Since we’re talking about all things drug-related this week, it seemed as good a time as any to tackle the topic of…diet drugs!
I have gotten some e-mails regarding this topic. Do I recommend them? Do they work? I know that most people give a pretty stock answer to this (“Never! No!”) but, like I always tell guys…let’s go a little deeper, shall we?
First, do I recommend them? Of course not. I really don’t, and not in the way that health magazines don’t but advertise them anyway, or in the way that personal trainers don’t but then hawk them anyway (cough, Jillian Michaels, cough). I simply don’t.
Do they work? Well, that’s kind of an interesting story…
My junior spring of college, I was sad. I don’t even know if I knew how sad I was! In between all the good things life at MSU had to offer, I was a mess over a guy who, as Julia put it, made a career out of disrespecting me. I was certain that if I could just lose weight, he’d stop screwing other girls and realize we were meant to be together. I wasn’t overweight, I was just average, up a few pounds from spending the previous semester eating/drinking my feelings over said guy. I decided that in order to make him love me, I needed to lose 15 pounds before Formal in the spring. So I decided to try diet pills, which you can buy at pretty much any drug store.
Do they work? Yes, they work. You know what else works? Cocaine, meth, and parasites you get on trips to Mexico.
They work because the drugs completely kill your appetite. And this isn’t a little, “Oh, I’m not even hungry for an afternoon snack!” This is like, “Oh it’s 5 PM and all I ate today is a hard-boiled egg.”
First, the high doses of caffeine (even if they say they don’t have it, trust me, they’ve all got some form of speed in them) make your heart speed up so fast you shake. It’s like coffee jitters…times a thousand. I’d get on the treadmill and run for 10 minutes, but then I’d have to stop because my heart rate was out of control. Oh, and because I was truly running on empty.
Because they kill your appetite, they make you feel like shit. Of course you’re not going to want to eat when you feel like your head is splitting open, which is how you feel. I didn’t feel so much cloudy or foggy as I felt, like…shattered. My brain felt cramped, but then like it was breaking into a million pieces. And you know how you get HANGRY when you don’t eat? Um, yeah, there you go. But actually, I didn’t feel so much angry as I just got sad. Food is joyful. Not eating is depressing. And when you’re sad enough to take diet pills to improve your love life (Jesus, even writing that is disturbing), you don’t need to get even sadder by not eating.
So yes, I dropped weight pretty fast. I was at my goal by Formal…and the guy still didn’t love me like I wanted him to. (Of course he didn’t. OF COURSE HE FUCKING DIDN’T, Rachel.) Then I went to NYC a few days after the semester ended to intern at a fashion magazine, and, still sad about the guy, and now in an environment that wasn’t exactly pro-healthy body image, I kept on keepin’ on with my little dolls.
And then I realized…sometimes they don’t work! Sometimes I’d take them (and you take like ten a day) and I wouldn’t feel that jittery, frantic, painful feeling that made me fine with not eating. So then they were just a huge waste of money — because they cost like $30 a bottle, which lasts between two weeks and a month. So that always sucked, but, like, really, it’s not like you can call the Better Business Bureau on the shady ass makers of non-FDA approved diet pills.
But for the most part, they did work. I didn’t eat. I was so anemic that it took me 15 cups of coffee to get through a day without falling asleep at the copier. My skin faded to yellow, and then gray. And I lost more weight. And then you know what else I lost? MY HAIR.
The day I looked in the mirror and realized my hair had a big hole in it was the day I realized I needed to be done. I mean, my hair…NO. I’m half-black and half-Suburban, plus I’m a Leo with Leo rising, so I take the whole concept of having a mane pretty seriously. Like most women, my hair is important to my self-image. And when it comes to choosing between being skinny or having good hair, I’m going to choose having good hair, no questions asked.
So, my hair stylist cut off about four inches (thank goodness Katie Holmes and Rihanna had just done the same, otherwise I would have been bawling in the salon) and I realized it was time to stop my little Valley of the Dolls existence. I started feeding my body and hair, running, lifting weights, doing pilates, and eating healthier foods. (Although any foods at this point were an upgrade.) Even though I had lost all that weight after high school, I had forgotten what it was like to work out to feel good and to eat good, fresh food. I started practicing what I call “positive nutrition” — the idea that what you put in is more important than what you take out.
After a while, my skin got color again and I stopped having to go to bed wearing six layers, blankets, and keep the air shut off in July. I was so happy and so healthy. But it wasn’t always easy to choose the healthier route. When I returned to NYC post-grad, I did have a second go-round with diet pills. Still, that time, more than before, I found that they really didn’t work. I didn’t lose weight; I just got ripped off. In that case, poverty trumped vanity and I was just kind of over it.
So yes, I suppose they do work, sometimes, if your hair, health, and mental and physical well-being doesn’t matter to you.
Oh and FYI that guy? Yeah, he never did love me like I wanted him to, no matter how thin I got. No surprise there — it was never about my weight, of course. However. He may have made a career out of disrespecting me; but, well, imma bout to make a career out of telling it like it is. Hope he likes my book.
The moral of the story: Don’t take diet pills and don’t chase guys who get a kick out of telling you about all the other girls they are screwing. Both are pure sources of fucking misery and you really deserve better.