Every April, Vogue puts the focus of their magazine on the “celebration of size and silhouette,” and makes the emphasis of their articles on the female body in a more healthful, rather than just fashion-full, way. I was actually pleasantly surprised; perhaps because I was reading this at a time when my shape seems to be deteriorating despite increased efforts at improving it. While I don’t want to rehash the entire issue, there were 3 articles that stood out to me in a very positive light.
The first attracted my attention because in my desire to find a new solution to my weight-loss issues, I was becoming slightly dazzled by the miraculous promises of a number of fasts/detox diets/miracle pills. Now, being ordinarily a very sensible, logical person who doesn’t like to do “weird” things to my body, I was even surprising myself at the desperateness I was feeling. So this first article grounded me, and I haven’t been back to the flashy “Order now! Lose 30 pounds in 30 days or your money back!” sites. It is titled Coming Clean, and addresses the foolish claims of many of these miracle programs. (I have not checked the research on this article, so yes, I realize this may not be entirely accurate either, but it was still an encouraging thing to read!)
It focuses mostly on the detox/juice diets, and recognizes the truths in many of the claims, but also provides the whole story. For example, pointing out that our bodies were already designed to flush out toxins—through the liver—and any the body can’t rid itself of are not sitting around in the colon, waiting to be cleansed, but are stored in fatty tissues like the brain. Also, these diets tend to make you lose weight because you lose muscle, which will also slow your metabolism for when you do go back to eating. My favorite claim they combated, though, was the euphoria many say they experience. In some study, they discovered that the endorphin system in starving animals kicks in a feeling of euphoria to ease the trauma of imminent death. Nice, huh?
The next article that followed was one on how to (perhaps) lose those last five pounds (I’d like to know how to lose the ten I gained while trying to lose the last five!). Anyway, I really felt in touch with the author, who aptly summed up my food experience when she said, “My self-control around food is right up there with my ability to speak Mandarin.” So, apparently, the next “in” thing for portion control is not in the measurements, but in the mind. She interviewed a social psychologist by the name of Ronna Kabatznick, Ph.D., who is a leading advocate of mindful eating. She makes the focus of eating on how you feel about it. How hungry are you really? And why are you eating? Beyond being aware before beginning, you’re also supposed to be aware while you’re eating—aware of the sensations your food brings about. Eat slowly, and with purpose and acknowledgement of each bite.
Another interesting tidbit in the article is that a study found that yoga practicers have a lower BMI than regular walkers and gymgoers. Admittedly, there are still plenty of gymgoers that I’m sure do just fine (and don’t even get me started on the apparent ease in which men seem to shed pounds just by deciding to!), but in the crazy life of a (somewhat single) stay-at-home mother to young children, the gym is nowhere in my foreseeable future. Of course, I also read this article a month ago, and remember being aware of my first pb&j sandwich afterwards, but nothing else beyond that. I loved reading the author’s journey though: “I’m aware that I’m eating a whole Toblerone bar at 10:00 A.M., but down it goes. I’m aware that I’m looking for something other than sustenance in the refrigerator, but I eat some filet mignon anyway. The only difference: I feel guiltier now.” I think it’s even more difficult to be mindful around grunting, begging, needy children, too. I already only eat when I can squeeze it in between child duties, but the encouraging message in the article is to just keep trying. Each meal is a chance to start over, and the authors journey did eventually have a pleasing reward, so maybe it can work for others too!
The last article was also inspiring to me, because it was written by the blogging-spectacular Julie Powell. Vogue approached her with a proposition to get fit and write about it (which also begs the question—if someone were going to pay me to really, really work on getting fit, could I get there? We all have our motivators…). So she did! She, of course, interviewed and got to choose a personal trainer, and had no kids to get in the way of her schedule, but had her own issues with traveling for her book tour (oh, the travesty!). But the article was still really inspiring, because she did learn how to get into a routine, and found that the more she made it a priority, the more she wanted it as a priority. And her work paid off as well, and she was able to continue her routine after her time with the trainer had ended. I guess I feel more like her success can be my success just because despite her great fortune, I feel like she’s a normal person. I know we’re all normal people, but I’m not sure I feel like I could ever be Jennifer Aniston, but Julie Powell—she’s attainable. (And while you can’t read her article online, you can read this.)