Thursday, July 28, 2011

I wish there was less focus on weight and more on health

This is an Oscar The Grouch post.  It's been a tiring week of bike crashes, little sleep, and dental fillings so please forgive .  Also, I'm really interested what y'all think about please tell me if you agree or think I'm being a fool :).

Runners World:  I love what you do.  
Your magazine makes running accessible and interesting to so many people.  I love the pictures of beautiful runs.  But freaking stop telling me I need to drop 10 lbs and get my best body now.

Of the random emails I've received from Runners World in the past few days, here are some of the headlines:
"Yoga Moves that Blast Off Belly Fat"
"Discover the 5 Golden Rules to Weight Loss"
"Run off 10, 20, 30 or More the Healthy Way"

It's not just Runners World trying to get me to drop a few...the OC Half Marathon last spring had a tag that listed calories right next to course elevation (pic below).
" Distance 13.1, Calories: 1304".  
Good lord...seriously?

We are already bombarded by messages about weight loss in every possible channel.  Fitness magazines.  Fashion magazines.  Big headlines saying how Heidi Klum lost a billion lbs in three days after having a baby.  And I work in fashion marketing and live in Southern California, for crying out loud.  It's enough, yo.

I get that a large portion of runners run in at least in part for weight control.   I do too!  It's awesome to be able to burn 100 calories in a few minutes doing something I love.  In a world where women are expected to be thin to be conventionally attractive, I definitely want in.

Does losing weight help performance?  Hard to say.  Elite runners tend to be thin, but I only need to run a race to see the multitudes of shapes and sizes that kick my butt.  I think that for most people, following common sense nutrition and focusing on their workouts will by default, bring weight loss if it's needed for their bodies.

To me this focus on appearance seems to becoming more and more prevalent in running (running apparel fashion exploding as well).   Maybe it's because we can run with our cameras and Brightroom is there to take a picture?  So I gotta PR AND look smokin'?  Aw come on....

I just want us all to be happy with ourselves, work on getting faster / stronger / running in cooler places and leave the "best body now rock hard abs" crap to other people.  Running and body development go hand in hand, sure, but it's gone from a health to an image focus, and for me, that's not a good thing.  


  1. You've brought up many different points in this post so I'll only comment on a few.

    I think you are taking it all way too personally :D. RW is not telling YOU to lose 10lbs, I think they are saying that to the 2/3rds of Americans that are overweight or the average 3mi/3x per week runner, and you are not the average runner by any means.

    Also RW is in the end, no matter how much the editors love running, trying to make money selling magazines. A subscription costs $15/year so I'm guessing they make a lot of money from people picking it up single-issue style at the store. And I think a headline saying Run Your Fastest Yasoo 800 isn't going to sell a lot of mags to the masses.

    That's why I got you Running Times for your bday! I've only seen a few issues of that but I don't remember anything about weight loss.

    I'm confused a bit by your first bold statement at the end. I think that getting faster and stronger certainly could have something to do with having rock hard abs. A lot of runners take weight/core training seriously and it probably does make them faster/stronger.

    I think what's important is to be happy with your own body and your own style of exercise, whether that means doing yoga moves to blast belly fat or a kick-your-a** track workout.

  2. I love this post - I actually wrote a grad school paper on the multitude of magazines for women that shove weight loss and dieting and being thinner is the way to go messages in women's (yound and old) faces...I think we all get so used to seeing these messages (lose 10 lbs fast) that we start forgetting why we are really reading health magazines or running magazines - the improve lifestyles, speed, form...

    Great post!

  3. Amen, sista! Seriously. I've never been into running because of the caloric burn, although that is a nice benefit. I run because it makes me feel good!

    And on another note, I don't think I've ever done a race and not been passed by someone who, body-wise, didn't look like they were a "runner". I know that sounds judgmental, probably because it is, but it shows that strength might not always come in the form of Heidi Klum abs.

  4. I have the same complaints as you! I know they just need to sell their magazine (and weight loss sells!) but it's tough to be constantly bombarded with articles telling you to lose weight. That half marathon page is ridiculous--would any RACE 13.1 miles just to burn off the calories? Reall?

  5. I love love love love this post!

    Girl I'm with you 100% I know my weight can fluctuate & I get a lil uneasy when my jeans are tight, but I also know myself, I know I'm running less & eating more (crap) than I should be.

    Ruuning to me is mind body & spirit. You get the physical attributes sure but you also burn a jillion calories & need to re-fuel properly, lettuce just isn't going to cut it!

  6. Agreed!

    I literally CAN'T lose weight while I'm running. I limit calories, I am pretty careful in general. But the month I took off for an injury, I dropped 5 lbs FAST. Cute, right?

    I mean, I get that the majority of people in the US are overweight - truly I do. But seriously, why is it about looking pretty, and not about being healthy?! Bleh.

  7. I completely agree with you! There is way to much pressure out there to be a certain weight and I hate it. I for one will never be bone thin and I am okay with that.

  8. I stand beside you on this one. I could go on and on and on... but I would sound like a loon and alienate people at the same time ;-) So we'll leave it at 'solidarity'. Remember... I also have really old running bras and run in 20-year old running pants ;-)

  9. I totally agree. While having X-amount of excess body fat can be detrimental to your health (and sports performance), and yeah, it is cool to know that I have a pretty consistent calorie burn just doing what I like to do, that isn't why I run.

    I do run, however, because I enjoy it, and also because it gets me and keeps me healthy. My weight has fluctuated since I starting running, but I know my health has improved, and that is always the most important thing. :)

  10. I've noticed that when I start focusing on my weight instead of a real running goal the joy of running gets sucked right out of me. So I've stopped reading most women's magazines--Shape, Self, Women's Health (which is published by Rodale, too, BTW). I like the suggestion above about Running Times, and I still like RW. But I'm with you on this one.

  11. I agree with you. In my fitness classes, I try to focus on increases in strength rather than losses in weight, but it is hard to compete with all the media.

    What I love is when someone starts to run for weightloss, but stays with it because they discovered the joy of it.

  12. Yes, thank you! I noticed this when I started subscribing to running magazines - all the ones targeting women were all "lose weight, lose weight!" Am I totally happy with my weight and body? No. But like you say, I get enough reminders of that constantly, I'd like some inspiration that has to do with kicking my goals in the ass, and pushing myself to my own limits.

    You are totally, 100% right to call this out. Thanks!

  13. i agree i know weight loss sells which is why they are pushing it, but it does get annoying with all the emails and what not about running to lose weight. What if i just want to runnnnn!