Breaking down the “industrial well-being complex”, one episode at a time

Aubrey gordon collects vintage diet books . She amassed nearly 100 tracks, including the 1973 volume “Slimming Down”, written by Johnny...

Aubrey gordon collects vintage diet books. She amassed nearly 100 tracks, including the 1973 volume “Slimming Down”, written by Johnny Carson’s sidekick, Ed McMahon. “Slimming Down” – which featured chapter titles like “The Breadstick Conspiracy” and “Two Martinis Into Connecticut” – is the book that started Ms. Gordon’s collection.

And while the idea of ​​mixology as a nutritional strategy might seem absurd to a reader today, Ms Gordon said that much of the current thinking on what is now called the well- being is just as “hilarious and wacky”.

On the “Maintenance Phase” podcast, named after the concept of sustaining post-diet weight loss, Ms. Gordon and reporter Michael Hobbes spend each episode exploring what they call the “well-being-industrial complex», Demystifying the modes of health and nutritional advice.

While health, weight, and wellness are important issues, much of what Americans understand about them is actually hollow marketing, Hobbes said.

“Most of us are confident that we understand these wellness issues, but we don’t realize we’re literally just regurgitating things that we’ve seen in a Nike ad,” Hobbes added. “And well-being is the perfect encapsulation. A lot of things under Wellness is just rebranded or misinterpreted data that is returned to us by a company, basically. “

Wellness has two definitions, Ms. Gordon said: one is a new language used by weight loss companies who understand that “weight loss is less popular than it used to be,” and the other lives like “a very amorphous term that we attach all sorts of things to.

“Vitamin companies sell wellness,” Ms. Gordon said. “Mattress companies sell wellness. Your job now has a wellness program. It’s sort of seen as that uncontroversial way of talking about health.

The show is # 1 in the health and fitness category on Apple Podcasts. Investigation episodes the obesity epidemic and the problematic history of body mass index drove the podcast to its first million downloads on the listening app last month.

Since the podcast began in October 2020, hosts have looked at popular diet foods, like SnackWell cookies, Moon juice and Halo Top Ice Cream (which is the 2010s answer to SnackWell’s, Ms. Gordon said in this episode). They looked at anti-fat stigma, eating disorders, and the roles Dr Mehmet Oz and Oprah Winfrey played in the weight loss industry. They also studied popular diets, such as keto, Weight Watchers, celery juice and the main cleanse (“You basically drink very tangy and very spicy sugar water,” Ms. Gordon said). One episode even explored how the pursuit of good health can lead people to QAnon and other conspiracy theories.

In the show’s introductory episode, the hosts explain how few health-focused podcasts are skeptical about wellness. For Ms. Gordon, 37, her skepticism grew out of her personal experience of “over 20 years of simple and mostly the same size diets.”

“Being a fat lady and trying to do everything fat ladies are supposed to do got me there,” Ms. Gordon said. “I’ve done all the things, and it doesn’t really produce the result that I was promised, you know, the majority of my life. And I also see other people who have been looking for this promise for most of their lives, not getting what they thought was going to happen either. At some point you kind of have to go, well, maybe it just doesn’t work. “

For Mr. Hobbes, 39, who made detailed obesity reports, watching her mother’s struggles led to an interest in weight fixing.

“It was, like, that defining thing from my childhood that she was still dieting completely crazy and unsustainable,” Mr. Hobbes said. “She always tried hard, like swimming five times a week and eating a bowl of carrots. The talk about obesity has always been like, well, they don’t try hard enough. I know other people who try hard enough and fail.

The show presents “relatively radical ideas on this issue,” Hobbes said, but still tries to avoid alienating listeners. One way for facilitators to do this is to turn the story on themselves, bringing up topics and ideas with which they have personal experience.

“At some point, we’ll be doing CBD,” Ms. Gordon said. “I have been a CBD person, and I’m going to be uncomfortable with my own research. It’s important for the show and important for me as a person to be like, in fact, we’re not above anyone. We’re not smarter than that. We are no better than that.

Ms Gordon and Mr Hobbes said they receive a lot of positive feedback, but the emails they receive from researchers and clinicians are among the most significant.

Lisa DuBreuil, clinical social worker at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, also operates a private practice in Salem, Mass. She uses the included weight Health at all sizes approach with clients, which include people with substance use disorders, eating disorders, mental health issues and those who have developed problems after weight loss surgeries and dieting chronic weight loss.

She heard about “Maintenance Phase” on social media and became a regular listener. She doesn’t hear anything that she doesn’t already know, but says she loves the way the show makes these topics more accessible and “really fun to listen to.”

“Being able to have these kinds of resources and get information in an entertaining, interesting, but also very factual way is wonderful,” said Ms. DuBreuil, who is recovering from an eating disorder.

Ms DuBreuil added that the ideas and research on the ‘maintenance phase’ are concepts that many women, people of color and LGBTQ people have been talking about for over 20 years, but that “it’s a pleasure to see new people will discover it ”.

Caitlin McDonald, a nonprofit administrator in Salt Lake City, said when she first started listening to the show, she felt like she was being seen for the first time.

“It was just kind of a revelation,” she said. “It was such a relief to be in a space where I was talked about as a human, not a number or a statistic.”

Scott Cave, who lives in the Appalachian region of Virginia with his wife and baby, is a history researcher and stay-at-home dad. He started listening to “Maintenance Phase” after learning about it on Mr. Hobbes’ other podcast, “You are wrong. “As a doctor of history, Mr. Cave said he enjoys the way the podcast examines and assesses primary sources in a fun way.

In an episode on the obesity epidemic, the show exposed some of the consequences of weight stigma, including delaying medical care for fear of doctor’s offices. It resonated with Mr. Cave: Once, after injuring his finger, he went to an emergency care clinic where he was told, “We don’t think your finger is broken. It might be, but you are very fat so you should probably take care of it.

As a result, Mr Cave said he spent years ignoring the symptoms of his autoimmune disease, just to avoid another visit to the doctor. “So I left with a big swollen finger and a real blow to my self-esteem and my relationship with the medical profession,” he said. When they brought it up on the podcast, I realized, ‘Oh yeah, I didn’t complain about my symptoms for a long time because they were wrapped up in my body shape, in fat. “”

The pandemic has only intensified America’s moral panic for decades over being overweight, Ms. Gordon said. But he also intensified a counter-narrative. She’s noticed more conversations focused on body positivity and more medical professionals spreading the message that “it’s actually OK if you gain weight while you are surviving a pandemic.”

“It was a really fascinating moment where everyone kind of dealt with their own body image and their own weird beliefs about fat and health in this very public way.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Breaking down the “industrial well-being complex”, one episode at a time
Breaking down the “industrial well-being complex”, one episode at a time
Newsrust - US Top News
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