Jamie Martin, editor in chief:
- “Weight-Loss Rules to Rethink”: I was about a year into my career at Experience Life when we published this eye-opening weight-loss article. Essentially a debunking of five commonly accepted adages about weight loss, this piece flipped the script for me — as a 20-something who had spent a good amount of my youth following the “old” guidelines, this was the start of a different way of approaching my health. “A calorie is a calorie,” for instance, became “All calories are not created equal”; “To lose weight, go on a diet” shifted to “To lose weight, choose to eat healthy.” It was also this article that further helped differentiate Experience Life from other health-and-fitness magazines for me — and I was so proud to be part of that. I still am today.
- “A Better Way to Burn Fat”: The phrases “heart-rate-based interval training” and “anaerobic threshold” became regular parts of my lexicon with this article. It also offered the first opportunity I had to wade into the waters of editing a bigger, more technical piece for the magazine: The senior fitness editor was away during a key review period, and I stepped in to cover this one. I remember wishing that I had known about these techniques and concepts years earlier — and ever since, I’ve used the guidelines outlined here to optimize my own training efforts.
- “How to Break Free of Tech Addiction”: “Learn how to regain control of your devices so they don’t control you.” In the age of endless technological innovation and advancement, strategies for setting our devices down and stepping away are essential. This is one of those articles that clearly and succinctly conveys — through the visuals and the written word — how and why so many of us became addicted to our devices, and what we can do to break the habit. While this was published a few years ago already, it’s still a must-read in my view.
Molly Tynjala, assistant editor:
- “Fearless Health”: In a media landscape where so much health news is obsessed with the negative — don’t eat this, stop doing that, you’re not getting enough of x, y, z — Jill Patton’s piece is a breath of fresh air. Looking at health from a holistic perspective and recognizing the importance of balance is empowering, and much more sustainable.
- “Can Social Media Encourage Disordered Eating Habits?”: I wish I could go back in time and give this article to my younger, middle-school self. Now, at least, I’m happy to say that I’ve taken Kaelyn Riley’s excellent advice and become more intentional about the way I fill my feed: It’s mostly puppies.
- “Survival Skills for Highly Sensitive People”: Although I’d never heard of a highly sensitive person (HSP) before reading Jessie Sholl’s piece, it didn’t take long for me to recognize myself in the description. The way she recharacterizes sensitivity is powerful, and the tips are helpful, too.
Kaelyn Riley, senior editor:
- “The End of Fear”: This article written by EL’s inimitable features editor is the piece I’ve returned to most often during my time on staff. There are so many reasons to be afraid these days. I love the way Richard Schaub, PhD, reframes the idea of fear in his work, suggesting that it’s not necessarily a negative emotion to be stifled or pathologized — that fear can be a great unifier, and we can even use it to “wake ourselves up to a deeper love of life.”
- “9 Building Blocks to Being Anti-Racist”: I’m a big believer in health equity: the notion that all of us have a right to achieve our fullest health potential, regardless of circumstance or social position; that equitable access to affordable healthcare and housing and fresh food is, in fact, a cornerstone for a thriving society. It’s one thing to believe in equity and justice, though — the real challenge is learning how to act on those values. This article makes the case that being anti-racist “calls for improving our ability to check our own behavior,” and that doing so is a vital component of pursuing healthy living.
- “Ed Kriesel’s Success Story”: I first began working with Ed on this story while he was still on the waiting list for a double lung transplant — the only treatment option for Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a terminal disease in which the liver doesn’t produce the necessary proteins to protect the lungs. Right away, I was moved by Ed’s dedication to fitness even as his lung function steadily declined. But from a storytelling standpoint, I knew we couldn’t publish this one until Ed got the ending he deserved. Then one day in April 2018, while breaking for lunch during a journalism conference, I received a text message from an unknown number: Ed’s son, letting me know that his dad was being wheeled into surgery. Helping Ed to tell the story of that experience remains one of the greatest privileges of my career with EL.
Courtney Helgoe, features editor:
- “Nutrition for Addiction Recovery”: After 11 years of editing Experience Life features, trying to choose my favorite makes me feel a little like a parent trying to choose a favorite child. They’re all my favorites! But if I have to pick one, Mo Perry’s story on nutrition for addiction recovery really stands out for its generosity to the reader. The story’s three key insights — that there’s a connection between nutrition and substance addiction, that one can increase the odds of a successful recovery with simple dietary interventions, that addiction is not a moral failing but a genetic dice roll — feel like a gift to anyone in recovery who’s struggling to get traction. It’s the kind of story that feels like handing a hammer to someone who might be trying to build a house without one, and those stories are always my favorites.
Craig Cox, deputy editor:
- “Decoding Health Media”: One of the characteristics of the EL editorial strategy that attracted my attention when I joined the team more than 14 years ago was its commitment to uncovering the many ways in which the mass media misinforms consumers about health and wellness issues. Michele Simon’s 2014 piece does a terrific job of explaining these strategies — and what we can do to overcome them.
- “Untangling Alzheimer’s”: I’ve been covering the aging beat in my Pumping Irony blog since 2008 and have watched researchers struggle as they focus on pharmaceutical solutions to the inexorable rise in Alzheimer’s cases. For seniors like me, whose skepticism of these options runs deep, Michael Dregni’s inspiring feature offers fresh hope that lifestyle shifts can sustain our cognitive skills over the long haul.
- “Seeing Stars”: This is simply one of the best pieces I’ve ever read about traumatic brain injuries. Amy Zellmer’s fall on an icy sidewalk could happen to any of us here in the North Country, and her case provides a compelling entrance to the history and mythology surrounding concussions as well as the inability of conventional medicine to provide a reliable treatment. Expert advice, along with Zellmer’s eventual healing, made this more than serviceable — it was memorable.
- “Build Your Microbiome”: There’s no better gauge of a magazine’s value to its readership, I think, than its ability to uncover ideas, trends, and concepts well before they land in the mainstream media. EL has been ahead of the health-and-fitness pack for years, and Kristin Ohlson’s pioneering overview of the gut microbiome and its impact on wellness is my favorite example of this commitment. It was the first and most comprehensive guide to gut health I’d seen at the time — and remains a valuable resource for readers all these years later.
Courtney Lewis Opdahl, managing editor:
- “Being Healthy Is a Revolutionary Act”: I spent my teenage years reading all the mainstream women’s health magazines and learned a very narrow approach to health-and-fitness based on calories and scales. I spent years battling my body and dieting, chasing thinness instead of embracing my strength, shape, and power — and the blame lay at my feet, or so I thought until I read founding editor Pilar Gerasimo’s powerful manifesto. This was one of the first big feature stories I read and fact-checked when I started at Experience Life and it completely upended my thinking; I could see how our lifestyles in America had been designed around convenience, speed, and productivity, leaving little room for intentional breaks and rest, movement, and home cooking. Better understanding the system also helped me embrace my inner rebel to find the alternative path. Discovering holistic health practices, new ways to move my body, and fresh ideas for plant-forward meals not only made me a more informed consumer — it changed my health and life for the better.
- “The Freedom of No” : Sometimes you need permission to say no. As much as I love to try and do it all, I know I’ll get drained and not bring my best self to projects and experiences. This article came at just the right time in my life.
- “The 5 Love Languages”: This article was so sweet and fun, and it remains a constant reminder that we all learn and show love differently. Also: It’s a great conversation starter at parties.
- “Courageous Coach: Chrissy King”: Fitness editor Maggie Fazeli Fard introduced us to Chrissy King for this article, and I was so grateful for Chrissy’s willingness to share her story with me. I related so much to how she pursued fitness her way, and I know her desire to expand representation and diversity in the industry will make a real difference in how people find a place of belonging and acceptance in the wellness world. As a writer and leader in the Women’s Strength Coalition, and an advocate for body liberation and anti-racism for fitness professionals, King has been so insightful in sharing strategies to create more opportunities for people of color and other underrepresented communities.
Michael Dregni, deputy editor:
- “Turf Wars”: This article looked behind the scenes at special-interest groups that were concocting “grassroots” movements online, using trolls and mobilizing mobs to help shape the public conversation about health. This was largely new territory to cover in 2015, but that article has proven scarily prescient in the years since, on the health front as well as the larger political and cultural fronts.
- “Are Kids’ Sports Becoming Too Competitive?”: When I was a kid, many of us dabbled in multiple sports, playing on organized teams as well as in pickup games. Today, kids’ sports have become a serious enterprise. Many children are forced to specialize in a specific sport with constant practice and traveling schedules — sometimes to the detriment of fun. This article examines the trend and offers ideas for reversing this “adultification” of youth athletics.