Fitness for all (who fit the mold)

I have a thing for fitness magazines. You name the publication—Women’s Health, SHAPE, Oxygen, Fitness—I likely subscribe to it, or purchase the latest issue whenever I pass by one at a newsstand.

I love flipping through pages of “650+ Weight-loss Tips that Work,” “Burn 350 Calories Effortlessly,” “Stop the Bingeing” and “Tone Up in All the Right Places.” I love reading the success stories of women like Andrea, who six years into a bad marriage found herself at her highest weight, decided she’d had enough, started exercising and lost 90 pounds, and Jacqueline, who went away to college and gained far more than the freshman 15, decided to start eating right and lost 45 lbs. Their stories are inspirational, particularly as I watch the world around me grow more and more obese.

I enjoy leafing through the various workout plans. I get a lot of great ideas to incorporate into my time at the gym. And, lately, as I venture more sure-footedly into the world of cooking, I find myself actually tearing out recipes for potential future use. Yes, it’s true.

Over all, I give fitness magazines mostly enthusiastic thumbs up. Except in a few areas.

1. Letters to the editor continually come from individuals unhappy with the models used in the magazines. The readers always complain of the models being “too thin,” “too perfect-looking,” “too airbrushed” and “too just not what every American woman really looks like.”

News flash, my fellow readers! The women in these magazines are NOT just like you. Because they actually work out. And adhere to a healthy eating plan. Yes, maybe their parents are slender or they have super metabolisms, but I doubt they’re regularly stopping by fast food joints or raiding the vending machine down the hall from their offices.

2. With all the “eat healthy, get exercising and get fit” credos flowing from the magazines’ pages, I’m always surprised by the number of advertisements hawking “health supplements” designed to help a person lose excess body weight. With our NEW fat-blasting, metabolism-accelerating super pill, you can shed your extra pounds in three days. That’s right! Three days! For amazingly low installments of $23/month* you too can look just like this ultra-Photoshopped model who recently had breast augmentation, bleached her hair blonde and spends more time in a tanning bed than in her own bed. Congratulations!

3. There are no tall women in these magazines, save one, Gabby Reece, an ex-professional beach volleyball player. She’s 6’3” and apparently the only attractive, tall model these magazines can find. Interested in the articles on great fashion finds? Or “Fashions that Fit Your Figure?” No luck if you’re tall. You only find advice if you’re pear-shaped, boy-shaped, small-chested, big-chested, petite in frame or, my favorite, “bootylicious.” “Super, gigantically tall” is apparently NOT a common average size.

I have to say, I get a good chuckle out of the letters to fashion editors that start with “Help! I’m 5’9” and can’t find pants to fit my long legs…” To this, my left eyebrow goes up. And sometimes stays up.

4. This kinda goes with #3, but warrants its own number because it’s so ridiculous. These magazines offer all sorts of “calculators.” Calculate your ideal body weight. Calculate your BMI (body mass index). Calculate the number of calories your body really needs in a day. Like an online weight predictor tool can accurately account for muscle mass, water weight or body frame.

Of course, I’m suckered in and check my “ideal numbers” anyway. Most recently, I was directed to SHAPE’s Web site and its “Your Ideal Body Weight” calculator. It asks for your current weight, your height in feet and inches, your sex and your body frame size.

So, I plugged all my stats in. And, this is what I got back (click on image to view in full size):

Great. I can only calculate my ideal weight if I shave three inches off of my height. That’s encouraging. And slightly perplexing.

Ah well. These publications’ inability to keep me from finding out my ideal body weight won’t keep me from reading the actual issues. There’s too much body-shaping entertainment going on inside. In the mean time, I’ll just have to guess at what my ideal weight is supposed to be.


* Results not typical. Based on an 87-month trial period. Individuals who went off said supplement gained back all weight plus 127 lbs. for good measure. Side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, runny eyeballs, loss of hearing, loss of smell, excessive twitching and excessive body hair. In none too rare instances, death has occurred.

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