Balance Isn't Sexy - What Wellness Professionals Aren't Talking About

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If you spend any amount of time on the internet or social media (which if you’re reading this I will assume yes), then you are probably inundated with the benefits of various wellness products: supplements, meal replacement shakes or bars, essential oils, cleanses, detoxes, and diets. All of them have experts, anecdotal evidence, or ‘research’ that backs up their claims to be the one true proven method to get you to live the healthy life you’re wanting. It’s confusing and makes it easy to be in a constant state of overwhelm.  

I see many people I admire and respect in the wellness sphere touting a preferred diet or essential oil, and I’m not here to criticize anyone specifically. There are products I believe in and will recommend if I'm specifically asked as well. But it’s frustrating to be a healthcare professional who left the traditional ‘Western’ medicine field because of its propensity to target symptoms rather than root causes of diseases and then see many in the wellness space who do a similar thing with their product of choice.

There is no miracle food or nutrient. You do not need to meditate 30 min every day. Carbs (or fat) are not evil. If you don’t do 100 squats every day it’s not the end of the world. Gluten-free or keto is not the right diet for everyone. You do not need to drink smoothies every day to be “healthy.” There are people who are healthy doing (or not doing) these things. But these things do not necessarily make a healthy lifestyle.

Lucas Rockwood, the host of “Yoga Talk Show,” said something in an episode that spoke to me: “Balance isn’t Sexy.” And it’s so true, I’m sure some of you are already seeing this. While so many of us walk a path of escapism and self-indulgence when it comes to our daily behaviors, there are others who walk a similarly unproductive path of shame, restriction, and denial. I have seen in my own experience many people who truly think they are being healthy instead develop a disordered mind pattern towards what they’re eating or their workouts due to not living a balanced life.

Does this mean that we can feel confident that “well I might as well continue eating the donut because those people are health nuts over there”? The answer is of course no. Just because there’s extremes on both sides doesn’t somehow preordain that the journey to a better well-being isn’t worth it. While balance may not be ‘sexy’ or sell products, it’s necessary. Restriction leads to relapse. I seek to add the healthy and constructive behaviors to my life instead of focusing on getting rid of the negative behaviors. It’s perfectly okay to allow yourself an occasional indulgence. It’s okay to take a day off. As long as you don’t make it a full stop or a roadblock that’s preventing you from living your best life or becoming the ideal version of yourself.

Not all health advice is good advice. Because even if every approach, technique, or product is effective, it’s not effective for everyone. There’s no way it really can be. We all are a product of our genetics, our environments, and the people around us. If something works for a friend or loved one, that doesn’t mean it will work for you. And that is not a reflection on you. There is nothing wrong with you if something an expert recommends just doesn’t resonate with you or feel like something you can sustain.

Above all, you need to learn to listen to your own body and what makes it feel good. This may mean a plant-based diet (see the latest evidence-based nutrition research here). This may mean 10 min of meditation and a cup of tea every day. This can mean daily movement, even for 10-15 minutes gentle walking. There is no “one right way.” There is only the way that resonates with you and makes you feel whole.

How do you learn what your body needs? This comes with practice. I find that a mindfulness and/or journaling practice works well for this. By being present and examining your thoughts and feelings on a daily basis, then you can fully come to understand how you can nourish your body, mind, and spirit.

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