Men's Health is among the handful of magazines I occasionally read independent of this column. Owing to its short story lengths and more-user-friendly-than-Jay-Leno design, the publication encourages quick perusal -- an illustrative sidebar here, a telling statistic there. I pick the darn thing up and the next thing I know, 25 minutes have passed. Men's Health is without peer in presenting practical nutrition and health info, even if the fitness tips don't add a whole lot to the canon of western thought.
Clearly the mag prides itself on fulfilling its cover promise of "tons of useful stuff." The problem -- and I'm not sure how to phrase this delicately -- is that much of the "useful stuff" likely comes across as several levels beyond obvious to anyone of even marginal intelligence or social aptitude. You mean to tell me that women prefer when men make eye contact and exude confidence? Guess I'll have to rethink my strategy of muttering inaudibly and staring at my shoes. And I should ditch the bacon bits from my dinner salad if I hope to lose weight? Eureka!
Too, many of the hints lack staying power. I'll plow through a quickie item on how to manage finances within the context of a relationship and think, "This makes a whole lot of sense." But by the time the mail-order-bride folks deliver the next Ms. Magazine Rack to my door, what are the odds I'll remember what I read? You can only tear-'n-save so much.
So while Men's Health may like to think of itself as a reference guide -- sort of an encyclopedia for guys who can't distinguish their lats from Laetitia Casta (the supermodel, in case you were wondering) -- I find that it's best digested as a short-term diversion. That's not a slap; I just believe that regular readers would lose their minds if they constantly monitored their progress against the gazillions of nuggets offered in each issue.
Besides, the longer stories are what make the October issue purr. The involved examination of addiction (both its underlying causes and treatments) transcends mere service-magazine status, as does an exploration of the link between cardiovascular exercise and mental performance (for the record, I watched 17 straight hours of football before I wrote this piece, never once departing my trusty recliner). Men's Health also scores with a detour of sorts: a smart, twitchy feature on steroid use by police officers. Big props to Sabrina Rubin Erdely for being the first major-mag reporter to chronicle this trend.
Of the smaller pieces, I like the "Bulletins" (health, sex, nutrition, etc.) most. Nearly every tidbit includes a phrase along the lines of "according to" -- University of Helsinki researchers, a new Cornell University study, etc. -- but the section's editors do a precise job of distilling the poached material. Again, kids, it's all in the presentation. Also cleverly diverting are a listing of expiration dates for common household items -- no, I didn't know that I should be replacing my toothbrush every four months, either - and a "Celebrity Food Death Match" in which 50 Cent's vitamin drink gets the tentative nod over Lil Jon's "Crunk!" energy drink.
I'd be interested to see what would happen if I tried to follow all 759 -- excuse me, all 748.5 -- pieces of advice relayed in the October issue of Men's Health. While my shoulders would surely be better rounded and my sexual repertoire might expand to include someone/something called the Double-Dipsy-Doodle, ultimately I'd pass out from the mental strain. If you're only grabbing Men's Health for these shorter tips, you're missing out on some top-shelf reporting.