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How wellness sweats the small stuff

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“I shall not waste my days,” said Ian Fleming, quoting Jack London, “in trying to prolong them”. The studied loucheness of the epigram would grate had he not lived a life so unwaveringly faithful to it. Gonorrhoea at 19, death at 56, the uncountable Morlands that he smoked in between — the Rake of Oracabessa mastered the lost art of what we can only call unwellness. Oh, for its return.

In the 1970s, medical researchers evolved the concept of Quality-Adjusted Life Years. What mattered was not how much longer a treatment would keep someone alive for, but whether that extension was free from pain and distress. The hard-won reprieve was meaningless if it entailed a living hell.

The modern cult of wellness ignores my own path-breaking addition to science: Pleasure-Adjusted Life Years. A brief, decadent existence can contain more “life”, I submit, than one that is prolonged by fastidious habits and Lenten self-denial. I calculate that, in PALYs, Fleming lived until he was around 90. Christopher Hitchens crammed 85 years into his nominal 62. Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones and other members of the 27 Club were all but centurions. As for Isadora Duncan, she is more or less eternal. A stickler for wellness, on the other hand, a customer of Goop, might never see 30.

If its betrayal of the pleasure principle were the worst thing about wellness, it would at least have a kind of austere honour going for it. Much worse is its dishonesty. The idea that tactical adjustments to one’s lifestyle can aggregate into deep wellbeing is the meanest of Paltrowism’s decrees to the credulous.

It takes minimal life experience to know that happiness comes from a small number of disproportionately important things. Perhaps as few as two. One is a fulfilling job. The other is a vital private life, which could mean, according to taste, devotion to one person or what George Michael hailed as “fast love”.

Anyone who has these areas covered will have to put in an absolutely catastrophic showing in every other field of life to end up with a sense of overall disaffection. And the inverse is even truer. No one who dislikes their work or partner will ever offset the pain by mastering sleep, fitness, nutrition, digital abstention and other lifestyle marginalia. Lots try.

The problem with wellness is not its lapses into quackery and anti-science, then. It is that even the most rigorous of its advice tends to address the peripheral. There is a mismatch between the grandeur of its ambition — inner peace, transcendence — and the pettiness of its means. This manifests in the very 21st-century spectacle of people with dismal jobs or romantic lives obsessing over fractions of a percentage point in their daily screen time or Fitbit record. Never have so many so sweated such small stuff. True, there is something of elite sport in this eking out of marginal gains in bodily and mental sharpness. The difference is that Team Sky and Bayern Munich know they are aiming to win narrow competitions in ultimately meaningless fields of endeavour. The wellness racket believes it is engaged in nothing less than the uplift of the human condition.

Wellness 2020

Healthy lifestyles and ways to improve your well-being are explored in a series this week

Part one
Mountain refuge

Part two
Sleep tracking

Part three
Inside the happiness industry

Part four
Simon Kuper on drinking

Part five
Is art good for you?

I can understand why people, including some of the least naive I know, pay good money to partake of this hokum. The alternative is to accept how much of life is shaped by one or two strategic decisions. These determine what we do for around nine hours a day and what we come home to. Get them wrong, and very little can compensate for the loss in happiness. One foolish A-level choice or impetuous marriage is all it takes. Even scarier is that these are often not decisions at all so much as matters of chance. If they are reversible at all, it is at tremendous cost.

What wellness supplies is the illusion of control. It promises that, with enough effort, enough attention to detail, a person can engineer a radically better life, well into middle age and beyond. In truth, and in most cases, the improvement will be as small-bore as the means. A more candid industry would say so. Our wellness is set much earlier than it pretends, in fewer moments than we can bear to believe.

Email Janan at janan.ganesh@ft.com

Follow @FTLifeArts on Twitter to find out about our latest stories first. Listen to our culture podcast, Culture Call, where editors Gris and Lilah dig into the trends shaping life in the 2020s, interview the people breaking new ground and bring you behind the scenes of FT Life & Arts journalism. Subscribe on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen.

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Wellness

Williamsburg wellness center owner indicted in $2 million health care fraud case

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A federal grand jury in Norfolk returned an indictment on Thursday charging a Williamsburg wellness center owner with defrauding Virginia Medicaid and other health care programs out of more than $2 million.

According to the indictment, 45-year-old Williamsburg resident Maria Kokolis was the owner of Pamisage Inc., a center for integrative behavioral health and medicine, with a focus on weight management issues.

Beginning in or about 2018, and continuing through February 2020, court documents say Kokolis executed a scheme to defraud and overbill various health care benefit programs and the Virginia Medical Assistance Program (Medicaid).

Paperwork says she was charging 45 minutes to an hour of face-to-face psychotherapy services for non-comparable services like sending messages through the company’s smartphone app or monitoring a client’s data.

Prosecutors say Kokolis billed these psychotherapy services for times when she was out of the country on vacation and when the clients were out of state or sick in the hospital.

According to the indictment, Kokolis used the names, Medicaid ID numbers, and other identifying information of her clients in submitting these false claims to the health care benefit programs. Kokolis received a total of at least $2,189,342 in fraudulent health care benefit program reimbursements, a portion of which came from the U.S. government, documents show.

Kokolis is charged with health care fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Stay with WAVY.com for more local news updates.

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Living Local Carolina: Taylor Wellness Med Spa Offers Aesthetic Treatments By Professional Providers To Help You Look And Feel Your Best! – WBTW

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Wellness

Atomic City CBD Wellness Opens For Business Saturday

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Atomic City CBD Wellness owner Linda Casias in her new store opening for business at noon Saturday on the upper level at 1247 Central Ave., Suite F. Photo by Bonnie J.Gordon/ladailypost.com

By BONNIE GODON
Los Alamos Daily Post
bjgordon@ladailypost.com

Linda Casias is bringing CBD products back to Los Alamos, starting noon May 8 when her new business Atomic City CBD Wellness opens its doors for the first time.

“Many people have come over from my former business, Float Los Alamos, where we sold CBD products,” Casias said. “These products were very popular. Customers are very happy to have a natural remedy for anxiety, stress and pain relief. CBD also helps with sleep problems.”

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a natural compound found in the hemp plant. CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which is a web of receptors in the nervous system, Casias explained adding that CBD is non-intoxicating and sometimes CBD is mixed up with THC—which will get you high—but they’re completely different compounds.

The 2018 Farm Bill made hemp (defined as having less than 0.3 percent THC) legal in the United States. CBD made from hemp is legally permitted in all states except Iowa, Idaho and South Dakota.

Casias offers a myriad of CBD products including:

  • Tinctures;
  • Gummies;
  • Honey;
  • Coffee and tea;
  • Creams; and
  • Capsules.

It’s not just about CBD. Casias also is featuring non-CBD candy and chocolate, bath bombs, greeting cards, stickers and fidget toys.

“I’m also displaying and selling my unique dots artwork,” Casias said. “My 10-year-old daughter is selling her own brand of slime called Izzy Slime. It’s not as sticky as commercial brands. I’m planning to add Los Alamos souvenirs and more gifts. Stop back, because I’m adding more items all the time.”

Atomic CBD Wellness is upstairs at 1247 Central Ave. Suite F, Room 219, directly above the Los Alamos Daily Post. Hours are noon to-6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Call the store at 505.709.7328, for more information.

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