Anna Wintour be damned. The September/October issue of Weight Watchers magazine features plus-sized models who look nice, but realistically chunky -- unlike fashion magazines where "plus size" means having the teensiest bit of stomach pooch.
Those models are wearing the jeans styles most flattering to women who aren't "a size 10 yet." So here you have reader service blended with subtle inspiration -- typical of the supportive tone of the magazine as a whole.
In fact, the pub's heart is the Weight Watchers member case history, which provides both motivation and helpful tips. For example, there's the story of a married couple who lost a combined total of 106 pounds, with the wife describing how she handles the challenge of eating with -- but less than -- her husband.
One case history quibble: in a story celebrating the magazine's Role Model Of the Year contest, the editors do a poor job of indicating why they picked Sarah Vonhoff as the winner. Her story doesn't get any better placement or more words than the runners-ups' stories, and, based on the write-up alone, isn't any more compelling than theirs.
In fact, for sheer human interest, the case history of the woman who tied her weight loss to her wedding ceremony -- the first ever held on a plane simulating space flight -- is lots more fun and inspiring. (Profiled in the November/December issue, this member said she "didn't want [her] triceps to look flabby and be floating around in space.")
Interesting recipes and food tips -- as well as cutting-edge health information, like the story about how sugar isn't necessarily forbidden for diabetes sufferers -- are another big part of the magazine. I'm definitely trying the Skillet Tempeh Lasagna, and the Celery Root and Potato Latkes.
As you may have guessed by now, "I'm a member," as the Hair Club guy famously says. I joined Weight Watchers this summer. It's not a magic bullet -- nothing is -- but has been very helpful.
So as both member and magazine reviewer, I looked at the exercise features with a critical eye. Unlike mags like Shape or Fitness that cater to gung-ho gym bunnies, Weight Watchers readers presumably run the gamut, including morbidly obese exercise newbies who need to be gently but firmly encouraged to get off the couch. So kudos to the six-page Get Fit section in September/October, which ranges from tips on how to motivate oneself to "move every day" to interesting-to-me info on trail walking. <
But there are only two fitness-oriented pages in November/December. Even in a traditionally food-heavy issue, editors should keep up the drumbeat about how vital exercise is to both weight loss and maintenance, right?
With a reader panel and presumably input from Weight Watchers chapters all over the country, the magazine's direct line to its readers is perhaps unmatched by any other pub. So I'd like to hear more about how members maintain their weight -- maybe through someone's first-person diary. And what about a continuing narrative of several members' weight loss journeys, showing their ups and downs? This could supplement the finished "before and after" case histories that already appear -- and keep readers coming back to hear what happens next.
I'd also like to learn how members deal with the fashion dilemmas that come with losing weight, perhaps in an article supplemented by advice from style gurus. I was so happy to be a size I hadn't been since the 1990s that I bought two pairs of, let's say, not-cheap pants, and they're already too big for me. How do you keep yourself clothed during the weight-loss process without buying a whole new wardrobe each time you go down a size?
Stories like that would help extend the benefits of attending real-life Weight Watchers meetings -- where I get cheers for dropping pounds and hear about a brand of amazingly low-calorie hummus. Through both mag and meeting, I'd like to feel I've gained as much as I've lost.
Published By: Weight Watchers International
Frequency: Six times a yearWeb site