The Problem with Media Part 1: Fitness/Health Magazines
We’ve all seen fishy headlines. The magazines above boast “Abs made easy! How to get this sculpted”, “Lose your gut fast and forever“, “Best body 4 week transformation! Get in the best shape of your life”, “Strong flat abs, lose stubborn belly fat now!”, and “Blast fat!” What do they all have in common? They make claims people like me know are very unrealistic. These claims are misleading and potentially destructive to your own mindset, expectations and fitness journey.
When people have body image issues (and I’m not just talking about teenagers because adults struggle with body image too), they are usually there for a reason. It may be psychological. It may have developed from bullying when they were younger. It may be the fact that they knowingly or unknowingly compare themselves to everyone around them; even those dieted down, air-brushed and Photoshopped cover models who usually don’t look nearly like they do on the cover as they do in everyday life.
The most destructive part about magazine covers and similar media sources is that they always try to make it seem like results happen quickly and easily. They would never mention that the model next to the article has spent the past three or four months dieting and training specifically to get very lean just for one single photo shoot and that the photo in the magazine is what they likely look like for 1% of the entire year. They would never mention that the model has been lifting weights for 5, 6, or 10+ years. People don’t want to hear the real amount of work it takes to get into great, maintainable shape. Those who work a normal job (likely spending most of their time sitting) and have a family and kids taking up most of their free time may see that picture and compare themselves to it. They might wish their arms looked like the model and do whatever little dumbbell exercises the magazine tells them in hopes to get those lean arms when all they’re really doing is setting themselves up for failure – by wanting to look like someone else.
Don’t set yourself up for failure by comparing yourself to those around you. Focus on what you can change about your own body and track your progress. Do what you can and find out what changes your body for the better and you’ll be happy with the progress you earn in no time. By all means, try new workouts and training tips (safely of course) you see in magazines to see if they work for you. But don’t set unrealistic expectations to look like the model on the page or to get abs in 4 weeks. Just compare where you were to where you are. When reading magazine articles and news stories that make large claims, I urge you to be as skeptical as possible. If it smells fishy, throw it back.