I have often remarked that one of the best things about editing Experience Life is hearing back from our readers that the magazine is making a difference for them as they pursue a healthier way of life. I also love hearing that they appreciate the conscious choice we’ve made to be different from a great many other health-and-fitness magazines.
I think a lot of that difference comes from our relentless, passionate pursuit of what we see as the most central truths about health, and what it really takes to become and stay healthy in a less-than-healthy society. Every day, our whole team is noticing and talking about this stuff: the things that complicate or obstruct our own healthy choices; the support systems and insights that really help; the stories from families and friends who are struggling to get healthier; what we can do, write, research and share that will help them stay strong and determined.
Recently we got a wonderful affirmation for our efforts in this area: We won a Folio award (an Eddie) for our Manifesto for Thriving in a Mixed-Up World — the tear-out chapbook that ran as part of a larger feature I wrote for our January/February 2011 issue: “Being Healthy Is a Revolutionary Act: Renegade Perspectives for Thriving in a Mixed-Up World.” (Both the feature and manifesto are available at RevolutionaryAct.com.)
While every award deserves celebration (and I’m happy to say we won more than a dozen this past year, including the Minnesota Magazine & Publishing Association’s top award for Overall Excellence), I think this award is among the most satisfying we’ve received to date. That’s because it reflects the value and importance not just of this one piece, but of our magazine’s whole underlying “tell the truth” ethic, and our zeal for sparking a healthy revolution on a grand scale.
Over the past year, both Experience Life and its spinoff, RevolutionaryAct.com, have experienced a sort of coming of age. The magazine’s newsstand sales have nearly doubled. Our Web sites and social-media initiatives are enjoying unprecedented traffic. Our “101 Revolutionary Ways to Be Healthy” app has gotten more than 20,000 downloads. And we’re hearing affirmations from all quarters — from “just getting started” health seekers to well-respected experts and advocates — that the time has come for this brand of no-nonsense information and inspiration.
I’m so glad, because the way I see it, none of the other positive changes we hope to make as a society can be sustained without the energy and resilience of a whole lot of healthy, vital people who are committed to giving their best gifts with passion and purpose.
One of the things that drives me crazy about so much of the conventional and health-and-fitness media is that by focusing almost exclusively on superficial, perfect-body ideals, they often fail to ignite our deeper motivations. And by prescribing an endless series of dull, droning diet and exercise “shoulds,” they fail to inspire healthy choices made purely in the name of pleasure, exploration, excitement and fun.
There was a time when I bought into the idea that to be healthy, I’d have to give up a lot of things I enjoyed, and I’d have to start doing things I dreaded. I was sure it would feel like a forced march — a sad path of self-denial I’d have to plod along on for the rest of my life. Ugh.
What nobody told me (or maybe they did, but it was just so far from my reality at the time that I couldn’t believe it) is that virtually every step of that path would reveal exciting new views and yield unexpected rewards, that I’d get stronger and clearer with each mile, and that I’d wind up in a totally different landscape — one brighter, more lush and more appealing by far than the one I’d reluctantly left behind.
That, I think, is the message behind this issue of Experience Life, and also the gist of what we’re hoping our readers and visitors take away from all our related efforts: Start where you are, go forth in pursuit of your healthy passions, trust the road ahead, and enjoy where it takes you.