Sunday, August 17, 2008

The 600 Calorie Diet

Like most every other woman in the world, I have tried many methods of weight loss since the ripe old age of fourteen. Why fourteen? Probably because the summer I was thirteen I spent a month with my brother helping out at the donut shop. Bad deal, that one. And some really, really fabulous donuts. Did I say some? Because what I should have said was dozens and dozens of really fabulous donuts.

Those donuts put me on a path. A wide, spacious path filled with people who, like myself, are on an eternal search for a magical formula for losing weight. There have been some doozies. Some are familiar to all, i.e. the cabbage soup diet. Some were a bit more unusual. Anyone out there ever try the Beverly Hills diet? For the first twenty-four hours you eat nothing but watermelon. As much of it as you want - but nothing else. You think you like watermelon? Go ahead and try nothing but for twenty-four hours,then we'll talk. Day two had something to do with pineapple, but I never made it that far.

My favorite, however, was the 600 calorie diet. It was sent to Kelly and I by Koni (her mother, my sister) while we were at college. Just the name instills faith in the plan - how could you fail with only 600 calories a day! But wait - there's more. This is a diet with some science behind it. It's one of those tricky little plans that supposedly fools your sleepy metabolism into becoming a calorie burning machine. How does it (supposedly) work? Read on.

Your supposed to eat 600 calories for three days. Then, just before your body goes into starvation mode, on day four you bump it up to 900 calories. Woo Hoo. You stay there for days five, six, and seven. Then, for the next week you get a whopping 1200 calories.

Now, this sounds bad enough, but it gets worse. Koni couldn't find the actual information, so she just sent us her version. Aside from a slight problem with the numbers, she was right on. Her version had us starting out with 300 calories. Yes, that would be no more than 300 calories a day for three days.

Kelly and I were not scared. We had tried Koni's weight loss programs before and were still alive, if not any thinner. (The Beverly Hills diet was also courtesy of Koni). Koni had included a list with lots of low calorie foods and there exact caloric worth. Fearlessly, we took the plunge. Those first three days went something like this:

Wake up, eat nothing. Go to class
Come home and have half an apple and a hard boiled egg.
Sleep to ignore the hunger.
Wake up eat the other half of the apple, and go back to class.
Come home and eat a piece of dry toast followed by a large glass of water.
We are now half way to 300.
Go back to sleep.
Wake up and eat 150 calories of something, and go to bed.

Homework no doubt suffered, but as college girls we had our priorities. I swear that every time either of us came home the other one was sleeping. It should have been called the sleep-away-the-pain diet.

Now, according to Koni's version you bump up to 600 calories on day four. Can I just say that 600 calories never looked so good? We were going to double our caloric intake - we were so excited! Recklessly, we started day four out with an entire apple. Before class. Our mid-morning break meant a hard boiled egg AND a piece of dry toast - ALL AT ONE SITTING! I think we felt full.

Then we hurried into our room for our nap. Maybe we weren't so full.

Lunch was meager, dinner was worse, and we continued to sleep the pain away while dreaming of our metabolisms kicking it into high gear and burning every ounce of excess fat from our bodies. Do you suppose the lack of food was causing disillusionment?

Somewhere around day six we got a phone call from Koni. "Hey girls, just thought you'd want to know that I found that information on the diet. Turns out you were supposed to start out with 600 calories, then go to 900, and then 1200. I thought 300 seemed a little low."

You'd think we'd have been mad. Frustrated and starved? Yes. Mad? Heck no! We had just proved we could make it for six days on 3300 calories! If we could handle the 300 calorie diet, the 600 calorie version would be a cinch. A few days off from starvation and we were ready to go.

We successfully followed the 600 calorie diet a few times that year. (The fact that it needed repeating casts doubts on its effectiveness, but it really did make you FEEL thin while you were starving.) And in case any of you are thinking of trying it, I have a few tips. Do not attempt this plan if you're life doesn't allow for numerous naps a day. DO NOT attempt if there is anyone, i.e. husband, children, dog, whatever, in your life requiring any form of service, or any amount AT ALL of patience. Take it from someone who knows, you will be unable to fulfill these requirements on less than 1200 calories a day.

No, we never saw any great improvement - aside from a few pounds that were no doubt water weight - after following this plan. No, I would not recommend anyone to try this (or any other form of voluntary starvation) to lose weight. And finally, no, I do not rely on drastic measure such as these to stay thin. Let's face it, I love food too much. What I will say for the 600 calorie diet is this - it was definitely the most memorable of all the crazy diets I've ever tried. Cabbage soup, Chinese tea, Beverly Hills, juice fast (okay, maybe we have a tie), no diet out there can possibly be as bad or as crazy as the good old 600 calorie diet!


Kelly said...

Yeah, that diet was tough and sleeping was your only saving grace. But when I went home for Christmas that year, I looked exactly as I had when I one ever knew I put on the freshman 10? 15? I don't really know because I didn't have a scale.

Anyway I remember always leaving American Heritage about 1/2 of the way through every day to use the potty-thanks to the 32oz of water I would guzzle before I left home for class. FYI it takes about :45 min for 32oz of water to hit your bladder. Plan accordingly.

Natalie said...

LOL! I suppose that diet ties right in with the lack of grocery money in college. It couldn't possibly cost very much!

Chelsea said...

Sounds like you had alot of will power to have lasted that long.

SevenVillageIdiarts said...

This is too funny. . . I think I just ate 20,000 calories for lunch. . .that big glass of buttermilk that I drank to make my kids think I was tough, didn't help any. Thanks for commenting on my blog. I love your sister's, now I'll have another subject to stalk!

Stephanie said...

I remember you guys on this diet and I think I thought you were crazy. I do remember you sleeping a lot and I remember Kelly had her initials on her eggs. That's funny that you brought up this memory. Oh, I should just go through my journal from when we were roomies and jot down a few of my own on my blog. :)

by AnnieValentine said...

Yeah. I think Kendra and I tried it. We ate 400 calories for breakfast the first day and went out for a milkshake.

Jen said...

I figured you would remember this one! And I'd love to hear any of your memories. Or Kelly could blog about how you used to ring the doorbell EVERYTIME you came home. She really loved that.

Jen said...

Steph, that last comment was aimed at you. Just so you know. It wasn't aimed at you Annie. I already know all about your memories.

Kelly said...

Oh Steph, we could just blog about college, that was so fun and I have a ton of memories! That was a great year. Remember girls...Serving with Smiles!!!

Jen said...

Okay, I think we should all do our favorite Serving with Smiles memory! Steph, you get dibs on the bleaching of the mustache story. I have to crack up just thinking about that one!