I have a small addiction to confess.
I am a magazine whore.
I buy countless magazines every month and devour the contents. My addiction over the past year has been for fitness mags – Self, Shape, Oxygen among others. The problem though, is that each magazine has a different audience and I find myself buffeted by contradicting advice, trying to live according to each’s rules, as it may be.
Every month there’s a new diet plan, new must do exercises, new goals to strive for. Low carb, low fat, high intensity, low intensity, fat burning, muscle building. It gets really tough to figure out what the ideal is anymore.
But the biggest thing I notice is how some of these magazines (okay, most if not all) are about low self-esteem. Actually, they’re about how you’re never good enough. If you’re still following last month’s diet, you’re behind the times. You should always be looking for the next fix, the next body part to improve, the next makeover. Why?
Because what you are is never enough.
Has anyone ever read the forums on self.com? They’re full of girls with some serious ED issues. “I’m 5″4 and 120lbs. I need to lose 20lbs fast.” “Why are my inner thighs so big?” “How can I stop my legs from jiggling?” “I exercise 5 times a week and I haven’t lost any weight yet, what’s wrong with me?” I know that the forums aren’t moderated by self, but it’s a big reflection on the magazine I think. It promotes constant dissatisfaction with your body and, in essence, with yourself.
Now you may say that I’m putting too much emphasis on the role of media and what about personal responsibility. Fair enough. So here’s my personal take.
I have never been an obsessive person. I’ve approached this weightloss and fitness journey rationally. I set a goal and I’m achieving it. It’s not a 4 week miracle approach by any means. It’s taken me 10 months to lose 15lbs really and change my body. Not something these magazines claim as a success story on their covers.
But over the past week or so, I’ve found myself striving for more. I set a goal. I achieved it. I set another one, 5lbs lighter. I’ve achieved that. I started asking myself this week “how about 5lbs more?” and then I stopped. I don’t want to fall into the trap of thinking I always need to be striving for a lower dress size or smaller waist. But every magazine I pick up (except Oxygen, I love that magazine) is about losing weight and dropping a dress size FAST. Where are the stories about maintaining a healthy weight? Where are the stories in these influential magazines about forgetting the number on the scale and focussing on health? They’re there, it’s true, but they’re few and far between and they’re not on the covers.
My attitude this week has scared me a little. I found myself falling into the never-good-enough trap; the good food bad food trap; the you’ll-be-happier-if-you-lose-5lbs trap.
So no more Self magazine. No more Shape. No more Glamour. I need to stand up and say enough is enough. I’m not striving for a makeover anymore. I’m made over. I’m me and I’m not changing.