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I started The Healthy Maven when I was 23 years old. My life, my priorities and my stance on wellness has changed A LOT in the last 7 years. And it goes without saying that the world around us has changed considerably in that time as well. When I started THM health was a pretty narrow definition: primarily food and exercise. Mental health was considered an entirely different and unrelated concept and if I mentioned the word “adaptogens” you probably would have thought I made the word up. Light therapy, medicinal mushroom coffee and CBD were not conventional conversation topics and spirituality existed in an entirely separate realm from health. The wellness “industry” as we know it did not exist.
The idea of wellness is not a new concept but its prevalence certainly is. People seem to actually care about their health before they get sick and we have a much broader view of what makes someone healthy. This is by and far the most important piece that has come out of the wellness industry: we now take a much more comprehensive approach to health with physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health all intersecting.
But it hasn’t all been good. Health is more commodified than ever before. Everyone and their mom has a new product that will be the key to eternal wellness. It can be overwhelming, overstimulating and quite honestly, infuriating.
Wellness culture and the wellness industry has in many ways replaced the diet industry. It is founded on the idea that we are inherently “not well enough”. It’s easy to see why ortherexia (an obsession with health and “clean”everything) is on the rise. The wellness space has perpetuated the idea that nothing is safe out there. And to be fair, some of this is true. As consumers, we’ve been misled about a lot of things. Our beauty and skincare products have ingredients we know to be harmful for us, it turns out antibacterial everything is more harmful than helpful and *shocker* fat isn’t bad for us. It’s easy to see why there’s so much distrust of conventional brands. That being said, the wellness industry has gone too far. To be well does not mean to be perfect. That’s impossible yet our constant striving to be more, to feel more, to live a little longer is in many ways doing the exact opposite.
I recognize my own contribution to this idea. For many years I was striving too. I’m also a naturally curious person who likes learning about and trying out new things. But being on this side of the coin has shown me that a lot of this stuff needs to be taken in with a grain of salt. I believe in choosing organic produce when possible (mostly for environmental reasons but still…), choosing cleaner beauty and non-toxic products when possible but I am not dogmatic or afraid of things that don’t meet these standards. I use conventional soap if that’s what’s available, eat carbs with just about every meal and you better bet I ate McDonald’s on a couple of occasions in 2019 (guys! Those chicken nuggets!). I make choices that are in line with my values and fit my lifestyle – not the other way around.
So as we kickstart 2020 and a brand new decade, I want you to really assess your approach to wellness and if you’ve become a victim of this idea that you are “not well enough”. If you want to make this the best year yet, it’s time to turn inwards and ask yourself what you really need. Let’s jump in…
5 Questions to Evaluate Your Wellness Routine
1. Is there a wellness guru you’re basing your decisions off of? Broad question but does Sally the Spin Instructor spin 5x/week and eat vegan so you do the same? Does Carol the CrossFitter eat paleo and lift heavy weights 3x/week so you do that too? Or are you listening to your body and taking note of how it feels after those workouts or by eating a certain way. Your body is YOURS. It’s unique. What works for someone else might not be the answer for you.
2. How many supplements are you taking? Are they prescribed by a medical professional or again, modelled after your fav Instagrammer? If a medical professional told you to take specific supplements to balance something going on in your body, please stick with it! If you are just taking a million supplements because that’s what your friend does, consider digging into what each does and if it’s really necessary for your body. Not all supplements are bad and most are safe but if you’re taking 10+ vitamins daily you might want to figure out why…
3. What are you putting in your smoothie?[Also do you HAVE to have a smoothie?] Did you know a smoothie can be healthy with just.real.foods?! Wild, right?! Who knew you didn’t need every magic potion and mushroom powder in the books to be healthy… Next time you make a smoothie or overnight oats, try NOT incorporating the “extras”. Not saying they’re bad, I just don’t think they’re necessary to be healthy and certainly not worth draining your bank account. P.S. fruit isn’t going to kill you. If you’re not into fruit eat a bowl of soup for breakfast k?
4. Whose body are you trying to achieve with your workout? Are you working out because you love your body and love doing your workout? Or are you doing yoga because Sally does yoga and has your dream body..? Pause and take a second to think about why you do the workout you do and if you actually enjoy it.
5. How much money do you spend on wellness? Getting personal! Did you know that wellness doesn’t need to cost a penny? Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe in spending money on my weekly therapy appointments and yoga classes which are imperative to my wellness but I also realize that I don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars each month for the latest supplements, workout clothes and self-care practices. If your finances are stressing you out you are basically doing the opposite of what that adaptogenic, anti-inflammatory whatever is supposed to be doing…
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I’m not here to say that all things wellness are bad. I’m genuinely a fan of learning more. It’s why I ran a podcast for 3 years and spoke with experts and mavens in various fields to discover what wellness means to them. I also want to be clear that there are many people struggling with true chronic health challenges that require more investment (financially and time-wise) than others. It’s been really beautiful to see how people have found support for these conditions.
My biggest takeaway from 7 years of blogging in the wellness space and 3 years of podcasting is this: Be kind to yourself and to the people in your life. Eat your veggies. Drink water. Get a good night sleep and move your body in whatever way feels good to you. Find something you’re passionate about.
Most importantly: Have gratitude. Instead of focusing on everything you don’t have, focus on what makes your life wonderful. We all have something to be grateful for and that truly is the key to health.
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