This year the Be Well team has attempted a series of new, rigorous, sometimes bizarre health and fitness regimes in the pursuit of living well. For better or worse, these are our favourites from 2019.
Virtual Gastric Band Therapy:
After going through a breakup, Sinead Corcoran was inspired to get a Khloe Kardashian-esque revenge body. Could gastric band hypnosis be the answer?
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Just like real gastric band surgery, Virtual Gastric Band (VGB) hypnosis claims to help people lose weight by convincing them their stomach is full, even if they've eaten only a little.
Using clinical hypnotherapy, VGB involves deep relaxation and focusing exercises that work to subdue the conscious mind. It's in this state that a hypnotist attempts to retrain a person's brain to be satisfied with smaller portions of food.
Every Monday for a month, I was hypnotised to regain control of my food cravings, portion sizes and bad food habits.
I ate palm-sized meals but constantly felt as full as a bull - honestly. My new portion sizes ended up being a third of what they used to be, and I stopped snacking in between meals.
The verdict: After losing a whopping 9kg in a month and finishing my course of hypnosis I did eventually start eating bigger portions - but nowhere near as much as before, and I've kept most of the weight off.
The same week that the nation banned single-use plastic bags, Rebecca Blithe decided to try giving up the stuff altogether.
I took this on thinking I'd make a few tweaks and become a plastic-free pro . After all, my friend managed to go zero-waste as a single mum with a toddler - back when the rest of us hadn't even heard of a Keep Cup. How hard could it be for me to drop plastic?
Pretty tough, as it turns out. You can no longer shop in one place, or buy for value. Shopping based on packaging is penalising: it costs more in both time and money.
But there was an unexpected positive. I actually lost weight from going plastic free. Because so many processed foods come in plastic - crackers, sauces, dips, pies, lollies - I was effectively forced into more of a plant-based diet. Fruit, vegetables, pulses and grains are the most readily available foods sans plastic.
However, plenty of fresh produce is still wrapped in it - especially when it's on special. I found citrus in plastic netting. Celery wrapped with plastic red bands. Cherry tomatoes in plastic tubs. Pumpkin halves packed in plastic. Cucumber in plastic sleeves. Rocket, bok choy, fennel - plastic, plastic, plastic.
The verdict: As determined as I was, I quickly discovered the odds are against us. I applaud those who can commit to this and regret to confess, I'm not one of them.
Electro Muscle Stimulation:
Could a 20-minute workout have the same effect as a long gym session? Mitchell Powell tested the quick buzz of EMS training.
Electro Muscle Stimulation (EMS) works by contracting your muscles with low-frequency electric impulses. It mimics the way your brain activates your muscles, but at a higher rate, said to make it more efficient.
I was bound in a wetsuit-like outfit with electrodes stuck to major muscle groups as my trainer coached me through an incredibly intense 20-minute session of exercises closer to stretching and jazzercise than a traditional gym workout.
A battle began raging between my muscles and my mind. This is resistance training like nothing else - and not just because of the skimpy suit and paper G-string you're given for the session.
The verdict After one session, my booty had never felt perkier, my triceps were bulging, I walked around like my chest was busting out of my shirt and my posture had never looked so sharp.
If you commit to this, I honestly don't see how you won't get results.
Niksen: The art of doing nothing:
In a bid to combat stress, a strung-out Sinead Corcoran spent a week's worth of lunch breaks trying to do absolutely nothing.
is the Dutch concept of "doing nothing". That's it. It's exactly what it says on the box.
"Niksen allows for the floating of free thoughts, rather than focusing one's thoughts," says Professor Rutt Veenhoven, a sociologist who studies happiness at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
I'd recently gone through a breakup and decided what better way to give Niksen a whirl than by spending my lunchtimes moping on a bench in Victoria Park - alone, like a confident, independent, but quite sad loser?
Every day for a week I slumped on the bench for the better part of an hour, staring at my surroundings (people far fitter than me playing soccer) and listening to mopey songs while pretending I was in a dramatic music video.
The verdict: Taking that time out each day really helped. I felt calmer, more zen and more capable of handling my ever-bubbling stress levels. The only downside was that I probably looked like a slightly depressed pervert, watching a bunch of middle-aged office workers play lunchtime soccer every day. You win some, you lose some.