A firsthand account of a one-time colonic.
The billion dollar weight-loss industry is booming like acne on a hormone-riddled teenage boy, and there are no signs of it slowing down. As long as there are wedding dresses to fit into, bikinis to look good in, and ex-boyfriends to make merry, products and services promising the svelte figure of a prepubescent girl will have a lucrative place in our world.
As a victim of 20 years of I-have-no-discipline-and-I-procrastinate-eating-healthily-but-need-to-be-thin-this-weekend dieting research, I’m here to bestow some useful yet non-expert advice: never get a colonic for weight loss.
If someone told me I could lose weight by crawling on all fours through hot coals every morning, I’d have some seriously callused kneecaps and a keen hatred for BBQs. Similar to donuts, cheese, and a good glass of wine, weight loss snake-oil is a weakness of mine that borders on addiction. When you live in a weight-conscious city like Los Angeles, searching for a miracle weight loss cure is modus operandi. From grapefruits and cabbage soup, to cayenne pepper and lemon juice, to infomercial exercise products to carb-cutting and the good ole chew and spit – I’ve tried it all short of anorexia and foreign diet pills.
So when my friend told me how she lost “5 pounds of feces” in one colonic session it was no surprise that I was on her therapist’s table in a bunless gown with no underwear on before I could Google the word “colonic.” Had I researched the treatment like a normal person before making the appointment, I would have discovered that colon hydrotherapy utilizes special equipment and tubes to inject water into your colon via your rectum. This is the kind of information you want to know before it’s being done to you.
As I innocently lay on the table, Sonja, a Ukrainian woman with more hair on her forearms then on her head, started snapping on latex gloves and lubing up a 6-inch plastic disposable tube attached to what looked like a giant electric toothbrush with a hose attached. Quickly I begin to scan the walls for any sort of diagram illustrating how this process worked, or for some sort of certificate or diploma; I figured if my manicurist has one, this woman should, too.
“Roll over,” she said in her thick accent, the smell of onions and sauerkraut from her lunch distracting me long enough not to realize what she was doing. SLURP. The plastic tube was in.
I’m going to avoid any sort of medical terms because I don’t know any, and the experience was not what I would describe as medicinal or healing in any way. In layman’s terms, it felt like my body was a water balloon and she stuck a hose up my ass to fill it. Before I could come up with an excuse as to why I couldn’t continue with the treatment, 100-degree water started to pump through the tube. “This is going to fill your body cavity. The more the better, so let me know when you can’t take it anymore,” she said. At first I felt a calming warmth, but was then overcome with a feeling of the worst case of diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, and a hatred for all things beautiful all at once.
Sweat started to drip down my face.
“STOP!” I yelled. I couldn’t take it anymore. Then she told me she was going to release the water, and to keep an eye on the tube to see what was coming out of me. The excitement on Sonja’s face felt out of place; it was like she was giving me a sonogram only it wasn’t a baby we were looking at, it was a turd. There it was. Christmas dinner from 1983, gone. I was attempting to find the positive in this traumatic situation, but no amount of “mind over matter” thinking, dim lighting, faux flowers, potpourri, or Yanni playing softly on the ipod dock speakers in the background over the hum of the poop machine could make this entire experience okay. She was able to repeat the inflation and release process two more times before I cried “uncle” and threw in the towel. She then attempted to console me by telling me that first-timers always struggle.
SLIP. The tube was out.
When I got home, I ran to the computer to read up on what miracle I had coming to me now that I was done suffering. According to Wikipedia, “No scientific evidence supports the alleged benefits of colon cleansing. The bowel itself is not dirty and improperly prepared or used equipment can cause infection or damage to the bowel.” What the *@$#? Not only did I not lose a pound, but I spent the next three days farting water.
As an intelligent woman who knows better, I’m embarrassed to say I succumbed yet again to the false hope of an easy weight loss answer. I am not going to blame colonics, my friend, Sonja, or even the weight-loss industry because it’s not evil. Like the tobacco industry, it’s built on people’s conscious decisions to ignore the truth. In the end, I deserved to be out $125 and to have a memory burned so deep into my soul that I quiver whenever I start my electric toothbrush or see a lawn hose.
Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.