Today’s Women In Media profile is none other than Fit Media, Clean Eating and Oxygen editor-in-chief Lindy Olsen. Be prepared to suck the gut in and get off the carbs for this one…
What prompted you to get into health publishing?
I was an overweight executive assistant at an insolvency firm, 89 kilos and chasing the magic silver bullet. I wanted to know what diet I had to go on the get into shape and to look good. I didn’t have mirrors in my house because I was really embarrassed to see the person looking back at me. My friends encouraged me to go to the gym and I was hooked. I trusted my trainer, George, with my training, nutrition, exercise and everything that I did. Five-and-a-half months later he persuaded me to compete in a World Figure Championship and I won. I’ve won four more since, plus many others.
How did you go from being an EA at an insolvency firm to being a publisher?
Completely by accident. When I was younger I never set out to be a publisher; all I ever wanted to do was help people feel good about themselves. My number one passion is to get good information to people as I know how hard it is to sift through so much information and wonder, ‘well, what is right and what is wrong?’ I thought that by contributing to publications that I believed in would be a good start and from simply contributing to magazines led to me becoming an editor-in-chief of one, then two, then three titles.
What gets your goat?
Fakes plagiarising other people’s work in order to make a buck. I’m thankful these absolute frauds are being caught out now. The media calls them ‘fitness gurus’ and experts but they’re not, they’re just social media stars with no credibility behind them. It’s one thing to create a newsworthy story from honesty and fact, but to downright be dishonest about any aspect of yourself including plagiarising others work is unthinkable and unconscionable. We have had several instances from some other well known social media stars where the Clean Eating philosophy has been copied directly from the pages of our titles and the legalities of protecting our IP is now a high priority for us. Stealing is not ok and those ‘so-called’ celebrity fitness stars who are guilty of this sort of practice will inevitably lose out. People need to look past these ‘social media stars’ and into their actual merits and credentials before propelling them into the spotlight.
Do you think the marketing around some health and fitness products is dodgy too then?
Emphatically yes! There are so many unethical companies offering quick fixes, magic pills and potions in an attempt to entice an unsuspecting consumer into trusting them that this approach will yield results. But it’s wrong. Early on, I listened to all the marketing hype from people holding massive budgets but they’re not necessarily the ones with the best product. In a nutshell, publishers, journalists and contributors all need to be more than aware that this sort of hype and sensationalism is rife. If we all join together in ensuring we fact check and research these ‘so-called’ gurus, both companies and individuals, then we will have gone a long way to ensure we are helping continue to print ethical, credible and factual information. For me, as a publisher, everything we print in Oxygen and all the magazines I’m responsible for, we fact check, we research. Yet mainstream media tends to totally disregard a lot of that for the sensationalised reporting. It really makes me sad. It disappoints me.
Why does Oxygen use non-photoshopped models on the covers?
We’ve been doing it for about six years now because we want our readers to see results that are absolutely achievable. We had a cover girl competition and left her stretch marks visible so people could see that while she’s in amazing shape after having children, her babies have left her a proud mama bear. She’s got her stripes. To me, that’s real. I remember when Women’s Health put the photo out of Michelle Bridges saying it was raw and untouched. I just thought, ‘well, we’ve been doing that for six years.’ I’m glad a mainstream media publication has gone out and done that but it’s normal for us.
What’s your most defining career moment?
Being recognised as one of four finalists in my category in the B&T Women in Media awards last year. It was a great confirmation that we, as niche fitness publishers, are headed in the right direction and that the small contribution we are making to media in general has been acknowledged and appreciated. I was both humbled and proud to be included amongst other truly remarkable women and it’s a credit to the industry in general that there are so many talented professionals who are both passionate and determined to continue delivering exceptional information in various formats and mediums every time.
You mentor a lot of up-and-coming fitness models – what’s your main piece of advice to them?
It’s about being fit and healthy first and foremost, looking good is a side effect. You shouldn’t be doing things to make you look good or a certain way at all costs, like crash diets. I see so many people do many horrible things to their physique, only to realise two or three years later that they’ve absolutely trashed their bodies and need to start again from scratch. It’s about loving the skin you’re in and really working towards something that is going to be long lasting. Not a quick fix that’s going to get you looking a specific way and then falling down when you just can’t sustain that kind of practice or behaviour in the long run.
How do you find the time to be an editor, publisher, wife, mother, mentor and keep fit?
I work 60 hours a week and have a one-year-old who comes to work with me every day. I know how busy life can get, and I know how hard it can be to get good nutrition in, but if you know you’re going to be late then you can have some lean meals in the fridge or freezer that you could thaw out. There are so many companies out there – I use those Fresh Meals 2 U. They’re unreal. Really lean whole food, good clean protein, beautiful veggies and salads. There are so many options like that. You want to know what you’re putting into your body.
What’s your dream job?
I would probably be doing the exact same thing but in a personal capacity rather than in the media. I’d be banging the same drum on the internet or my own blog or website and making as much noise as I possibly could. The message is definitely the same for me.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I’m a serial criminal channel watcher. I’m always interested to understand people better. I put myself in their shoes to try and really understand what it is they’re feeling. I really love the psychology side of that. That’s why I love the criminal shows and I’m just like, “how the heck could that person do that?’ Because I just could never comprehend it. But yet, somehow they’ve gone out and done that and thought it was okay.
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