Are you familiar with the “Special K Challenge,” brought to us by Special K cereal? Maybe you’ve seen the TV commercials in which a pretty normal looking woman starts eating cereal all the time and then turns into what might best be described as a “lady of the night?” Meaning, she goes from wearing jeans and a blouse to a red dress and garish make-up while twirling around her kitchen waiting for her 9 p.m. “appointment” to show up.
I’ve been aware of the “Challenge” for awhile. It’s one of those things that flies by me in my media-soaked days – Christine O’Donnell is a witch, The Social Network was number one at the box office, Special K Challenge.
But then I saw a magazine ad that actually laid out what one is supposed to do on the Challenge.
The first page says, “Jeans don’t lie. The best way to tell how great you look is in your jeans. Drop a jean size in 2 weeks. Take the Special K Challenge.”
Wouldn’t the best way to tell how great you look be how you look naked? Anyway, they say to “Take the Challenge.” As if they are daring you – are you strong enough to take this Challenge on for two weeks? Because this is not for the weak. Not for the timid. Not for those you want to eat any food that will actually send a message to your brain saying, “Full now.”
On the next page, they lay out a sample day on the Challenge.
Breakfast: Bowl of Special K (bet you didn’t see that coming)
Snack 1: Special K Protein Water Mix (your mid-morning snack is… uh… water?)
Lunch: Special K Protein Meal Bar (I’m not sure when a bar came to qualify as a “meal,” but we do live in the future)
Snack 2: Special K Crackers
Dinner: Veggie Burger with Gruyere and Mushrooms
So basically, the Special K Challenge is akin to the Company Store Challenge. You can buy whatever food you want, as long as it’s Special K. You can eat whatever you want, as long as it’s Special K. Hope you like carbs!
Further investigation yielded the info that you are supposed to replace 2 meals a day with your choice of any of the “delicious varieties of Special K Cereal, Protein Shakes or Protein Meal Bar.Â Then, “Treat yourself to two great-tasting Special KÂ® snacks a day.” And, finally, “Eat one sensible meal of your choice per dayâ€¦ but be sure it’s something delicious and nutritious!” And, by all means, eat all the fruits and veggies you want.
So, what does it mean when they say to eat one sensible meal per day? Do they understand that their marketing copy implies that the other two meals in which the person is eating just Special K products are NOT sensible and, perhaps, signifiers of insanity and/or desperation? That they are admitting, up front, that the only sensible eating being done on this plan is when you eat some real food you choose on your own?
I also love the line “treat yourself to two great-tasting Special K snacks per day.” Treat yourself! Oh, goodie, a bar! Oh, protein water! Mmmmm…. This is how I show myself that I really care about my own well-being!
Let’s imagine a day on the Challenge, using me as the example. I wake up starving because I always wake up starving. I have the cereal. Fine, whatever. I also have some caffeine so that I don’t rip anyone’s head off. Then, mid-morning, I’m starving because I’m usually starving mid-morning. I pour some powder into water (btw, the glass in the mag photo is garnished with a slice of kiwi and a strawberry ). The water makes me feel sickish. I say, what that hell, I’d better eat my cracker snack that was supposed to be for this afternoon now so as to soak up some of this ill protein water.
Half an hour later, I decided to eat my protein bar. Shit. That was lunch. Already ate afternoon snack. Now I’m grumpy.
But I make it home. I have a headache but, whatever, it’s time for that burger! The burger on the plate looks so sad by itself. What about some fries with that? What about a salad? Some veggies? What the hell, all I’ve eaten today is Special K and water, how about some ice cream. Yeah! Ice cream! I’m the happiest I’ve been all day.
I may not look so great in my jeans but I can think and make decisions. After two weeks on the Special K Challenge, you’d be so hungry you wouldn’t remember how to lock your door or drive a car. You would not be able to decide what flavor of Special K protein water to buy. You’d be trying to eat your Special K Protein Meal Bar by shoving it into your ear.
Are we really so f’d up that “protein water” is now considered a snack? As if eating a piece of string cheese or an apple is somehow wrong or hideous or unhealthy? I’m sure the Special K Challenge was put together by nutritionists but they were nutritionists originally hired to figure out what the bare minimum lab rats could eat and still be able to walk around in their cages. They were researching “rations” and not “diets.”
*In case you were wondering about the title of this post, it stand for Special Stupid Challenge (For the Especially Challenged.)