William Nathaniel "Bill" Phillips is an American entrepreneur and author. He is the author of the fitness book Body for Life: 12 Weeks to Mental and Physical Strength. He is the author Eating for Life, founder and former editor in chief of Muscle Media magazine and the former CEO of EAS, a performance nutritional supplement company. Bill and Shawn Phillips, his brother, also made a promotional movie called Body of Work which was filmed in Las Vegas, Nevada and chronicled the very first EAS Challenge. On June 21, 2010, Phillips latest book, "Transformation: The Mindset You Need. The Body You Want. The Life You Deserve" was released.
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UPDATE: I've got to run to a meeting, so I can't answer any more questions. Thank you to everyone who participated and submitted questions! Shameless plug: Check out my new book, The Better Man Project: http://mhlthm.ag/eE3vQ9
My short bio: Bill Phillips is the editor-in-chief of Men's Health Magazine and author of The Better Man Project, a book that teaches men how to be fit, happy, and healthy for life. He is a father, husband, and the #1 fan of his kids' soccer team.
If you’re interested in the book The Better Man Project, aimed at helping guys be better in all areas of their lives, you can check it out here: http://mhlthm.ag/eE3vQ9
Do you ever feel guilty about having covers and stories about getting ripped quick or getting shredded abs fast when it takes months or years of disciplined training and diet to achieve such results?
Guilty? Nah. The Men’s Health cover is a mirror. When readers look into it, they see some version of themselves staring back. It can be an idealized version—a guy they aspire to be. The most important thing is that our cover guys have something to teach our readers. If we can inspire a reader to pick up the magazine, that’s the first step toward improving his life. That’s what Men’s Health is all about. That’s also the idea behind the book—take one step today to be better than you were yesterday.
Do you feel like Men's Health propitiates ideas of traditional masculinity? How do you feel about the idea that men need to be 'manly' and tough?
What IS traditional masculinity, these days? For the last three decades we've been moving beyond rigid sex roles, in favor a broader definition of men, and we fully support that, because it gives guys more opportunities for the pursuit of happiness. Take a look at our reader votes for this year's Ultimate Men's Health Guy. A transgender guy leading the way, and he's sharing the reader vote with soldiers, firefighters, and personal trainers. They all have the to right six-pack abs, and to the honorific title of "MH guy." We support them all.
I'll admit that I'm not a regular reader of Men's Health, but I'm curious about what your magazine is doing in regards to mental health.
Suicide is a surprisingly big problem for men (One of the top four causes of death in the US for males 10-54), and I don't think there is much media awareness. Suicide trumps cancer in several of those age groups, but cancer gets far more press coverage.
So what is Men's Health doing in regards to this significant health issue?
Yes, suicide is a scary problem. As I say in the book, it’s the second-leading cause of death among men younger than 34. We’ve covered it directly several times over the past years. Here’s a link to one of my favorite all-time Men’s Health stories, about a police sergeant who walks the Golden Gate Bridge and quite literally talks people off the ledge: http://www.menshealth.com/golden-gate-suicides. Now wouldn’t be a bad time to remind everyone that the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-TALK.
Why so many articles about sex? The MH link you provided looks exactly like a page from Cosmo. Why is sex such a crucial part of health in your opinion?
A healthy sex life is part of an overall happy, healthy life, so I think it's important to have articles about sex. But if you look at our magazine, website, and social media, sex articles account for less than 15% of our content. It might seem like more, but that's because sex sells, and is maybe just a LITTLE bit more memorable than an article on fish oil supplements.
Why so many cologne ads? Who is buying that much cologne?!?!
Because the scent strips make the magazine smell FABULOUS. And, I need them all.
Most articles are about finding the perfect wife. I'm happy being single. Ever think about having an advice section in Menshealth to help out single guys that want to say single? Can I suggest Tom Leykis as a contributor to that section?
We're not so much about the perfect wife, but rather, perfecting the average relationship. Whether you walk the aisle is up to you. Thank you for your question, Mr. Leykis.
How long did you "pay your dues" until you became editor in chief?
I was in the business for 20 years before I got this job. I was never in a rush--I always knew deep inside that I’d be an Editor-in-Chief at a major magazine someday. There were times when I questioned if it’d happen, of course. Once, I was passed over for a big job at another title, and a creative director friend of mine took me out for a beer and said: “Remember, you always have your talent, and talent always rises.” I’ve never forgotten those words. They ring true in any industry.
>If we can inspire a reader to pick up the magazine, that’s the first step toward improving his life.
I can sort of understand the idea of inspiration but stuff like these covers are pretty unrealistic for somebody who is just picking up a health magazine for the first time. Wouldn't it be better to be straightforward with people and tell them what to reasonably expect over time instead of telling them things about seeing results in less than 2 weeks?
Also, isn't the first step actually doing something about diet or training rather than just buying a fitness magazine?
Edit: I should point out that I am not trying to be combative it has just been my experience that online fitness resources and forums have been much more informative and helpful in my experience than fitness magazines.
The first step is to find your motivation to take some sort of positive action. If that means buying a magazine or book, great. If you can do it on your own, that's fine too. MH's mission is to empower men to gain control of their physical and emotional lives. We'll be there if/when they need us. And, yes, diet is absolutely key. If you're still drinking soda or putting sugar in your coffee, start dialing it back right there. That will inspire you to make other great changes, and soon you'll be on your way. Think of it as a virtuous cycle.
What is the most influential article you have ever read from your own magazine?
Last November's feature about our search for the Ultimate Men's Health Guy hit all the notes we want to in the magazine, showing how all guys are a work in progress, and that we can pull ourselves up if we work hard enough at it. Our cover guy and first UMHG Noah Galloway was a wounded Iraq vet and an inspiration to everybody who met him and read about him. Including me. Oh, and then there was Dancing with the Stars...
What were you doing when you were 26 and what were your aspirations back then?
At 26, I’d just moved to New York from Washington, DC. I was working at a trade magazine in DC, and moved because I wanted to break into consumer mags. I took a freelance copyediting job at Popular Mechanics. And then, five years later, married the woman who hired me. So, yeah, it was a great move.
What's your thoughts on the whole dad bod thing?
We're cheering on those dad bods, because it's heartening when reality can be considered sexy. We all should be loved for who we are, not some image of a perfect body. A lot of us on staff combine working out with chilling out--it's a healthy way to live. A fat gut is a symptom of bad health. But being lean and fit, and not crazy or obsessive? We salute you, Dad Bod! You can have the bod and the beer, and live more happily because of both.
why is Men's Health different from the other magazines like it?
Wait, there are other magazines like MH? Not on this planet, because nobody combines our expert sources, the hard core research, and the actionable service that changes lives. There might be others who pretend to do all that, but they're just hoping newsstand visitors make a tragic mistake in the checkout line. Accept no substitutes! MH or death!
What's a basic way to start getting healthier?
How fit are you? If you’re not in shape, keep it simple. Take one step—literally—so you see a positive change and feel better. That could mean a daily walk at lunch. (Or buy a dog!) After a week or two, add a countdown workout to the end of your walk: 8 pushups and then 8 squats, then 7 and 7, 6 and 6, and so on—down to zero. If you’re able to do that, start at 9. And then 10. After about 5 weeks, you’ll have created a new fitness habit. Now you can experiment with new workouts and harder routines. Workouts.MensHealth.com has a ton of them. Just as important, fix your diet. Watch your calories and cut out ALL sweetened drinks. I gave up soft drinks years ago and the pounds melted away.
Is your office filled with ripped guys?
The Men's Health office right now: http://giphy.com/gifs/movie-scream-300-jvlbHKwIXSDEQ
What does your current exercise regime look like?
I am personally crazy about BJ Gaddour and David Jack and their DVD workouts series for MH. That way I can work out in the privacy of my basement, and swear at them when necessary. NO MORE BURPEES, thanks!
Who has been the coolest/funnest celebrity to work with?
Jimmy Fallon was among the greatest, interviewing himself for his own cover story. Then a few months later, he had our OTHER fave cover guy Hugh Jackman on, and they were comparing cover lines. Jimmy didn't like BURN FAT 24/7, for some reason!
I'm so glad you guys have included Gym Jones and ol Bobby Maximus. How do you like having then be apart of that now?
We've got a huge GYM JONES feature coming up in our September issue. Check it out.
How many hours would I need in a week if I were to follow all the exercise, diet and lifestyle tips in the, let's say, last 10 issues of your magazine?
Ha! It'd be a full-time job. There's not an editor here who follows every single tip from our magazine. Every guy is different, so we try to load our magazine with advice that works for all kinds of men. It's good to see all the different workouts, diets, and lifestyle advice we give, but we don't expect our readers to follow every bit of advice.
Random question time!
What soap do you recommend for sweaty/athletic people?
I had to ask our Executive Style and Grooming Director Brian Boye for this one. He recommends Kiehl's Body Fuel Energizing Wash: "It's a great body wash for athletes and sweaty guys. It removes excess oil and sweat and has caffeine, which energizes your skin."
Because I live with three women, I use L'Occitane Shea Butter Verbena. Okay, I lied. I use it because I love it.
How often have you been confused for Rob Huebel?
Not often enough.
How do you feel that magazines (Men's Heath included) are scanned and are almost instantly available on the internet for illegal downloads?
I'm sending BJ Gaddour out right now to kick their asses. Please share addresses.
What simple advice would you give to someone who is
a) out of shape
b) not motivated to exercise ?
In the interest of saving time & answering as many questions as possible, I'm re-posting the response I just wrote to a very similar question. (Hope that's OK!)
If you’re not in shape, keep it simple. Take one step—literally—so you see a positive change and feel better. That could mean a daily walk at lunch. (Or buy a dog!) After a week or two, add a countdown workout to the end of your walk: 8 pushups and then 8 squats, then 7 and 7, 6 and 6, and so on—down to zero. If you’re able to do that, start at 9. And then 10. After about 5 weeks, you’ll have created a new fitness habit. Now you can experiment with new workouts and harder routines. Workouts.MensHealth.com has a ton of them. Just as important, fix your diet. Watch your calories and cut out ALL sweetened drinks. I gave up soft drinks years ago and the pounds melted away.
How do you feel about those who say you reuse cover headlines?
Edit: Glad to hear they've stopped doing this.
Previous editorial regimes at MH thought of the cover as strictly a sales tool, so they pushed what worked. (Your link is to an article that ran in 2009!) I think of cover lines as a reflection of our tons of useful stuff, plus the sense of humor in the magazine, plus an awesome guy we can all learn from. Quite a formula, and worth repeating! But we don't repeat lines!
Do you know Will Ferrell?
No. Could you introduce us?
So how do I really get those wash board abbs in 6 weeks? You must know some secret trick that all the PT's will hate you for telling me.
It's not easy--unless you're blessed with perfect genetics. Dan John, one of our fitness experts, suggests these three steps:
I'm taking a class in magazine writing. An introductory course I should say. The professor's goal is for all of us students to be published at the end by submitting a freelance article to a start-up magazine. Apparently there are about two new magazines opening up everyday and they are desperate for freelancers to stay alive. I just started this summer school class but i know eventually I will have to write a query letter and then send in an article the mag may be interested in. Is it possible to point me in the right direction and put me in touch with an open minded/desperate editor? I'm leaning toward sports, tv, politics, or even a trade magazine in telecommunications industry. Any advice would be appreciated. Also do you read paper or do you read using an ipad or other electronic device when reading magazines?
First, edit your question down to 25 words. And I'm not kidding, because efficiency in writing is the first virtue. Second, target a magazine on a subject you actually know something about, and read the last year of issues. Third, come up with ten ideas, and then throw them out. Fourth, come up with ten more, and throw those out, too. Fifth, more ideas, and they may finally be ones that your target magazine hasn't heard before.
What is your advice to young professionals in their 20s who may be seeking a career in popular culture and mass media?
The first step in any media career is to live a rich life. Travel widely, read widely, watch omnivorously, think deeply, and write a lot. And, because we live in 2015, you need to become a master of communications gadgets, so do that in your spare time. Exhausted yet? Try law school!
Do you ever get crazy feminists writing in to complain about stuff?
Looks like he's just gonna ignore this one...upvote!
Hah. We must have commented at the exact same time.