebrities and others with money to burn will pay for stuff like this.
The treatment in week one involves being smeared with some concoction made up of coffee, clay, seaweed, and “stimulating” herbs like cayenne. The mess is smeared on the author’s skin in the areas where she want to reduce. (Eye roll.) She is then wrapped in Ace bandages, thermal underwear, a rubber suit and compression pants. Guess what…she then sweats (after being placed on a 150 degree mat). According to Saulnier “NASA uses similar technology; the heat speeds metabolism.” No, actually it just makes you sweat buckets. And sweat is just water, not fat. And your body needs water. When you sweat like this, any weight you lose you need to replace by drinking water. I would love to know how much this treatment cost.
By week two the author has lost two pounds (which is the amount any person could lose just by following a sensible diet I might add). She reports being starving. Week two’s treatment involves ultrasonic waves and micro currents (i.e. mumbo-jumbo and hocus-pocus), body scrubs, goat milk body lotion and Saulnier’s anti-aging vitamins (remember, she was a Pilates instructor).
By week three the author has lost 4 lbs…again, this would be a normal weight loss following a sensible diet and no silly treatments. The author is hating the diet and is constantly thinking of cheating. My guess is the diet is ridiculously calorically-restricted. I would love to know the total daily calories allowed. This week’s treatment invokes “cupping” which is “meant to break up superficial fat and stimulate the lymphatic system.” Are you laughing and shaking your head yet? By the end of the week the author has broken the diet by stuffing herself with cake.
Week four and the author is now up two pounds (not clear if she is still down two at this point or if she has put all 4 lbs she lost back on and then two more…either way, not a good situation). We have now entered the twilight zone as Saulnier
…gives me a wheatgrass shot, adds detoxifying charcoal to my wrap, and hooks an iPhone-size Alpha-Stim brain-wave machine to my ear lobes.
By week five the author claims she now loves the diet…huh? What happened? She reports that she has lost two inches off her waist, hips and thighs and she “looks slimmer.” By week six she has lost 7 lbs. (again, this is no more than you could expect to lose on a healthy diet, maybe even less), although she admits she cheated on the diet a lot. I find the complete reversal from weeks 3 & 4 (eating cake and gaining weight) to week 5 she has lost 2 inches a bit unbelievable. But this isn’t Scientific American, but Harper’s Bazaar. I’m expecting too much that she should explain to us this complete reversal and belief in Saulnier’s methods. Let’s just say I find it amazing (or maybe sad) that women are so desperate to look a certain way that they will participate in unhealthy, often unsafe diets, and pay thousands of dollars to a former Pilates instructor so said magician can use modern technology to wave her magic wand (or wrap you in cayenne pepper and attach an iPod to your earlobe) and “sculpt” your body. Call me crazy, but eating sensibly and getting some exercise (I charge zero for that advice, by the way) can go a long way to making you feel better and look better.