Who Do You Trust?

Where do you go for fitness, health, and nutrition information? There’s so much out there – and so much of it is junk. Hopefully you don’t turn to fashion magazines for advice. So maybe you turn to a “reputable” magazine, full of sound and science-backed advice. That ought to be a safe source of information, right? It may be time to read between the lines.

I used to love Prevention magazine. Bite-sized bits of diet and exercise information, nice photographs, delicious-sounding recipes. The advice always seemed to be backed by smart-sounding studies. But as I began to truly focus on my health and fitness, I began to notice something quite suspect about Prevention.

Take, for example, an article the magazine published in November 2011. The eye-catching headline reads “Shrink a Size in 14 Days.” The content of the article talks about a “slow-motion strength routine,” which boils down to taking your sweet time during a weight-lifting session. Now, I’m all for strength training, and try to fit it into my schedule at least a couple of times a week. But why couch some good advice in an article claiming you can drop “up to 12 pounds and 22 inches in just 2 weeks”?

The magazine is full of weight-loss promises. Instead of talking about the various health benefits of a particular fitness routine, they focus instead on getting a flat belly in time for swimsuit season, or how walking can help you drop dress sizes. What about the health – not the vanity – benefits of walking? The magazine’s headline reads “Passionate. Persuasive. Powerful.” That seems pretty telling to me.

If the fitness industry (we’ll talk about the diet industry at another time) would focus on promoting movement for the sake of health instead of weight loss, we’d all feel a lot better, and we’d be able to celebrate our successes – instead of focusing on our failures. If we go into a program thinking we’re going to lose a specific amount of weight or fit into a smaller pant size, there’s a good chance we’re going to come out disappointed, and then give up and go back to a sedentary lifestyle.

Imagine a world where, instead of focusing on a 10 (or 100) pound weight goal, we focused on walking an extra mile, climbing an extra set of stairs, or lifting a heavier hand weight. The headlines with this approach to movement and activity aren’t attention-grabbing, but you’ll be too busy living an active life to care.