I recently read an article about an Iowa woman who intentionally ate a tapeworm in an effort to lose weight. Yes, you read it right. Homegirl swallowed a living tapeworm whole all because she wanted to drop a few pounds.

I have to admit when I first read about it I judged her. I mean, I judged her entire life. I figured that only someone desperate and pitiful would ever do such a thing.

But then, something hit me which caused my judgment to turn to empathy. I started to look beyond the surface, beyond her crazy act, and began to wonder why she did what she did. At that moment I realized that the tapeworm lady and I had something in common—I, too, have done some pretty extreme things to lose weight. I know what it’s like to want to lose weight so bad that I’d do anything to make it happen. While I‘ve never eaten a tapeworm, but I definitely have done some odd and not-too-healthy things to lose weight—and I suspect that some of you have, too. Maybe your “tapeworm” was a diet pill or some ridiculous fad diet that promised you’d lose 10 pounds in two days.

You ate the soup.
You swallowed the fatburner.
You, like the woman from Iowa, were desperate.
And so was I.
Like the lady in Iowa, we wanted something, anything to do for us what our willpower could not.
We were desperate.

In college I experimented with diet pills. Those things had me acting like a straight crack head. I jittered uncontrollably. My heart seemed to beat out of my chest. I couldn’t think straight and I had to resist the urge to randomly bite people. It was bad, my friends. Still, I kept taking the pills because I wanted to be thin and I wanted to be thin with the quickness.

Eventually, the pills started irritating my tummy to the point that I felt like there was a hole in the lining of my stomach. I just knew that some grapes that I had eaten slipped through said “hole.” I could have sworn I felt the grapes as they bounced freely throughout my body.  Now, if that’s not crackhead-ish, I don’t know what is. Needless to say, I gave up the pills. As I threw the pills in the trash I remember feeling this overwhelming sense of hopelessness. I felt as if I’d never, ever lose the weight. And for a long time, I didn’t.  Looking back, I was never going to drop a single pound as long as I opted to take the easy way out and these extreme measures.

That was the issue with the lady in Iowa. And maybe, just maybe, that’s the issue with you.

Here’s the skinny: diet pills and fad diets are no substitute for healthy eating and exercise. Even if you do lose weight, you’re not likely to maintain it in the long run. If you want to lose weight, ladies, you must do the work. Put down the cookies and pick up a carrot. Take that desperation and harness it into the power of discipline. Start to focus on your health and not on your size. It took me years to figure this out for myself. But today, a full 10 years after my dreadful diet pill debacle, I’m so glad I decided to make a permanent lifestyle change. I’m 30 pounds down since January and not because of diet pills or that ridiculous cookie diet. I did the work. I changed my lifestyle. I ate well and got off my butt. I saw results and you can too. It was hard—really hard— but so worth it. Put down your “tapeworm,” ladies, set realistic goals and let’s do the work.

Have you ever gone to extremes to drop a few pounds? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.


Briana McCarthy is a writer, blogger and editor of The Mane Source. When she’s not blogging about hair and beauty, she’s enjoying her Chicago hometown with her hubby and two children. Chat her up on Facebook and Instagram.