The 'business' of wellness.... have our heads taken over our hearts?
I’m not really sure where this blog post is coming from, I have a feeling it’s been brewing for a while. I can however tell you precisely what triggered me to sit down and write these words right here and now.
When I saw the Mail On Sunday ‘You’ Magazine sitting in my mum’s coffee table this morning with a cover image of Natasha Corrett as the ‘Queen of green’, I was eager to delve into reading the article…
However I quickily became a bit shouty which surprised me as I am not typically an opinionated person. I’m usually the type to sit on the sidelines and watch others debate, not because I don’t have my own thoughts, but because I am pretty good at seeing a situation from various angles or playing devils advocate in a given situation regardless of my own views.
I think it’s more growing sense of frustration that had triggered this outburst, not so much the article itself. Please understand that I have nothing specifically against Natasha herself (and totally appreciate the media’s habit of skewing perspective) indeed I follow her Instagram account and to be honest, anyone who is helping to change people’s eating habits for the better, in whatever form that may take is a good person in my eyes. That said…
I hate the way ‘clean eating’ and ‘superfoods’ (I have begun to hate those words but can’t find better ones so bear with me!) have been become a social status, a fashion accessory, a sex symbol, a competition, and a money making opportunity at every turn…
I follow many wellness and foodie accounts on Instagram, and whilst I love the platform for it I am beginning to hate the flawless feminine perfection I feel is it fast becoming associated with. A green juice held by a long dainty hand with perfectly lacquered nails and a carefully positioned bracelet... for example!
I point the finger at no-one in particular, this is simply a growing sense of unease within me.
So many of the highly successful entrepreneurs of the healthy eating revolution began their crusade off the back of healing their own health issues… for that I have deep admiration and endless respect and always will.
BUT then it soon seems to shift, a subtle sneaky shift by the lure of the media as it soon becomes a money making game. Tapping into the widening gap in the UK market, tapping into the need and sometimes desperation of so many health conscious people looking for an answer. Any answer.
There in a lot of vulnerability in the health and wellness arena. A lot of people looking for answers from the outside yet failing to look within for their own truth. Often women, often looking to rebuild their own confidence and sense of self along the way.
As a health & life coach this terrifies and worries me… the message is becoming skewed, with added pressure and ideologies of the elite lifestyle to live up to. An external visual representation of good health does NOT directly indicate an internal emotional level of good health.
Looking good on the outside does not immediately equate to feeling good on the inside. Of course the two can and do go hand in hand. This is what we should all be striving for and nutritional plays a huge role, arguably the biggest role. YET I feel this is also the realm of huge misdirection of keeping up appearances, of ticking boxes and not asking the WHY, HOW, WHAT of our own personal health journies.
My own health journey has sure evolved and shifted over the last year or so as I have done a lot more inner work and asked deeper questions of myself. I will share this with you more in a separate post once I've better collated my thoughts.
I hate the way ‘clean eating’ has become portrayed as elitest...
The notion that it is expensive is not helped at all by this new wave of media coverage and fashion icon status. Yes I do use various specialist ingredients myself and I buy organic whenever I can… BUT I aim create recipes largely using the basics. Simple, time efficient, plant based recipes using cupboard ingredients with some of the ‘extra special ingredients’ thrown in or at times when I want to get a little creative. When I do use special ingredients, I use them time and time again in different recipes and so there will never be that situation of buying an expensive ingredient and having it sitting forlorn in the cupboard for ever more.
For me, the innate curiosity in exploring your own health journey through the mind/body connection is lost when we look to the outside for a leader or an identity to emulate. We loose ourselves.
I also hate the growing business focus of wellness. Ok, let’s be clear here that I’m totally cool with making money… it makes total sense that our efforts should reap a financial reward. I also appreciate that this is large part my own personal viewpoint since I am simply not a money minded individual, it’s not what makes me tick. I’d like as much as I need to live a comfortable life but nothing more. Other people have different financial priorities and that’s cool too.
My frustration comes when the INTENTION behind the push for health and wellness comes from the head and not the heart. I feels to me as though that is where many enterpreneurs have got caught up along the way as the clean eating phenomenon has hit the UK like a whirlwind these last few years.
As a coach and also a heath food business owner myself, my fundamental drive above and beyond anything else is to help people. Help people to get curious to explore their own unique wellless journey.
I write my Including Cake blog (and have been doing so for 4 years) that does not directly bring me a single penny of income- no advertising or ongoing affiliations. I do it because I love it and want to serve you and because it acts as my own creative outlet that I want to share.
I run Wholeplus, my food business that I personally execute at every level from the website to the graphics to the marketing to the labelling to the production of the product mix to the packaging and ultimately dispatch of course I could outside much of this and grow the business hugely, but I choose not to as I want full control to ensure the brand stays true to me and my connection with my customers.
A believe that a business in health in wellness should be lead from the heart and not the head.
I think deep down this is why the article in the MOS made me a little shouty. There is seemingly so much competition and bitchiness behind the scenes in the wellness lifestyle environment fiercely dominated by women. These two extracts from the article made me particularly sad:
“it’s clearly a competitive field, and Natasha is jealously protective of her patch. ‘For me, its about being the first to do something’ she says”.
“earlier she had complained about rivals stealing her sweet potato brownie recipe, which happens to be the most read recipe on Deliciously Ella, ‘I was the fist person to do that, now everyones got a sweet potato brownie recipe, so I always have to come up with new ideas”.
For me the fundamental aim of a proponent of health and wellness is to live a life of passion and through that truly inspire others to take small steps towards a healthier life, wherever they may be at. It is also a huge opportunity to stand together and unite in wellness, recognising there is enough room in the arena for us each to play a part from a business standpoint yet still be there to support each other as a growing unity in the world.
Really... is this too much to ask?
People like Jamie Oliver, whilst maybe being further from my own food philosophy that many of those in the ‘clean eating revolution’ inspires me daily with his pure passion and drive to connect with the people. Real people at every level of society. He shows up in life, rough and ready, full of passion, full of his truth and full of heart.
Ok, I’m done now. If you've read this far I am truly humbled. I feel as though maybe i’ve rambled and maybe I could have put my point across in fewer words, but I needed to vent in this space. My space. I wanted to be honest and open and vulnerable.
I have no idea what reactions this will cause… positive? Negative? Indifference? This is unknown territory for me to verbalise thoughts like this in the public realm and so writing this is a hugely vulnerable experience for me. But it’s how I encourage you so show upon the world. From your heart and your truth. And so I lead by example with mine.