Why pay Noom's prices when any celebrity's Instagram will give you the same questionable advice for free?

Plus: Boohoo ended for body positivity by a "body positive" influencer, and old school lifting is juuust fine.

Hi, all. Some of you have been on this list for years, and may remember my old TinyLetter (so if this is a surprise to you—hi again!). Some of you are new to this space as of a couple days ago. And some of you even subscribed with your dollars. But nonetheless, we’re doing this again, and I’m grateful to see you all here; you are like a Shake Shack burger at the end of several sets of Bulgarian split squats. 

I wanted to send a quick1 email because I’m going, not just out of town, but off the grid for a week on Sunday to camp in the Adirondacks, where I am from, a vacation we were planning before… aaalll this. Now instead of being a vacation, it going to become a dang “journey of the mind and soul” on a little patch of dirt in practically Canada. Have you ever even passed through the beautiful and tragic husk of the industrial town you grew up in and seen it with new eyes because you were at a personal crossroads, bro? The timing is either very good or very bad, and I won’t know til it’s over, and no one else will either, because I won’t be able to tell them.

Anyway, I didn’t want you to think I ran off to start a new life (I’m not anywhere close to getting enough money for that yet, but if you want to help me change that, upgrade your sub with the button below and tell your friends). If you’re here for the classic advice-style Ask A Swole Woman column, don’t worry, that will be coming to your inbox via this letter too. But here is some stuff to hopefully entertain you in the meantime.


Eat

Christine Byrne did the takedown the world needed: Noom is just another diet, replete with 1200-calorie limits and no-no foods (and insanely expensive? You can get the same bad guidance from any celebrity’s “what I eat in a day” Instagram post or YouTube video for free). Goodbye to Noom! Don’t want to see you around here anymore!

Not entirely unrelated, my friend Caroline Moss interviewed RDN Nicole Cruz on reparenting yourself when it comes to food “rules” on her podcast Gee Thanks Just Bought It! I love the idea of trying to strip oneself back down to a first-principles relationship with food like this, at the place where a lot of the unrealistic expectations placed on us started.

Did you know you can buy surplus fitness equipment, including weights, on GovDeals? I did not!

A new study showed that our metabolism doesn’t slow down as we age during the time we worry most about that; in fact, between age 20 and 60 is the only time when it’s steady. It feels obvious, to me, our activity levels and eating habits just change a lot in that time period (and, I’m betting, we lose muscle mass as a result). We’ve all had the metabolism of a 20-year-old all this time! 

I liked this piece on “flawed fitness shortcuts,” including, “forcing a certain body size.” At the risk of speaking this into existence, because the devil "Advancements in Cosmetic Surgery" works hard, we can’t change the length of our various body parts, or the way we process food or activity, beyond a certain limit, so be nice. 

Sometimes I think pro/semi-pro sports science is more advanced than I can ever imagine, and then other times I read articles like “we stopped depriving these women rowers of food and it helped them ? ?? ? do sport ??” and I have to just… lie down. But to be clear, this is one of the main things food is for.

A post shared by @mikzazon

Drink 

Earlier this week, Mik Zazon, a “body positive” though still straight-sized influencer with nearly a million Instagram followers, got fashion label Boohoo to take down an Instagram post of an ad campaign slogan “normalise [American sic] normal bodies,” a phrase she claims ownership of and to have originated (a situation that some other body-positive influencers regard as “lol”). She also claims to have trademarked it four years ago; the trademark claim was filed in the U.S. in August 2019 and assigned December 2020. Does she have a case? No, not technically; Boohoo’s ads were in the U.K. However, it is always funny on principle to get a brand to submit to a canceling, even if they’re within their rights on the strict legal merits. Commenters also pointed out that the body photo that she claims “started it all” in her tearful callout post also contains her fully-grown dog, which she didn’t obtain til two years ago.

A few weeks ago in my column I went briefly into the role that straight/mid-sized people don’t have in body positivity, because it was created by and for fat people, which would make such a person gatekeeping and monetizing terms around it pretty questionable. I can’t deny, though, that people simply line up around the block for a conventionally beautiful woman contorting herself to make no stomach rolls, and then a couple stomach rolls. But they could do the second part without the first part. And why all this when Meg Boggs and Roz the Diva exist? Anyway—

I don’t have time for why Freddie deBoer is wrong about how “people shouldn’t do old-school lifting” this week, but will make time next week. Especially because:

A post shared by @blogilates

I also don’t have time this week for Blogilates' senseless callouts of dumbbells and barbells in favor of these little kee-kee bodyweight movements (those who follow my @swolewoman IG already know I’m mad). A bunch of you asked me to explain what’s wrong with leaning back on your hands as a substitute for using real weights, and I will be only too happy to explain!! This is what I live for.

Rest

I just bought my first real rain jacket ever this week, after the monsoon that was this NYC summer and in anticipation of rainy fall (and rainy camping, and as has been the case the last few years, rainy winter). And then I got laid off. But fuck it, I’m keeping it.

In the realm of outdoor gear, I was also recently singing the praises of hiking boots to a friend. I no longer have separate rain and snow boots; just a hiking boot will do for my all-season mid-girl walks

I am coping with drastic life changes by chain-watching YouTube videos of people building and/or living in off-grid cabins, like this. Haha don’t worry I’m definitely going to come back from almost-Canada…

If you are newish here, I have a Swole Woman starter pack of articles, as well as five years of archives of my advice column, Ask A Swole Woman, you can get into while I’m away. 

I also started a lifting community Discord that is currently free to join, though eventually will become a subscriber-only perk (if you’re already in there by that time, it will remain free for you, for being ahead of the curve). 

In there, you can check out the beta version of the zero-to-barbell lifting guide I’m working on, LIFTOFF; get a form check on any of your lifts from me and the smart and helpful people in there; read the townspeople’s many, many tips on how to enough protein in your diet; and a lot more. Even if you just want to soak up the good vibes of people who are In It For the Right Reasons when it comes to working out, you are welcome.


As for newsletter business: For the next couple of months, all posts here will be public and free, but I can’t wait to lock this down to reach true levels of mess/uncertainty/chaos with my subs.

As one does when one starts a Substack, I'm cashing in one bitter little digression about media from my collection of frayed "media whoopsies” punchcards, speaking of course in general terms that do not apply to my former employer. Online writing and publishing has been straight-up ruined by SEO, the Google News carousel, and the capricious social platform algorithms, to a degree that I think would surprise you. Trying to triangulate so many dimensions of success is the reason so many publications feel the same now (though I treasure the ones that don’t). 

It’s corny to say, maybe, but there is nothing like reading something someone wrote for the joy of it, which is something that doesn’t happen very much anymore, not unless it happens to check the above boxes first. That is why I’ve been so, so happy to see writers I love hopping on Substack and just having the good fucking time they can’t on sites being crushed to death by metrics that trillion dollar tech companies wield like maces, because the thing they’re excited about doesn’t have a news peg. I hate to sound jaded because I’m not, really; I think or hope this is a natural contraction/expansion that will someday be offset by another expansion/contraction.

Paid subscriptions are 20% off until September 21; you can remember it with this helpful mnemonic device: "when autumn does start, the discount train will depart."

If after reading any or all of this, you have a question you want to ask me for the advice portion of this newsletter, just reply to this email. If there’s something, an Instagram post or a new study or lord forbid, a TikTok you want me to weigh in on, send it. I’m wanting to hear from you; I’m WAITING to hear from you. I’m the only operator, and I’m standing by. 

I love you all. Thank you for your support. Let’s go—

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I wrote this at the top and then it became… long. oh well.