I do my best to eat organic, to force down a salad before every meal, and to put my gym membership to occasional use. I do calf raises in the shower and curls with hand weights while watching Trading Spouses. I admit it, I'm lazy. I don't have much willpower, and could stand to lose 10 pounds--but at the same time, I'm no pre-Subway Jared.
Thus, LA Weight Loss seemed like the perfect fix. The relentless commercials currently advertise that only $11 per week will help you lose on average, 1.5-2 pounds per week (that is, if you ignore the practically illegible fine print at the bottom of the TV screen.) If this was true, then after only a few weeks of monitored eating, I'd finally be looking decent in a bathing suit and buying a size smaller pair of jeans. Or so I thought.
I waited for LA Weight Loss to advertise a sale before I signed up. I may be fat and lazy, but more importantly, I'm cheap. At the time, a radio commercial offered the low price of only six bucks a week, and I thought--awesome, shrinking my ass is only going to cost me around 40 bucks.
I am a naive moron. I am the exact person those commercials are catering to. I am a sucker.
Before entering the LA Weight Loss center, I made sure to scan the area for any sign of ex-boyfriends, ex-boyfriends' new girlfriends, or anyone I've ever met. Having my name showing up in the rumor mill is the last thing I need. (Bob: "Hey! I saw Shimer going into LA Weight Loss the other day. Sally: "Yeah, well, she is quite the fatass.")
Inside, I went through a series of consultations with different employees covering my medical history, weight (ouch), goals, why I wanted to lose weight, how committed I was, how supportive my family was, etc. After about 40 minutes, the visit culminated with one of the saleswomen shutting the door to a big office, and completing some post-graduate math problem. My commitment to losing 16 pounds would cost me... $396.00.
Yes, I was alarmed. I quickly did some calculations of my own, figuring out the different things I could buy for $396.00: a plane ticket to Belize, six months of car insurance, almost a month of rent, a black lab puppy, a Marc Jacobs purse, three pairs of designer jeans--in short, things that seemed a lot more exciting.
So what happened to the six dollars a week? What happened to what I thought would be a $40 commitment? Where was the quick, cheap, and easy miracle I was searching for? Answer: I'm a dumbass, and it doesn't exist.
LA Weight Loss required no less than a 66-week commitment from me--and for each of these 66 required weeks I had to pay $6. According to the LA Weight Loss program it would take eight weeks to lose the weight, six weeks to stabilize my weight, and 52 weeks to maintain my weight; weeks that the company deems a necessary part of the program whether I wanted to lose 16 pounds or 60. First, I wasn't sure if I wanted to spend that kind of money, and second, I wasn't sure that I wanted a year-plus-long relationship with LA Weight Loss.
I was already in the building, though, I had committed mentally, and the pressure was on. I told the woman I couldn't pay that much--it was way more than I expected. Could I skip the maintenance weeks--just do the weight loss? No, sorry, impossible.
Graciously, management compromised and allowed me to settle up in two easy payments, even though it was against their policy to break up payments during a sale. I was overjoyed--NO, NOT REALLY--rather, I agreed to pay the dough in order to take the pressure off. I figured I'd just beg for my money back later.
After your initial consultation LA Weight Loss gives you a couple of days to get acclimated. You start out with a two-day low-carb diet where you also drink several servings of a special juice. This part is pretty easy because you can eat a shitload--just no beer or sweets. Then comes the hard part.
When I returned to LA Weight Loss after my two-day carb fast, I had already lost two pounds. This was encouraging and even though I was skeptical of the program, I was happy and proud of myself. The medical coat-clad sales girls congratulated me and I suddenly became determined to follow this thing through to the bitter end.
LA Weight Loss' stage two--or rather, the actual diet--allows you to eat very little. For my personalized program I was allotted two proteins, three vegetables, three fruits, two starches, one fat, one dairy, and two "LA Lites." On a given day, this amounted to two slices of diet bread, 4 ounces of low salt tuna with low-fat mayo (1 tbsp), one ounce of low-fat cheese, an eighth of a cantaloupe, 1 cup of lettuce with 1 rib of celery and of a medium carrot, 6 ounces of chicken (weight before cooking, and yes, you need to buy a scale), a kiwi, and two LA Lite nutritional bars.
The cornerstone of this diet are these LA Lites. Basically, they're power bars designed to give you the vitamins and minerals you're missing out on, plus keep you full. And when I was on LA Weight Loss, the ONLY time I felt full was after choking down an LA Lite.
During this second consultation I received a box of LA Lites to try for free, and a packet of materials to help me with my diet: Sample menus, a daily diary to write down what I ate, and of course, paraphernalia on the entire line of expensive LA Weight Loss nutritional products--from vitamins to snacks to soups to shakes.
I was to follow my diet plan and come back within the week for another consult.
BEAUTY'S A BITCH
During these few days I was fucking starving. I would eat a tiny piece of fish, half a small baked potato, and a measured cup of lettuce while my boyfriend sat next to me gobbling up a feast and drinking a deliciously cloudy IPA. All I thought about was food. What would I eat if I wasn't dieting (a burrito, pizza, two cups of lettuce!), how long could I wait to eat my LA Lites… why the hell was I doing this? I mean, did I even care? Four hundred dollars to drop a jean size... Am I completely insane?
I made it about four successful days on the diet. During this time I worked out relentlessly (it was the only thing that took my mind off eating) and nearly passed out from hunger in a local party supply store. That night I ate eight ounces of chicken for dinner instead of six while anxiously awaiting the hunger-numbing comfort of sleep.
It was a glass of wine that sent me over the edge.
According to one of the nutritionists, if I skipped a serving of fruit, the diet allowed me to drink one three-ounce glass of wine. On an evening I'd planned to go out, I decided to trade all my fruit for wine--skipping the small apple, small orange, and nine cherries I so desperately needed.
Within minutes, the alcohol went straight to my brain. It was the first time I felt good in a week. I drank another glass of wine and another and another, then a PBR and a shot of whiskey, and then… I don't know what. After that, I didn't give a shit.
On the days leading up to my next consult I drank about 50 cans of beer, several whiskey cokes, and a number of vodka tonics. Besides alcohol, I consumed junk food in large sporadic doses--even going so far as to eat two McDonald's cheeseburgers and half a frozen pizza in the same day. I was a big, fat, drunken sicko eating shitty food, drinking shitty beer, and treating my body like a strip club urinal.
Following my bender I returned to LA Weight Loss and learned I had lost three more pounds.
Again I was congratulated (not to mention lucky to be alive) and was quickly whisked into an office by one of the svelte, tanned, high-heeled sales gals. Suddenly, a series of numbers were placed in front of me on a piece of paper. The girl explained that for only $1,100 I could purchase enough LA Lite nutritional bars to last my entire 66-week program.
Suddenly I felt like I was in the glass room at a used car dealership being suckered into an overpriced lemon.
"Huh," I said, baffled. "I can't pay that."
"Well," the girl said, "what can you pay?"
"Nothing," I said.
"Well, can you pay $200?" she said. "That should get you through the weight loss weeks."
"No," I said. "I can't."
"Don't you have a credit card?" she said.
"Yeah," I said. "But I'm not going to put $1,100 worth of nutritional bars on my credit card. I'm not going to miss rent because I had to buy power bars. I paid $400 already, I can't pay more. I don't think I want to do this."--
Seeing I was upset, the gal calmed me down and explained how I could do the program without purchasing the LA Lites. This amounted to my plan including something like one more starch a day, and one more vegetable. I'd be even hungrier than I was before--and I knew where that got me. I agreed to do what she said, left the office, and then went out for a sub sandwich.
APATHY: A CHEAPER WAY TO GO
I mailed my contract back to LA Weight Loss that day, asking for whatever money they would return to me. In the end, losing five pounds cost 167 bucks--but the education was worth it. I can't pay someone money to make me thin, and thinking so only made me an easy sucker. If it's thinness I want, then I shouldn't have just eaten a bowl of leftover Indian food for breakfast, and I shouldn't have gone to a movie instead of the gym. But today, for some reason, I just don't care--and lucky for me, not caring is always completely free.