Wellness isn’t just gendered. Most of the products and services that define the industry are clearly marketed toward young, thin, toned, ambulatory women who are white. Some speakers were blunt about the fact that wellness is often synonymous with—and sometimes a proxy for—whiteness. One panel was literally called “Wellness Beyond Whiteness,” in which it was decided that wellness needed to be totally reconciled into something for everyone—not to simply be “inclusive” or “bring people to the table,” but to demolish the table and, as with any growing movement, keep building new tables.
A substantial proportion of people who experience type 2 diabetes remission after gastric bypass eventually have relapse of the disease down the road. I feel the best study of this was done by my co-author on CROSSROADS, David Arterburn. In a study of nearly 5,000 patients with diabetes who underwent [gastric bypass surgery] and were followed retrospectively for 13 years, about 70% experienced diabetes remission. Among these, about 1/3 eventually relapsed, but it’s important to note that the median disease-free interval was 8.3 years.
Joyce Lashof, then the dean of Berkeley’s School of Public Health, remembers that wellness was initially a tough sell at the school. Not much was known on campus about the earlier work of Travis and his fellow wellness advocates, but Lashof’s colleagues associated the term wellness with the “flakiness” of Mill Valley and surrounding Marin County. The NBC newsman Edwin Newman had televised an exposé of Marin County’s hedonistic lifestyle, which notoriously opened with a woman getting a peacock-feather massage from two nude men. The Berkeley Wellness Letter, however, managed to avoid such unseemly associations by publishing serious, evidence-based articles on health promotion, while debunking many of the holistic health fads of the day.
So how does the wellness movement keep perspective and stay focused on what matters? It’s not about just finding one’s true north but following it, day after day, year after year. Straying happens as more of a gradual slide than as any single decision to go down a bad road. You start off doing what you think is right or helpful or normal, and then it feels good to make some money, and then it feels necessary, and you have an obligation to grow and to be seen as flourishing and successful. Then before you know it, you’re running a huge company that’s preying on seekers and begging them off course.
For a wellness festival, there was an unexpected amount of talk about the importance of suffering and pain. In one panel about addiction, the ultramarathoner Charlie Engle, who ran 30 marathons in his first three years of sobriety, told the story of his first son being born. “He was gonna save me,” Engle recalled, “and then six days later, after a crack binge, the police are searching my car, and I had to choose between living and dying. And I chose running ... I wanted to pound that part of me out and never visit it again.”
Pain has been shown to interfere with self-management activities, sleep, physical functioning, work, family relationships, mood, and quality of life. To make matters worse, pain is often invisible to others, so family members, coworkers, and health-care professionals often have no idea what a person in pain is going through. Many people feel that their physicians don’t understand and tell them they “just have to live with it.”
Treatment for gastroparesis can include dietary changes such as eating less fiber and eating smaller, more frequent meals. Medications are available as well that can spur muscle contractions in the stomach or help control nausea. Another option for some people is to have a gastric pacing device, similar to a heart pacemaker, surgically implanted to stimulate stomach movements.
Diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are too high. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into your cells to give them energy. With type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. With type 2 diabetes, the more common type, your body does not make or use insulin well. Without enough insulin, the glucose stays in your blood. You can also have prediabetes. This means that your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. Having prediabetes puts you at a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes.