Thursday, March 11, 2010

HL week day 4: magazine dreams

promises, promises
i would have guessed that january was the #1 time of year for the weight loss/self-improvement industry. and perhaps it is. but the covers of these mags seem to suggest otherwise:

so for day 4 of HL week, i thought i would begin a discussion.

to begin with: who am i to complain? after all, i'm just fanning the flames by subscribing to all of these volumes! in my defense, i don't read/subscribe to these titles for the weight-loss programs.

i enjoy clean eating for the recipe ideas, gorgeous food photography, and to learn about new products and trends

i admit i like self for its upbeat spirit, articles/memoirs related self-improvement or life balance, snippets of beauty/fashion advice, and various health-related tidbits. i also TELL myself i will get some strength training inspiration, but i rarely do the prescribed workouts (even if they do promise things like 'sizzling bikini body in 30 days!')

runner's world is just fun because i like to read about running. it makes me feel like i am part of some larger running community (odd how a just reading magazine can do that!).

i love women's running for the mix of lifestyle and running content, useful cross-training workout info, and because . . . i was in it!

but i don't skip over the aforementioned 'GET YOUR DREAM BODY!' portions, either. there's just something inherently fascinating to me about the bold claims made over and over again and the supposedly magical plans that accompany them. yet when i delve into the articles, i almost always have the same reactions! here are just a few of my thoughts on these sections in the above issues:

☑ number one thought: "i would be so (*#&$# hungry on that plan!" both self and clean eating this month have rather detailed diet plans which contain about 1600 calories/day. i have no idea how many calories i usually eat, and i'm happy about that -- ignorance is bliss in this case, as far as i'm concerned! but i doubt that 1600 is enough for most active women, and including those with a goal of (slow, sustainable) weight loss. maybe i'm wrong?

☑ to me, the meals and snacks suggested do sound good -- really, there isn't a single suggestion that doesn't sound at least palatable to me -- but the overall orchestration looks complicated. but what would one do with the leftovers!? and it's not what's in but what's left out that really gets me. for example, in the CE plan: no dessert or wine? for two whole weeks? REALLY?

☑ i will say that the runner's world weight-loss special is a bit more realistic this department. their article is mostly devoted to dispelling myths: those about drastically cutting macronutrient groups (carbs OR fat), running on an empty stomach, and eating at certain times/intervals. they also offer practical suggestions on planning ahead, cooking at home, and avoiding an all-or-nothing mentality. all useful, but probably things that most RW readers already know.

☑ for cardio, self suggests 300 minutes of cardio per week, divided into various intensity zones. that's 5 hours, which is similar to the US federal guidelines recommended for "additional and more extensive health benefits." fine, good idea. but magic/novel/guaranteed to turn me into doutzen kroes? sadly, i think not.

☑ on the other hand, self does propose a simple 8-exercise strength training workout that could perhaps deliver on at least some of its guarantees to "tighten" "tone" and "chisel", particularly in those (ahem) who tend to slack on their weight training. i might even give it a try . . .

RW also proposes weight training (along with running, of course). their workout, a series of compound exercises with weights, also looks good -- though challenging (pushup to jackknife, anyone?).

anyway, so those are my thoughts! i realize these plans are for weight loss, a goal that i do not have. but i still find them both interesting AND frustrating -- often at the same time! perhaps they are aimed more toward those who are starting from scratch -- after all, an overweight and sedentary person is likely to get MUCH more out of adapting the changes proposed in self than i would. yet i'm guessing that most of the readers of these mags are in the more health-conscious, fitness-savvy set already. who knows?

one thing is for certain: dramatic weight loss claims must be GREAT for selling magazines.

question for you: if you indulge in similar magazines (and please, tell me i am not the only one who does!), what are your thoughts on these frequently-run articles? have you ever tried any specific magazine 'plan'?

food blogging: i think i'm getting boring
breakfast: repetitive much? another ezekiel english muffin -- this time with peanut butter + apple butter, plus an organic gala. i tried to at least jazz it up with the presentation!

kid fuel: also fit for 29-year-olds, apparently.

laptop lunch: so fast and easy to throw together! plain low fat (organic 365 brand) yogurt, drizzle o' honey, cranberry pecan granola, carrots & pickled okra, dr. kracker apple crisps (LOVE these)

pre-dinner snack because i was about to eat my own arm by 6 pm. random chunk of challah bread from the freezer toasted and topped with celebrity dairy apricot-infused goat cheese spread

dinner: blue-cheese-stuffed chicken with buffalo sauce, although i didn't bother to panko-bread-crumb the chicken breasts as suggested. also, while it was still tasty, most of the goat cheese failed to stay in the pocket of the chicken breast and ended up disappearing into a sea of drippings during the roasting process. served with cuc/tomato/avocado salad dressed with homemade honey-mustard vinaigrette.

the obligatory see's. sadly, this chewy bite was smaller than it appears in this shot!

tired of HL week?
i know josh is. he keeps making fun of me for snapping food pix, in particular. if you are in his camp -- don't despair -- i'll be back to more of a mix next week. in fact, i think i will do a week of medicine/residency-focused entries. work hours and learning styles will definitely be discussed, but other topic suggestions are welcome!

and now . . back to my presentation. for those curious, it is a talk providing an overview of the usage of growth hormone in treating short children. i provide background, overview of its use/effectiveness in various forms of growth delay, and some discussion surrounding the ethics of its use in children with idiopathic short stature. also, IT'S NOT DONE AND I'M TOTALLY STRESSED ABOUT IT. someday maybe i'll learn how to tackle larger projects without wanting to tear out my hair in the process.

ADDENDUM (added 3.12): did you click through on facebook? just curious to know who posted the link (someone popular it appears!). would love to be enlightened . . . via a comment or email! thank you!



workout: 5 miles on the TM, 9:13/mi, 0.5% incline, while doing magazine 'research' for this post!

senior talk progress report: i got stuck working on one slide for over an hour and called it quits at 9 pm. argghh, i have my work cut out for me today . . .


  1. Anonymous8:32 AM

    I read them too. In most cases, I think "I already know that." or "I already do that." but I still like reading them. And the recipes do always sound good.

    I think that Self, Shape, Fitness and Women's Health really should be marketing as weight loss magazines though because that's really what they are.

  2. I love the workout done "while doing research for this post"! :) The things you do to please us, right?

    Of course I read those types of magazines too. But because I live in Europe they are not as focused on weight loss. Runner's world here is quite different than the US version, actually. I don't know if it is because most runners here are already lean? There are mags about training/fitness but they don't offer much diet advice either aside for the mandatory "eat protein". Weight loss advice can mostly be found in tabloids catered to the middle aged here for some reason.

    When I buy a US magazine like that and read the diet menues I just know I would *starve*. I think it is a very short time solution, not something anyone could sustain for a longer period. It is a temporary diet, not a life style change, which is what most over weight people would need.

  3. I get Runners World by subscription, but I definitely flip through almost all of those magazines when we go to the bookstore. I think the thing is that we (as in people who read and write running/healthy lifestyle type blogs) are in much better shape than the general population who is the target market for most of these publications. I don't know why I like them, but they certainly pull you in.

  4. Lauren10:19 AM

    I'm delurking to say that I come back to your blog daily because I really enjoy how you mix up your topics. It never fails to be a boring 10 am read with my morning coffee :) Other blogs seem pretty boring in comparison when all you see is oatmeal this and yoga that. Keep up the good work!
    Also, I tend to read more of the men's fitness and health mags. I find they typically have more substance and useful tips than self etc.

  5. Anonymous10:27 AM

    i definitely indulge WAY too much in these mags. but they're easy reads and i'm interested in health and fitness. but i think i'm going to have to stop just because i HATE how *weight loss* oriented they are rather than health. the titles of their articles seem to promote vanity rather than health.

    even the workouts are designed to "drop pounds fast". well maybe i don't want to lose weight. maybe i'm happy already with that. maybe i just want to get fit and fast. oh well. there's a market for these guys i guess and if it's what makes the $$ it's what's going to be published.

    and wow. long comment. i guess i could go on and on haha

    and no shame with eating kids fuel. somehow it just tastes better that way

  6. I used to read all those magazines much more, and I often thought how funny it was that EVERY issue had the latest guarantee for weight loss and a toned body! I mean, if it was THE guarantee, then we wouldn't need more issues, right? I never really put the workouts into effect, however, so I guess that's how they get you. I do read Runner's World because...I like running! They often have some healthy meal ideas that I like as well. I usually turn to Cooking Light for healthy meal ideas, however.

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  8. I used to read those magazines, but they got boring. They're very repetitive and for someone without a weight loss goal, kind of pointless. I do still like RW because it tends to talk more about nutrition than actual weight loss.

  9. You may have already mentioned this, but where did you get that adorable lunch box thing with different compartments? I love it!

  10. I was a subscriber to Women's Health, and still buy it for plane rides. And at the gym I'll pick up any tattered Self, Shape, Fitness, what have you. My main complaint is that they're REPETITIVE - I know almonds and greens are good for me. You told me last month.

    But, you know, it's not like they are advocating anything immoral. And I wish I were the kind of person who could be entertained on the stationary bike by The New Yorker, but I am soooo not. So, bring on the new secret to flat abs!

  11. Anonymous4:00 PM

    I totally read them. And I'm always interested in the meal plans because like you, I think they look delicious and love new ideas to keep me eating healthy. I always laugh that each and every meal and snack is different EVERY DAY! I mean, come on, have you ever tried to write a grocery list for a weekly plan? Or tried to follow the one they provide. I figure just pick out a breakfast and a lunch and a couple of dinners that look good and make your own plan.
    Lisa M

  12. Even as Registered Dietitian, I always enjoy reading those articles. Mostly to (a) laugh/cringe at some of the things they recommend, and (b) to know the information that's floating out there that my patients are likely to have heard and/or believe.

    But really, 1600 kcals is pretty appropriate for a woman trying to lose weight. Unless she's doing some crazy amount of exercise (over an hour a day I'd say).

  13. inmytummy: well, yes, and no. there IS other stuff in there that i really do like! well, not women's health or fitness. but self especially.

    jenny: oh i'd love to see a euro RW! except i guess i would be unable to read it (sad!). i agree with you about a longer term solution. then again, elizabeth below is an RD and i trust her that maybe 1600 is what would be necesssary for weight loss in a moderately active person. of couse i do believe that individual metabolisms can vary quite a bit!

    chelsea: good point -- different target audience. and i'm glad i'm not the only one sucked in.

    lauren: HI! thank you for delurking. i've never checked out a men's mag! sounds interesting.

    MM: yep, i guess like likes of things it comes down to $ . . .

    susan: i liked " I mean, if it was THE guarantee, then we wouldn't need more issues, right?" yesssss good point.

    jess: i like RW for ALL of the stories -- from random memoirs to tales of a busy mom fitting in marathon training to the shoe reviews. i will probably subscribe forever.

    rachel: it's a laptop lunch box that can be found here (although i have an older version and i'm not sure they still carry it!)

    sarah: yep, i'm with you! therefore i critique . . . but i still subscribe :) also -- hi!!

    lisa: yes good point that it's a source of healthy meal ideas. and i'm happy to see i'm not the only one that finds them tasty :)

    elizabeth: thank you for commenting! that was helpful as you definitely have much-needed expertise in that area. i probably just can't wrap my head around what would truly be needed for real weight loss (while of course everyone has little ups + downs, i am fortunate in that my weight has not varied all that much really ever. i could imagine it might be harder after kids/30 though!).

  14. Laurent8:21 PM

    Oops I meant to say it never fails to be an interesting read . . hope that was understood from the comment.

  15. When I was 5 or 6 (1987), my parents were referred to an endocrinologist because I adn't grown at all in maybe 6 months to a year? The Dr. recommended a growth hormone but my mom refused it because they couldn't say much about long-term effects. My folks knew that I was probably just going to be short, since my mom is 5'3" and my dad is 5'1". Anyway, I just found it interesting that you are doing a presentation on it--I'm sure it's way too complicated to delve into in a blog post but was wondering if you could include a line or two about what the current consensus is in your field about using growth hormone? No big deal if it is indeed too complicated!

  16. So, I must say the topic of growth hormones is very interesting, so I'll be on the look-out for that post.
    Very cool that you were in Women's Running!
    Funnily enough, I get Bicycling Magazine. I say 'funnily' because I haven't even been on a bike since August. But I have a legit excuse - ACL reconstruction! I use the biking magazine as total inspiration rather than a "what-to-do" guide.

  17. atilla9:48 PM

    i would love to go to a talk where someone spent an hour working on a slide

  18. I subscribe to and love Clean Eating, great recipes. I also peruse the others at the gym, store etc for entertainment. The diet recommendations in those mags usually are pretty on target I think, they don't tend to print the faddy "drop 10 lbs on grapefruit diet" types of plans. As for workouts, I think they always overemphasize cardio and not enough focus on strength which is just as important, if not more, for women who want to lose weight and "tone up".

    Your food looks to be around 1600 calories (or less) actually.

  19. lara: i agree that i have gotten more visbile 'results' from even fairly minimal strength training than hours of cardio! i wish i liked it the way i do running.

    1600 really!? that is lower than i would have guessed. to me, it looks like more than is suggested in the 'plans' . . . but i will say i (purposely) don't try to add it up. interesting! i will say that i definitely consume more on weekends/when eating out (i will post saturday/sunday).

  20. i'm admittedly a magazine "whore" and subscribe to more than i care to admit ;) those titles do tend to suck me in but i also can't say i've ever tried to follow one of their plans diligently. at this point, i've read so many that it's all just repetition, but i still keep reading them. runner's world has definitely been a favorite of mine as of late though.

    and i love the clif z bars as well - i was so sad that around halloween i couldn't find the s'mores ones anywhere.