When A Weight Loss Ad Crosses The Line…

I know I joke around a lot on North On Harper, but please take a moment and get a little serious with me.

The below ad is more than controversial, it is downright offensive and arguable unhealthy.  If you have an eating disorder that is easily triggered, than I suggest you not watch it.

Let me back up for a moment… as I have mentioned I currently practice Hot Yoga.  Additionally, Lukus and I are both fond of the HIIT training format and watch different videos on YouTube for exercise routines.

YouTube ads that appear at the top of videos are targeted ads.  Ads are chosen based both on the content of what you are watching and also where you are located.  So it is not surprising that many of the ads we see are weight loss related and specific to the Singapore market.

Recently the below ad has been popping up at the top of our workouts.  We both find it outrageous.  Take a look for yourself:

My fear with an ad like this is simple: How many of the women shown here do not need to lose a single pound?  Moreover, why are they being told that they do?  Why is this being glamorized?  How does this impact a woman’s psyche?  And since when is there such a thing as perfection?

I am all for being healthy and generally I believe that means to be fit.  And I also generally believe ads should be inspirational.  But for me this ad crosses the line.  It promotes unhealthy ideals and its use of the term “perfect” objectifies in a way that is truly outrageous.  Beyond that it degrades instead of inspiring, with the intent to make viewers feel insecure.

In my experience this is not the general attitude in Singapore (if you are Singaporean and reading this I would LOVE to hear if you think this is common), or at least not more so than in the US.  Moreover, it is common to see all kinds of body types here.  So to say I found this ad shocking is an understatement.

Honestly, I am still at a bit of a loss for words.  So please, jump in below with your thoughts….

How To Start Your Day

It is Monday!  It is the perfect time to set intentions for a productive week.  We all have our morning rituals.  My perfect day starts with some hot Yoga followed by the things you see below.  After all, the activities of the very beginning of your day have a huge impact on the course of the rest of your day.  So it is important to make this time count.  The below actions help me to start the day off on the right foot and with the right mindset.  I definitely recommend them!

How To Start your Day

How To Start Your Day:

Hot Water and Lemon—who knew such a simple combination, would have so many benefits.  From detoxing your skin to detoxing your insides forget the coffee and try this instead!  The scent of citrus is a great wake me up that isn’t riddled with caffeine and sitting down to drink it helps to set me up for a day of good food and beverage choices.

A Clear Plan Of Attack—whether you create a To Do list the night before or keep a regularly updated planner, make sure you are clear on what goals you’ve set for the day.  I do this for both personal and professional tasks (extra important since I work from home- I have to be self-motivated!).  Set realistic expectations and save some extra things in case you are really productive that day!


In addition to the things that I Do first thing in the morning, there is also something I Don’t Do:

Don’t Open Your Emails—at least at first!  Instead of checking your emails as soon as you roll out of bed, wait until you are ready to focus and truly address them.  This way you avoid unnecessary stress or distractions when you still have to organize your thoughts etc. and of course eat breakfast!


Now it is your turn—tell me, do you have any rituals for how to start your day?

Whole Foods: Ginger Garlic Chili Sea Bass

A few weeks ago I wrote about clean eating and I was surprised by some of the feedback.  Especially the feedback that said it is “too hard” or “too time consuming” to eat clean.  Here’s the thing about clean eating: it can actually be very simple.  And to prove it to you, I thought I would share a recipe that can be prepared from start-to-finish in less than 20 minutes (and that is with my TERRIBLE knife skills, which require huge amounts of time to chop vegetables…).  I give you Ginger Garlic Chili Sea Bass.

rsz_1img_7077Ginger Garlic Chili Sea Bass

– 2 large fillets of Sea Bass (This feeds the little one, Lukus and myself)
– 2 inch knob fresh Ginger, peeled and chopped into small matchsticks (or however you want!)
– 4 Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
– 4 Red Chili Peppers, deseeded and diced (This isn’t as spicy as it looks- promise!!!)
– ½ Onion, diced
– 1 Lime
– Soy Sauce or Coconut Aminos to taste (Our daughter is Gluten & Soy Free so we use the Coconut Aminos)
-Coconut Oil (enough to oil the pan)

Ready for a super simple recipe? Okay here it goes…

1.  Heat coconut oil in skillet on medium high temperature.  Add fish, skin-side down, sprinkle with a bit of soy/coconut aminos.  Allow it to cook for about 5 minutes.  Flip the fish and continue cooking for anoth 1-2 minutes.  Place on serving dish.
2.  Add the Ginger, Garlic, Chili and Onion to the pan and sauté for a few minutes (until onions begin to look translucent).  Squeeze lime over mixture.
3.  Pour mixture over fish and add desired additional soy.


How easy is that?

Here are a few extra tips to make for an even more delicious meal:
– You don’t have to use Sea Bass – get whatever fish is fresh and accessible to you!
– Don’t let the number of chili peppers scare you- once deseeded they are pretty mild.  My 1 ½ year old eats this up.
– Coconut Aminos can be purchased at most healthy grocery stores (eg Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s) and are a great alternative to soy sauce.
-If you do opt for the Coconut Aminos then this is the allergy free trifecta: Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Dairy-Free
– I serve this over rice or with asparagus, makes for a healthy, delicious meal!

Healthy Models: Why Normal Shouldn’t Be The Goal

Recently American Eagle’s aerie brand (a lingerie and loungewear line) launched a campaign called #aerieReal in which their models are depicted without retouching leaving “imperfections” on display.  (Read More about it HERE)

Great idea right?

Well almost as soon as the applause started, so did the backlash.  Throughout social media, well-meaning individuals argued that while the models remained untouched they weren’t representative of normal women.

aerie 1This made me think and I came to a conclusion that some people may find offensive:

We shouldn’t want our fashion and beauty ads to depict normal women.  Because, normal does not equal healthy.

We are all aware of media’s emphasis on the thin body and what has been deemed fat shaming.  I don’t debate these issues for a second.  But what worries me is the reactionary pendulum swing that I have been observing over the past few years.

There has been a public outcry to embrace and promote the “normal” body, especially in fashion and beauty ads.  And by “normal” I mean the average-sized body.  Unfortunately that is not necessarily a good thing.  According to 2009/2010 number released by the CDC, 69.2% of US adults 20 or older are overweight (including obesity).

Consequently, the idea of replacing anorexic images in the media with the average aka “normal” person is frightening.  Aren’t we then simply running the risk of creating a culture of unhealthiness at the other extreme?

aerie 2Both sides come with a slew of potential health problems.  So why are we insisting we promote either side in order to make people feel comfortable?

I know we all look different.  I understand that we come in different sizes and that we face different challenges –especially surrounding our weight (be it eating disorders, thyroid issues, PCOS, or a slew of other legitimate medical complications).  But that doesn’t mean we should give up on the aspirational; that we should simply embrace the status quo.

aerie 3

Wouldn’t the logical step be to promote healthy models and in turn healthy bodies?  As in, the body with a healthy percentage of fat (not BMI, as it can be misleading)?  Advertisements are aspirational at their core, promoting products that will in some way make our lives better.  I believe the people in these ads should represent that same goal.  Especially when the product being promoted is intrinsically tied to our bodies.

Being healthy doesn’t automatically mean being a size 0-2, but it doesn’t mean the average clothing size, 14-16 (in the US) is healthy either.  Depending on several factors (height, muscluator, etc), anywhere within that range (and perhaps even outside it!) can be deemed healthy for a particular individual.  Additional factors should also be considered, for instance even if your numbers all fall in the healthy range, but you carry your weight at your waistline the CDC tells us that you are at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

I want to be clear:  in no way am I suggesting that people who fall in the unhealthy categories (on either side of the pendulum) should be shamed, or that companies shouldn’t create products for people in all categories.  Also, this post is not about the #aerieREAL campaign (that was just the inspiration).  What I am saying is, individuals that we see in ads should fall in the healthy aspirational category.  Not simply the “normal” or “real” categories that I keep hearing public outcry for.

What do you want to see when looking at models in campaigns?  Are you for or against retouching?  And in the case of aerie, do you feel like they’ve gone far enough?  Do you agree that normal does not equal healthy?

30 Lessons for 30: Health Lessons

4 days into my 30 Lessons for 30 series! And while I’ve already covered a wide variety of topics, there is still a lot I want to say.  After some serious consideration I wanted to talk Health Lessons today.

Now this may seem like a broad subject- and it is.  As a result my Health Lessons vary in topic but all share one commonality: being the healthiest version of one’s self.  Some of these lessons I knew theoretically and didn’t really learn until I had to apply them to my own life.  In other cases I watched people I know follow (and not follow) these tips and it had a profound impact on the outcome of their situation.

Hopefully these reminders will be good for you too- after all, how can we be the best versions of ourselves if we don’t do our best to care for ourselves?

Health LessonsHealth Lessons:

1)  Food can be your greatest friend or your greatest enemy.  Just like the old adage says, you are what you eat.  So eat whole, eat local and eat organic as much as possible.

2)  Drink lots and lots of water.  I know.  You’ve heard it a million times.  But remember drinking water not only hydrates you it also helps with physical functions.  Moreover, drinking water ensures that you aren’t drinking sugar and calorie filled beverages.

3)  Stay active.  Hate the gym?  Fine.  But that isn’t an excuse to sit around all day.  Find an activity and do it.  Your body needs activity to work at its optimum level.

4)  Sleep.  Oh gosh- someone needs to tell me to take my own advice on this one.  But seriously, your body needs sleep in order to recover from all the stressors it is put through.

5)  Be your own medical advocate!  Don’t trust others to make all the decisions, be informed and partake in the conversation.

6)  Don’t forget your mind.  It should be just as much a priority as physical health.  Take care of your mind and don’t take on more than you can handle.  Just like your body needs time to recharge, so does your mind.  So find something you do just for you.


Those are my Health Lessons!  Again, I’d love to know: what would you add to this list?


Other 30 Lessons for 30 topics include: Relationship Lessons, Fashion and Beauty Lessons and Career Lessons.  Make sure to check them out!