‘Dirty wellness’ is the balanced, guilt-free approach to health we could all benefit from

‘Dirty wellness’ is the balanced, guilt-free approach to health we could all benefit from

There’s almost an unspoken pressure to be ‘well’ these days, what with the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow’s viral wellness routine breaking the internet – bone broth, fasting, detoxes and all – and endless glossy videos on TikTok lauding the benefits of being a ‘pilates girlie’ who juices for fun.

It’s easy, when presented with such polished versions of wellness, to forget that boosting your health and wellbeing doesn’t have to be a 24/7 commitment. For many, that’s simply not accessible (nor possible). Enter: the concept of ‘dirty wellness’ – a.k.a, the idea that there are some grey areas even for the most constant of gym-goers, or the most committed to mindfulness (and the rest of us, too).

After all, the aforementioned Ms. Paltrow has previously admitted to enjoying an occasional cigarette, despite her seemingly strict health regime (though as for whether that’s still the case, the jury’s out). She once said: “It’s what makes life, finding the balance between cigarettes and tofu.”

Now reader, we’re not suggesting that smoking cigarettes is ever a particularly advisable decision, and we reckon there’s certainly more to life than ciggies and tofu – but the idea that wellness can be a little less clear-cut at times is a concept we’re willing to get on board with. We’re all human, after all.

While Gwyneth’s honesty is refreshing (at least), most health experts would argue that her approach to wellness – odd ‘slip’ or not – is restrictive at times, and potentially damaging to an audience that is constantly presented with this idea of perfection (from a physical perspective, and a lifestyle one).

“Wellness is a very personal journey, and a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t resonate with everyone,” says holistic health and nutritional coach Joan Abebe. “An overly rigid approach can inadvertently contribute to stress and feelings of failure when not adhered to perfectly. In my opinion, true wellness is about developing a positive relationship with one’s body and mind, which includes flexibility and self-compassion.”

You can be a loyal pilates girl who also loves a Big Mac; you could drink a spirulina smoothie in the morning and share a bottle of wine with friends in the evening; hell, you could be teetotal for months, only to throw in the towel and enjoy some cocktails on a night out. True wellness isn’t restriction or perfection – it’s about finding a balance that works for you.

Some aspects of wellness may really appeal, while perhaps others don’t. “I firmly believe in bio-individuality – the idea that what works for one person might not be feasible or suitable for another,” adds Joan. “I often remind my clients that wellness is a deeply personal journey, and it’s perfectly okay to cherry-pick practices that resonate with them, leaving aside what doesn’t.”

It’s a concept that a lot of the TikTok wellness girlies are already on board with, whether you realise it or not:

TikTok content

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Here’s the kicker: “Wellness isn’t about rigid rules or restrictive measures, but rather it’s about creating sustainable habits that enhance your life. This could mean anything from mindful eating to prioritising sleep or incorporating activities that reduce stress. It’s about empowerment, not restriction.”

So next time you’re worrying about sticking to your wellness routine, remember that it’s okay to blur those lines a little. Even Gwyneth does.

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