Remember this Julia Louise-Dreyfus ad for Old Navy?
As ads go, it’s pretty funny. It also gives a nod to one of the big myths about living healthfully – when Louise-Dreyfus, gushing over another woman’s outfit, exclaims, “My kale smoothie [costs] more than that!”
Green smoothies, coconut water, almond milk, cold-pressed juices, grass-fed meats, all-natural skincare, chia seeds, maca, cacao … they’re all symbols of the new luxury taking over the upper echelon of society: wellness.
It used to be that we’d show off a new car or perhaps a new designer handbag. But since the global financial crisis hit, “health bragging” has become the only acceptable way to make a statement of how privileged you are. The phenomenon starts with food and exercise but is actually an all-encompassing lifestyle.
But it’s more than just kale smoothies. Advertisers market “healthy” through things: special clothes, high tech gadgets, trendy “superfoods,” and on and on and on. “Healthy” starts to look like nothing more than just buying (and flaunting) the right products.
Is that really what wellness is all about? Can you not be healthy if you don’t make at least a 6 digits a year?
Of course not, and of course you can.
For real wellness isn’t about status or image. Wellness is about living well and happily. Eating healthy and exercising are often stressed, but wellness is also about feeling centered, loved, and connected. You can achieve a happy, healthful life through very simple, often inexpensive choices and actions. Scratch your pet’s ears. Write a thank you card to a friend or do a random act of kindness. Setting aside thirty minutes a day to read, write in a journal, meditate, or pray may help you relax and reduce stress. Or consider getting a cup of tea with a friend. All of these activities may be very calming and can help you feel relaxed, connected, and happy.
In no small part, wellness is also about prevention. Making healthful choices now is investing in a healthy future. Paying more today for organic food or buying a gym membership or what have you is many times cheaper than paying to “manage” a lifetime of chronic illness – illness that typically stems from things like poor diet, minimal physical activity, and other lifestyle factors.
Any gear you buy is only as good as the use you put it to. Wearing a FitBit doesn’t make you healthy unless it motivates you to get up and get moving. Top of the line running shoes make you no more in shape than a fancy new pen makes you a best-selling novelist. You still have to put in the time, effort, and commitment.
And truth be told, achieving and maintaining wellness doesn’t have to be a spendy proposition. In fact, it’s quite economical.
Likewise, regular dental visits may seem expensive and unnecessary, but they go a long way toward your maintaining good oral health (and, thus, good systemic health), and that can save you years of pain and a lot of money along the way.
There are lots of ways to live a healthful life on a budget. Here are just a few good resources we’ve found for taking care of those two basics – eating well and exercising – even when money is really tight: