“NO, WELLNESS IS NOT JUST ANOTHER FAD” SAYS SALLY BEE

It’s seemingly impossible to open a magazine without seeing something about mindfulness, natural remedies and expensive retreats: our national fixation with ‘wellness’ has led to it becoming a buzzword, in personal, professional, and public spheres. Its popularity peaked at the close of 2017, continuing to be a hot topic in 2018. The concept of wellness culture has become so ubiquitous, that we are receiving a watered-down interpretation of what the power of positive thinking actually does and the impact it can have on our daily lives: but is it truly going to stick or is it the 5:2, paleo, or Atkins diet of its day?  

Sally Bee, a TV chef, bestselling author and nationally renowned health and wellness coach, discusses why wellness isn’t just another trend but is the only way of taking control of your own life.

Once upon a time, wellness wasn’t wheeled out as a topic on prime-time TV: instead it was reserved for the vegan-eating, barefoot-living, slightly-eccentric hippie-type. Now, it seems that we are all on the hunt for health, following in the footsteps of celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Kayla Itsines, Cameron Diaz, and Kate Hudson. After all, wellness isn’t about fad diets and exercise habits; it’s about what it takes for you to prosper as an individual and to be truly well, healthy and satisfied in all areas of life. This means putting our minds to our mental health, to find our own unique and special formula to thrive… and that doesn’t sound like a fad to me.

The wellness conspiracy 

Health and fitness fads, much like the expectations of those who follow them, tend to operate in extreme peaks and troughs. Take clean eating as an example: with its back to basics righteousness and Instagram-filtered purity, it was declared one of the most googled terms of last year. However, the dirty truth is that it has been thoroughly discredited by dietary experts. Over the past few years we have been fed too many lies about the best ways to keep fit and well, when the truth is that we have all known for many years what we should do to stay fit and well: eat less, move more. It’s not rocket science.

Everyone from A-listers to reality stars are pushing obscure treatments and products that they claim will make you look and feel great – especially if they can make some money from it. Endorsed by everyone from sports heroes to big-screen stars, these ‘advocates’ of wellness have bought into the hype and are watering down the message, arguably losing sight of the what wellness is actually all about.  This glamourized misrepresentation is what makes it tempting to dismiss wellness as just another trend that will soon fade into the background and sit alongside clean eating when in reality it’s so much more than that.

Health is wealth

You can buy wellness everywhere: juice bars, meditation retreats, detox diets, mindfulness apps, and downward-dog-friendly Lycra.  Mindfulness and meditation is shaping ‘wellness tourism’, one of the travel industry’s fastest-growing market segments with new wellness-inspired escapes—the vast majority of which carry a hefty price tag— opening every day. What’s more, there’s currently over 1,000 meditation apps on the market to choose from with Forbes valuing market leader, Headspace, at over £150 million pounds. This multi-million-pound industry is fuelling the fire from wellness critics who argue “how can the real path to inner happiness to downloaded?”.

The Corporate Wellness Machine

Another criticism of wellness is that it is seen to be being used as a corporate and consumer productivity platform: a quick fix for companies as a way to increase happiness amongst the workforce, by converting positivity to profit. Although workplace wellness programmes sowed the seeds of wellness revolution, the sustainability of these initiatives leaves a lot to be desired. The snack-sized approach from corporate businesses teaches positive thinking as a 10-minute commodity to be ticked off a list of a high-powered day, not a permanent state of mind. To me, it seems a lot more beneficial to provide employees with the education and tools, through regular training, 1:1 tailored coaching, and tried-and-tested coping mechanisms, enabling them to actually deal with workplace related stress rather than a 10-minute quick fix.

All sounding a bit too ‘faddy’?

Wellness is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely an umbrella term for health foods, yoga and alternative medicine.  We are all totally different and have different needs – yet many people still take a blanket approach to wellness. What works for one person simply doesn’t cut it for another. The preconceptions surrounding wellness are stopping us from seeing the real potential of the impact that practicing positive thinking can have on our lives. In my experience, wellness isn’t something that just happens once and you’re done, though once it happens it’s easier to cultivate.

As a five-time heart attack survivor, my philosophy for taking control of my future health and wellbeing meant that I was able to survive the unsurvivable. I understand that my health was down entirely to my food, my fitness, my thoughts, my movement and me. They all needed to work together to get my life back, recover and thrive.

Ultimately, I think fads are about people taking advantage of vulnerability and weakness, but there is nothing weak about taking control of your own life. Just remember that you are the expert in cracking the code on what wellness is exactly for you. Although you might not think it, that glass of prosecco and piece of chocolate cake is all part of your own personal wellness blueprint!

Tara Tomes