January 3, 2009 at 1:32 pm
PastaQueen reviews Mary Lou’s Weigh Platform and suspects Bela Karolyi might be a vampire.
Disclosure: I was sent the Mary Lou’s Weigh platform for free in exchange for an unbiased review of the product.
Mary Lou Retton is an Olympic gymnast who won a gold medal in 1984 and has recently developed the Mary Lou’s Weigh Platform, a scale which is not really a scale. Instead, the platform secretly records how much you weigh the first time you step on it and then tells you how much weight you’ve lost or gained since your initial weight.
When I say it tells you how much weight you’ve lost, I mean that literally. Mary Lou’s recorded voice not only relays your results, she gives you tips about eating protein and drinking more water. When you reach a new low weight, you get a round of applause. Every time you lose 10 pounds, the platform resets, part of a strategy to break huge weight-loss goals down into more manageable intermediate goals.
I like the philosophy behind the scale and the emphasis put on fitness and health rather than weight, particularly in the included booklet, DVD and the web site. Mary Lou has 4 daughters and has never allowed a scale in her house because she doesn’t want them to obsess over a number. I also empathize with people who are scared to look at the number on a scale. When I first weighed myself over four years ago I was scared to look at the number for fear that I’d crossed the 400-pound mark. Mary Lou’s Weigh Platform is a good way to track progress without becoming overly focused on a number.
However, it’s also kind of cheesy. I know Mary Lou Retton is not actually talking to me. I know the applause is not real. It’s just a computer giving me feedback. I find it annoying that the scale is trying to act like a person when it is clearly not a person. It is the same annoyance I feel when I call for customer service and an automated phone attendant asks me to say what department I want. I’d prefer just to see a + or – number on the scale rather than hear the voice, just like I’d rather hit a touch tone pad than to enunciate “Yes” or “No” creepily into the phone when everyone at work eyes me oddly.
Also, I know “perky” is her brand, but she’s just a bit too chipper for me to take, particularly early in the morning when I weigh myself. The designers of the platform seem to have anticipated this response though, including this Q & A in the user booklet:
“If I shoot my Platform, will it still work??”
Unfortunately, the Platform isn’t bulletproof. It will no longer work, if you shoot it.
“If I tell my Platform to ‘shut up!’ will Mary Lou Retton get her feelings hurt?”
Mary Lou will not take it personally if you need to express yourself during your daily weighing.
The scale also won’t work well for the hearing impaired or for people who don’t want to wake up their family in the morning. It is however very good for scaring cats who stumble upon the platform and tear off for the bedroom in terror at the chipper voice of Mary Lou telling them to “Step on the platform!”
The package also includes a booklet called “Lite reading” which is nicely designed visually and includes a lot of practical weight loss advice, though it’s nothing you wouldn’t find in the latest issue of Prevention or Women’s Health, just like the advice Mary Lou gives you after you weigh in. It sounds like a good idea in theory, to deal out small amounts of information daily, but I don’t want my scale telling me to drink more water. Duh, I know this. Just shut up already.
Evidently, in the future you will be able to buy cartridges that include new advice to preserve your sanity after Mary Lou has told you to eat more protein for the 30th time. They are not currently available on the site though. If they were, I’d be tempted to buy one just so I could hack it with my own advice. I have friends with soldering irons and deviant minds who could be of great help :)
The platform also comes with a DVD which includes an interview with Mary Lou that has that same bizarro quality found in any infomercial. Really, is anyone ever this happy to talk about a scale that is not a scale?
There was also a moment when I thought the universe might implode upon itself when Mary Lou stepped on her own platform and got advice from herself. It was like the moment in Being John Malkovich when he dives inside his own mind.
The DVD also includes answers to frequently asked questions, instructions on how to use the platform, and video of Mary Lou’s 1984 victory, which I will admit, was hella inspiring. It also revealed that Bela Karolyi is so ancient he may well be a vampire.
The platform appears to be a gateway to get people involved in Mary Lou’s website, which could hypothetically include more products in the future featuring her brand name. I like the attitude and the intent behind the program and I find it admirable that Mary Lou admits on the DVD that losing 20 pounds was one of the hardest things she had to do. I’m also glad to see her endorsing a healthy approach to weight management, particularly considering how screwed up gymnasts can be encouraged to be about their body image. As Mary Lou says:
People who know me understand that I don’t believe in quick fixes,” explains Mary Lou. “When it comes to weight loss or any goal, what’s required is a commonsense plan, proven tools, achievable goals and ongoing motivation.
Overall, I think Mary Lou’s Weigh Platform is a good idea that could still use some tweaking.
And now, you have a chance to win Mary Lou’s Weigh Platform! I’m sure there are a lot of people out there just starting their weight loss programs who would benefit from having this platform. For half a nanosecond, I thought of giving it to my brother who is in need of a scale, and then collapsed on the carpet in a fit of giggles resembling an epileptic seizure. This is definitely a girl’s scale.
To win the platform, you must be a US resident or be willing to have the platform shipped to a US address. (Sorry, I’m shipping this myself and don’t want to pay for international shipping.) To enter, you have until 11:59pm on Wednesday, January 7, 2009 to leave a comment on this entry with a phrase you wish Mary Lou would say when you step on the platform. A winner will then be chosen randomly. Good luck!
This contest is now closed