Interview: Liz Plosser.
Liz Plosser is the Editor-in-Chief of Women’s Health magazine and also served as Deputy Editor of SELF and helped earn Cosmopolitan its first-ever national magazine award.
Her first book just hit the shelves: Own Your Morning: Reset Your A.M. Routine To Unlock Your Potential (Amazon, Bookshop). In it, she argues that your morning routine should reflect what matters most to you.
I couldn't wait to talk to Liz about happiness, habits, and health.
Gretchen: What’s a simple activity or habit that consistently makes you happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative?
Liz: My morning workouts. I always feel clearer, calmer, and more confident after them. “Sweat changes everything” is a Liz motto…and whether it’s a HIIT workout, kettlebells or even 10 minutes of stretching, there is no question that my daily movement practice makes me a better human. By the way, there is TONS of science backing this up…from improved mood, to reduced anxiety, the “psychological momentum” that you create by accomplishing a demanding task, like a workout. I want all of that good stuff coursing through me for the entire day.
What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?
The sun will rise again tomorrow. And in many cases, some sleep and fresh perspective will re-set your emotional state. So good to keep in mind on days that feel dark, figuratively or literally!
Have you ever managed to gain a challenging healthy habit—or to break an unhealthy habit? If so, how did you do it?
I am in a constant state of trying to implement healthier habits while unlearning not so healthy ones! I have a very gross “stress habit” of gnawing on the skin around my thumbnails when I am frazzled…I don’t even realize I’m doing it until I’ve gone to town, so to speak. During the pandemic, I used some of the extra time I found in my day because I was no longer commuting to the Women’s Health offices (from Brooklyn to Manhattan) to smooth oil on my nails and fingers every single morning and evening. And then on weekends, I do a self-manicure, carefully grooming my cuticles and eventually painting on a pale pink nail polish. The irony is that I’ve always believed the state of my hands is like a window into the state of my soul, and now I’m struck by what a chicken-or-egg situation this was. Did I feel stressed because my hands were a wreck, or did I take it out on my hands when life got extra chaotic? Regardless, my hands are feeling great, which reflects my emotional and mental state, too, these days!
Would you describe yourself as an Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger?
I’m an Upholder through and through!
Does anything tend to interfere with your ability to keep your healthy habits or your happiness?
Instagram! I have a love/hate thing happening with the platform. I love it because as a creative, I enjoy playing with visuals and words and engaging with a community there. And it’s an extraordinary place to come upon story ideas…both seeing what athletes, scientists, doctors and our readers are posting about, but even more than that, peeking into the comments where the real conversation is happening.
On the other hand, there are very real downsides: scrolling into the night, being only halfway engaged with my family because I’m taking pictures or posting content. So! This summer I took a lengthy Instagram break—no posts, period, for about six weeks—and it was cathartic and empowering. I got clear about how I want to interact with the platform: authentically. It’s taken pressure off of me to curate my life for followers, and allows me to focus on the moments that matter with my three young children. This relationship will continue to evolve, but I’m determined to enjoy a healthy and productive relationship with social media.
Have you ever been hit by a lightning bolt, where you made a major change very suddenly, as a consequence of reading a book, a conversation with a friend, a milestone birthday, a health scare, etc.?
When I was 22, I dreamt that I was the editor of a health magazine. At that time, I was a first-year investment banking analyst. A very unhappy one, because I was not stimulated or fulfilled. The paycheck was great for a college grad brand new to New York City, but I knew in my heart and soul that there was more for me out there. That dream changed everything for me…especially because, thankfully, I shared it with some running friends. It was a beautiful combo of manifesting, then being brave enough to say it out loud. There is power is speaking about your (in my case, literal) dreams.
My training buddies encouraged me to explore publishing and journalism, and thus began my journey of networking, applying for jobs, interviewing, and ultimately landing a job as an editorial assistant in the fitness department of SELF Magazine. That was my dream coming to life in my mind, but I could never have imagined that I was just getting started. After 17 years of zig-and-zagging, fetching lots of coffee, doing lots of the grunt work, rolling up my sleeves and diving in, working really hard, and taking advantage of every lucky break that popped up, I am indeed living the dream.
Is there a particular motto or saying that you’ve found very helpful?
"Let’s make better mistakes tomorrow." It has helped me through hard times, given me hope, and made me more compassionate toward myself and others. And I love the idea that we can always start again tomorrow—a re-set awaits every 24 hours.
In your field, is there a common misconception that you’d like to correct?
In my almost 20 years in the wellness space, I’m constantly stuck by the perception that doing something a specific way—eating this exact diet, running this many miles a week, meditating exactly this way—will magically transform your life, your body, your brain. It is probably human nature: We want answers, we want the fix! But the truth is that there are so many ways to be healthier and happier…and what works for someone you see on social media, or work with, or hang out with, or even live with, is not necessarily the right formula for you! The trick is experimenting and learning what resonates for you/works in your life. That is very much the mission of Women’s Health, my book, and for me as a leader in the health space: To illuminate science-backed, expert-based healthy options for people so that they dabble and learn what works best for them.
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