Ah, weight loss: the subject that’s sold a thousand glossies. I just got finished reading People magazine’s latest “Half Their Size!” spread, a semi-regular feature that celebrates regular people who have shed an entire person’s worth of pounds. While their stories are certainly inspirational—at least, as long as you believe that those who are overweight are inherently worth less than people with low BMIs—the madness that surrounds the weight-loss industry is chock-full of bad advice for women.
It’s hard to focus on just one bad advice source here, since weight-loss tips are always a mix of the glaringly obvious (did you know that if you drink water instead of Mountain Dew and eat carrot sticks instead of bacon-wrapped candy bars, you’ll get thinner?) and the mind-numbingly ridiculous (try eating only these processed cookies! Try eating dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner! Try not eating!).
Even so, while perusing Good Housekeeping’s “30 Ways to Drop 5 Lbs …and keep it off for good,” I came across a few pieces of advice silly enough to make me slap my forehead with my palm and groan. For instance, here’s what the ladies at GH think you should do if you’re in the mood for something sweet:
“Try an almond stacked on top of a dried apricot — it tastes like a cookie. Really.”
Um… no. I’m not exactly a foodologist, but I’m pretty sure that this snack would taste like a nut on top of a dried piece of fruit. That is not the same thing as an Oreo. Tell us to eat fruits and nuts all you want, Good Housekeeping—just don’t piss on us and then tell us it’s just raining.
And also, if you’re craving a cookie, why not just eat a cookie? As long as you don’t eat, like, twelve cookies, you should be fine, right? Again, I am not a licensed diet advice dispenser, so you should take my recommendations with a grain of salt. (Unless the lady mags have decreed that even a grain of salt is too much sodium.)
Then there’s this gem:
“Laugh Off 40 Calories! A study from Vanderbilt University showed that you can burn up to that many calories by laughing genuinely for 10 to 15 minutes. (Watch Groundhog Day to giggle off even more weight.)”
These guys think Groundhog Day is a funny movie that chuckling for a full 10 to 15 minutes—that’s the length of half of an episode of Friends!—in order to burn as many calories as there are in one apple is a worthwhile use of our time? How about spending those 15 minutes, I don’t know, exercising? Or reading a novel? Or doing ANYTHING besides forcibly exhaling breath like a crazy person in a misguided attempt to shed pounds?
It’s also a good idea, according to this article, to take a leaf out of Violet Beauregarde’s book by chewing gum so that your mouth will be occupied, preventing you from continuously cramming Pringles down your gullet the way you obviously would were it not for that stick of Orbit. As an added bonus, they write, “Chomping on gum burns 11 calories an hour (hey, every little bit helps).”
But does it really? Why do magazines like this assume that women have so little self-control that some sort of constant mouth-occupation is necessary in the first place? And again, who in their right mind is going to chew on a piece of gum for an entire hour?
Ugh. This crap makes me so mad that I could stress-eat my way through, like, 20 almonds on top of 20 apricots right now. See what you’ve done to me, Good Housekeeping?