The following article is an excerpt from "Southern California Live!" November 28, 2000
The Wrap Scene
Here's a weight loss system that would make any mummy proud
By Heather Wood
Assistant Features Editor
Now that the first wave of holiday sloth has passed us by, some may feel a little like those stuffed turkeys we devoured during Thanksgiving.
'Tis the season to splurge on everything from a new P1aystation 2 for the kids to just one more piece of pumpkin pie. During the holidays, our wallets and our bodies feel the pain of excess.
While most of the world will pass off the next few weeks of splurging as the 1ast hurrah before the new year, others may already start to feel the guilt. And how many of us actually keep that New Year's resolution to "be good?"
inches from everybody on their first wrap guaranteed. Developed by longtime Hollywood consultant Victoria Morton, the wrap promises to visually contour your body and tighten the skin-thus the inch loss-all within 60 minutes.
How It Works
Just as pharaohs were preserved in secret solutions, Morton's process uses bandages as the preservation tools. These porous cloths are soaked in a secret solution - made up of inorganic minerals and distilled water to tighten the skin and suck away impurities - then wrapped around every inch of the body - literally from head to toe.
"Basically, we're melting off toxins and exchanging them for healthy minerals," explains Lorraine Urbina, a Long Beach chiropractor who has been licensed to use the Suddenly Slender process. "Fat cells are big, like bumble bees, and toxins (from our air, water, food or medicine) store between the fat cells and attach to water."
These magic minerals are supposed to draw those toxins out of the body; and the bloating water comes along with them. The inches are lost in the wrapping.
"We're not taking fat cells out, we're compressing the tissue, eliminating the toxins," says Urbina, who uses the name Suddenly Slimmer for her salon in Los Alamitos. The only way to go back is to go on the cheesecake trail."
This process has been heralded by celebrities and average Joes across the country. Now, more than 800 salons offer Morton's body wrap. While I personally prefer the sweat and burn of a good workout, I put this system to the test several weeks before Thanksgiving. Couldn't hurt, right?
Considering the average person going in for a Suddenly Slimmer wrap weighs about 247 pounds, I knew I might be disappointed. I was off by about 113 pounds, a category Urbina likes to refer to as "The Hollywood Babe." A nice title, but once the measuring tape and scales came out, I felt anything but "babe~alicious." Some women think a trip to the gynecologist is personal, but show me one woman who'd rather have her hips, butt, belly and thighs measured and scoured for cellulite. Not fun. "Wraps are perfect for that added hloat we get during the holidays," Urbina says while swirling wet, warm bandages around every inch of my body. "I don't know what it is about Thanksgiving. We love to eat so we can just lie around like whales afterward, feeling terrible. We just do it to ourselves every year."
After about 20 minutes of wrapping, tucking and basting, I was completely mummified, and more than a bit uncomfortable. I stayed in those wet bandages for an hour, lightly exercising the whole time, while the bags at my hands and feet collected the dripping solution - and supposedly, those toxins, too.
"We like to say the process will be moderately miserable," Urbina joked as I sat and stewed in my juices. "1t's only about an hour of discomfort for a lifetime of results."
Many of Urbina's clients admit this one-time, quick-hit wrap is not their answer to conquering obesity. Many testify that it's less a means to an end, but rather, a place to start, to gain motivation from and keep moving toward their larger goals.
Keri Ramsauer, 40, of Los Alamitos had one request when she decided to try mineral wrapping: "I just want a whole new body. Is that too much to ask?"
Ramsauer has the classic tried-and-failed diet history.
"I never had a weight problem until after I had my kids. Idid the Atkins diet, lost 5 pounds but gained it all back quickly. I didn't like eating the same thing all the time," says Ramsauer of Atkins, which prescribes a protein-rich, carbohydrate-free diet.
"I've been working out, too, but this just seems a lot quicker and fun to try out - to see what can happen."
Ramsauer is a stylist at the Grace Total Beauty Salon, adjacent to Urbina's office. She got to see first-hand how people went in one size and came out another.
"I have a real tight pair of jeans I'm hoping to get into," she says. "I'm tired of buying bigger clothes. I'd like to fit in the smaller ones."
"I know this isn't the answer to erasing the weight I've gained,", she admits. "But it just seems like a good way to suck a little bit out and feel better about myself."
Anita and Jim Bowler turned to body wraps after years of yo-yo diets and failed weight loss plans.
"For 10 years I was trying different things that didn't really work," says Jim, who had a bit of a health scare on one of those failed plans. "They didn't monitor me on my loss; I was supposed to stop at 165 and I dropped to 145."
"It was a real shock to his system," says Anita. "That's why we were really skeptical of doing anything outside our own control."
The couple turned to mineral wraps after a friend praised their results.
"I think I was even more skeptical than Jim, " says Anita, " I've seen diet fads coming and going. I was very skeptical."
"It's not a miracle. It's like going to the gym, but instead of sweating. I'm getting wrapped," says Anita. "You're really just training yourself to eat right and maintain a healthy lifestyle - something we should be doing anyway."
Urbina turned to mineral wraps after years of her own weight struggles.
I've always had a weight problem," says Urbina, who has practiced as a chiropractor for 15 years in Long Beach. "I'm 50 pounds lighter than I was a year ago. My body wasn't in proportion. I would work out, I would diet, but there were those thighs, there were those hips and stomach.
"Once I had a wrap, I could see how it really did payoff. I would look at myself in the gym and my body really looked good."
"I want to help other people feel good about themselves."
What critics say
I, like most skeptics, find it hard to believe that a vat of minerals can "melt away inches." Longtime diet guru Dr. Andrew Weil says body wraps show "no scientific proof of working as a spot reduction method or as a lifting and tightening routine."
"In my opinion, if you want to lose weight and inches, you should eat less and exercise more," says Weil.
"This isn't for everyone," admits Urbina. "And in some extreme cases of obesity, medical attention may be required. But for most of us who want to melt away a few inches in those problem areas, this is a nice opportunity to not have liposuction."
Considering the cost (anywhere from $500 to $5,000) and risk (one out of every 5,000 procedures ends in death, liposuction is not the recommended remedy to get rid of that spare tire.
Even though the results of a mineral wrap do not promise the same permanent results as liposuction or other drastic weight loss means, the risk is far less.
Just as everyone has different weight-loss goals, the results of a body wrap vary for every individual.
Once unwrapped, beautician Ramsauer went straight for the tight jeans.
If I can still fit into these, it will be a miracle," she said.
Not only did they fit, but they fit well. What she couldn't squeeze past her hips just hours before, she slid on easily once the bandages came off.
"I didn't think it could happen, but it did," she said. "This is so inspiring."
Jim and Anita Baker are wrap-aholics now, swearing each time they go back, their bodies look and feel a little better. After nearly six weeks of wrap, Jim Baker lost 22 inches and 15 pounds.
"All I did was cut back on certain foods and watch what I ate. The wraps do help. It's amazing. You go in there feeling good and you come out feeling great."
"I dropped a full dress size; and the clothes that were in the back of the closet have now moved forward," says Anita.
"It's just like a habit, you just get in to it, stay with it and you work toward the goal," says Jim. 'We used to live in sweat pants, now we're in suits and fashionable stuff."
My results were a bit different. Once the bandages came off, I felt a bit refreshed, but I couldn't notice a drastic change in my figure. The second round of measurements showed a loss of 13 inches, but the initial thrill quickly faded.
"If we get 5 to 6 inches off someone close to their weight goals, like you, we're really excited," Urbina said after my initial wrap. I admit, I felt a little slimmer; my skin-tight pants fit a little better; but in the mirror, I saw the same body.
Four weeks later; I went back for a follow-up. Just as I suspected, a few of those "1ost" inches came back.
I got about the same results with this process as I do with a round of sit-ups. .Afterward, my body is a little tighter and everything fits a little better; but let it go for a few weeks and that taut tummy settles right back into mush. But like anything, I suppose, it takes dedication to keep up the results. Personally, I prefer the sweat and pain of a good workout. At least then, I can feel and see the results.
"As long as you don't gain weight, this process makes a permanent change," promises Urbina. "One wrap may do it for most people who want to tighten up their body. In terms of somebody who wants to drop a dress size, it takes about 10 wraps to maintain that dress size."
"When you are happy with your body, that's when its over."