I was reminded this week very strongly about why I do this work.
I was talking to a young person who was struggling with a few things in life. One of her frustrations was that she had been repeatedly told she was not doing enough to help herself. But having tried the things others told her worked for them, and found they did not work for her, she felt at a loss. Well meaning friends and family responding "of course that works, it worked for me, maybe you should just try harder" were only adding to the sense of failure.
There is no one right way to look after your health. If there was, everyone would be doing it. Instead, there is an almost infinite array of diets, exercises, different types of meditation, supplements and other products all marketed at us as being the Great Way Forward in our journey. Each person responds a little differently to each one. The thing, or combination of things, that works best for each person will be just a little different to the next person.
For myself, it was always my weight. I struggled for years with trying to diet. I tried fad diets. I tried "miracle" supplements. I tried teas, I tried herbs. I spent hours in the gym, doing exercises I hated, and feeling like a failure as my results were very limited. Occasionally, I'd try something that worked for a short period, only to slip back again.
Eventually I found a form of exercise I loved - karate. I built up over a few years to a point where I was training 6 days a week, as well as running regularly. And while I was getting fitter and stronger, my weight still would not budge. Still I kept on trying.
Finally, after many years, I found something that worked for me. Hallelujah! This must be the one perfect way to eat, right? With the zeal of the converted, I told everyone who stood still long enough about how wonderful my new diet was. How I felt happy, and fulfilled, never hungry, full of energy, had stopped taking medication and worn clothing I had previously only dreamed about.
Then a couple of things happened. Firstly, I recommended my newly discovered perfect diet to everyone and a few people tried it... and some of them found it didn't work. And second, I started doing more study in the area of nutrition and lifestyle management, and came across studies and case reports of completely different things working for people - things that I had tried which never worked for me.
And as this went on, a pattern emerged. Everyone who experienced great success with changing their lifestyle, either for their weight or energy levels or overall health, had "tried everything" and then found a thing that worked amazingly well for them. Once someone found their thing, the results that they had been looking for happened quickly and easily and they wondered why they had never done it this way before.
Like my young friend being told to "just meditate, it worked for me", people who are struggling to find a healthy lifestyle for themselves don't need to be told to eat this one way and do this particular exercise... they need to be helped to find what will work for them.
The people who find this easy, aren't looking for help. The people who are looking for help have generally tried a lot of different things. What is needed is not "just eat less, move more". It's not "just go keto, that fixes everything" (or paleo, or vegan, or low GI, or whatever). If you're anxious and you've tried meditation, and that doesn't work, the answer isn't to meditate harder! Try Tai Chi, or yoga, or hypnosis, or swimming, or running.... you get the picture.
There is no one right way that suits everyone. But there is a way that will work for you. Let's find it.