Wellmania: Extreme Misadventures in the Search for Wellness
Author: Brigid Delaney
Publisher: Greystone Books
A Review by Lindsay Sanderson
In this witty and entertaining memoir, Delaney takes the plunge (so we don’t have to!) into the “wellness” world to bring us the nitty gritty details we have always speculated on. What do these wild, sometimes insane practices do to the human body, the mind, and the spirit? Is a juice cleanse really worth being hungry and angry for a week? Is a fit Yogi body a proper return for doing yoga 7 days a week and risking repetitive strain injury? What does your poo look like when you are on a 101 day fast? And perhaps the most important question of all – is the wellness industry just that – an industry? Are we tricked into spending our hard-earned money on equipment, clothes, and exercise and diet routines that leave us unsatisfied? Do these products with inflated prices really make us any healthier? Do they play into our societal obsession with being “skinny” or “fit” by promising the good life to us?
Funny, sarcastic, and awkwardly disgusting at times, Wellmania combines Delaney’s own experiences of various wellness trends with researched facts and information to create a work that is part journal entry, part thesis paper. It is immediately evident that Delaney has had many years of experience in the journalism field, as she seamlessly integrates her primary and secondary research into her narrative without being preachy or boring. By juxtaposing the hard facts with her quirkiness, Wellmania is a perfect read for adults who are skeptical of the wellness industry, or for anyone looking for a good, yet informative read.
By splitting the novel into three parts, Delaney explores three promises of the wellness industry: To be Clean, Lean, and Serene. In the first section, Delaney attempts a 101 day detox, which begins with a 14 day fast. While this an absolute misadventure for her social life, it does result in a “skinny” physique and a clear mind. The real trick is making it last. Is that even possible? In the second part, she recaps her many attempts at becoming a Yogi, and discuses the limitations of what yoga can actually do for human kind. It turns out, it can make us lean, and teach us to be mindful, but it cannot be used as a treatment for PTSD. And in the last section, Delaney turns her attention to the pursuit of a healthy mind. From taking refuge in a monastery to almost having her own Eat, Pray, Love experience, Delaney searches for the best way to clear the mind and achieve a serene state of being. Does serenity even exist? Is there one right way for every person to do this?
Buy it! In a time when everyone is trying to sell us something (whether it actually works or not), Delaney’s novel is an honest and critical exploration into an industry that few realize is an industry at all. While she does not make many hard arguments for or against any particular company, spokesperson, or wellness trend, Wellmania presents the material for readers to begin to make their own decisions about the wellness industry and its tactics. And as mentioned, Delaney is a hilarious writer whose work can be enjoyed by any reader, and the combination of wit and information in this novel is flawless.