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Why we stopped loving healthy lifestyle

JUST A FEW YEARS BACK THE PHILOSOPHY OF A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE HAS TAKEN root in our latitudes and has become truly fashionable. However, already in the outgoing 2016, a reverse global trend appeared – a critical look at the passion for proper nutrition and sports. 

Recently, many have become available “smart” gadgets that help get enough sleep and calculate the amount of physical activity, and in matters of proper nutrition, we have been allowed to seriously advance a variety of applications. This year, even the Ministry of Health suggested replacing life-saving lifestyles in schools with a new subject called healthy lifestyles. Superfoods and organic products have not only become a trend, but have already been criticized. A healthy lifestyle has become a philosophy, and with it – a colossal industry with a huge turnover. We decided to figure out why wellness has become annoying for many , and wondered what a healthy lifestyle should be in 2017.       

The main and not entirely obvious plus of the craze for a healthy lifestyle is that it gives impetus to the development of an eco-friendly approach to life on earth. This is especially true of the younger generation, which in the old days was fond of rebellion and self-destruction, and now wants to live a long active life and take care of the planet. Healthy eating webinars, ecology lectures, sports flash mobs and morning raves with green smoothies have displaced the habit of gathering in a smoky room.     

And if the older generation, who spent their youth in a completely different way, expresses only a slight bewilderment at our practicality, or even praises it for it, the professionals began to conduct seminars dedicated to exposing myths about health. Over the past year, serious investigative journalism has appeared in the Western press , accusing popular food bloggers of promoting harmful attitudes. And it’s not just that often “nutritionists” and “trainers” are not qualified to invade our metabolism. Sometimes they invade our consciousness – and affect the perception of ourselves and those around us not in the best way.     

For the first time a systemic criticism of wellness last year was offered by the authors of the acclaimed book “The Wellness Syndrome”, Briton Andre Spicer, teacher of organizational behavior at a business school, and Karl Zederstrom, professor at Stockholm University. According to them, the pressure of healthy lifestyle propaganda is so great that we feel guilty for our own happy existence if it is not organized according to the wellness trend. On the contrary, if we follow a healthy fashion, then we feel superior to those who do not comply with the requirements of a healthy lifestyle.

Marketers sell us objectification in packaging with the words “for themselves”, but the fact remains: we are still evaluated through our body, athleticism and strong-willed asceticism 

This reflects the reality extremely conditionally, but it contributes to the development of shaming. Recently, irritation began to accumulate in society towards especially ardent adherents of healthy lifestyles, who are so fanatical that they anathematize all those who disagree. Healthy eating habits, good physical fitness, and the joy of a healthy body should not equal a feeling of superiority or a way to assert yourself at someone else’s expense.  

Recently, it has become clear that dedication to health issues does not guarantee satisfaction. Finding organic foods, studying the ingredients on labels, and fighting unhealthy cooking methods can all trigger eating disorders. In this year and the country has come a concept for almost twenty years, disturbing Western psychotherapists – orthorexia nervosa (similar to anorexia nervosa). So far, not enough research has been done to place orthorexia on the International Classification of Diseases. Many doctors consider it a specific case of anorexia: if the anorexic is painfully focused on the number of calories, then the orthorexics have mania about the quality of the food and the observance of the “cleanliness” of the body in all sorts of ways.     

The psychological background of healthy lifestyle fanaticism is similar to eating disorders and impaired body perception. Increased anxiety is expressed in the fear of eating something that is not healthy enough, losing a muscle corset after a missed workout, and turning into a monster full of “toxins” at the end of a too lush meal. Constant control of bodily habits provides only temporary relief from external stress, but also leads to anxiety. Here, the same pernicious scheme of punishments and rewards is involved, which once drove us into the framework of the model body, and now leads us into the framework of the sports body. If earlier happiness was associated with thinness, now it is associated with being pumped up.

Over the past couple of years, positive trends have gained momentum: society has learned even more about body positivity, the myth about the dangers of physical activity during menstruation is a thing of the past, and many have realized that being overweight is not an obstacle to playing sports. Finally, we do not have to worry about how we will be appreciated, running in the park in a stretched T-shirt and freeing up nervous hours in front of the mirror for self-education, creativity and communication with people. As soon as we began to learn to be healthy and athletic for our own pleasure, when suddenly it turns out that we are again looking for someone’s approval and compliance with new standards.

The main fear in this mindset is the same fear of fat that is behind the $ 61 billion industry . Now it is also called toxic, although doctors tirelessly insist that fat and ill health are not directly related. Marketers sell us objectification in a package labeled “for themselves”, but the fact remains: we are still judged through our body, athleticism and strong-willed asceticism. 

In fact, many “healthy” approaches turn out to be moral systems that manipulate us through the markers “good” and “bad”. We all want to be good – that’s why diet blogging gurus without specialized medical education are preaching us the path of the new righteous. At the same time, according to the canons of a healthy lifestyle, a person is reduced to his body. Yes, this is already a more meaningful body than in the era of model fetish – it already has the intestines, stomach and metabolism, but it is still just a body. 

A healthy lifestyle as an end in itself will not satisfy our spiritual needs – even if we add compulsory meditation to superfoods and two liters of water. Many have heard the winged “in a healthy body – a healthy mind”, but few people know that in the original Juvenal did not have a causal relationship between bodily health and spirit. You can be a scoundrel with green smoothies in the morning. The Roman poet teaches to ask fate for both, and also – cheerfulness, lack of fear of death, kindness and hard work, because the guarantee of a full life in a full approach to it.  

Health is the basis of our whole life, but even it should not be turned into a sacrificial altar, on which we put relationships with loved ones, the joy of new impressions and a feeling of fullness of life  

Another danger of “healthy” fanaticism is that this ideology is based on the idea of ​​so-called positive thinking: a belief in something supposedly helps this something to come true. The immense popularity of personal growth trainings, workshops and books has turned the positive self-improvement movement in the United States into a $ 8.5 billion business, as noted by Michael Shermer, author of The Skeptic: A Rational View of the World.

However, there is no scientific evidence that such self-hypnosis has a positive effect on the human psyche. On the contrary, the not too critical belief “I can do anything” has the opposite effect in case of failure: it turns out that the person is also completely to blame for it, because he allegedly did not believe enough. Perhaps it was this philosophy that helped governments and corporations shift responsibility for the world’s problems onto the shoulders of citizens. An approach raised to the point of absurdity turns criticism of the social system and the economic situation into the whining of a loser who is “just too lazy to get his butt off the couch”.   

Unfortunately, healthy lifestyle unreasonably promises that for proper nutrition, good mood and joy from physical activity, if not enlightenment, then the notorious “harmony with the world” will come. The problem with this non-collecting puzzle is that we always want to find a universal recipe for solving life’s problems, whether it’s conventional beauty, following a certain fashion, or consuming chia seeds. In fact, the only way to be happier is to deal with problems where they arise. If you find it difficult in a relationship, strengthening the longitudinal abdominal muscles will not help you – only recognizing problems and working on them.

In general, the fashion for a healthy lifestyle is an important achievement in recent years. We strive to live as long an active life as possible, full of travel, career gains and creative success – may everyone have more of this in the coming year. Health is the basis of everything, but even it should not be turned into a sacrificial altar, on which we put relationships with loved ones, the joy of new impressions and a feeling of fullness of life.

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