Every generation thinks that they are the first ones to discover unique ways to lose weight. As I am about to demonstrate, this is simply untrue. In fact, your mother and her mother before her, were probably all participating in some kind of crazy fitness fad in their day.
It would also appear, that as much as things have changed, they’ve stayed the same. Perhaps we’ve swapped the ‘Vibration machine for the ‘Ab Swing Pro’ and the ‘Thin Thighs in 30 days’ regime for the 5:2 diet, but the one thing that remains static is that we are trying to discover rapid ways to lose weight. Preferably with little effort.
Now clearly there is no time limit on these fads, as evidenced by this advertisement from 1907
But we don’t even have to go as far back as the early 1900s to find crazy diets, bogus exercise regimes and bizarre apparatus’. We only need to cast our gaze back a couple of decades.
THE FITNESS EQUIPMENT
Look, I’m not quite sure where to start with the above advertisement from 1972. Actually yes I do, I’ll start with the Sauna Pants. Because at least I can almost see the logic in those. Almost. Who doesn’t want to don a plastic suit and then proceed to get so hot that they literally sweat the fat out of themselves? No one that I know.
Then maybe we can work our way up to the ‘inflatable exercise ‘Air Jeans’. And no, I can’t see the difference between those and the ‘Air Shorts’ either, but let’s for arguments sake assume the jeans somehow inflate to the ankles. I’m not going to pretend to understand how by ‘gently massaging’ your inner thighs these "pants" made people lose weight.
More crazy fads: Snorting chocolate: All the taste without the calories or just dumb?
After scouring the internet I can’t seem to find any credible evidence that these things ever actually worked. I remember walking in on my Aunty using hers once and I felt liked I'd witnessed something dirty. From what I can make out, they were meant to shake the fat off your thighs, bum or wherever else you managed to hook it to yourself. Bingo wings? Pfft, apparently all you had to do was strap them up to this baby and they would be vibrated away. Or something.
This Invigorating Body Massager.
I’m not saying that this contraption belongs in Christian Grey’s ‘Red room’ but it does look kind of kinky. Although, personally, I do like how your whole exercise regime would have been done sitting or leaning and basically not doing much at all.
Dr Atkins Diet Revolution
This diet involves "limited consumption of carbohydrates to switch the body's metabolism from metabolising glucose as energy over to converting stored body fat to energy. This process, called ketosis, begins when insulin levels are low; in normal humans, insulin is lowest when blood glucose levels are low (mostly before eating)." Yeah, look I don’t really know what that means either but from what I can gather, potatoes were OUT and loads of salad and lean mean were IN. First sold to the public in 1972, this diet is still around today albeit in a modified version of his initial book ‘Dr Atkins, Diet Revolution’.
The eat more sugar Diet
In 1971, instead of the ‘I Quit Sugar’ diet they had the ‘I Inhale Sugar’ diet.. Now THAT’S a diet I could get onboard with.
The Cabbage Soup Diet
Popular in the ‘80s,The cabbage soup diet was/is a radical weight loss diet designed around heavy consumption of a low-calorie cabbage soup over seven days. It resulted in a remarkable amount of weight being lost but was criticised for being more about water loss, than fat. People were also, you know, fainting and it was pretty soon obvious that it was unsafe. You do have to feel a little sorry for the poor people who had to share a confined space with these people too...
The Grapefruit Diet
There are a lot of different variations of this diet but the one thing they have in common is the grapefruit which is thought to have ‘fat burning enzymes’. Good, they would want to because they taste like bitter lemons masquerading as oranges. Back in the ‘40s, the diet consisted of a cup of black coffee and a grapefruit at each meal with a small salad and lean meat dish allowed occasionally. Mmmm, delicious! It went under many guises over the years, The Hollywood Diet, The Scarsdale and a few other variations of these. It really does need to be recognised as one of the most batshit crazy and unsustainable diets ever invented though so let's take a moment to reflect on that. There is no DOUBT that you lose weight while on it but I also suspect, you lose the will to live.
When Jane Fonda released ‘Jane Fonda’s Workout’ in 1982, it became the largest selling video of all time. The best bit? This has totally stood the test of time (except for the unitard). From all accounts, this is is still a great workout and is often used by thousands of her devotees today. You really need to watch Jane in action to appreciate this. She truly is a work of art.
What a triple threat THIS guy was. The flamboyant Simmons not only had an aerobics video range titled ‘Sweatin' to the Oldies' ‘ he opened a gym and later on, a salad bar named ‘Ruffage’ Geddit? Roughage. Anyway that didn't work out so well. Simmons' rather energetic exercise program and profile reflects the era however, magnificently.
Oh lordy. For reasons that have never been made apparent, women started wearing unitards with g-strings over the top of them back in the ‘70s and 80s. Men too started wearing their undies on the outside, perhaps inspired by Superman? Leg warmers at least had a practical use. The g-banger was just all kinds of wrong. Let us pray to the fashion gods that they never make a return to our shores.
I know I've missed a whole lot of insane diets and crazy exercise machines in this list today. Feel free to remind us all of the fads you can remember and add them into the comments.