Confession time: A trip to the bathroom at my house can not be considered successful unless reading material is involved. Now, before you get all judge-y about my bowels, let me reiterate that I have three small children who think nothing of barging into the potty with bread, peanut butter and a knife (a sharp one, naturally) asking me to make them a sandwich. Locking myself in with the porcelain throne – the same one that they firehose with their urine – and a good magazine is as close as I get to a spa treatment. So unless a private masseusse suddenly befriends me (which did happen on one occassion amazingly) or the kids take up china painting as a hobby, I’m sticking with my bathroom time.
The problem though is always what to read. I don’t take books in there because, well, most of my books are either loaned to me by the library or friends or are much loved books that I’d like to keep around for a long time, sans e-coli. Not to mention the risk of getting sent to a watery grave in the bathtub, toilet or sink. I don’t do newspapers (isn’t that what the Internet was invented for?) and so that leaves me with magazines. Now, many mags are worth more as toilet paper than toilet reading and I’m a choosy reader, especially if I’m paying for the subscription so generally I stick to subjects I know I love. National Geographic, Money and Outside are perennial favorites but you know that deep in my little heart I love love love fitness magazines. I subscribe to Health, Shape, Self, Fitness and up until my subscription ran out a few month’s ago, Women’s Health. I’ll also read any copy of Men’s Health, Oxygen, and Muscle & Fitness (his or hers!) I can get my sweaty hands on at the gym.
Even though they all basically recycle the same tired articles interspersed with ridiculous exercises featuring non-muscled models in oddly colorblocked workout attire, I still devour them every month. It’s like I can’t rest until I know “How to Lose Those Last 10 Pounds – For Good!” or “How to Work Out Less But Get More Done!” Even though I know the former will just be an article about a 1500 calorie diet combined with regular exercise and the latter will just re-explain the concept of interval training to me for the 7,000th time.
Every once in a while, when the husband sees me headed to the potty to party with a magazine tucked under my arm, he’ll ask me, “Do you think it’s really helping you to read that stuff?” I think he is referencing the unobtainable and often airbrushed standards of partly clothed beauty that grace the covers. (Side note: It’s always someone in a bikini standing in water. Sometimes, if they’re feeling wild, it’s a woman in a bikini against a blank backdrop. But always the bikini. What cracks me up is how around this time of year they accessorize the bikini with a sweater. Cause, yeah, we girls do that.) And he has a point. Despite reading hundreds of You-Inspired-Me-To-Overhaul-My-Life letters to the editor, I have never once looked at one of those mags and thought “You know? They’re right! I should take Five Simple Shortcuts To Change My Life! Because, good golly, I am worth it.” In fact, I generally feel a little worse about myself after staring at those gilded images. Must workout harder! Must throw out leftover Halloween candy!
And yet I still read them. Actually I think I’m addicted to them. I get a little thrill when they show up in my mailbox and feel more than a bit let down when I turn that last page. So what do I love about them? Well, the research is what I usually tell people but that is often so scantily covered that I imagine that’s like saying you read Cosmo for the recipes. I also like the workout varieties. It’s fun to mix in new stuff when you work out as much as I do although I’ve never gotten a workout out of a magazine that I’d call life changing. They’re often silly and impractical or unoriginal and boring. I’ve definitely gotten some good recipes out of them though.
The ladies over at Jezebel think they are worse than useless, downright soul destroying in fact. For me, they’re better than the traditional lady mags and more interesting than the gossip rags so I suppose in my mind they are the lesser evil. What do you guys think? Do fitness mags help or hinder your health goals? Which (if any) do you subscribe to?