But this year is different.
“I’ve already lost 18 pounds,” she said, “and maintained my diet more consistently than ever. Even more amazing — I rarely even think about snacking at night anymore.”
Ms. Irish credits a new wearable device called Pavlok for doing what years of diets, weight-loss programs, expensive gyms and her own willpower could not. Whenever she takes a bite of the foods she wants to avoid, like chocolate or Cheez-Its, she uses the Pavlok to give herself a lightning-quick electric shock.
“Every time I took a bite, I zapped myself,” she said. “I did it five times on the first night, two times on the second night, and by the third day I didn’t have any cravings anymore.”
As the name suggests, the $199 Pavlok, worn on the wrist, uses the classic theory of Pavlovian conditioning to create a negative association with a specific action. Next time you smoke, bite your nails or eat junk food, one tap of the device or a smartphone app will deliver a shock. The zap lasts only a fraction of a second, though the severity of the shock is up to you. It can be set between 50 volts, which feels like a strong vibration, and 450 volts, which feels like getting stung by a bee with a stinger the size of an ice pick. (By comparison, a police Taser typically releases about 50,000 volts.) ...
Despite the potential for pain and the lack of science backing a long-term effect, user feedback on Facebook groups and message boards has been enthusiastic about the device, especially as a last resort for problems like overeating and binge drinking.
Bud Hennekes, 24, a blogger in St. Louis, said he had used Pavlok to kick a nearly two-pack-a-day cigarette habit. “When I tried to quit before, I still had the craving to smoke,” he said. “When I used Pavlok, the cravings completely went away. I don’t know if it’s science or a placebo effect or what, and I don’t really care because it worked.”
--Jennifer Jolly, NYT, on better living through electricity