Previous Next

Photo: mallas

And you thought the Master Cleanse was nuts.

MOST NIGHTS before bed, my old roommate Ann would brew a cup of tea and we would sit on the porch, chatting. I would shake my head at her mug and drink ice water. This was in Thailand, where I could barely stand a warm shower. But one evening, it got chilly, and I asked her to make me a cup, too.

“Really?” She grinned, pulling the biggest mug off the shelf. “That’s a great idea.”

We sipped our tea together, watching the neighbour’s kids playing in their driveway. The tea was gross, if I’m honest–a Thai herbal brew that tasted of celery salt. But she sipped hers happily, and so I tried to do the same.

That night, I got up hourly for punitive trips to the bathroom. It felt like my intestines were armed with knives and were trying to cut themselves free from my body. Pain and toilet and more pain.

Ann found me the next morning, pale and whimpering on the couch. “I might be allergic to something in your Thai tea.”

She was calm, “oh, I did give you a lot, for your first time. It’s a diet tea.” She looked at my stomach. It was, admittedly, flatter. “Didn’t you know?”

Thanks roomie, for the huge dose of laxatives.

She might have enjoyed these products, too.

Aoqili diet soap. Photo from

From East Asia, diet soap

The Claim: Aoqili‘s popular fat burning soap contains elements of rare and powerful (unnamed) aquatic plants, which enter your skin through osmosis to remove excess fat and body fluid. The company claims that study participants lost 20% of their body weight through bathing alone.

Really? Its main natural ingredients are seaweed powder and aloe, so I’m sure the stuff is perfectly effective, you know, for washing. You can’t wash away fat with soap and more than you can wash bad memories out of your brain with shampoo.

From Japan, weight loss sunglasses

The claim: If you wear blue-tinted sunglasses, all your food will look dull and gross. According to the product’s website, blue is the least appetizing colour on the spectrum, so your food cravings will fizzle right out. Also, it’s a calming colour, so you’re less inclined to stress-eat.

Really? My stomach has outsmarted my brain countless times. It could identify a brownie a la mode in green light, orange light, no light at all. Unless you get matching blue noseplugs and mouthguard to block out the other senses, the effectiveness of these shades is questionable.

Korean face roller. Photo from

From South Korea, slimming face roller

The claim: Also popular in Japan and Taiwan, the face roller tones and melts all that stubborn face fat that’s keeping you ugly. By kneading your cheeks with plastic spikes every day, you can achieve the coveted Korean “V-line” face shape.

Really? As a teacher in Korea, let me say that few things are more distracting than the sight of your teenage students writing careful notes with one hand and face-rolling the heck out of their raw red cheeks with the other. I’m pretty sure that if fat could be burned by pressure alone, office workers would all have tiny bottoms from sitting all day.

From the UK, the diet patch

The claim: These patches are comprised of natural ingredients that fight fat and control cravings. The problem is that other weird diet drugs, when taken orally, are neutralized or destroyed by that party-pooper liver of yours. The diet patch allows these active ingredients to enter directly into your bloodstream without your meddlesome liver filtering any foreign toxins.

Really? This might be the laziest weight loss product on the market. Yes, the site gives a comprehensive roster of natural fat-burning herbs contained in the patches. Still, any semblance of credibility is dashed by product success stories where folks claim to lose weight when “my haphazard eating and exercise habits did not change.”

The magnetic diet ring. Photo from

From Mexico, the magnetic diet ring

The claim: The two magnetic terminals on either end of this coiled ring trigger acupressure points that stimulate weight loss. This ring is featured heavily on Mexican infomercials, where vendors claim you can target weight loss in your abs, arms, or glutes, depending on which finger dons the ring.

Really? I don’t debunk the merits of acupressure, but I doubt it can remedy obesity singehandedly. Anyone losing weight on this plan is probably doing so because the ring is a constant reminder that yes, you’re on a diet. No, don’t pick up those cookies. Yes, pick up that cucumber. Atta girl.

From Australia, pranic nourishment

The claim: Iconic “breathatarian” guru and advocate Jasmuheen has published a dozen books on the lifestyle of pranic nourishment. Her plan claims that people can sustain solely on prana, the energy of sunlight, and an odd nibble here and there. She has survived on approximately 300 calories a day for the past 14 years, stating famously that “my body runs on a different kind of nourishment.”

Really? Australian 60 Minutes challenged Jasmuheen to demonstrate her “pranic nourishment” on their show. After 48 hours, the supervising medic observed signs of high blood pressure, stress, and dehydration. She claimed that these symptoms were from the polluted city air. Mm-hmm.

At least three deaths in Australia have been linked to Jasmuheen’s breathatarian teachings.

Calorie Off socks. Photo from

From China, weight loss socks

The Claim: Calorie Off weight loss compression socks and pantyhose can burn over 400 calories an hour. The wavy patterns in the fabric create friction and compression, which tones your legs and burns away your unsightly leg flab. The fabric also features what translates ambiguously as “natural plants ingredients slimming extract.”

Really? Hold up, you can’t just sit around watching YouTube while wearing the socks, Jacko. Wearers are advised to walk for 50 minutes daily to attain that 400 calorie burn. Depending on your weight, a brisk walk could burn around 400 calories no matter what brand of socks are holding in your calf-fat.

From the USA, a horseback riding simulator

The Claim: The OSIM igallop simulates the exercise of horseback riding, working your abs, hips, bum and thighs. The constant motion encourages balance and coordination by activating your natural instinct of not falling off of stuff.

Really? I thought it was an SNL sketch at first. Still, I suppose it is exercise. My neighbour’s dog does a similar workout every day with a couch cushion. His abs look pretty good.



About The Author

Anne Merritt

Anne Merritt has lived in Canada, Europe, and Asia. She teaches ESL, writes, haggles, hikes, and wears sunscreen fanatically. Her work has appeared in The Globe and Mail,, and The Compass. Check out her blog.

  • Aerie9

    Ha… thanks for the laugh. :)

  • ciableu

    OMG!  lol!  Funny stuff, Anne.

  • Gerard ~ GQtrippin

    Let’s not forget crazy workout tools like the awesome shake weight!

  • Nickimelt

    Wow… basically they motorized the monkey rocker, and called it an exercise machine for your core.

  • Candice

    “My neighbour’s dog does a similar workout every day with a couch cushion. His abs look pretty good.”
    That line kills me, KILLS ME.

  • Satu

    Ahh, the pranic nourishment. I still think the easiest way to lose weight is to go to India, eat dodgy street food and get amoebic dysentery. It’s not much fun but you will look a lot slimmer after.

  • Lindsey

    I always wondered what those face rollers were for when I saw them in Japan. I always thought that they were just a “face massage”. It’s crazy how people will do such ridiculous things to lose weight instead of exercising or just walking more.

  • Luxury Accommodations Blog

    I strongly believe that everyone who wants to lose some weight should start by exercising( cardio, jogging, swimming) everyday for one hour and they will see amazing changes in only one month.

  • Lafjohn Wify

    The best way to begin your low carb meal plan is to toss all sugar and starch laden foods including cookies, baked goods, white rice and pasta. Replace those items with low carb options that you can eat throughout the day, such as fresh vegetables, lean meats and low-fat dairy. Thanks.

  • Alexandra Tilton

    I lost 80 pounds in less than a year entirely on my own with only calorie restriction. It’s called willpower.

I stumbled upon Sandy Balls and was immediately disturbed.
SS Coachella vs Jam Cruise vs Soul Train Cruise
The only answer I could come up with is that I was too embarrassed not take them off.
“Sounds terrible,” I say. “Yeah,” she agrees.
Carissa McAtee shares with us how she overcame control issues and self criticism in order...
Shagnasty Island: It’s quite likely there’s a porno named after this island.
Christine Mcnab reveals you can pack your practice into surprising places.
I say "No, thank you" to the offered pastry and accept the quizzical, hurt look from the... seems more like a digestion preventative than a digestion aide. I guess if it can...
Jumbo jets, train cars, covered wagons, and the ocean floor -- would you sleep here?