During my first job out of college, my health took a big hit. I had been a very active student who was always on the move when suddenly I found myself sitting at a desk staring at a screen all day. I remember feeling really sleepy during work, beyond just being a little tired after lunch, and I started gaining weight.
So, when my boss told me about these fruit and veggie pills she was taking, I quickly placed an order. I thought Juice Plus would be a quick fix to my problems. Take a couple pills a day, get all the nutrients I needed, and immediately become healthier — what could be easier?
Turns out, the company was a total multi-level marketing scheme (one of the infamous MLMs). I was spending a lot of money on something that may not have been hurting, but there was also no solid evidence that it would help. It was all smoke and mirrors.
That was the first time that I realized popular health hacks promising immediate change generally aren’t the answer. Fast forward a classified number of years (a lady never tells…) and now that we’re in the age of social media, I’m seeing quick fixes going viral all over the place. Have gut issues? Drink olive oil every day. Wait, no, the answer is a glass of aloe vera juice. Want to slim down at lightning speed? Try cleansing by drinking 6-18 glasses a day of lemon juice with cayenne pepper…and eating nothing else. The problem isn’t just that some of these claims are unverified and may hurt more than they help, it’s that even the ones that might work for some people aren’t quick fixes for all people.
Don’t get me wrong, I love TikTok as much as the next person, and it makes sense why these viral trends are so appealing — we all just want to feel better and many of us don’t have access to the tools we need to get to the root cause of our problems. We’ve reached a point where we’re willing to try anything, bonus points if it’s something simple that won’t interfere too much with our lives.
But these quick fixes don’t account for how complex our bodies are, and they take our attention away from the steps that will actually lead to better wellness results. Plus, nothing feels more awful than trying something that everyone is raving about only to end up feeling like you’re the one person in the world it’s not helping.
The journey to true wellness is unique to you and it takes time. There’s no magic bullet. But that doesn’t mean it should feel completely overwhelming or impossible. A few things I’ve learned along the way and now keep in mind when I’m tackling a new health issue are:
1. Ditch the fads and dig a little deeper: Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to your health. I’ve done my fair share of quickly self-diagnosing on WebMD or jumping on some new fad my health nut bestie sends me, but it usually never works and is a waste of time. Instead, try to get to the root of your issue to make sure you’re treating the source and not just the symptoms. Hormone testing is an easy place to start. I’ve found that once I have an idea of what the problem might be, I can find a more targeted solution that is more likely to actually give me results
2. Make an educated plan: Type-A people like me love a good plan, but when it comes to wellness, I think having a researched plan for how you’re going to implement a new change makes a huge difference regardless of your personality type. If you know what the expectations are, and what the timeline is for determining whether the change has been successful or something you need to ditch, you’re more likely to stick with a big change.
3. Embrace tips and tricks…but use your best judgment: If you see a new health trend on social media, figure out where it’s coming from. Is the person publicizing it a verified health professional and is there real science behind why it might work? Is it being advertised as the definitive cure? Because that’s a sign you may want to steer clear. (No one thing has the universal power to heal every single person in the same way.) Also, remember there are no overnight success stories. Learn what you need to do to be able to determine if something is actually working for you.
One of my favorite “easy” tips for women like me with thyroid issues is to eat three Brazil nuts a day. Brazil nuts not only taste amazing, they’re also ridiculously full of selenium, an undersupplied nutrient that is really good for thyroid health. But in order for this to work, you have to be consistent. Plus, any good results will be lost if you pair your Brazil nuts with a daily diet of pizza and a full bottle of wine. Knowing what it takes to actually achieve the benefits helps me stay on track.
4. Remember, lifestyle changes don’t have to be permanent: If the thought of going gluten free or changing your sleep routine seems impossible, remember that it really doesn’t take that long to figure out if something is right for you.
When it comes to hormonal issues, it takes one cycle (roughly 28 days) to see results and 3 cycles (or roughly 3 months) to significantly change your health. Tell yourself you only have to stick with something for 1-3 months. At the end of that time, you’ll either feel so much better that you won’t blink twice as skipping the pasta ever again, or you’ll realize this change just isn’t for you. In that case, listen to your body and try something else.
We all want to feel better in our bodies and there are so many good and fulfilling ways to go about doing this. But the one guarantee of getting your health and heart broken (not to mention your wallet) is to jump on every viral health trend that comes across your feed. Which is why the best rule of thumb is to just say “no” to quick fixes.