Feel Better About Yourself: Stop Reading Magazines

Last month, Gary & I went on a short road-trip vacation. Because there wasn’t a lot to do in the town (and I wasn’t currently reading a book), I decided to buy a magazine – I think it was Redbook. It was a guilty pleasure because I used to read a LOT of magazines, but over the years have slowly weaned myself off of them.

Yes, I used to read a lot of magazines! It all started with Seventeen, and then I moved on to Glamour & Cosmopolitan. Then, when I started taking better care of myself,  losing weight, and started bodybuilding, I couldn’t get enough: Fitness, Health, Self, Oxygen, Women’s Health, Fitness Rx. OMG! I think the list goes on & on. I was always looking for that little nugget of information that was going to flip the switch; make my life different, make me lose the weight I so desperately wanted to lose. I would devour every magazine from cover to cover & keep the precious magazines as a library: regarding the information as all so important & necessary that I couldn’t possibly throw it away – almost as a bible.

I needed that information in order to be successful! The headlines told me I did:

  • Lose 10 lbs in 7 days!
  • Belly Flattening Foods
  • Jennifer Lopez Gushes About her Fulfilling Life as Wife/Mother!
  • Get the Body You’ll Love

I need to know this stuff! I need to be better! I wasn’t whole without it.

Eventually, I realized that there was no nugget of information that was going to jumpstart anything. I stopped buying magazines.

So last month, after I read my magazine on my vacation, I realized that magazines make me feel bad about myself: I’m not enough as I am; I need to be better. But wait. This isn’t just about me. Magazines feed on every woman’s insecurity about herself (and men too!). Those little things that we say to ourselves:

  • If I buy that lipstick, I’ll be beautiful.
  • If I do the exercises that Jennifer Anniston does, I’ll look like her, or have her life.
  • If I do those exercises, I’ll be thin.
  • If I do what this article says, my family will love me & give me the respect I think I deserve.
  • If I buy this magazine, I’ll be enough."

I already know that a lifestyle of eating healthy foods, limiting portion sizes, exercising daily, and all else in moderation is the key. I didn’t need that pretty blue eye shadow because I already owned 3. And, why on Earth do I need to know what Jennifer Lopez does on a daily basis (and that’s of course edited: only the good stuff, and none of the bad)?

The truth is that those little "informational" snippets that we read, (aka: magazine product reviews) are paid advertisements & that as far as weight loss goes, there really isn’t a lot of new information out there. There might be a few articles of interest written by experts in their field. So, you’re buying a magazine that is bombarding you with ads and information that you already know: Eat less than you burn. Eat whole foods; avoid processed foods & sugars. Exercise most days of the week.

If there’s nothing new, then how do magazines keep us buying them? (BTW, if you think that you keep seeing the same headlines in magazines, Men’s Health admits that they do rotate covers.) Well, we WANT the quick fix. We don’t want to hear about eating vegetables and lean proteins. It’s just not sexy. We want to believe the myth. They get us to buy magazine over & over & over again by feeding on our insecurities & providing misinformation. They print what we want to see:

  • It’s easy to lose weight.
  • Buy these products and your mate will find you more attractive. (Or buy these products & you’ll find a mate)
  • By doing what celebrities do, you can have the glamorous life of a celebrity.
  • You will have it all.

One of the biggest questions I get from clients is "What exercise should I do to work on my abs?" (Clients always want to work on their abs! FWIW, I rarely do direct abdominal work in my own strength training program.) I thought that it was clearly established that spot reduction is a myth. Why does this question keep coming up? A few days ago I was flipping through a magazine in a waiting area & saw "Whittle your Middle with these 4 Moves". GAAaah! Freakin’ magazines perpetuate this misinformation to get readership! A-Ha! And people buy into it – they believe the myth!

In the time that I’ve stopped reading magazines, I realize that I’ve been much happier as a person. I’m not buying make-up that I don’t need. Soaps, lotions & other commercial/chemical laden products have disappeared from my bathroom, AND my body image and self-esteem are much higher; I no longer compare my body to the air-brushed models and celebrities in the pages of the magazine. I don’t care much about what celebrities do because it has no impact on my life. And I’m happier for it.

Next time you read a magazine, just notice how it makes you feel. Hopefully, you’ll put it down & realize that you are enough just the way you are.