Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Few Days Late: Thoughts on the Marie Claire Debate

When I started my Weightless blog a few months ago, I did so with the hope and the intention that my readers would benefit from learning about my unique perspective on weight loss.  In my opinion, you can go to Weight Watchers, you can go to a personal trainer, you can see your doctor.  But when it comes down to it, the best weight loss advice comes from people who have actually done it

A recent article in Marie Claire has created quite a stir in the health blogging community.  The article contests that some of the popular healthy living blogs advocate extreme dieting and exercise which promotes eating disorders.  I'm an avid reader of many of the blogs they cite, and I don't agree for the most part.  But what's interesting to me is how this controversy highlights the shift in how the world of blogging has changed the craft of journalism.  How can Marie Claire possibly contend that these blogs promote eating disorders when the magazine is presenting equally, if not more, dangerous content for young women?  Why would I waste my time reading about "How to Get a Better Body in Two Weeks" (which suggests doubling your cardio routine and giving up milk and cheese) when I can opt to read a blog about what real women are really doing day in and day out to attain and maintain a healthy weight?
Anyone who has read my blog can see that I certainly don't fit into the mold of what Marie Claire calls "young, educated women hell-bent on achieving sylphlike physiques."   When it comes to reading healthy living blogs, I can't help but be reminded of the now-defunct restaurant chain Doc Greens and their slogan "As Healthy As You Wanna Be."  Most of what I've gotten out of the blogs I read are tips - some of which I take and some of which I don't.  Sometimes I'll see a low-calorie recipe posted and think, "Ooh, I've got to try that!" And other times, when I think a blog writer has gone a little overboard with some of this non-fat, vegan, gluten-free business, I'll make a pukey-face and say to myself, "Wow, no matter how much I care about my weight, I would never eat that."  But, someone out there is going to take that recipe, love it, and that weird protein smoothie they just made may be the reason they lose five pounds and/or have their best 15-mile run ever.

There are always going to be women who take diet and exercise too far (and some who will blog about it), but from what I've seen of popular diet and exercise blogs, these are not extremists.  They are women who are a lot like me.  They are not dietitians, they are not meant to be idols of good nutrition, they are just regular people who write about their own daily experience--and struggles--with living a healthy, well-balanced life.

Judging by the fact that I once weighed nearly 300 pounds, I obviously haven't always made good decisions.  A big part of my bad decision-making was my environment.  I surrounded myself with people and things that helped to make me feel like my poor choices were acceptable.  It was around this time that my dad told me something I'll never forget: "Gabrielle, you can't soar with the eagles if you're hanging around a bunch of turkeys."  In changing my life, I've learned to surround myself with people and things--both in real life and online--that help me make better decisions.  The blogs I choose to read, and what I choose get out of them, are a key part of the positive environment that I've built for myself.

Reading a blog is a lot like eating the blue plate special at a greasy spoon diner.  It's important to fully inspect what you're about to swallow and pick off what doesn't look appetizing before ingesting it.  You take what you think you can use from the blogs that you choose to read, and discard what you don't think is helpful. What you end up with is one big fat juicy sandwich full of words of inspiration to continue your journey in the right direction and a side order of tools to help you along your there's a recipe everyone should try!


Anonymous said...

Love your thoughts on it! I am in complete agreement; the article mis-portrayed many people and was hurtful, both to them and the blogging community as a whole.

You pick and choose what works for you from health blogs. Plain and simple. :)

Anonymous said...

Nicely said! I suppose Marie Claire's whole point is that bloggers have a responsibility to their readers, but where is that line drawn and in what context? Blogland isn't black and white and so that line is arbitrary at best. For that reason alone, it's the readers that have to take responsibility for their health into their own hands -- if it were to rest on the shoulders of bloggers, there would be no blogs to speak of.