"The more that you read,
the more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
the more places you'll go.

Dr. Seuss,  I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

The 'Wellness' Rage: Are You Sick of It?

“There is no cure because there is nothing wrong with you!”

There is nothing wrong with you people! There is nothing wrong with you!” Mr. Lockhart, the main character in the 2016 psychological thriller: A Cure for Wellness; shouted at the occupants of the wellness spa, which is housed in a castle somewhere in Europe. This was after Mr. Lockhart found out that the wellness spa is actually making its occupants sick instead of treating them. 

Some occupants blurted out, “But we’re here for the cure!” Mr. Lockhart bellowed his frustration across the room, “There is no cure because there is nothing wrong with you!”

One by one, each occupant in the huge dining hall stood up. With so much hope in his eyes, Mr. Lockhart encouraged those who were still seated to also stand up and confront the Director of the spa for misleading them. But to his horror, instead of confronting the spa Director, they confronted him and like zombies and robots, simultaneously murmured “I am not well. I am not well.”

The movie has mixed reviews and we personally found it a little too long and at many times boring but the message it conveyed about one’s pursuit of wellness was an eye opener. 

The idea that they’re not well and therefore need to be cured in that wellness spa was so ingrained in the occupants’ minds that even when presented with facts showing they were actually well, they still refused to believe because the wellness industry (being referred to as the spa in this movie) told them they’re never well enough. 

The Wellness Obsession, Have you heard of Keto, Paleo, Gluten-free, Vegan, Detox, Fasting? What about Whole30, Dash, Mediterranean Diet? And there’s Vagina Steaming, Anti-aging Creams, Hair Serums, Vitamin Water, Essential Oils. Oh, what about that alarm clock that mimics the sunrise to gently wake you up and that gummies that are infused with melatonin to help you fall asleep? 

Wellness is all the rage these days. Google ‘wellness’ and you’ll be overwhelmed with information (both good and bad) about it. Check out magazines and you’ll most likely see a whole page or pages dedicated to ‘wellness’. Check out events platforms such as EventBrite and you’ll know that hundreds of health and wellness summits, retreats, conferences, workshops are happening in and around your area almost on a daily basis.

The Concept of Wellness according to the  World Health Organization, wellness is a state of complete physical, mental, and social-well being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

The concept of wellness is indeed positive. After all, shouldn’t we all aspire for optimal health not just for our physical body but for our whole well being too? However, people’s obsession with it can sometimes be misguided. 

Misguided Wellness

For many of us, we so desperately want to magically overhaul our lives quickly that we follow the wellness fads and ‘gurus’ with eyes  closed wishing that they deliver the promised results that we so desire. 

But lo and behold! It doesn’t always work out that way. Some of these wellness trends are just plain crap. Take for example Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP Vaginal Jade Eggs - lifestyle website claims that inserting Jade Eggs into a woman’s vagina would “increase vaginal muscle tone, hormonal balance and feminine energy in general.” This unsubstantiated claim caused Gwyneth Paltrow to settle a $125,000 lawsuit and to refund all 3,000 customers who bought the product (they were sold for $66). The company was found guilty of advertising a product “which medical claims were not supported by competent and reliable science.

Don’t get us wrong. We’re not judging Gwyneth Paltrow and her company GOOP as a scam. However, at least for this one particular product - the Jade Eggs/Yoni Eggs, they’ve been found guilty of misleading their audience about the actual medical benefits that this product provides. 

There’s also this story of a former social media influencer and “wellness guru” - Belle Gibson. The public fell for her after she claimed that she cured herself of terminal cancer by rejecting conventional medicine in favour of a healthy diet and lifestyle. She had her story documented on her blog and social media platforms. People loved it and made her story a hit. It became the foundation for her best seller book and Apple App that feature wellness and lifestyle advice and healthy recipes.

Belle Gibson basically preached the gospel of “wellness” as a cure for cancer without any medical proof but people bought it. She was, without a doubt, one of Australia's  most loved cancer-fighting and wellness gurus. But in 2015 she was exposed as a fraud. It was found out that she never had cancer at all and had been summoned to appear in Federal Court following her failure to pay a AUD410,000 penalty for misleading health claims. But the damage has already been done. Scores of followers who flocked to her social media accounts, read her book, and bought her app had already been misled and illegally profited from for years.  

In many instances, wellness practices backfire on us or just didn't have the effect they promised. And they can lead to more damage to our bodies, emotions, and our self-esteem. While many of these wellness trends might present themselves as solutions to all our issues - physical, mental, emotional, financial, sexual, spiritual, it turns out that “wellness” as we know it is not at all times true or are being propagated by people who aren’t truthful. 

Wellness Isn’t Evil

Not all wellness trends are bad and you should take care of your well being. Self-love and self-care is worth paying attention to. Wanting to live a long, happy, fulfilled life is something we should all aim for. But ask yourself this question, “Does the wellness practice I’m doing now really support better health or is it hypocrisy in disguise? Worse, does it convey a veiled message of undervaluing one’s worth?”

The bottom line is you take control of your own well-being. No one should dictate to you what and how to eat or when and how to exercise or how to take care of YOU if it’s not something you truly believe in. 

Be Well, But Do Your Due Diligence

So what should you do? How do you pursue wellness and at the same time protect yourself (and wallet) from many fraudulent players in the industry?

Do your own due diligence.

Many of the health advice we are receiving online is not supported by medical evidence and that’s dangerous!

Therefore, anything that involves your health, it’s best to do the following:

1) Remember the adage “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”
2) Choose medical and/or health professionals (e.g. MD) over influencers or choose influencers who are also medical and/or health professionals. Best practice is to check with your doctor before trying any health and wellness regimen.
3) Evaluate your ‘Why’. Are you doing a particular type of wellness because there’s real proof it will make your life better and happier? Or is it because your favorite social media person, your peers, and friends, colleagues say you should?

It’s a must to take care of your well being, and there are many great tools and programs that can support you with it.

But remember that they’re just tools, and just because your friend, or a famous Instagram influencer swears by one method doesn’t mean you’re doing wellness wrong.

Furthermore, if there is no truth and medical proof behind the wellness claims, and no sensible science to make those trends produce your desired results, then they’ll never deliver on their health and wellness promises. 

Knowledge is power! Use its full potential to fight against fraud.  Wellness isn’t all evil! It’s not always a lie, but it’s also not always the truth. So beware!