From nutrition to exercise to everything in between, do you ever feel overwhelmed, burned out, and even guilty, about all the conflicting information in the wellness field?
The Secret to Avoiding Wellness Guilt: How to Handle Conflicting Wellness Advice
This episode is all about the secret to avoiding wellness guilt. We’ll talk about exactly how to sift through all that information to find a way to wellness that will work for you.
Do you ever feel a little bit overwhelmed, burned out, even guilty, about all the conflicting information in the wellness field right now?
From nutrition, to exercise, to everything in between.
Today’s episode is the secret to avoiding wellness guilt and figuring out exactly how to sift through all that information to find a way that will work for you.
This episode is brought to you by our free Simplified Wellness Starter Guide, which you can grab for free here.
It’s downloadable, printable, and walks you through all kinds of goodness related to simplifying and taking the overwhelming guilt out of wellness.
This guide will help you flip the script on mindset and offers a really incremental and intentional approach to simplifying meals, movement, and mind.
It really is an amazing place to start-- grab the guide here!
How you’re doing wellness “wrong”:
Okay, let’s talk about wellness guilt, and really, all the ways that you’re doing wellness “wrong”.
Coconut oil-- coconut oil will kill you.
Yep, that innocent plant-based oil from the tropics is definitely going to kill you.
But hold up, coconut oil is actually full of healthy fats and you should put it in everything, put it in your coffee, chug it by the gallon.
But definitely work out to get your heart rate up every day.
Scratch that, working out too hard will spike your cortisol levels and send you into adrenal fatigue, so skip it.
On second thought, it’s actually eggs that are the killers.
No that’s not right, eggs are amazing!
Eat them all the time. But only if they’re pastured. And organic.
For sure though, never leave the house without sunscreen.
Actually, no, sunscreen is laden with harmful chemicals and you should skip it in favor of getting vitamin D.
If anything, for sure, intermittent fasting-- this is the way to go, it’s going to cure everything that ails you.
Wait. Wrong again, intermittent fasting is super dangerous and it should be avoided at all costs!
Of course, definitely 100%, eat more vegetables.
But make sure they’re not canned because if they’re canned they might contain harmful BPA, and definitely only organic and local and from the farmer’s market.
Absolutely eat only grass-fed beef.
Wrong. Plant-based is the way to go, any other option will kill you and the planet, too.
Who knew wellness was so impossible?
And this is just a tiny sampling of the steady stream of conflicting wellness advice that is sprayed across the internet on a daily basis.
By now, it should be plainly obvious, you’re getting it wrong, daily (just like I am).
But that, my friends, that is the point.
There is simply no way to do this perfectly.
Seriously, let that sink in.
The idea that if you try harder, get more discipline, find more motivation, do more research, then finally you’ll win at wellness is a lie.
No matter how many vitamins you swallow, the wellness gurus you follow, the fitness trends you adopt, or fad diets you try, there will always be mistakes in this process.
There will always be people out there who disagree with your approach.
So, if all of this is keeping you up at night with anxiety sweats, if you’re feeling guilty or overwhelmed from just listening to that list, you are not alone.
Just know that all of this is totally fine, making mistakes is totally fine-- you’re human.
Being human means making mistakes, regardless of what we see on the internet from perfect wellness gurus who do everything right, because that’s not reality.
“Being human means making mistakes, trying something, failing, switching things up, and then trying again”.
Making mistakes is part of life for all of us; we’re all here trying to do the best we can, making mistakes and figuring it out as we go.
So when we put striving for impossible ideals in front of true health, when we forsake progress and process in favor of perfection chasing, that’s when we have a real problem of our hands.
When we get caught up in perfect ideal, all or nothing thinking, and comparison, we just can’t win, and we end up feeling completely miserable in the process.
When the search for wellness is making us feel worse, we know something has got to change.
There’s far too much at stake here, your own health, well being, and happiness, to let guilt, perfection, or all or nothing get in the way.
Perfect is simply not an option, and it never was.
I’m not saying to stop trying, to stop researching and being informed, or to stop making the best decisions possible, I’m just saying to stop trying to get it perfect.
It’s time to stop feeling guilty for the impossible situation that you’re in (when I say impossible, I mean it).
You’re trying to balance all the things: you’re taking care of everyone else, you’re trying to take care of yourself, and then on top of everything else, you’re supposed to make the perfect decision about how you eat and every product you bring into your home, about how you exercise, how you take care of your mental health.
And then when you finally commit and you feel like you’re on the right path, you hear the latest headline telling you that you’re doing it wrong.
It’s not just you, this is an impossible situation.
Like I said, it’s time to stop feeling guilty about the impossible situation that you’re in, to stop trying to get it exactly right, and instead, to figure out how to make wellness work your way.
So let’s get it wrong together, make a million tiny mistakes, experiment, and let’s take a few risks.
Together, we can let go of the guilt, the perfection-chasing, and the striving.
“You can get wellness right in your way, on your terms, embracing gentle, simple, incremental, filling your life with imperfect wellness and then watching how everything begins to change.''
3 tactical strategies:
Before I jump into some strategies for you, I really want to make sure you know that you’re not alone.
Every day I get messages that you’re feeling guilty and overwhelmed trying to find the exact right toothpaste for your kids or choosing the right skin care, or deciding what diet to follow.
There are literally a million choices and it is so hard to know which way is right.
But wellness was never about finding the perfect diet or making the perfect choice.
“Wellness has always been about true health, well being, and that includes mental health, that includes peace and calm, and very much includes finding what works for you.
So much of wellness marketing is based on guilt and telling you that you’re doing it wrong, so it’s no wonder we feel like this.
To be really clear, I’m not saying to give up or stop trying, and I’m not saying that there aren’t some choices that are better than others.
I’m just saying that we can’t let the pursuit of wellness make us unwell.
This gentle movement, this gentle mindset, is a way out of this impossible place.
I asked, “what is conflicting information that you hear all the time about nutrition or exercise or wellness in general”, and hundreds and hundreds of messages came in from you guys about all the ways you feel overwhelmed, conflicted, and guilty about the advice you’re hearing.
I got messages from coconut oil, to carbs, to keto, to how hard to exercise, to what vitamins to take.
But then, I got this one message:
I read this and thought to myself, nothing makes me feel this way anymore. I wanted to stop and thank you for the part you played in radically changing my lifestyle. The message that you share on this platform and on the Feel Good Effect has helped me to be gentle with myself and learn about wellness from many perspectives. I was once a fad dieter, all or nothing thinker, and a point-counter. I did those things to shrink my body, not to feel good, not to be happy, and not to feel healthy. I ate terrible food loaded with artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and all sorts of ingredients I couldn’t even pronounce. Now, I regularly eat whole, real foods, I drink plenty of water, I get plenty of sleep, and all those changes have given me the fuel to finally exercise, and love it because I finally feel good. Thank you so much for your own unique voice in this wellness community. My journey would not have been the same without you”.
First up, that message made my year!
But it’s not about me, this is about you guys doing the work and making the change.
Shifting your mindset from striving to gentle, focusing on feeling good and what works for you, allowing that grip on guilt and overwhelm to slightly loosen until you feel set and steady in the way that works for you.
Many of you really did want to know about how to handle the tension between something like keto diet, low-carb, intermittent fasting, veganism, and vegetarianism, and I do think I’ll do a show breaking down some of the pros and cons of these different ways of eating.
But in the end, it won’t be me telling you that this one way is the right way, instead, it’ll be me saying here are the pros and here are the cons of each of these styles.
And ultimately you’re going to have to make a choice, it’s not going to be the perfect choice, but it will be maybe the one that makes the most sense for you.
But for now, here are three of my favorite strategies to help you navigate wellness overwhelm and guilt.
1 | Let go of the idea that there is a perfect option.
You might be saying, “I don’t think there’s a perfect option, I just want to know the right answer the best way to go.''
But of course, all of those are perfection in disguise.
We get it ingrained that there is one best way and we must find it.
I really believe that in wellness, there are some best practices, there are some choices that are better than others for sure, but at the end of the day, there really isn’t a perfect solution or a perfect option.
There are pros and cons, there are ways that it will work for you and ways that it won’t.
So let’s talk about the traps that go along with this idea that there is a perfect option, whether you’re a Seeker, a Dynamo, or a Cultivator (find your wellness personality here).
Trap #1: Analysis paralysis.
There’s always more information to find.
You may recognize analysis paralysis when you’re doing endless googling about the perfect diet, listening to every single podcast ever made about a particular way of eating, reading every book, every article, following every wellness person on Instagram.
And there’s nothing wrong with any of that, in fact, I’m right there with you.
But at a certain point, it’s enough information to make a good decision.
And you can get stuck in that loop of constantly trying to find what the best information is, it can make a decision really difficult, and even when you make a decision, you’ll never feel like it’s the right one.
The simple strategy: cut yourself off.
Give yourself a time limit, do what you need to do to find the information, and then make a decision and stick with it.
Stop going back and jumping from thing to thing.
Instead, give yourself some time to do it and some space to kind of own it for yourself without looking around at what everyone else is doing.
Trap #2: Thinking that there’s a perfect solution.
There are so many times when that’s just not the case.
One of the examples that I got from the Facebook community was about fish, and fish is a great example of why there’s no perfect solution.
There’s a lot of research supporting that eating fish is really good for you-- the omegas, a lot of the places where people live the longest are fish eating communities.
But then there’s the whole thing about overfishing and mercury and other toxins being evident in many fishes.
Of course, there is the farmed fish debate, the farmed shrimp debate, the net versus line-caught discussion, and at the end of the day there really is no perfect solution.
So what do we do?
The solution: satisfice.
That’s a combination of satisfy + suffice.
I actually learned about satisfice while I was in my public affairs and policy doctoral program taking an administrative behavior and economics class.
In 1956, a guy named Herbert Simon came up with this concept of satisficing to describe decision making when there’s no perfect solution.
He actually won a Nobel prize for economics and his acceptance speech he said this about satisficing:
“Decision makers can satisfice either by finding optimum solutions for a simplified world, or by finding satisfactory solutions for a more realistic world”.
And in the end, we’re not living in a simplified world when it comes to making decisions, we’ve got to satisfice, which simply means, be informed and then make the best possible choice.
This will allow you to make a decision, enjoy the process, and make wellness work for you.
2 | Make a million tiny mistakes.
Another trap that we get into is that we have to know how to do it right from the start, that we can’t make any mistakes, it doesn't count if it’s not all or nothing, and it doesn’t count if it’s not perfect.
And the solution here is two parts:
The solution part 1: more days than not.
If you miss one day, then you come back for two.
But if you start spiraling into all or nothing, give yourself a chance to make mistakes, to take a day off, take a week off, as long as you keep coming back and trying.
Every day is a new day, every chance is a new chance.
The solution part 2: experiment.
When you shift to a more experimental way of thinking, you shift away from thinking of these as tiny little mistakes, and more as learnings.
In the end, this is how I found a way of eating that works for me.
I committed to a real food way of eating, which is very basic, no nonsense (check out the episode with Sarah Adler on thriving with real food)
But there have been times in the last few years when I’ve wanted to lose weight, so I’ve experimented with a number of different things to see what my body responds to and how sustainable it is, how joyful it is when I cut certain things out, how it affects my family life or my ability to socialize.
I take all of those factors into account.
Many of you know as well that I have two autoimmune diseases, and for many people with autoimmune diseases, gluten is suggested to be removed from their diet, so that’s another thing I’ve experimented with.
At the end of the day, you don’t know what works until you try something.
Ask, “How does this make me feel in my body? How does this make me feel in my life? How sustainable is this?” And then continue to tweak it.
You could take a pre-made diet out there, use it for maybe 30 days, see how it feels, and then use it as a template and continue asking those questions about what is and isn’t working for you.
3 | The feel factor.
How does it feel before, during, and after?
I think this “feel” question really gets to the heart of this whole discussion, because it’s all about how it feels physically and mentally.
Maybe you’re trying to follow a certain diet but you’re working full time, you’re taking care of a sick parent, you have a couple of kids and one has a disability, or you’re struggling with your own health issues, and taking on cooking for every single meal and being really restrictive with your food creates another impossible situation or another way that you just aren’t keeping up.
Paying attention to how you feel, before, during, and after in your physical body and mental health is so important.
It’s a process and it’s a practice, so it doesn’t happen overnight.
Changing the brain, changing the way we think takes a while.
We can get stuck in these thought patterns around perfectionism, all or nothing thinking, and comparison, so it’s not going to undo itself in one day.
But change is possible.
Let go of the idea that there’s a perfect option, get out of analysis paralysis, satisfice all day every day, make a million mistakes, and treat this like one big experiment focusing on how you feel before, during, and after from a physical and mental health perspective.
How to Thrive with Real Food (& ditch the calorie struggle for good), with Sarah Adler
3 More Feel Good Effect Episodes You’ll Love
How to be Healthier Together, with Liz Moody
How to Tune Into Your Intuitive Food Voice and Stop Serial Dieting, with Robyn Youkillis
How to Stop the Weight Struggle & Create a Lifestyle of Wellness, with Danika Brysha