Have We Reached Peak Wellness?

The authors featured think so (or, at least, maybe). Google the phrase "peak wellness", and you'll see much more backlash to the movement that I whole-heartedly bought into about 4 years ago.

Photo via Alive Magazine, August 2016

Photo via Alive Magazine, August 2016

Fact is, wellness was sexy then. It's still sexy today, if also annoying. In the past few years of keeping crystals on the coffee table and multiple meditation apps in my iPhone, I have learned that no amount of New Age therapy found on the internet will fill my heart's Swiss cheese holes. A balance of exercise, good food, better wine, dancing, and Christ go where sage sticks and Reiki could not possibly tread. That doesn't mean I don't love the smell of sage or the way the light hits a hunk of rose quartz. It doesn't mean that those with celiac disease should not avoid bread. But maybe, in these last few months of green juice-fed hysteria, we have been sold a false promise. Time (and Goop's bottom line) will tell.

"How Wellness Became an Epidemic" by Amy LaRocca
One of the things that's difficult to reconcile in the wellness world is that creeping paranoia is welcome--what are you eating? What are you putting on your skin?--yet there's an untroubled faith in so much of the cure. A loaf of bread may be considered toxic, but a willingness to plunge into the largely unregulated world of vitamins and supplements is a given.

"Dear Gwyneth Paltrow, We're Not Fucking With You, We're Correcting You, XOXO, Science" by Jennifer Gunter, MD
You have the gall to tell people like me that we better bring our A game when you bring ghosts and magic to the table. Literally. You promote a ghost whisperer and crystals and of course jade eggs that one recharges with energy from the moon. Really, a dude who talks with ghosts, Naturopaths, and a jade eggthusiast who has a certification from the school she founded is on your A squad?

"We Definitely Reached Peak Wellness in 2016" by Marina Esmeraldo
And really, is there anything worse than being (whisper) fat? Is wellness just Weight Watchers given a holier-than-thou image update? Underneath the green juices and the soul-cycle and the #fitspo lurks the pervading idea that for women to be thin is to be happy. Perhaps unsurprisingly the most lucrative sectors within wellness are Beauty & Anti-Aging ($999 bil.) followed by Healthy Eating, Nutrition, & Weight Loss ($648 bil). So products and services selling youth and thinness. How depressing.

T&F's Believe It or Not...

I worked out harder on a recent 10-day trip to Italy than I did all winter. It feels good to be back! Coming up: SUP yoga with the YoGoGirls, a couple 5-K races (baby steps to get back in the habit), and Pedal the Cause to raise funds and awareness for Saint Louis Children's Hospital and Siteman Cancer Center. Learn more about the latter or donate to the cause here

You, Me, & BBG Make 3

My January and February were exceedingly sluggish and martini-soaked. Consequently, I gained about 9 pounds. Consequently, I had a major freak-out upon seeing a certain number on the scale and ordered Kayla Itsines' Bikini Body Guide e-book in a white-hot panic. Three weeks later, I look and feel as strong as ever, I'm exercising more than I have since the yoga teacher training days, and (real talk) you could bounce a quarter off my ass. Here are my thoughts on Itsines' runaway Instagram fitness phenomenon and how to make it work best for you.

Itsines' emphasizes hard work and sacrifice to achieve fitness goals. And she's right to do so. Photo: KaylaItsines.com

Itsines' emphasizes hard work and sacrifice to achieve fitness goals. And she's right to do so. Photo: KaylaItsines.com

If you like to work out at home or must squeeze workouts into an already-packed schedule, then you'll love BBG's low-maintenance requirements. Most exercises require no equipment, and those that do can be modified with pieces you have at home. If you take the domestic route, you will want to invest in a set of hand weights, a foam roller, an exercise mat, and possibly a medicine ball. Meanwhile, each session lasts just 35 minutes, so you will be hard-pressed to find excuses to skip.

Every resistance routine is just hard enough to make you sweat and swear. You'll want to use Sweat--Itsines' app--which has the same 12-week challenges as her ebook, as well as a calendar and food diary built in for accountability. I am very competitive with myself and thrive on finishing every week harder, better, faster, and stronger than I was the week before. Thanks to Sweat, now I can prove it. Speaking of proving it, Instagram's BBG community is enormous. Some of her devotees now boast hundreds of thousands of followers, and Itsines' shares before-and-after photos daily on her own feed. That feedback and sense of shared experience does wonders for those who may need the extra push. Women of all sizes and lifestyles have transformed their bodies with this program, and their #BBGprogress pictures prove it.

Of course, BBG and Sweat have their caveats: The app is still buggy and will sometimes start over on week 1 when you're really on week 4 or 7, etc. And the whole kit is pricey. Itsines' ebook costs $60 for 3 downloads, and the app requires a monthly fee of $20--chump change compared to a gym membership but no small amount when you get that double-digit Apple bill. I suggest splashing out for the app only, or going in with a couple friends on the ebook if you truly need offline access.

The biggest issue I have with BBG is that it neglects to include back exercises, which are critical for anyone doing so many ab and chest routines. To fix this, I mix in some back work after I complete a BBG resistance workout: either seated cable rows or dumbbell rows.

Kayla Itsines' body is her best advertisement. Those abs are no joke. Photo: BikiniBodyGuides.com

Kayla Itsines' body is her best advertisement. Those abs are no joke. Photo: BikiniBodyGuides.com

Last word: If you need an inexpensive alternative to personal training that will highly motivate you to compete against yourself and stick to a routine, then this is the program for you. It's certainly working for me.