Personal fitness tracking devices like the Fitbit have been the latest range of products to take the retail market by storm. Everywhere I look, someone is walking around with a coloured armband that flashes. In cafes I hear people comparing how many steps they’ve done over their mid-morning espresso. Then there’s the blow-up of health kick programs, wonder diets and short-lived weight-loss protocols. The last one to peak international interest was the 5:2 Intermittent Fasting Diet. It worked a treat until people got hungry. Then they were back at square one.
Although as a health and wellness advocate I am often the first person to praise new approaches to stimulating a healthier, and hopefully ultimately, a happier you. The consumerist craze that has followed this last stream of products and protocols, has left me hungry (no pun intended) to clear up the distinction between being healthy and taking things too far. Too many of any good thing, as I’m sure you’d be aware, turns that blessing into a nightmare.
Call me dramatic, but I think each of these health practices have their place, but when they’re taken to the extreme, when people become obsessed with having to know how many steps they have walked, with only eating raw biodynamic organic vegan paleo friendly fermented superfoods, to the point of it producing anxiety when such foods are not available, is far from being healthy at all. The key word is balance. Aiming for a healthy lifestyle with whole foods, moderate exercise, a thriving social life and working in an industry that you enjoy, that inspires you, is what we all ultimately are striving for. Yet when people become so caught up in the moment of having to jump on the latest health bandwagon, we lose sight of what truly matters.
Having suffered from anorexia and orthorexia (an obsession with clean eating’), I know too well the dangers and health implications: both physical and psychological, with taking so called health and wellness to the extreme.
So how can you be sure that you’re doing the ‘right thing’?
First of all, I’d like to establish that there is no such things as the ‘right thing’. The best way to eat, the best way to exercise and the best practices to boost your mental health, are all terribly subjective. You’ve just got to work out what works best for you. For some, intermittent fasting WILL do them wonders. For others, snacking regularly is what works for them. You’ve got to listen to your body, truly listen, and ask it what it wants. Being mindful is the key step towards true health and wellness. Some electronic device can’t tell you that your healthy. It can’t define your happiness. If they do invent something like this, believe me, I’ll be the first one to jump on it.
Until then, remind yourself that as a society, we are no healthier than we were before these items and regimes. The soup diet which was all the rage 5 years ago, is dead. Atkins has made a prominent resurgence. Paleo and raw eating are in. High carb is and low fat are out.
Trust your body. It will tell you what should be ‘in’ for you for the long hall, and what to leave by the wayside as interesting muses in the development of the latest in health and dieting movements.
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Presented by Thomas Grainger