When Becky, 42, was invited to a fancy cocktail party with friends, she pretended she was sick.The special education assistant from the U.K. had felt insecure about her weight all her life, and, when the invitation arrived, she felt particularly heavy at nearly 200 pounds. Dreading the thought of searching for a dress that would hide her extra weight and insecurities, she experienced a moment of awakening.“I realized then that this was absolutely crazy, and I couldn’t live like this anymore,” she told YouBeauty.Like most women, Becky found dieting unsustainable. Couting calories didn’t fit with her lifestyle or her family. Her weakness was overeating—overfilling her plate, going back for seconds and comfort noshing—and diets had failed her over and over again, even when she stuck within the parameters. “I would just over-eat on the things I was allowed, and would easily gain weight when I was meaning to lose weight,” she says.
So when she came upon a new belt-like device known as the Malory Band ($40), Becky was understandably skeptical. The skinny band is worn around the belly and tightens up from expanding pressure as you eat, providing an uncomfortable reminder nudge of how much you’re ingesting. It’s not unlike wearing a corset to prevent overeating and encourage portion control.It seemed too simple and, frankly, weird. “I couldn’t see how a piece of string was going to help me, I honestly didn’t think it would work,” she confides. But with nothing to lose, Becky decided to try the band in conjunction with FITBeing’s 90-day challenge, which incorporated use of the Malory band with boot camp workout sessions, healthy eating talks and encouragement to keep a food diary.
As you can see by the pictures above, the results were staggering. Becky dropped about 60 pounds in just a few months, and reclaimed a stronger, leaner body. “When the band starts to feel tight, it tells me I’ve had enough to eat and I stop—in the past, I would have kept on eating until I hated myself,” she says. Becky combined wearing the band with her newfound love of cycling and workout classes, and says that being able to eat what she wants in smaller portions without “forbidden food” rules has been key to her success.
New York psychologist Vivian Diller, Ph.D., author of “Face It: What Women Really Feel as Their Looks Change,” treats eating disorder patients and works with many overeaters. She says a basic psychological method is at play here, that may or may not work, depending on your motivations. “The thinking behind the band is based on the very old notion that negative feedback makes you stop a behavior,” says Dr. Diller. “It works for some, and not for others. The thing is, you have to get people to commit to actually wearing the belt!
”Becky, meanwhile, has worn the band every day since she bought it, taking it off only to sleep at night. “It made me think differently about food—I didn’t think ‘I am on a diet,’ I just ate normally but reduced my portions.” she says. The band can be worn 24/7 if you’re a hardcore follower, and is made of a washable polyester fabric that can get wet in the pool, beach and shower. It has an adjustable buttonhole system that allows you to make it smaller as you lose weight.
As with most things, experts caution that one methodology doesn’t fit all. “Not everyone feels bloated when they overeat, plus they’re assuming that everyone feels it in the same place when they do bloat, which is not true,” Diller adds. And if you’re ingesting a lot of calories and fat in a physically small amount of food—say you’re putting down three chocolate bars at once—the belt isn’t going to help you there, she says.
Yet fitness expert and nutritionist Michelle Goldberg says she understands the tempting draw of the band. “I love how it allows the consumer to live their normal lifestyle—diets are temporary and unsustainable over the long term, but learning how to eat with portion control is a good lifelong habit that will help you lose or maintain goal weight,” she says.
While Goldberg says we should all ideally select more nutritious foods that provide energy and satiate the appetite while keeping us lean and feeling strong, she thinks a device like the Malory Band could come in handy on the weekends. “So many people go all out at brunches, dinners and parties, and completely wreck their whole week of super-hard work—and then they feel frustrated and defeated,” she says.
In fact, support from something like the Malory Band is an appealing idea to most of us, says Diller. “Gadgets like the band imply short cuts, or extra help we can rely on that exists outside of one’s self and willpower,” she explains. In that sense, she says a scale that you step on every morning can be a gadget too, by encouraging you to make healthier choices by keeping you accountable at weigh-in.
Among patients who suffer with any type of eating issues, Diller says one approach has the most overwhelming amount of success. “When people understand that food is an important source of fuel, and doesn’t exist to serve other purposes like to comfort or entertain, that’s the key,” she says. Whether that looks like three balanced meals a day or more frequent smaller meals and snacks (the latter of which works for more people, says Diller), you should find the solution that best gels with your unique preferences.
And for women like Becky, that may very well mean having a discreet little helper.
“My husband laughed when he first saw the band and thought it was a waste of money,” she says. “But now he’s impressed and is so proud of what I have achieved for myself. So am I!”