The Bottom Line
This is a fascinating article (methinks) about the wellness industry and how it has arguably become a lucrative money-making machine, pushing prices of ‘staying well’ out of the reach of the ‘common man’. Wellness spending has expanded exponentially to more than 50% of what is spent on traditional healthcare, and, perhaps alarmingly, is almost wholly unregulated. Is this because healthcare costs are prohibitively high? So, we are taking matters into our own hands, ‘fixing’ our health problems – imagined or real – on our own? Or is this because we are doing our best to put off health care by taking better care of ourselves?
The argument that wellness costs too much is legit, however, I would argue that wellness is not something one HAS to invest money into, but rather time and energy. You do NOT need pills and lotions and salves and smoothies to attain (or maintain) wellness. In fact, rather, you need nothing more than your time, your energy and commitment to looking into your habits, your practices, and your beliefs, and do your best to do your best.
First, let’s look at what I mean by the wellness industry, and to do that, one must understand about the different levels or types of care: primary care refers to care you think of as preventative, which is where wellness activities should generally fall. Primary care helps to ‘prevent’ bigger illness or ailments from occurring, and should, hopefully, be where most of us fall most of the time.
Secondary care and beyond generally includes seeing specialists, for example, for treating conditions that are part of a specific condition. The general understanding is that once you are seeking secondary care, you may need to coordinate care from multiple providers, each seeking to provide relief for their one area of focus.
Tertiary care requires highly specialized equipment and often includes hospitalization.
The reason I am mentioning these levels of care is to help you realize the importance wellness and disease prevention in your overall health. In my definition, wellness is not only focusing on your physical body, but also your mental and emotional states as well. We want you to be well, in all aspects of your life. Yes, this may include time spent with (perhaps) a counselor or advisor or perhaps with a fitness or nutrition expert, but generally, these sessions would not be lengthy nor ongoing. The goal of preventative care is to help YOU keep you in your best state – physically, mentally and emotionally.
Please note: I did not say you’d need pills or potions. Though there may be exceptions, generally people can achieve an ideal state of wellness purely with effort. Barring that elusive Fountain of youth, no vitamin or elixir is going to make you feel 20 again … unless, of course, you are 20! I would argue that the cost of wellness is not only a bargain, but considering that when one invests their time and effort into maintaining their good state of health, the offset and delay of having to pay for secondary or tertiary care will far outweigh the costs that those types of care might incur. If you eat well, and stay active, you will be much less likely to fall prey to diseases like diabetes or coronary afflictions. If you don’t smoke or use addictive chemicals and eat a balanced diet, you will be much less likely to suffer from different kinds of cancer. If you regularly check in with your mental well-being and surround yourself with positive and like-minded individuals, you will not seek out potentially dangerous chemicals to get that boost to your mood. Okay, I admit, unfortunately, there are those cases where one does absolutely everything right and they still have a chronic illness; I wish we could say that wellness is 100% effective for every single individual. Nonetheless, it is pretty darn potent.
The moral of the story: Take care of yourself, invest time and energy into yourself and your health. Deal with stress, eat well, get enough sleep. Take extra good care of you now, and then you will be able to delay the investment into medical procedures. There is no pill, salve, drink, powder, or contraption that can do this for you; you have to do the work.
Sure, there are some amazing gadgets out there. I personally am dying to try battle ropes, but really, you don’t even really NEED hand-weights: anything that offers resistance will work, from a bottle of water, to a can of beans to a heavy pot. Just use what you have. You do not need that fancy bike that requires an online membership. You definitely don’t need fancy workout gear. Wear what is comfortable, and use appropriate shoes, and you’ll do great! Drink adequate water and you won’t have to rely on expensive and fancy electrolyte powder. Eat a variety of foods and you won’t have to drink bizarre powder mixtures.
This all reminds me of this one time I arrived at a community pool where I was intending to swim some laps during my break, before I had to pick up my youngest from school. I had about an hour, plenty of time, but I was on bike, and I always like to make sure I have a few extra minutes, just in case. This woman walked in just after me, and she had a HUGE bag she was carrying with her. We both ended up changing and getting to the pool around the same time; she still carried the big bag with her. I pulled on my swim cap and my goggles, rolled my shoulders a few times and stretched quickly before jumping in, starting my laps. As I was finishing my first 20 or so laps, I saw that she was still sitting on the side of the pool, pulling contraption after contraption out of the bag. Fins and hand fins, and nose pinchers, and ear plugs, and bands and … I don’t even know what half the items were. I kept swimming. 35, 36, … she finally picks out whatever accoutrement she deemed would be necessary, and starting pulling it all on. At this point, I’ve done my 2,000m and I hop out. She’s just barely getting started and, honestly, she is barely moving. I mean, maybe she was just on a warm-up lap but she is clearly the slowest one in the pool, flailing about, displacing all sorts of water. I was trying not to be critical, but honestly, I can’t imagine any one of those devices actually did anything positive for her swim speed or style, and it certainly cost a pretty penny. I felt sad for her, because swimming is one of the easiest sports, and requires few basic accessories. All the extra ‘stuff’ in the world won’t gain optimum health for you; only you can do that. Moral of the story: you don’t need that extra stuff. Sports stores are more than happy to sell it to you, and will give you pitch after pitch why equipment A, B AND C are all very valuable and necessary. What you really need is you and your effort.
So that underlines my whole post here: you don’t need that extra stuff. You just need you to make the positive difference in your wellness. If you’re looking for that fountain of youth, you won’t find it in a can of powder, or bottle of pills. You won’t make a smoothie with it. You don’t need a peloton bike. Use what you have, make the most out of it, and it will serve you well.