It’s not every day you wake up and realize you have an addiction. It recently occurred to me that I have a problem, maybe not what would be considered a full-blown addiction as determined by a medical professional, but let’s say it’s at least a compulsion. And I don’t think I’m alone in this either. In fact, I think it’s one of our American traits: the ability to glom on to anything in the pursuit of health and longevity all while simultaneously lining the pockets of savvy capitalists.
So here’s my problem and how I recognized it was a mounting concern. It all started last January when I joined our local gym and thrice weekly small group training classes. (Truthfully, it started long before then but not to its extreme). It was my New Year’s Resolution to get fit, and I’m happy to say that it has stuck (I actually just upped my classes to 4 days a week plus a power yoga class!). I’d been feeling tired, sick too often, and overall crappy, and figured I just needed to get in shape, rev up my inner fireplace, and get the endorphins pumping! All this working out made me feel good, and I wanted to feel even better, thus my downward spiral into optimal health and fitness began. I wanted something to help optimize my workouts and fat burning (hello, L-Carnitine, rhodiola, magnesium, ashwanganda!). But I was also still feeling fatigued when I should have been energized by my workouts, and suffering from brain fog and lack of concentration. Thus EFA, maca powder, chaga and lion’s mane mushrooms entered my life. I had insomnia (still haven’t managed to kick that), occasional migraines, and tension headaches, so I reached for more ashwaganda and 5-HTP. I love a good green smoothie in the morning, which inevitably feeds my compulsion to buy various protein powders, including one from a Kickstarter that develops your own formula based on your body type and fitness goals. Sweet! I’m going to be one badass mama! I thought.
Not so fast.
You see, I was feeling both good (muscularly) and not so good (low energy, sleepless nights, anemic looking), but I was trying to heal from the inside-out with nutrition. I thought my already-good diet just needed a boost. Then, I got officially diagnosed with celiac and in a manic panic phase to heal I ordered a crap ton more things to help my on-overdrive immune system, chronic inflammation, and chronic gastritis - the Mack Daddy of my problems, really. So, healing my gut became the forefront of everything, on top of my already big pile of workout supplements.
Bring on the Vitality Cleanse!
the powdered bone broth!
the DGL licorice!
the fermented cod liver oil!
the broccoli sprout powder!
the chia seeds!
the slippery elm bark!
See how I’ve spiraled?!
It occurred to me one day last weekend as I sat on the bathroom floor divvying up my pills into my weekly vitamin organizer. My husband sat detoxing behind me in our infrared sauna (which has proved super helpful and healing), his judgy eyes burning a hole in my spinal column. I turned slowly and looked at him over my shoulder. “What? I’m just…” I scooch, scooch, scooch, to the left a bit to hinder his view of my stash, “just getting…organized,” I say guiltily. That’s when I knew.
Girl, you have got yourself a supplement problem.
I think many of us suffer from what I do, too. It’s what I now call the "I want to wish/dream/desire/compulsion": losethebabybelly-beerbelly-havebetterjoints-getridofwrinkles-havemoreenergy-sleepbetter-feelbetter-havebetterskin-bettersex-feelsexier-feelenergized, and most of us could say this sentence in one deep breath and mean/want/pray/hope for every word of it. It’s a multi-billion dollar enterprise that has a powerful gravitational pull on our pocketbooks, and it's probably not making us feel that much better. It's certainly not making our banks accounts more voluminous.
I realized then, as I sat on our bathroom floor, that I needed to curtail my supplement and powder purchasing behavior, narrow the breadth of my daily pill intake, and take a deep breath.
You don't need all this. You will heal. In time, with more good food and nurturing of your body, you will heal.
Will I give up everything? No. I will keep the supplements my doctors have prescribed: a slender selection of a daily multi, an Omega-3 fish oil, a probiotic, C, and we all need D, especially here in the Pacific Northwest, and a few necessary items for my gut health.
Oh, I forgot I'm supposed to take a calcium supplement, too.
"Alexa, add Calcium Citrate to my shopping cart!"
Just a small selection of my powders.