Do you remember the “Fat Farm”? Believe it or not, it was the forerunner of the modern health resort / spa of today!
It used to be, that when you went on vacation you were encouraged to gain weight – especially when you lived in a city with lots of pollution and where healthy, fresh food was rarely available – a vacation in the country with lots of exercise, fresh air, warm cow milk and more was the ideal “cure” to get you back to “normal”. So, then what is normal?
The Fat Farms of the 1930’s in the US were mainly for the rich and famous (Al Capone had his own hide-away in Palm Springs), where they would go on a strict 600-700 calorie diet (for men it was a bit more 900-1200) and they were encouraged to hike up mountains to lose more fat and liquid. These crash diets worked wonders, as many of the celebrities not only needed to eat less, but also drink less – or better “dry-out”! After a week at one of these resorts, they would return to Hollywood, Chicago, New York, etc. slim and trip with a deep tan – looking like new (probably even feeling a lot better). And so, the merry-go-round begins, as they start celebrating their good looks and well-being and in no time, they have gained the weight back and even more pounds than they originally lost.
Today’s crash diets do the same and are as harmful as ever – people feel like jojos – with their weight going up and down, which puts a lot of strain on their heart and other organs; the effect on their skin, which eventually loses its elasticity when stretched too often adds years to their looks!
Today’s health spa resorts have come a long way since these “jojo” days! 90% of people going to a resort / destination spa go for the #1 priority – to lose weight! Weight loss today is gained through healthy diets, combinations of foods that cancel each other out in calorie counts, combined with exercise and a good nights’ sleep. The aim of these spas is to teach their guests a “healthy lifestyle” – behavior modification – something they can take back home with them and apply in their every day life. Many of the resorts have teaching kitchens and the chef actually takes them to the supermarket to teach them how to shop (read labels) for lunch and dinner!
Some spa resorts offer juice fasting, a more drastic way to start losing pounds, i.e. get a jump start. In the contrary to the healthy diet and exercise program, a fasting program does need medical supervision, in order to assure the client does not experience dehydration or other side effects.
Don’t want to go through all of that? Too much trouble, time and efforts? Well, modern science has invented and created many devices that can help you lose weight and look your best. Mud or herbal wraps will not only detoxify your body, but will take inches off your thighs and waste! Of course, these will come back as soon as you resume your normal diet; weight loss belts and other devices allure have the same effect in “contouring” your body. These are recommended for temporary, fast solutions, but in order to achieve true and lasting weight loss, you can either have a complicated operation whereas they tie up your stomach, or you can opt to go to one of the many spas and learn how to change your habits and start eating healthy, get moving and enjoy life!
And that is normal!
By Hannelore R. Leavy (Founder & Executive Director – Day Spa Association WorldWide, International Medical Spa Association)