Spring Break Diets: What Some Will Do to “Get Skinny Quick”

3.21.2014

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Sitting at the bar in Dempsey’s Burger Pub with an Odell ‘5 Barrel’ Pale Ale in hand, Cameron* Long, a third year KU Law School student from Overland Park, shifted uncomfortably as he described the intense diet he went on for spring break two years ago.

“The first three days were absolutely miserable,” Cameron said. “The first day I could only eat fruit. I was starving and I felt like I was torturing myself.”

Cameron and his friend John* were desperate to get in shape and impress the ladies for their trip to Panama City, Fl., in 2012. They did a quick Google search online, found the General Motors (GM) Diet and decided to give it a try. The GM Diet was developed for employees and dependents of General Motors, Inc. with a grant from the FDA. The management’s intention was to facilitate a wellness and fitness program for everyone, according to the website Cameron and John used.

Cameron said he wouldn’t have done it if John didn’t do it with him. He said it’s just kind of embarrassing to be on a diet if you’re a guy.

During the first seven days of Cameron and John’s diet they had to abstain from all alcohol and drink 10 glasses of water each day.

Cameron, who is 5-foot-7 and about 160 pounds, is not overweight, according to the Rush University Medical Center’s Height and Weight Chart. Neither Cameron nor John needed to lose weight; they just wanted to diet and look good because, well, it was spring break.

“We thought it would be fun, and even though guys don’t like to admit it, we care about being in shape too,” Cameron said.

He said he still drank whiskey on occasion and was able to lose 15 pounds in one week. He said the whiskey definitely got to him faster and he felt lightheaded every time he drank but he couldn’t resist; he had to have some enjoyment.

Cameron laughed and took a sip of his beer.

“It was a week of hell and I gained it all back immediately, but if you wanna lose weight quick, I promise this works,” Cameron said.

 

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The GM Diet is just one of many crazy diets students experiment with to lose those extra pounds before beach week. Kelsey Fortin, health educator in the resource office at Watkins Memorial Health Center at the University of Kansas, said students are swarming in early March, asking about fad diets.

General Motors:
Day 1: Fruit only
Day 2: Vegetables only
Day 3: A mixture of fruits and vegetables
Day 4: Bananas and milk
Day 5: Beef and tomatoes
Day 6: Beef and vegetables
Day 7: Brown rice, fruit juice and vegetables

Atkins:
Limited carbohydrates and no fruit
Heavy on meat, fish, cheese and vegetables

Cabbage Soup:
Eat as much cabbage soup as you want for
seven days
Recipe and directions here

Paleo:
Based on the concept that the optimal diet is
the one to which we are genetically adapted.
Cannot eat: dairy, grain, soft drinks, fruit
juices, fatty meats, salty foods, sweets,
potatoes or starchy vegetables, limited fruit
Can eat: eggs, meat, fish, olive oil, sweet
potatoes only, bananas and unsalted nuts

The most popular spring break diets this year, Fortin said, are the Atkins Diet, the Cabbage Soup Diet and the Paleo Diet.

“With all fad diets, you will see results when you first start,” Fortin said. “But they are very unhealthy, not a long-term solution and most students will just gain the weight back the minute they stop.”

Fortin said she gets tons of students coming to her desk wanting a “quick fix” and she tells them that’s not how it works. She said if people really want to be healthy and lose weight they need to take the time to learn about a balanced diet and incorporate healthy foods into their lifestyle every day. Fortin said all food groups are important and balance is key.

Katie*, a senior from Edina, Minn., is another student who longed for a get-skinny- quick diet. Katie said with her busy lifestyle, it was hard to stick to limiting food, so she tried the Grapefruit Diet.

She said she read somewhere that if you eat half a grapefruit before every meal, you can naturally lose weight because of the excess water filling you up.

“I was so sick of grapefruit by the end of the week, but I guess it was worth it. I lost 5 pounds, just in time for bikini season,” Katie said.

Amanda*, one of Katie’s friends and a senior from Naperville, Ill., said she tried the Atkins diet instead because she didn’t think the Grapefruit Diet would work. She said Atkins was extremely hard because you have to drastically lower your carb intake and you are constantly hungry.

Amanda and Katie both felt the need to go on a diet before spring break because “everybody was doing it.”

Katie said it’s hard to just eat regularly when everyone around you is on a new diet and constantly talking about it; the only way to tolerate all the diet talk is to join in too.

“Any diet that tells you to completely eliminate a food group or eat as much as you want of something is not healthy,” said Fortin, the health educator. “I call those red flag diets because most of the time people will end up gaining even more when they stop.”

Katie said she thinks the 5 pounds she lost right before spring break made no difference in the long run.

“Any weight I did lose, I gained back during spring break just from all the alcohol,” Katie said.

Amanda blushed, laughed and nodded reluctantly in agreement.

*Names have been changed.

 

-Avalon Cole

Edited and photographed by Hannah Swank

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