Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Hi Cheeseburger Lovers,

So lately, I’ve noticed a very disturbing trend that I think needs to be addressed: pregnant ladies exercising like they aren’t pregnant! Lately I’ve seen so many women at the gym exercising like crazy. And I’m not talking 20 minutes on the treadmill; I’m talking full force, 60-plus minutes on the elliptical (as if there isn’t a giant belly in between her and the elliptical)!

Now, it’s one thing to be in the comfort of your own home exercising, but I’ve seen women out and about doing activities that I wouldn’t deem appropriate for pregnant women. I have taken several hikes over the past few months and the hikes have been very rigorous (some of the toughest in Los Angeles). And on each trail I have seen at least one pregnant belly (big third-trimester belly). Now, I’m not a doctor, but I wouldn’t recommend that a pregnant lady, that far along, hike the trails of Runyon or Temescal Canyon, especially not by herself! What if she falls? Isn’t she concerned about the safety of her unborn child?!

The other totally crazy exercise I have seen pregnant women do are the Santa Monica Stairs. The SM stairs are a favorite workout spot here in L.A. The fittest of the fit come here to walk or run all 180 steps over and over again. Not only is it an extremely rigorous workout, but the stairs are old and wooden. They aren’t exactly the safest. You really have to be focused and keep your balance. And yet, time and time again, I have seen very pregnant women going up and down these stairs repeatedly (without breaks). No joke!

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t think there is anything wrong with pregnant women exercising. I am not a mom yet, but when I am pregnant one day, I do plan on exercising regularly. And many medical professionals say that moderate exercise during pregnancy is a good thing and can even help with giving birth. In this article, MODERATE exercise is defined as walking, swimming, stationary biking, prenatal yoga and, at the most, light jogging. These activities sound reasonable enough to me.

So why is it that pregnant women all around Los Angeles (and I’m sure many other parts of the country) feel the need to spend an hour at full speed on the elliptical, hike, go to spinning class or climb 180 stairs over and over again? I think it’s because these are all high cardio activities that can burn a lot of fat. And isn’t that what all pregnant women seem to be the most concerned about? Baby fat–plain and simple. Many of the things we read about pregnancy have to do with losing baby weight. I think the women of LA have figured out a way to minimize having to lose the baby weight: exercise like a maniac before the birth, and keep off as much extra weight as humanly possible. I mean, think about it. Do you ever look at women and think, “She literally just had a baby! She doesn’t look like she put on a pound of weight.” Well, go to the Santa Monica stairs regularly, and you’ll see why. They are all there, working hard to gain as little as possible. Now, granted, many women naturally have slender figures and they may not put on much weight during pregnancy, but for most women, gaining pregnancy weight is the main concern.

The main problem I have with this is safety. I just don’t think it’s a good idea for pregnant women to engage in rigorous exercise. That just seems like common sense to me. Everything I’ve ever read or heard about exercising during pregnancy says that moderate exercise is the way to go. Spinning, hiking, stair climbing, and the elliptical are never on the list of acceptable moderate exercise. My second concern is vanity. For all of you health apologists out there, you can’t tell me that it’s a good idea for a pregnant woman to do a spinning class three days a week or run a half marathon (true stories)! I would love to hear your arguments about why this is ok.

I think, at the end of the day, this generation of pregnant women are so concerned with staying slim and not missing a beat (after all, you have to fit into those skinny jeans as soon as that baby comes out of you), that they are willing to jeopardize the safety of their unborn children. I truly feel bad for a child who is being born to a mother that cares more about the shape of her own body than she cares about her child’s safety. I know that seems harsh, but is there really any other way to see this?

Moms, one piece of advice, get off the treadmill and get ready to give birth!

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Something revolutionary happened on Monday. Starting at the beginning of next year, the popular German magazine Brigitte will no longer hire models to pose for their magazine. The magazine announced today that they will now feature “real” women in their magazine in an attempt to combat what they perceive as the unhealthy effects of ultra-thin models on women’s body image.

Andreas Lebert said the move is a response to readers increasingly saying that they are tired of seeing “protruding bones” from models who weigh far less than the average woman.

Brigitte plans to pay the women they will now feature in their magazine the same as they would professional models.

I think this could potentially be a very positive change for readers of this German magazine. Imagine a world in which every magazine on the stands featured “every day” women rather than models. That would completely change our world.

And U.S. magazines might also be showing a similar trend towards a preference for non-stick-thin models. Readers of the U.S magazine Glamour had an extremely positive response to a small photo of “plus size” model Lizzi Miller in this year’s September Issue. The nude photo of Lizzi elicited many positive responses from readers:

“Thank you for showing a picture of a BEAUTIFUL woman who has a stomach and thighs that look like mine! I have NEVER seen that in a magazine before.”

“Get this hot momma off of page 194 and put her on the cover!”

I too had a similar reaction when I saw the picture of Lizzi Miller. I thought “Hey! That’s what my body looks like! I can’t believe this is in a magazine!” Although I believe the magazine industry still has leaps and bounds to make in terms of actually representing all types of women within the pages of their publications, it does give me a glimmer of hope to know that many women really DO have positive responses to seeing a model in a magazine who is larger than the average-sized model.

After all, why is it, as Lizzi states, that in the world of fashion “any size over 6 is considered plus size?” Does that seem crazy to anyone else?

The reality is, most women, at least in the U.S. look more like Lizzi Miller than they do Jessica Simpson (who is the celebrity featured on the cover of Glamour’s September issue). So why not feature more women in magazines who look more like the average woman? Some women are very thin naturally and some women aren’t. So, if they want us to wear the clothes that are featured in fashion magazines, is it really so crazy to think that all types of women should be modeling the clothes that we are supposed to wear?

It’s encouraging to think that perhaps there is a trend towards something new in the world of magazines. I guess only time will tell.

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Last year Jennifer Love Hewitt got a lot of flack from tabloids for “packing on the pounds.” She triumphantly responded by telling the media to “stop calling me fat” and told those tabloids to mind their own business. But low and behold, a year later, Hewitt is on the cover of Shape sporting her “new body.” Wait…what’s that about? I thought she was mad at people telling her she was fat, so why did she feel the need to lose weight?

Jennifer shares real life dieting tips that helped her “get back in shape” including:
Don’t keep food in the house for more than a couple of days
Don’t keep treats around the house because you might be tempted to eat them
Run on vacations

Thanks Love…great tips! (Please note sarcasm).

After Jennifer shares tips about how to stay confident in this cruel world she adds this:

“I’m a girl, after all!” she says. “For the most part, yeah, I’m happy with my body, but there are days when I’m like, ‘Ugh! Really? Why is it so hard to fit into my jeans?’ That’s when I say to myself, ‘I look this way because I’m supposed to. If we all looked the same, we’d be boring.'”

If she really believed that she looked “that way because she was supposed to,” then why did she feel the need to lose weight in the first place? And can I just say for the record that Jennifer Love Hewitt has never been fat. Just because the photos of her that surfaced last year didn’t show her as emaciated or shockingly thin doesn’t mean she was fat. As we’ve said time and time again, the problem with emaciated media images is not only that the girls themselves are sick, but also that it makes women who are any larger than “Size Emaciated” look large and, thus, creates this “standard of thin” that is completely unrealistic.

I just find it interesting that people try to convince themselves to love themselves the way they are yet they are constantly dieting and trying to shrink jean sizes. Does anyone else see this as an oxymoron? Accepting yourself the way you are and truly believing that you look this way because you’re supposed to means that you don’t feel the need to diet yourself down to a smaller size when you are criticized by the media.

I don’t pretend to think that it’s easy for these celebrities to undergo the type of negative scrutiny they do for gaining a few pounds and that it’s easy for them to watch people point out their cellulite on a magazine cover. That has to hurt. But, please celebrities: don’t try and pretend you lost weight because it was “healthier” to be a size 2 than it was to be a size 6. And please, oh please, don’t try to pretend that you love yourself when clearly you don’t know the first thing about it. Because if you did, you wouldn’t feel the need to alter your body size because someone called you fat.

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I just came across a fantastic article in the Wall Street Journal that revisits a 1986 article written by a reporter who interviewed several 4th grade girls in Chicago-area schools about dieting, media images and the need to be thin. The article compares their views then with what they think now as adults, 23 years later. The original project was meant to compare results with the now famous 1986 University of California- San Francisco study which revealed that 80% of 4th grade girls were dieting at the time of the study (along with several other startling statistics that were revealed in this study). The WSJ reporter’s study had very similar results. Over half of the girls he interviewed said they were on diets and 75% of them said they weighed too much. Not only were the girls’ results startling, but one boy the reporter interviewed said:

“Fat girls aren’t like regular girls,” one boy told me. “They aren’t attractive.”

It seems that most of those 4th grade girls originally interviewed have grown into beautiful, successful women who, for the most part, have escaped society’s obsession with being super thin. But, what is worth noting is the fact that none of them seem to have thrown the notion that beauty and thinness don’t matter in today’s world completely out the window. One woman said:

Today, she watches her weight “so I can be successful in a world that puts great emphasis on how a person looks.”

Another point I found interesting was one woman’s observation that anti-obesity children’s campaigns have backfired in that they make young girls even more obsessed with weight and image. Girls’ fears of being fat have created a lot of problems.

Compared with the fourth graders of 1986, girls today see body images in ads “that are even further from reality. Retouching is rampant,” says Claire Mysko, author of “You’re Amazing,” a book encouraging self-esteem in girls. She worries that childhood obesity-prevention efforts can make girls obsessive about weight. While these programs are important vehicles to fight a growing problem, “we have to be really careful how we are implementing nutrition and body imaging,” she says.

She speaks of her own observations as a teacher during lunch time:

On lunch duty each day, she notices 10 girls who eat nothing. “We make them take a few bites,” she says, “but they fight me on it. They say, ‘I’m not hungry,’ and I tell them, ‘You’ve been here since 8 a.m. Of course you’re hungry!’ ”

Last night I was talking to one of my friends who is a middle school teacher and she shared with me her observations of some of the students at her school who also don’t eat during lunch. When she asked one student about her lunch time non-eating habits, the student said she wasn’t hungry and she just eats at home. My friend then asked the girl what she eats when she gets home to which the girl replied “Oh you know, a cracker or something.”

I think this timeline of dieting then and now shows us that it’s only gotten worse. As the writer of this article points out, girls in 1986 didn’t have pro-ana sites and hours of youtube thinspiration videos to turn to like girls today have. Behind society’s obvious contributions to our increased obsession with youth, beauty and thinness (like ultra thin runway models and unbelievably skinny young TV starlets), there lies much more that I believe contributes to the problem. And that is what we learn from the people we see on a day-to-day basis: moms, sisters, girlfriends and even dads and brothers.

If Mom is constantly dieting and obsessed with her food portions and her weight and is exercising like a maniac, what type of message does it send to her 4th grade daughter? After all, actions speak way louder than words. I believe that many of us can give a really nice speech about how images of super thin models and actresses can damage our daughters and should be stopped, but what about the damage it causes (and has caused) to you?! It’s naive to think that just because we are “grown up” we are automatically too mature to be susceptible to the influence that society can have on the way we think about our bodies.

This study revealed that girls are dieting because they hate the shape of their bodies and certain body parts. Well I know plenty of grown women who feel the exact same way about their bodies; we all start somewhere. Perhaps the worldview of 4th grade girls doesn’t change as much as we think when we “grow up.”

I personally love Harriet Brown’s perspective on all this. I don’t have a daughter, but I am working on myself every day to make sure that one day, when I do have a daughter, I can teach her to love her body in the true sense, so that she can love herself in 4th grade and forever.

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side-saladOne of my friends told me a story several months ago, which I found quite shocking. She was at the gas pump one morning when a homeless woman approached her and asked for 30 cents so she could buy a salad. My friend obliged and as she was looking in her purse for a dollar to give her, the woman decided to divulge a little extra information about why she was on a hunt for a salad. She proceeded to tell my friend that she had recently “gained fifty pounds drinking beer” and was now on a diet to try and lose the weight. She had gotten “fat” and was trying to limit her food intake to salad (and apparently cigarettes as she was smoking while she told my friend her “fat” troubles).

When my friend relayed the story to me I shook my head and said “only in L.A….” Not to say that something like this wouldn’t happen in another city, but it’s so typical that in a city which is especially obsessed with body weight, dieting, exercise and image, that even a homeless woman would deem herself fat and in need of a diet.

I mean, not to point out the obvious, but this woman is homeless! Without a home! Without consistent and steady food and shelter. So why is her priority the size of her butt? I certainly don’t mean to sound insensitive or presumptuous. There could have been a number of things going on with this woman that I have no idea about and I do not mean to judge her in anyway. I just simply wish to point out the irony in this story which is that this is a woman who is deemed part of a group of society that is generally thought of has hungry and in need of food (without regard to body size or image) and yet, she actually is quite concerned with her “fatness.”

This story is quite sad because it just goes to show that our obsession with dieting, thinness and image touches all members of society. ALL women in our society, no matter social class, race, age or ethnicity are affected by the thin culture in some way shape or form.

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“Have you lost weight” can generally be taken one of two ways. 1) Wow…you’re looking really good! I can visibly tell that you have lost weight and I like it. Or 2) is everything ok? Are you eating properly? Are you making sure not to over-exercise or obsess over your weight?

Back in my pre-cheeseburger days, I used to love when people asked me this question. It meant that I had accomplished my goal of looking thinner. I had lost weight. I had won the battle over fatness. I was thin! But now, I know that when my friends ask me this question, they are asking out of concern. They are keeping me on my toes and making sure that I’m not reverting back to my old ways of crazy dietary restrictions and countless hours at the gym.

I’m not saying that everyone who loses a few pounds is secretly trying to starve themselves down to a size 2. Or that thinness is some kind of indication of a bad body image. In fact, from my experience, weight fluctuations are quite common. But I am saying that I think in our society, that question has become a type of compliment. To ask someone “Have you lost weight” in an optimistic tone is to congratulate them on the fact that it’s noticeable. They are meeting their goal! Keep it up!

Now what happens when people ask the opposite question: “Have you gained weight?” Well first off, most people who have any social scruples wouldn’t ask such a question; mostly because that question is considered insulting, absurd and totally out of line. Why would anybody put you through such humiliation?! I think it’s interesting that the question “Have you lost weight?” can be the ultimate compliment in our society while “Have you gained weight?” is a complete social taboo (not that that stops people from asking it).

As much as we believe here at EAC that weight is not a public issue, I do believe that there are situations where we can discuss it in private settings without offense. I mean, body image is such a huge part of our world as women, so we have to be able to talk about it with each other. For me, when my best friend asks me if I’ve lost weight, because she knows my checkered past with disordered eating, I see it as her way of showing her concern for me. She wants to make sure that I’m ok and that I have not gone down the “bad road” again.

Of course I acknowledge that this doesn’t hold true for everyone. And some people would rather their friends not ask them this question at all which I completely respect. Perhaps instead of asking each other “Have you lost weight?” we should ask each other on a frequent basis, “How is your body image?” “How are you doing with accepting yourself as you are and loving yourself?”

I think being a good cheeseburger friend means unlearning what we have always accepted as true from media and our society in general when it comes to weight and body image. Being a good cheeseburger friend means learning to stop asking the question “Have you lost weight?” as some kind of disguised compliment.

So I pose this question to you: do you have good cheeseburger friends in your life? To me, a good cheeseburger friend is one who doesn’t let me talk bad about my body. It’s someone who challenges my thoughts and helps me question what the media feeds me about my body. It’s someone I can always go grab a cheeseburger with:-)

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Before getting into the “meat” of this post, I just wanted to apologize to all of our faithful fans for our long absence. We have both been so crazy busy but please rest assured that we still love cheeseburgers and still adhere to our cheeseburger rules!

On that note…

Have you ever noticed when reading magazine/tabloid articles about celebrity weight gain that they like to use the word “whopping?” Take this article for instance:

“In 2004, Milla Jovovich topped Forbes Magazine’s “Richest Supermodels of the World” list, but after putting on a whopping 70lbs while pregnant with her first child (she gave birth to a girl in November 2007) the stunner has had to sweat it out big-time to save her strutting career.”
What do they mean by whopping? Webster’s dictionary defines whopping as “something exceptionally or extremely large” and is often used as an intensive. So the language in articles like this one lead us to believe that Jovovich’s pregnancy weight gain was incredibly unusual and a really big deal. I’m not sure what a “normal” weight gain for pregnancy is (if there is such a thing) but after reading this article I would assume that 70lbs is simply unacceptable.

The article continues as Jovovich describes what she did to lose the weight:
“Diet and lots of exercise, I worked my big, little butt off,” Jovovich told Tarts at the recent Montblanc Signature for Good Gala at Hollywood’s Paramount Studios. “It’s been a lot of work and I’ve been working with Harley Pasternak and his 5-Factor program, they actually have diet food sent to my house. At one point I just ate oatmeal, salmon and artichokes everyday for a week. It was definitely a lot easier putting it on!”
I really can’t imagine what it would be like if I had to lose weight in order to keep my job. But I guess that’s what its like for an international supermodel (and celebrities in general). A huge part of post-partum recovery for these people is an intricate plan of how to lose the post-baby weight in as short amount of time as humanly possibly. I use the word human to refer to the title of this article “MILLA JOVOVICH BECAME A ‘CRAZY ALIEN’ TO LOSE 70LBS.” I think there is truth in this statement in that women who work to lose this much weight in a short period of time really have to alienate themselves in order to lose it. It becomes like a full-time job (and in Jovovich’s case, it really is part of her job).
When asked if she will be having any more children any time soon, Jovovich answers:
“I do want another baby but not for a little bit,” Jovovich said. “I’ve only just lost all the weight so I want to enjoy my old body for a while before I have to become a crazy alien again.”

Wow! Such a simple sentence can say so much.

I’m not saying that the pressure to get back to your pre-baby body isn’t real in our society today. I’m sure after I have a baby one day, I myself will struggle with the pull to try and manipulate my body back to it’s “normal” self. But to imply that doing so means isolating myself from people and being miserable for a period of time due to lack of food and crazy exercise, well, that just seems a bit extreme.

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A few weeks ago this article caught my attention, Dating 101: Four Things Never to Utter Around Him and I thought #3 was fascinating of course.

Turnoff #3: Your Bad Body Image and Food Issues
“First it was the grapefruit diet. Then it was Jenny Craig. Now it’s the Fatkins thing. My girlfriend tries a new diet about once a month, and she explains how she’s convinced that this is the one that’s going to help her lose weight. I always remind her that the reason I asked her out in the first place is because I think she’s beautiful. I wouldn’t be attracted to her if she looked like a string bean.” — Derek, 29

Now, I’m not one to put a lot of stock into internet dating tips but I thought this one had a point. Assuming that you are in a caring relationship, your man is with you because he thinks you are beautiful and wonderful the way you are. And more than that, he’s probably not too interested in hearing you trash the love of his life. So, do yourself and your relationship a favor and start caring about and loving yourself the way your loved ones do. Here’s a healthy alternative: look at yourself in the mirror and try to see yourself the way that those who love you do. Make a list of what makes you beautiful. As simple as it sounds, this is not an easy thing to do. Believe me, I know. However, once you start seeing yourself the way those who love you do, a whole new world of freedom begins to open up.

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I came a across a recent article in which British researchers claim we only need 7 minutes of exercise a week to maintain a healthy lifestyle. What? Wait a minute! Am I the only one who feels I have been lied to? Remember those doctors who always said at least 30 minutes a day? Well, so do I. Now, science changes as much as trends do, so I’m not taking this new research as fact, but I do find it interesting and rather startling that the number is so low compared to what we hear about all the time.

We are no strangers to celebrity work outs which often include strict diets and hours of exercise on a daily basis (in fact I know several friends on this regimen). The point is that we are too easily convinced that we have to overwork and over-think our way into healthy, happy and ultimately thinner versions of ourselves. Now, if you are reading this blog, we hope that your goal is to live a happy and healthy life at any size. We have already stated countless times that the equation, healthy = skinny is not reliable, since health comes in all sizes. We also hope that you won’t spend most of your thoughts trying to figure out how to get skinny.  Trust us when we say that these thoughts will neither make you happy nor healthy. And if you can achieve heavenly bliss in which your mind and body are content in only as little as 7 minutes why not opt for that instead of the overdone and overworked alternative?

Here are ten fun and healthy activities you can do that have nothing to do with overexercising and have everything to do with you enjoying your life.

1. Take a walk with a friend and have a deep meaningful talk.

2. Stretch for a minute every night before you sleep (helps me release tension from my day).

3. Do yoga with your kids or younger siblings.

4. Play catch with your dog.

5. Play volleyball, tennis, basketball or any other social games you can think of.

6. Go dancing with friends.

7. Go for a bike ride along the coast.

8. Learn how to double dutch (this will take more than 7 minutes if you are a complete klutz like me though).

9. Go ice-skating.

10. Go swimming and play Marco Polo.

I’m not one for the “10 tips to a healthier you” type articles, but I list these to show that you really don’t even have to think, let alone, obsess about being healthy. Life was made to be lived to the fullest, and my guess is that if you start enjoying your life with the people you love, you will be on your way to a healthy and happier you.

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We all know that women are willing to do just about anything to lose weight. I’ve heard of some pretty funky things in my day but this one is definitely on the top of my list: the tongue piercing diet. Want to lose a little extra weight? Get your tongue pierced! It will swell and hurt to the point of not being able to eat or drink for several weeks! Drew Barrymore recently got her tongue pierced which resulted in serious swelling, to which she said:

“I couldn’t eat, couldn’t drink for two weeks – great diet in a weird way.”

Maybe I’m being nit-picky here. I’m sure she probably meant the comment in a joking manner. But I think her comment does reveal a mentality that so many women in our society have: pain and physical misery is worth it, if it means you can lose a little (or a lot ) of weight.

The blog Every Woman Has An Eating Disorder had a survey a while back asking the question: “Would you sign up for the stomach bug?” 133 respondents (out of 369) basically said that they would if it meant that they could lose a little weight.

It reminds me of this time when I was at a client’s office. The CEO had recently suffered from a terrible flu for which he was hospitalized. He was telling one of his business partners about the experience and how he dropped ten pounds during his period of sickness. The woman responded “Oh Wow, that’s nice! I wish that would happen to me,” To which he responded, “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy!” (Mind you this woman is middle-aged and probably no bigger than a size 4).

All of this just goes to show how twisted our mentality is about weight, even if it’s only just a few pounds. Thinner is always better; no matter the cost to get there. As harmless as Drew’s comment may seem to some people, I find it extremely problematic because it actually reflects the way many women in the world think about their bodies and their desire to lose weight.

I say forget about the tongue piercing diet (and all other diets for that matter) and let’s strive to live happy and healthy lives, free of the incessant desire to drop pounds, even if it means illness.

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