Yours in Wellness, Krystal Heeling: Letters from the Wellness Industry
by: Erin Stair, MD, MPH
My New, Short, Comedic Parody on the Sleazy Side of the Wellness Industry, Available on Amazon Now!
The Audiobook, narrated by Ellen Cohn, is available on Amazon & now available here on CHIRP & Walmart & also on GOOGLE PLAY!
“Satire is the highest form of social commentary as Dr. Erin Stair demonstrates in this funny but deeply revealing journey into the competing worlds of Big Pharma and the Wellness Industrial Complex. Who better to expose both sides’ promises of a quick fix than a doctor who has a foot in both worlds?”
ZUBIN DAMANIA MD, founder of Zdoggmd.
My motivation for writing this book:
Well, first, it’s more like a half-book. It’s short. And if you prefer to listen, the audiobook is forthcoming and the narrator, Ellen Cohn, did a fantastic job. I can’t wait to share that with you guys. If you subscribe to my newsletter or follow one of my social media feeds, and you’ll be the first to know when that’s out.
But why did I write this book? Aren’t I ripping on myself since I run a wellness business? Yes, somewhat. It’s healthy to rip on yourself and hold yourself accountable, though. However, the book mostly targets folks who view “wellness” as a gold mine at your expense. And a gold mine it is! Wellness is a 4.2 trillion dollar business that grows every year. A trillion dollar business that isn’t regulated by anybody. In fact, the lack of regulation is so stark, that it reminds me of the Wild West, which is why I call it Wild Wellness.
Many people who have profit as their first goal will take advantage of “wellness” and your desire to feel better or feel healthier to make money. What am I talking about specifically? Folks who sell pricey detoxes, cleanses and supplements with zero scientific evidence to support their many claims. Some supplements have a plethora of claims…almost like some supplements cure everything. It’s as if one anecdote holds the same weight as a randomized, placebo-controlled trial.
In regard to detoxes and cleanses, if I had a dime for every person who purchased an expensive cleanse and told me they were “detoxing” but couldn’t define a “toxin” when I asked them what one was, well… I’d be rich. Then there’s the issue with supplement ingredients, a completely unregulated area. A person could literally put anything in a supplement, put it in a pretty bottle, add some flashy marketing and sell it. History tells us that many supplements don’t contain what they claim to contain. There was that scathing investigative report by the NYT back in 2015, and recently I interviewed two researchers who studied supplement ingredients. One studied supplements for fertility and erectile dysfunction disorder. The other one studied a range of supplements, from microalgae to Selenium. The former concluded that most of the supplements for fertility and erectile dysfunction disorder don’t contain ingredients proven to work in studies, and the later found neurotoxins in some of the supplements. Things like Lead, Mercury and Aluminum. In fact, some of the Selenium supplements he researched didn’t even contain selenium.
What’s Wellness Paranoia Syndrome? A great marketing tool and thoroughly described in the book. 😉
A big thing that drives me nuts about the business of wellness is how it’s often presented as a luxury brand. If you go to any of the top wellness influencers’ social media pages ( Goop, MindBodyGreen, et al ), they are saturated with expensive beauty products, beautiful plates of expensive “superfoods”, colorful cleanses and crystals, bodies in sexy, expensive yoga attire doing various poses on beaches, gorgeous gardens and pristine mountaintops, and “toxin-free” products in beautiful homes. The “superfood” thing kills me, because you know what’s super in a poor neighborhood or a food desert? Anything healthy that you can afford. Anything healthy that you have time to prepare while working long hours. In some cases, it’s any food at all. Don’t even let me start on water. ( By the way, alkaline water is utter bullshit.) You’ll also see a lot of niche workout studios and trendy workouts featured on the “top wellness” gurus’ social media feeds. That’s great, truly, but what about people who can’t afford a gym membership or the neighborhoods that don’t have anywhere safe or decent for a person to get an aerobic walk or run in….and look sexy while doing it? There are A LOT of those neighborhoods across the US. Why does this matter? Because obesity is significantly higher in lower-income neighborhoods, as is metabolic syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes and other long-term conditions. Those things are all linked to serious health issues. Just look at the current pandemic. It significantly affects obese folks far more than folks with a healthy weight. Also consider the fact that the stress of trying to pay your bills is linked to lower immunity. Also consider the fact that reduced access to healthcare affects folks with lower incomes far more than those with higher incomes. Can they find an alternative health practitioner? Well, alternative health & wellness practitioners often don’t take health insurance at all, and they aren’t cheap. My point is this: If anyone needs to be more well, it’s folks who don’t have a lot of money. That’s why wellness should be more inclusive and affordable. The people who need true wellness the most, need to feel like they have access to it.
When we consider the business of wellness, we also have to consider the growing distrust in traditional doctors and science which is driving people towards alternative medicine, “holistic” and natural approaches to health. I mean, isn’t it interesting that a person will trust a person with no credentials, no scientific background and minimal to no science-based education for health and wellness advice over a person who went to school for at least 20 years to achieve his/her credentials, often with several years of continuing education? That’s more than a public health failure, that’s a trend worth exploring. ( And the parody does that, albeit in a comedic way.) I think a lot of the distrust has to do with the unethical behavior of drug companies, and some physicians who are in bed with them, the drug-bias in published research, and in general, the many issues innate to a profit-driven healthcare system. We also have to consider the folks that try western medicine and don’t get better, yet find alternative approaches that do work. We have to stop calling them “quacks” and start exploring better ways to evaluate alternative approaches. It’s stunted to think that western medicine has all the answers.
These, and other issues, are what I explored in my book, Yours in Wellness. I wrote it as a parody, because I thought humor was the best approach for exploring a contentious issue that will probably offend a lot of people. ( I mean, it’s 2020. Getting offended is like taking in oxygen, so that doesn’t really mean much.)
The Description from the Back of the Book:
“Krystal Heeling is the CEO of Verdant Corpora, a boutique wellness brand and, when she writes an email to her brand ambassadors, she doesn’t pull her punches. “If I catch any of you appealing to the broke and not the woke, you will no longer represent our brand,” she writes in one of her trademark missives. Holding tight to the reigns of the power Krystal wields in the world of supplements, detoxes and New Age therapies, she crisply and methodically instructs her Wellness Ambassadors on the dos and (many) don’ts of the luxurious wellness industry.
In a series of letters, Krystal responds to her team’s legitimate concerns, such as questionable supplement ingredients and lack of scientific evidence for their product claims, while always pointing out why Verdant Corpora is far more ethical than Big Pharma, an industry of profit hounds and data manipulators. Heeling’s underlings fall like flies as they unwittingly commit one solecism after another, falling short of the Paltrowian ideals to which Heeling so ardently aspires; principles that she herself cannot consistently achieve.
Yours in Wellness, Dr. Stair’s second book, is a short, incisive, humorous take on the wellness industry that you will be sure to enjoy while sipping an $11 acai-wheatgrass kombucha. As we say in the land of coffee enemas, “Bottoms Up!”
Grab the Book:
The print book is a little pricier because of the printed original artwork. You can get the Kindle version at a much lower price ( and save trees while doing it). No matter how you want to read it, I hope you do. To order Yours in Wellness on Amazon, go here.
The Audiobook is available on Google Play
Also check out my book, Manic Kingdom, a true Story of Breakdown and Breakthrough.
Meet Becka, King and Chase! It’s about embracing uncertainty around mental illness and, well, life in general.
A Note to Anyone Who Reads or Listens to Yours in Wellness:
Thank you!! It’s my first time writing parody, but I think humor is an excellent way to tackle uncomfortable truths. That said, I hope you found it enjoyable, and if you did (or didn’t), PLEASE leave a review. Reviews are so important for authors, and it would mean the world to me!
Click here if you want to listen to the audio version with a ZENBand.
Yours in Wellness Merch: