My health story begins like a lot of people’s.
I was a healthy kid who turned into a less healthy teen, and then into an even less healthy adult.
Despite having counterculture parents (sociologist dad, hippy mom), I tried hard to pass for normal, and to conform to the expectations my society had for me. I just wanted to fit in.
One day, I woke up and realized I looked and felt kind of lousy.
Year by year, things got worse. Eventually, I got tired of this trend and decided to do something about it — and then promptly ran into all sorts of frustrating and bewildering obstacles.
Healthy food was hard to find, and harder to prepare. Diets were never satisfying. Fast-food temptations were everywhere. Exercise took time, energy, skills and body confidence I didn’t have.
For as much as “healthy lifestyle choices” were promoted in the media, there was zero support for them in real life.
My motivation flagged. I got bummed out. I just wanted to stay inside, eat junk food and watch TV.
I kept buying health and fitness magazines, hoping they’d pull me out of my downward spiral. The headlines promised instant results, dramatic improvements. But all the airbrushed models and bikini-body challenges just made me feel worse about myself.
The diets and workouts ranged from silly to downright dangerous. The ads pushed processed foods, pharmaceuticals, weight-loss pills, and other products I knew couldn’t be good for me.
The “life-changing” and “body-perfecting” programs never seemed to work as advertised.
The more I tried to follow the mass-media prescriptions for health and fitness, the less healthy and happy I got.
I gained weight. I felt depressed, anxious, and hungry a lot of the time. I started getting rashes, losing my eyelashes, having night sweats.
Finally, after hitting my own personal rock bottom, I gave up on the conventional wisdom and I started figuring things out for myself.
It took me a few years, but as I got clearer headed and more creative about addressing the real-life, real-world challenges involved in choosing to be healthy, I started making real progress. I started feeling weirdly good.
And then I had an insight …
A lot of the conventional approaches I’d tried hadn’t just not worked, they had actually been working against me.
I wondered why the media wasn’t doing a better job educating and informing the public. I wondered why they weren’t covering a lot of the issues or offering the kind of counsel that seemed most essential to health seekers like me.
I also figured I couldn’t be the only one weary of warmed-over articles about skinny jeans and six-packs abs. I thought to myself: There should really be some better, more progressive kind of health magazine. But I couldn’t find one.
So I decided to create the magazine I’d been looking for.
That was about 20 years ago. Today, Experience Life magazine reaches more than 3 million people. And I’m proud that it is one of the best respected health magazines in the country. (Maybe even the world: A few years ago, I learned from Queen Rania of Jordan that she digs Experience Life.)
All of that makes me happy. But what makes me even happier is hearing from regular people how the work I’ve created or contributed to has helped them create positive change in their own lives.
Because when one person’s life changes for the better, all the lives around them change, too.
And little by little, I think that is how we are going to heal this crazy, mixed-up world of ours.
Here’s the reality: Being healthy in our current culture is not some easy-breezy “lifestyle choice,” or a simple matter of willpower, diet, and exercise.
Right now, choosing to be healthy is a revolutionary and socially deviant act.
It requires unconventional strategies and non-conformist choices. It requires extraordinary awareness, moxie, self-compassion, and resilience.
So, this is lot of what I’ve been writing and talking about for the past decade or so. It’s at the core of my 101 Revolutionary Ways to Be Healthy (now available as a cool app powered by Experience Life) and it runs through every single one of my “Revolutionary Acts” columns (published by Experience Life magazine and Huffington Post).
It’s also a foundational part of The Living Experiment, the popular podcast I co-host with my friend, Whole30 co-founder and New York Times bestselling author Dallas Hartwig.
Check out our episode library here, and if you like what you hear, subscribe to The Living Experiment on your favorite podcast platform (iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, etc.).
Oh, and I wrote a book!
The Healthy Deviant: A Rule Breaker’s Guide to Being Healthy in an Unhealthy World is all about outwitting unhealthy norms, defying vitality-sapping defaults, and thriving in the face of real challenges. It explains the practices and perspective shifts that make all of that easier.
Interested? You can get a free preview right here.
Okay, enough about me.
Tell me: What’s going on in your world, and how can we collaborate to make our shared world a healthier, happier more beautiful place?