It’s a battle of the fitness personalities—a legal battle, that is. As reported by The Fashion Law, celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson, founder of her eponymous workout method, is suing Megan Roup, founder of Sculpt Society, for copyright infringement.
Tracy Anderson, her website bio states, moved to New York City on a dance scholarship when she was 18. After years of developing, studying, and refining her workout method, she released the first Tracy Anderson Dance Cardio DVD in 2003. She opened her first studio in LA in 2005, and in 2006, she met and started training Gwyneth Paltrow. Two years later, she appeared on Oprah and has since trained celebrities such as Madonna and Cameron Diaz, to name a few. (Her bio also claims she “started the printed leggings craze” in 2003.)
Megan Roup studied dance at NYU’s Tisch Dance Program and told Verywell that she became a fitness instructor “to make ends meet” while trying to land dancing gigs. She launched The Sculpt Society in 2017 and its app in 2019, and has trained the likes of Shay Mitchell, Elsa Hosk, and Hunter McGrady.
In the court filing, Anderson claims that Roup worked as a trainer for Tracy Anderson Method between 2011-2017. Roup’s LinkedIn is absent of any mention of having worked at Tracy Anderson Method, and her biography on her website references her past as a fitness instructor, but does not specify her employer.” I spent years teaching fitness and developing The Sculpt Society method before launching in 2017,” it reads. (Betches has reached out to a representative for Roup and will update this article if we receive comment.)
In the filing, Anderson alleges Roup “capitalized on the years of research, money, and sweat equity” she put into developing the method and her business, and that shortly after becoming employed at Anderson’s company, Roup began to “plan or create the choreography routines, business plan and structure, and promotional materials that would form the foundation of and help launch TSS.” The Sculpt Society launched one month after Roup left Tracy Anderson.
“In short,” the filing reads, “Roup had access to all material necessary to replicate the TA Method and related business, and she wasted no time in doing so.” Both routines consist of a “choreography-based fitness and mat movement program,” incorporate hand or ankle weights (or other materials), and have a dance cardio component.
Anderson is also claiming that Roup violated an agreement she signed as a trainer which prohibits her from “using or disclosing ‘Confidential Information'” including training materials, manuals, and methods.
Another one of Anderson’s issue with The Sculpt Society is that she alleges it is branded similarly to her program. Both programs emphasize the respective founders’ dance backgrounds, and the abbreviations for both programs contain the letter T and the word “method” — TA Method and TSS Method. (Yes, really.) The filing also alleges the programs are structured similarly — Roup offers 28- or 30-day programs compared to Anderson’s 30-day method. (A Google search for “28 day workout” and “30 day workout” yields numerous results; neither TA nor TSS show up on the front page.)
Nonetheless, Anderson is claiming these similarities create “a likelihood of consumer confusion as to the origin, nature, source, and development of the TSS Method.” The complaint points to The Sculpt Society’s app reviews as evidence of this alleged confusion, citing reviews including “ is brilliant – don’t know how she does it – her reps and routines are genius,” “ movements are unique and better than I could have ever thought of,” and “I am a fellow instructor and her movements/choreography blow me away. How does she come up with such fun and creative workouts?” In other words, Anderson takes issue with the fact that people believe Roup created the workouts used in The Sculpt Society classes.
The Fashion Law notes that copyright applies to choreography “if it contains a sufficient amount of choreographic authorship.” The U.S. Copyright Office specifies that movements such as “a series of aerobic exercises,” “a yoga sequence” (a court ruled in 2015 that a sequence of 26 yoga poses did not meet the bar for copyright protection), or a “complicated routine consisting of classical ballet positions or other types of dance movements intended for use in a fitness class” are “not copyrightable as choreography.”
Anderson is seeking damages and injunctive relief.
PORTLAND—Jennifer Smithers of Portland, Oregon, used to belong to a gym, in pre-pandemic times. But, like millions of women in this country, she left the workforce due to COVID. She was unable to keep up with the essential deadlines at her job working as an art director for a novelty sock company while nursing her infant and facilitating online school for her kindergartner.
“It all became too much,” Smithers says via a Zoom phone interview, explaining why she canceled her Equinox membership. Her living room behind her is strewn with toys, books, a Peloton, a weight bench, a Pilates reformer, a couch, a TV, an ergonomic desk currently being used as a drying rack for cloth diapers, and various bands and weights. Pilates balls of several sizes litter the carpet and her infant is currently pinned under a yoga block.
“As much as I would have loved to keep the gym membership, it was pointless to keep throwing money away on something I wasn’t using. Even with the extra cleaning and safety precautions, I wouldn’t go because it’s just not worth it without the eucalyptus towels or the Juice Press.”
So, what’s a mother to do? Fortunately, in the age of COVID, many exercise companies have pivoted to include online subscriptions.
“I started with a Barre membership,” Smithers says, showing us her makeshift ballet barre, the back of the baby’s crib, “because it requires very little gear.” All she needs for a workout is several resistance bands, a special branded ball, a barre, and some light hand weights, which she purchased on Amazon when demand for home fitness equipment was at an all-time high.
Smithers didn’t stop at the barre, though. “Then, a friend convinced me to hop on the Peloton bandwagon. Okay, so maybe we’re not actually friends, but I follow her on Instagram.”
“I love it. So inspiring. It cost more than our mortgage for the bike and that first month, but then it’s just the monthly fee, so it’s worth it for all the workout access as long as I do at least 30 classes per month. And I can watch recorded classes and do them when I’m up early with the baby.” So far, Jennifer has taken three classes, but she remains optimistic the Peloton will soon pay for itself.
From there, however, the obsession spiraled, perhaps out of control. Smithers is now paying for 15 different at-home workout subscriptions ranging from Pilates to Jazzercise. Tomorrow, she’s signed up for one virtual HIIT class, a yoga Zoom, and a Zoomba (that’s Zoom Zumba), all of which she plans to attend with her camera and mic off, in case she needs to dip out partway through—whether it be because one of her children starts crying or because her muscles do.
“You know what they say—the best workout is the one you enjoy doing,” she explains. “So I’m gonna keep trying to find it.”
Smithers says she doesn’t ever see herself returning to Equinox because it “just isn’t worth the money.”
“It’s hard to justify the expense now that I can do everything right here in my living room,” she says.
“Better to spend money on things I really can’t get anywhere else, instead of throwing money at convenience,” she adds, while using her most recent HelloFresh shipment as a plyo box.
Image: Logan Weaver / Unsplash
NEW YORK—With temperatures rising in the parts of the country that experience seasons, along with vaccine injections, residents are excited for summer and hopeful they can resume something resembling a carefree lifestyle of drinking in public parks and hookups with strangers. And now that bikini season is right around the corner, one New York area woman came to the jarring realization that it is once again time for her to hate her body.
“Is it really time for me to get my bikini body into gear already?” gasped Kelsey, a resident of the Upper East Side. “Without all the constant messaging of how I need to shed my love handles or get rid of my stretch marks, I simply lost track of the time of year!”
For the past 12 months, Kelsey found herself preoccupied not with the newest technology that promised to freeze your fat off or the latest iteration of the thigh gap, but with simply staying alive.
“As nice as that was, I’m glad to be back in my comfort zone of feeling extremely uncomfortable in my own skin, like I just want to rip it off,” she says. “I mean, literally—I fantasize about this a lot. I think I’d start with the flap of skin under my arms.”
And while last April, Kelsey’s main wardrobe concern was locating an effective face covering that wasn’t marked up 6,000%, the 29-year-old says she’s excited to get back to her roots, which include agonizing over her reflection in dressing room mirrors and storefront windows, trying on every single bikini in the Bloomingdale’s swim section and leaving empty-handed because “bikinis just look weird on me, I guess”, and working salads into every topic of conversation.
As her friends stress over the expectation to wear less clothing after an uncharacteristic year of moving less and drinking and eating more, Kelsey has found another silver lining: “Although small businesses and restaurants have suffered nearly insurmountable setbacks due to the pandemic, on the bright side, there are more companies than ever promising to get me to my goal weight in 30 days!”
“Do I go with the effective, but expected keto? The more glamorous Intermittent Fasting? Maybe I should try that ProLon thing all those influencers are posting about,” she says. “All the options are almost making me nostalgic for the simpler times when all I had to worry about was if dropping groceries off at my parents’ house would kill them.”
Kelsey’s friends have noticed the change, too. They report that during the pandemic, her usual diet talk and hemming and hawing over her jeans size were replaced by nuanced conversations about current events, sexism, and societal double-standards. Now, she’s back to interrogating everyone in her friend circle about how many calories they think are in her tofu and goat cheese scramble.
“Thank god we’re starting to return to normal,” she said with a sigh of relief. “I was starting to become interesting.”
Image: Bruce and Rebecca Meissner /Stocksy
It’s happening. Everybody stay calm. Stay f*cking calm. Mindy Kaling (yes, that Mindy Kaling) stopped by Betches virtual HQ to chat with Betches co-founders and Diet Starts Tomorrow podcast hosts Sami Sage and Aleen Dreksler. She really needs no introduction, but in case you live under a rock, Kaling is an award-winning actress, writer and producer of The Mindy Project, The Office, and more. She’s a f*cking icon if you didn’t already know.
Mindy chatted with Sami and Aleen about her secret pregnancy, being a mother of two, why she has more time for herself nowadays, and the new projects she’s focusing on.
In case you, again, live under a rock, on September 3rd Mindy surprised the world by announcing that she had secretly had a baby in quarantine. We can’t even keep a first date that goes moderately well a secret, so we’re impressed. Mindy talks about how easy it actually was to hide a pregnancy during quarantine, which makes sense since we haven’t seen another person from the chest down in months. She then talks about her new project for HBO Max called The Sex Lives of College Girls and how weird it is to have done the entirety of the beginning of this project via Zoom. She then discusses her book of essays, Nothing Like I Imagined, and her anxiety surrounding releasing a book during a pandemic. She explains she feels being unmarried has provided her with opportunity for other projects and how sometimes she feels the need to slow down.
Watch the whole video below and check out the full episode of Diet Starts Tomorrow.
Image: Cubankite / Shutterstock.com
Even if you are not tuned into the diet industry and its happenings (for which you are 100% better off), you may have heard about the problems with F-Factor, the high-fiber, high-protein diet started by Tanya Zuckerbrot and followed by the likes of Katie Couric and Olivia Culpo. To sum up the issues briefly, a little over two weeks ago (over the course of which I aged at least two years), the NY Times published a story detailing the efforts of influencer Emily Gellis to expose allegedly harmful practices and products of the F-Factor diet and its founder, Tanya Zuckerbrot. Gellis began posting anonymous accounts, and later on-the-record accounts, on her Instagram story of people claiming they had either gone on the diet, consumed the F-Factor products (including high-fiber, high-protein powders and bars), or both, and suffered distressing side effects. These reactions ran the gamut from rashes to lactose insensitivity to G.I. issues and more. That was just one problem; the issue was threefold.
The second complaint was that the F-Factor program itself was nothing short of an eating disorder, with Instagram users describing the diet as a highly restrictive one in which even fruits like bananas were frowned upon, if not outright banned, due to their carb content. (Because we all know someone who’s gained weight from eating too many bananas.) Former F-Factor clients said the program exacerbated or caused disordered eating habits—and that’s only prong two. Prong three is that the reason this information took so long to come out was because of allegations that Zuckerbrot would use various tactics including sending cease and desists to silence detractors, as well as deleting negative comments on Instagram. And now, a new article in Business Insider detailing alleged incidents of shaming and food-policing of former employees at the F-Factor workplace rounds out this picture.
Or, if you didn’t follow any of that: the F-Factor products are causing harm, the diet itself is problematic, and F-Factor is a toxic place to work, allegedly.
Zuckerbrot, for her part, has categorically denied that her products are harmful, eventually releasing a Certificate of Analysis for F-Factor’s chocolate protein powder. She has also refuted any claims that the diet promotes disordered eating and is rejecting allegations that F-Factor was a hostile work environment.
Zuckerbrot told Business Insider in an interview that the bad press about her is “shocking” and “horrible”, saying, “If you Google my name, up until the past three months, you’ve never read of any complaints or negative comments”. The comment is reminiscent of her persistent claims that of the 170,000-something purchases of F-Factor products, the company only received about 50 complaints. So what’s with these complaints, that as Zuckerbrot puts it, are only mysteriously appearing “10 years later while a smear campaign about is occurring”?
Indeed, according to Jessica Rossman, F-Factor’s Sr. Associate Brand Manager, “people are just trying to take her down.” She says the recent slew of bad press is “absolutely disgraceful,” adding, “these allegations are wild.” While Zuckerbrot feels she’s being personally victimized (I paraphrase), multiple former F-Factor employees told Business Insider that they were actually victims of food shaming and inappropriate behavior at work. They said they feared retaliation or retribution from Zuckerbrot for going public with their claims about the work environment at F-Factor. Zuckerbrot has hired Michael Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis to correspond with reporters covering the F-Factor allegations, and she’s sent cease-and-desist letters to at least six associates and former employees who decided to speak out publicly against her and the company. She told Insider that the allegations against her are “all either false or misleading”.
So let’s go through some of these allegations.
Sarah (not her real name), a dietician who used to work at F-Factor, told Insider that she was met with judgmental comments from Zuckerbrot within minutes of eating her first homemade lunch on her first day on the job. The lunch was whole-wheat pasta and turkey meatballs. She claims Zuckerbrot said to her, “I can’t believe you’re eating pasta. We never do that.” Another employee who witnessed the incident corroborated her account. Zuckerbrot said, “Healthy eating was encouraged, but not policed” in the office, clarifying that when clients would come in, out of respect for them, staff would be encouraged to put unhealthy foods out of sight.
Even though Zuckerbrot claims that you can eat whatever you want on F-Factor, telling Betches co-founder Aleen Kuperman on a January 2019 episode of the Diet Starts Tomorrow podcast, “I get to eat mac ‘n cheese. I get to have jalapeño cheddar biscuits. F-Factor gives you carbs,” claims of both followers of the diet and former employees paint a different story. For one, there are the claims that even fruit is demonized on the diet, leading Zuckerbrot to go on IG Live earlier this week to make a smoothie using half a banana, remarking that half a banana has the same amount of carbs as a slice of white bread. Similarly, former employees claim the “you can eat carbs” attitude F-Factor and Zuckerbrot proudly tout did not extend to the office. In one alleged incident, cupcakes that were brought into the office for someone’s birthday were packaged up before anyone could eat them, with Zuckerbrot instructing the person whose birthday it was to take them home. A former intern also told Insider about a team holiday dinner at a restaurant that served popovers, recounting how the team were sneaking them under the table because they didn’t want Tanya to catch them eating the popovers. Zuckerbrot said the cupcake allegation was “false” and also told Insider that she “enjoys popovers and eats them from time to time,” adding that she “feels badly that someone felt uncomfortable eating popovers in front of her.”
There are other examples like this—one where the dietician claimed the team went out to lunch at Bloomingdale’s, and a secretary tried to order frozen yogurt (frozen yogurt!) but took it back upon receiving a pointed glare from Zuckerbrot. Zuckerbrot’s rep claims she “never would have done this,” though, since she loves froyo, “particularly the chocolate flavor ‘Forty Carrots’ from Bloomies.” You get the gist: all these very specific and detailed allegations are completely false, and in fact, Tanya would never discourage anyone from eating because Tanya loves !
In response to growing calls for an apology or acknowledgement of any kind, for either the disordered eating practices or the products or both, F-Factor announced on their Instagram that they have dedicated a new page on their website where they “correct the record and provide factual support to the most common questions receive”. The webpage is appropriately located at the URL ffactor.com/facts. On the page, F-Factor maintains that out of 174,000+ orders over the past 2 years, they have only received 50 health-related complaints. They insist that F-Factor products are safe, “manufactured in the United States, are NON-GMO, and use only natural ingredients”, and repeat Zuckerbrot’s earlier claims that the products contain trace metals only because they are natural. There is also a link to the Certificate of Analysis for the chocolate, vanilla, and unflavored protein powders, with certain information redacted.
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Additionally, there is a section dedicated to dispelling the claim that F-Factor encourages “unhealthy weight loss and even possibly eating disorders”, quoting portions of the book, including one part that states participants on Step 2 (of 3) can choose how many carbs they want to eat. There’s also a part that encourages followers to eat vegetables (though above the quoted passage, the site specifies that means “non-starchy vegetables”, which can be eaten in unlimited quantities at any stage of the plan).
Instagram users still aren’t satisfied, and many are clamoring for an apology. One commenter wrote under @f_factor’s newest post, “You know what’s so crazy about all of this? The fact that as a company you can’t just say hey, we’re sorry if our products have caused you any harm.” Another Instagram commenter asked, “Why haven’t you issued an apology yet?”
Instead of apologizing, Zuckerbrot went live on Instagram on Wednesday to express her shock and dismay that people are accusing F-Factor of promoting disordered eating. She also urged users not to trust nutrition or diet advice they see on Instagram—even her advice.
This article has been updated to correctly reflect Rossman’s title at F-Factor.
Images: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images; @f_factor / Instagram
It’s a sad day in the fitness community, as mega-influencer Kayla Itsines announced that she and her fiancé Tobi Pearce have split after eight years together. Kayla announced the news in an Instagram post to her 12 million followers on Friday, and she made it clear that she and Tobi still have love for each other. While she didn’t get into specifics about what caused the separation, Kayla wrote that she and Tobi “will always be family, and remain good friends.”
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After eight years together, Tobi and I have come to the difficult decision to separate as a couple. We will always be family, and remain good friends and devoted parents to Arna. We have grown up together in Adelaide, sharing a lifetime of experiences and special memories from moving into our first apartment and starting SWEAT from our lounge room to becoming parents to our beautiful daughter. Our friendship remains strong as we parent Arna together and run SWEAT as business partners. Thank you for your support and kindness during this time.
As Kayla said in her post, she and Tobi were together for eight years, and her followers have been there for all the major milestones in their relationship. After years of living together and working together, they got engaged in April 2018, and Kayla announced her pregnancy later that year. In April of last year, they welcomed their daughter Arna, who is now one year old (and seriously cute). Just last month, Kayla wished Tobi a happy birthday in a lovely Instagram post, so the split came as a major surprise to many fans.
Along with being partners in life, Kayla and Tobi have also been long-term partners in business, and Kayla makes it clear in her post that their professional relationship isn’t ending here. After gaining popularity as a trainer years ago, it was actually at Tobi’s suggestion that Kayla first launched the Bikini Body Training program in 2013. With Kayla as director and Tobi as CEO, the company quickly grew, and their Bikini Body Guide e-books, released in 2014, proved extremely popular, being downloaded over a million times within the first nine months of launch.
In 2015, Kayla and Tobi moved into the fitness app space with SWEAT, which offers a huge range of fitness content aimed at women. The app has been a huge success, reportedly making a casual $77 million in 2018 alone. The content on the app has grown and shifted in sync with Kayla’s life over the years, with increased offerings specifically for pregnant women and new moms. Kayla also happened to be the first-ever guest on the Diet Starts Tomorrow podcast (and you can listen to her episode below). Basically, Kayla Itsines is fitness royalty, and while her face is at the front of these business ventures, she and Tobi have been partners for this whole journey. Whatever may have happened in their relationship to cause the split, it’s comforting to know that they’re still in a good place with each other both for their business, and most importantly, for their daughter.
Images: Don Arnold/WireImage; kayla_itsines / Instagram
You’ve heard it from your mother, your dermatologist, your first-grade teacher, and even Baz Luhrmann: Wear sunscreen. With the wealth of knowledge we now have on sunscreen’s ability to reduce our risk of skin cancer and to protect against sun damage like wrinkles, dark spots, and sagginess, it seems wild to think that some still skip this crucial step in their daily skin care routines. But in reality, the increasingly oversaturated sunscreen market and the onslaught of information, studies, and data surrounding it can often have a detrimental effect on consumers, leaving them unsure of what to believe and whom to trust. Over the years, certain myths about sunscreen have permeated our culture, and even the wisest of skin experts have fallen victim to them. With a scorching summer already upon us, it’s more important than ever to not only debunk these misconceptions but also to understand why they’re inaccurate.
Myth #1: Sunscreen Is Not Necessary Indoors, On Cloudy Days, Or Inside A Car
“False, false, false!” says Dr. Shereene Idriss, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “Yes, clouds do reduce some of the harmful UV rays, but they don’t block them all, particularly in areas where the ozone layer is dramatically reduced.” It’s also important to realize that UV light is not alone in its ability to cause harm. Outdoors, UV light, in the forms of UVA and UVB, can impact skin aging and increase the risk of skin cancer. Some of that light can travel indoors through windows, but we’re also exposed to other types of light indoors, including visible light and blue light, which can also impact the skin. For that reason, it’s crucial that sunscreen be worn daily, and it should not be skipped just because you’re inside.
Myth #2: One Application Of Sunscreen Will Last All Day
“If you have discovered the sunscreen that lasts up to 24 hours, please let us all in on that secret!” Dr. Idriss jokes. In fact, not only will one application of sunscreen not last all day, but it will last just a couple of hours. “Most sunscreens are tested for a specific amount of time, and that’s on average two hours,” explains Dr. Caroline Robinson, a Chicago-based board-certified dermatologist and founder of TONE Dermatology. “After two hours, the SPF protection goes down significantly, so you do need to reapply to maintain that initial level of protection.” If you are in the sun, reapplication every two hours is imperative, but if you’re mostly indoors, you can be slightly more lenient in reapplying so long as you apply before stepping outside again. “I tell people to bring a sunscreen brush, like ISDIN’s, with them wherever they go and quickly apply that to their arms and face and any exposed skin before going back outside,” Dr. Robinson notes.
Myth #3: The Higher The SPF, The Better The Protection
While this is not totally true, there is some logic behind the belief. “The SPF number does not reflect the duration of efficacy of the sunscreen; it indicates how long it would take for your skin to redden when using the product,” Dr. Idriss says. “So, for example, if you are using an SPF of 30, it would take 30 times longer for you to burn while using the sunscreen versus if you didn’t use it all.” There is also proof that the higher the SPF, the more protected you will be—but only to a certain point. “SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB, whereas SPF 30 blocks 97%, and SPF 50 blocks 98%,” the New York dermatologist explains. “This may seem like a negligible gain in protection, but if you are prone to sunburns or skin cancers, that little gain can make a world of a difference.”
Once you go above SPF 50, though, the difference in protection is quite small. Dr. Robinson says a nickel-sized amount of sunscreen is required to cover the whole face and about a shot-glass full is necessary to cover the whole body. “But if you know that you’re not going to follow those recommended amounts—and most don’t—then you can actually benefit from a higher SPF,” she advises. “In doing so, you can get a similar protection to an SPF 30, which is what those measurements are based on, but you can get it with less than the nickel- and shot-glass-sized amounts.” Essentially, it will be more thinly spread than the recommended amounts would, but because it’s a higher SPF, it will be roughly as powerful.
Myth #4: People With Darker Skin Tones Don’t Need To Wear Sunscreen
“This is a misconception I’ve been fighting for a very long time,” says Dr. Robinson. “While people with darker skin tones are indeed less likely to burn, they aren’t immune from sun damage, and oftentimes, it will develop in the form of hyperpigmentation—potentially even more dramatically than sun damage would manifest on lighter skin tones.” Additionally, certain conditions, including post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (dark spots that result from acne or irritation to the skin) and melasma, can be worsened by sun exposure, especially in people of color. So, even if your sun damage doesn’t come in the form of the traditional sunburn or freckles, it’s still important to wear sunscreen in order to protect your skin from other damage.
Myth #5: If You’re Not Prone To Burning, You Don’t Need To Wear Sunscreen
Much like the belief that those with darker skin tones don’t need sunscreen, there’s a misconception that if you don’t burn, you similarly don’t need SPF. “There’s this idea that just because you tan, you’re fine, but tanning can actually be a system of sun damage,” Dr. Robinson explains. “You can have enough exposure to the point where you no longer burn; your skin just goes straight to tan, and that’s not a good thing.” Immediate tanning can be an indication that your skin has skipped the warning response of burning entirely, and that’s actually a sign that your skin is damaged.
Myth #6: If You Wear Sunscreen, You Won’t Get A Tan
Many refrain from wearing sunscreen because they claim it will keep them from achieving that oh-so-coveted sun-kissed glow. But, as Dr. Idriss says, this is once again false. “Sunscreen makes your skin slower to react to UV rays,” she notes, “but it doesn’t prevent it from reacting altogether.” You can definitely still get a tan while safely protecting your skin with sunscreen.
Myth #7: Wearing Makeup That Has SPF In It Is Enough
Absolutely not! “Most makeups that include an SPF are not tested to the extent that sunscreens are, especially compared to the sunscreens that carry extra credentials, like an endorsement from the Skin Cancer Foundation, or anything like that,” Dr. Robinson explains. In order to reap the full benefits of the SPF listed on your makeup, you would need to use a hefty amount, up to the size of a nickel, and unless you’re a Kardashian, you’re probably not equipped to wear that much makeup. You also likely won’t be putting makeup on your ears, neck, chest, or any of the many regions of the body that are not the face but are equally susceptible to sun damage, and you won’t be reapplying makeup every two hours as you would sunscreen.
Myth #8: Spray Or Powder Sunscreen Is Just As Effective As Lotion
As new agents of delivery have come to the sunscreen market over the years, they’ve often appeared to be solutions to the stickiness and getting-it-in-your-eye tendency of traditional lotion, and while that can be true, spray and powder sunscreens can also have their shortcomings. “They can definitely be as effective, but a lot more needs to be applied in order to reach the same level of effectiveness,” says Dr. Idriss. Unlike lotion sunscreens, applying a spray or powder means that some of its contents will not land on the actual skin, so you’ll need to as much as double the amount you’re using.
Myth #9: Sunscreen Can Lead To Cancer Or Other Health Problems
While an alarmingly common belief, the idea that sunscreen can cause cancer or any other health issue is founded in no truth. “I wish this myth would go away because it’s been disproven time and again,” Dr. Robinson says. “Sunscreen does not cause cancer, and there have been so many studies to show that, but they sadly don’t make the headlines as much.” And if you’re really worried, do as Dr. Idriss suggests and simply opt for a physical sunscreen instead of a chemical one.
Myth #10: There’s No Real Difference Between Chemical And Mineral/Physical Sunscreens
Although both types of sunscreen achieve the same goal, scientifically, they work very differently. “Mineral and physical are interchangeable terms, and the most common ingredient in those sunscreens is either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide,” explains Dr. Robinson. “Those are metals, and if you think about a sheet of metal, you know that it literally just reflects light; so, physical sunscreens sit on top of skin and reflect the UV rays and scatter light.” Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, absorb the UV light and put it through a chemical reaction (their namesake comes from this) that converts the light to heat. “Because the chemical sunscreens have to first absorb the light, they take a little longer to become active, so you can’t apply them while you’re outside or even right before,” the Chicago dermatologist notes. “You have to allow at least a few minutes, which the bottle will tell you.”
Some people can be more sensitive to the ingredients in chemical sunscreens, so for babies, children, and anyone with sensitive skin, a physical sunscreen is the way to go. Historically, some consumers have shied away from physical options because they can leave more of a white film, but some recent additions to the sunscreen market have gotten around that with advanced technologies. Dr. Robinson recommends SkinBetter’s SunBetter Stick, a physical SPF 56 sunscreen which uses a new technology to uniquely shape the zinc particles so that they sit atop the skin without leaving the familiar white cast. She also loves Eryfotona Actinica from ISDIN, another physical option that uses DNA Repairsomes to repair DNA damage that can come from sun exposure, and Revision Skincare’s IntelliShade TruPhysical, which has Vitamin C in it and effectively serves as two necessary products in one.
Myth #11: If You Didn’t Wear Sunscreen When You Were Younger And Already Have Sun Damange, There’s No Point In Wearing It Now
“Although most of the damage is actually accumulated while you’re younger (typically before the age of 18), it doesn’t make you immune to worsening damage,” Dr. Idriss says. Indeed, sunscreen protects from the visible signs of aging caused by sun exposure, but it also reduces your risk of skin cancer, and that alone is reason to start or continue wearing it even if you’ve already suffered some sun damage. “I recommend you adopt a ‘never give up’ attitude,” suggests Dr. Idriss. “You only have the skin you’re in, and hopefully your life will be long, so you might as well protect and enjoy it every step of the way.”
Myth #12: Sunscreen Never Expires
Of all the myths that exist about sunscreen, the notion that it doesn’t expire might be the most outlandish. “Sunscreen is doing a lot of work, so when you’re applying it, you want to be confident that you’re getting the coverage you think you are,” Dr. Robinson explains. Like everything in life, sunscreen has an expiration date, and you can find it by looking at the back or bottom of the bottle. As for any wiggle room when it comes to that expiration, like the “five-day rule” for milk, Dr. Robinson says, “we don’t take chances with sunscreen.”
Images: Retha Ferguson / Pexels; Maciej Serafinowicz / Unsplash; Antonio Gabola / Unsplash; Taylor Simpson / Unsplash
We’re back! In this installment of F*ck Your Diet, I am going to explain how I actually stopped dieting. But if you’re new here, read the first two installments to get some context. My first installment is about how I’d been binging on food since I was a child, and the second installment is about my experience dieting for 10 years to try and control my “addiction,” which only made my “addiction” to food worse.
When I set out to heal my eating, I had already spent a handful of years (before my final stint on the paleo diet) thinking I was “listening to my body” and “eating intuitively.” But I wasn’t really. What I was actually doing was constantly trying to eat the smallest amount possible. I assumed that the more intuitive I was, and the more precisely I listened to my hunger, the less I would eat. I soaked up the belief that leaving the table slightly hungry was healthier than leaving the table slightly full. I believed, truly, that thinner was always healthier, and that if I could just get my act together and be permanently skinny, that all of my health problems, including my PCOS, would go away. (And all of my other problems too.)
I also spent a good bit of this time thinking I was being balanced and responsible and chic by eating “like a French woman.” Seriously. My eating was straight out of the book French Women Don’t Get Fat, and I thought I had found the answer: Frenchness. This wasn’t a diet! This was culture! This was aspirational food snobbery! I (thought I) was eating whatever I wanted, just in small quantities! I also ate everything really slowly. I felt bad if I ever wanted to eat a whole brownie, because a French person would probably only eat half of a brownie, if they even ate brownies at all. Which, ugh, they probably don’t even eat brownies. I should be having a fruit clafoutis!!!!
Beyond brownie panic, I thought that because I wasn’t formally on a diet, I was healed from my “food addiction”. But I wasn’t. I was still over-worried about amounts of food, my goal was still always thinness, and I still thought about food. A lot.
It took 10 years for me to realize that micromanaging food and carbs, and trying to force myself to lose the 10-15 pounds that I’d lost and just gained back, had been really bad for me. It definitely wasn’t good for me mentally, but it also wasn’t healthy physically. The toughest thing to wrap my head around was that diets were not helpful, because what I had been doing with diets and weight loss was culturally normal and encouraged. Everyone’s doing it! Everyone’s talking about it and complaining about it and trying to lose the same 10-15 pounds I am. It really didn’t seem like I was undereating at all. I was just focused on healthy food and wellness! I mean, honestly, according to the calorie allotments in fitness apps, I was overeating every day. Plus, I binged for God’s sake. PLUS! I didn’t look emaciated, or like I had a problem with food. I actually gained weight really easily. My problem, ever since I was a child, had been eating too much. So, the idea that I had a problem with dieting was a hard pill to swallow.
But here I was, still obsessed with food after 10 years of dieting, and I finally started learning that our bodies are wired to push us off our diets. And instead of fighting back against our bodies, we need to just… stop it. This is something I go into even more in detail in the second installment (so go there and read it!) But, TL;DR: I started learning about the inevitable metabolic backlash with diets—that we are wired to fixate on food, binge, and gain weight when we try and force weight loss, all to save us from ourselves. Apparently, our bodies insist we put weight back on so they feels safe. And to ensure that happens, your body either slows down metabolically, and/or it fixates you on food, so food tastes better, you feel even hungrier, and actually keeps your brain thinking more about food than it otherwise would (source). Our bodies are literally pushing us off our diets. On purpose.
I’d spent ten years fighting this cycle. I would put my body on a diet, then my body would fight back and push me off, and instead of being like, “Ooh, sorry body, I’ll take care of you in a gentle way,” I would put it back on another diet, and the cycle continued. All the while, I started feeling more and more out of control around food, and blamed it on my gluttony, and what had to be a food addiction.
But if forcing your body back onto a diet is part of staying in the diet cycle, then the logical and terrifying answer to get out of the cycle was to…stop. Stop constantly trying to suppress both my eating and my weight. Which, plainly, meant that I had to eat whatever my body needed. And I had to let myself gain whatever weight my body needed to gain.
And let me be clear: I was terrified. But I was so tired of fighting my body and hating myself for not being a tiny little fairy person. I was run-down physically and emotionally by a decade of dieting and hating myself.
So I started eating. A lot. And doing my very best to actually allow it all and work through my panic and guilt. This is the part people are fascinated by: Ok but what did you eat? How much did you eat? How much weight did you gain? How did you actually push through fear of eating certain things or certain amounts? So, I am going to try and remember the specifics as well as I can, even though this was almost eight years ago, and at this point, it’s all a blur of meals. (With the caveat that anyone who embarks on this sort of uncharted intuitive food healing journey will have a different set of experiences, and a different set of specific fears to work through, and I definitely recommend a non-diet dietitian even though I didn’t work with one, because I didn’t really understand that this was a thing.)
I had been coming off of the paleo diet, so I was still afraid of bread and gluten and grains. I was also extremely afraid of “industrial seed-oils.” To be perfectly clear, just in case you think that I’m claiming that McDonald’s is a health food (I’m not): I still don’t think weird oils that come from a cotton seed are health foods, but neither is vodka, and vodka is still allowed on the keto diet, so let’s just put everything in perspective please. Also, having small emotional breakdowns in restaurants, just because they probably (definitely) use less-than-perfect cooking oils, is far, far worse for us than just eating some f*cking corn oil and moving on with our lives. I had no desire to continue my life being afraid of nachos, so I pushed through my fear of strange oils so I could stop lying in bed, ruminating about the worldwide olive oil scam.
At the same time, the paleo diet is generally calorie-positive and encouraging of “healthy fats” (they have their own rules about what healthy fats are). So, when I started my “F*ck It Diet” (which is what I named my new “diet”, and my website, and years later, my book) I wasn’t afraid of calories. But I was afraid of carbs. And some fruit. And grains. I was a little afraid of dairy. And any oil that wasn’t coconut or olive oil. And I was afraid, of course, of gaining weight. But I knew that the way to get over all of those fears was to face them.
So the first thing I did was up my carbs and start to eat a lot of butter and dairy. I started eating lots of potatoes and ice cream. In my head, I was trying to “eat myself” to a place where my body wasn’t starved for carbs and calories, and where my mind wasn’t starved, denied, or petrified of certain foods. I believed (correctly) that if I could get out of that metabolic and mental cycle by actually eating a lot of food, consistently, for a long time, that my appetite would eventually normalize. And it did.
But first, I had to keep eating. I eventually added in bread (I did not die from the gluten! In fact, I felt very normal. Because I do not, in fact, have a gluten sensitivity). I also turned what used to be my late-night binges into deliberate and allowed feasts. I would sit down and bring out everything I wanted to eat, and I would lay it all out on the table and let myself eat whatever I wanted in a relatively calm way. I would often still eat a lot, but because it was allowed, it wasn’t a binge anymore. It was just eating a big snack. And then I went to bed.
And yes, I did gain weight. Which I expected to, and knew had to be part of the process for me. I went up a few clothing sizes. But it wasn’t the exponential weight gain that everyone fears will happen when you stop dieting. The truth is that everyone’s body does something different when they stop dieting, depending on lots of factors. Some people need to gain a lot of weight, some people a little, some people stay the same, and some people lose weight without gaining weight first (I’d say that one is the rarest). Before, I thought that I had to be one of the people who lost weight. But in order to heal, I actually had to gain weight.
It took a good solid six months (and even longer to work through lots of cultural conditioning), but the more I ate and allowed foods, the more normal around food I became. The foods I thought I would never ever be able to “control myself” around stopped having power over me. I could take them or leave them. I stopped fixating on food. I stopped daydreaming about food. I stopped planning my life around meals. Meals happened. I ate what I wanted—and moved on. I stopped losing control while I was eating. I just…ate. I started getting bored of my food mid-meal once I got full. That never used to happen. I used to charge on past fullness and finish that whole bowl and then move onto the bag of chips and the full pantry of snacks.
The longer I proved to my body (and mind) that there would always be whatever food I wanted and needed, and that I would always let myself eat as amply as I wanted, the more normal my relationship to food became. And as my panic fell away, my binging also fell away and also became just…eating. The “food addiction” that I had experienced my entire life was gone. My binging, compulsive eating, and obsession with food, had actually pre-dated my dieting. I thought I had been born that way, but my binging on friend’s snacks was actually the result of feeling restricted, which is pretty eye-opening to how much our mental relationship with food can control our physical appetite.
Not only do restriction and dieting set us up to feel out of control around food, but so does diet culture. Being surrounded by weight loss ads, having constant guilt about what we are eating and what we look like, affects our relationship with food, whether we are fully aware of it or not.
When I talk about this (and I talk about it a lot, and wrote a book on it), it actually really pisses some people off. People either have a revelatory experience about their own relationship with food, dieting, and weight, or they immediately hate me. It turns out, dieting, weight loss, and the concept of “food addiction” is a very polarizing and charged subject! It’s especially charged for people who have felt food-addicted their whole lives, or for people who have always used food to soothe themselves. Hearing me say that food addiction isn’t actually food addiction, or that they don’t actually need to spend their entire lives micromanaging their food and weight, immediately puts people on guard. I know it might feel annoying to hear me say that food addiction isn’t actually food addiction, so I want to take the time to unpack it a little bit more.
The experience of food addiction and compulsion is very real. And, the truth is, humans can develop an emotional dependence on literally anything: gambling, bad relationships, Instagram likes, and even cookies. So, yes, anyone can become “addicted” to food the same way they get addicted to praise or gambling, but it still doesn’t make dieting the cure.
Food is inherently different from other addictions. It’s different from both physical addictions, like a drug addiction, and different from mental addictions, like video games and gambling, because we need food, multiple times a day, to survive. And despite lots of fear mongering over how addictive food is, food and sugar itself is not addictive like cocaine. But, at the same time, we are wired to feel and act addicted to food when there’s any form of food scarcity. This is for our survival. We have evolved this way. Demonizing our enjoyment of food is actually not helpful at all. When there is any food scarcity, a hormone in our body actually wire us to feel hungrier, to make food taste better to us, and to fixate us on food. And food scarcity can take the form of actual food scarcity because of poverty or famine, or self-imposed (or culture-imposed) scarcity, like a diet. Or! Even just the threat of another diet. (“I’ve been so bad today I need to diet tomorrow!”) So, dieting can actually make the experience of food addiction (and emotional eating) worse.
Ok, have I done enough to piss everyone off yet in this article? My next and final installment will be filling in some of the gaps. I’m going to talk more about emotions and emotional eating, I’m going to talk about cultural beliefs and mental resistance that I see popping up for people who try to go on a similar eating journey, I’m going to talk about exercise, and about pervasive cultural weight stigma that keeps people stuck, and perpetuates our dysfunction with food in the first place. And I’m going to talk more about what my eating (and life) is like now, eight years after embarking on this F*ck It Diet journey. But until then, I will be eating cheese, because I am not, in fact, lactose intolerant like I convinced myself I was for 15 years.
Images: thefuckitdiet (3) / Instagram