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A new year can mean only one thing: A new fad diet

By APRILL BRANDON
Dec. 28, 2010 at 6:28 a.m.


It's almost a new year, folks. A bright new shiny year with a bright new shiny clean slate on which we will all make bright new shiny vows to become healthier and get our lives in order (which will last an entire week-and-a-half before we dive right back into our old habits of drinking 4,000 calorie lattes for breakfast and climbing into even more soul-crushing debt).

Ah, yes, 'tis truly the most wonderful time of the year.

This is especially true for women who, like me, use these last few days leading up to New Year's picking out which ridiculous and possibly dangerous new diet fad we'll be trying out in an effort to shed those pesky 10 (re: 40) pounds we've packed on since Thanksgiving.

Oh sure, deep down we know it probably won't work. In fact, there's a good 99.999-percent chance it won't work. But that's what makes the week between Christmas and New Year's so wonderful. That's the time where you spend hours planning out your new diet and exercise regimen in minute detail and yet, don't actually have to do any of it yet. You get to daydream about the results and how great you will look prancing on a beach with your new teeny-tiny bronzed body before the actual crushing reality that the diet is unsustainable hits.

Not to mention, how can we possibly resist trying out a brand new diet that has apparently revolutionized weight loss. And promises to help you shed the 30 pounds it took five years to gain in only 28 days. And makes your skin look younger. And requires no exercise. And balances your checkbook. And actually changes the structure of your face so that you look like Kate Moss.

I mean, come on. How could you not give it a shot?

Well, obviously not me. To say that I am no stranger to fad diets is an understatement. In fact, it's a so-far-under-it's-practically-Australian statement.

For instance, in college, I tried the 2-4-6-8 Diet, where you eat 200 calories one day, 400 the next, etc, in an effort to jump start your metabolism. All it did for me, however, was just make me "hangry" (a scary combination of hungry and angry).

For my cousin Carrie's wedding, I took it up a notch and decided to give Trim Spa a whirl. That, alas, ended when concerned friends held an intervention for me because they thought my resulting manic behavior was actually because of crack.

After watching "Julie & Julia" and becoming obsessed with French cuisine, I promptly began the "French Women Don't Get Fat" diet, which is built on the premise that French women, despite drinking copious amounts of wine and high fat, butter-soaked food, still manage to maintain a size 4 thanks to portion control. Unfortunately, portion control to me meant only one bottle of Merlot and only one entire roast duck.

For breakfast.

I even attempted the Atkins Diet, which lasted all of four hours until I discovered that beer has carbs. My foray into the Cabbage Soup diet lasted almost as long, until I actually tried cabbage soup and realized I'd rather die a painful and obesity-related death than ever have to eat cabbage soup again.

So why do we keep doing it? Considering the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results, does this mean myself and my fellow fad dieters are completely super-nut crazy? Especially since in this day and age, science has proven over and over again that the only way to truly lose weight permanently is to eat healthy and exercise regularly?

Yes. Yes, we are.

But that's the magic of the New Year. For right now, we can still delude ourselves into thinking that eating 1,800 calories of Twinkies every day is actually a viable and long-lasting solution to weight loss. And that we actually will get up at 6 every morning to do sunrise yoga. And that we will finally kick our seven-Diet-Cokes-a-day habit for good.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Aprill Brandon is a reporter for the Advocate. She'll see you bright and early at yoga class on Jan. 1. Probably.

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