Saturday, August 22, 2015

If the dress fits…

My go-to plan is to start each day with exercise. Some days I run. Some days it’s strength training at the gym. And there’s one day of Power Yoga.

Not only does this regimen set structure for the open schedule of my freelance life, it keeps me in the same dress size I’ve had for just about ever. And I’ve been proud of that. My baby boomer body fits well in the size 8 clothes tucked in my drawers and closet.

Then I read an article about “the absurdity of women’s clothing sizes.” The first line of the story gave me pause. It cited these facts: “A size 8 dress today is nearly the equivalent of a size 16 dress in 1958.”

I immediately felt bigger, more like a size 16, even though nothing had changed from moments before when I was a happy size 8. That’s the power of body image and of the printed word. I read something new, and I take the information to heart. My perspective changes. I should know this. I write for a living.

At least I’m not so worried about the personal trainer I interviewed last month for an article. She dropped from a size 22 to a size 0. What is size 0? And, more important, what happens if she loses more weight?

I’m not fixated on weight, really I’m not, but I was happy to finally find a pair of skinny jeans. That satisfaction was short-lived after reading an article titled “'Skinny Jeans' Linked to Woman’s Nerve Damage.”

As the subhead explained: “After spending the day squatting in too-tight pants, she temporarily couldn’t walk.” This woman ended up in the hospital. Her injury came from emptying cabinets. Her feet became numb. She had difficulty walking. She tripped and fell, and it was hours before she was found lying on the ground. It took four days of treatment before she could walk on her own and was able to leave the hospital.

And that’s when I stopped worrying about trying to look skinny. I’d rather walk. And run. And do yoga. I will focus less on the size outcome of exercising and more on the health and well-being that comes from being active.

And whatever the size, if the dress or jeans fit you well, wear them in good health.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Why TV news makes me sick

How do you keep up on the news? If you’re a millennial, the answer is probably an online website or social media feed. If you’re a baby boomer, you might read the morning paper over a cup of coffee, although that paper may be delivered electronically to your tablet.

When it comes to evening newscasts, audience erosion has been ongoing. While polls and surveys try to determine the cause, they're looking in the wrong places. I don't believe it's about the number of interviews, live reports, or story length.

I’ve been a steadfast viewer of national TV news, but I don’t know how much longer I can keep on watching. The problem is this: TV news makes me feel sick, and it doesn’t matter which network I’m watching.

It goes beyond the violence and vindictiveness and treachery of politics and world events. It’s what happens between news segments that is turning me off. Commercials are the easy fall guy for losing viewers, but it’s more the type of ad that plays during the dinner hour.

The other night I counted 17 commercials and three network promos in one half-hour program, with 10 of those ads targeted to medical maladies, and most of those related to senior citizens.

The reason I may abandon Lester Holt, Scott Pelley, David Muir, and other evening anchors is the fatigue factor of commercial breaks, most of which echo the refrain, “Ask your doctor whether X is right for you.”

Even worse than hearing the gritty details of toenail fungus or gas bloating during dinner is seeing the disturbing animations. And what about all those wistful, unsatisfied women lounging about, hoping their men will pop a little pill to provide up to four hours of pleasure.

I always wonder what households with little children do, as kids are quick to pick up on and ask about things you wish they hadn’t overheard. “Mommy, what is that lady talking about? Are you experiencing vaginal pain during intercourse due to menopause?”

It’s not a matter of being squeamish about discussing medical issues. It’s more a matter of assumption. It seems advertisers assume only older, infirm people watch the news. That’s when they gang up ads for joint pain, erectile dysfunction, cancer treatments, COPD, depression, nutritional supplements, denture adhesive, heartburn, arthritis, menopause, dry eye, dry mouth, and so on.

Nearly every commercial includes a long list of potential side effects that must be mentioned, usually at top speed, in the last few seconds of air time. Hearing all that could possibly go wrong is enough to convince me the “cure” could easily be worse than the disease.

I would feel a whole lot better, and TV news might benefit too, if there were healthier commercial breaks.