Innermost Insider and mindful wellness advocate, Anjali Magecha sat down with us to discuss truth and transparency in the wellness industry, as well as her own journey to unlearn industry myths and reconcile her relationship with food and exercise. Honest, transparent and vulnerable, she sheds light on what it means to be true to yourself even in the most challenging of circumstances.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how began your health and wellness journey?
Our campaign for January is truth and transparency. What do you think the importance of this is, particularly in relation to the health and wellness industry?
So, how do you try to be this voice of truth and transparency, particularly within the health and wellness space?
I think it’s important to remember that to be entirely truthful and transparent about your journey you also need to be vulnerable enough to share the moments when it isn’t easy. Sharing these moments is infinitely more valuable than just showing the highlights because it makes us realise that we all go through them. However, in the health and wellness industry this isn’t the norm; people use photoshop and promote ‘fat burners’, and avoid any vulnerability, creating this pressure to conform. I think to break this cycle, we all need to be a little more vulnerable. Because whilst waking up at 5am and walking everywhere might make you feel happy and fulfilled, some people need 10 hours of sleep and sometimes you’ll want to sit in front of the TV and watch something mindless. This doesn’t make you a failure and by being honest with yourself about what truly makes you happy and portraying this in a vulnerable way you can help other people realise this too.
As you mentioned, the space does currently have a lack of transparency, so how do you discern the truth from the myths?
When it comes to fitness and nutrition, I always try to think about who the information is coming from. I hate being a cynic and I love to think that everyone has everyone else's best intentions at heart, but I think it’s important to consider what would this person have to gain if they weren't really telling me the entire story? Then you also need to consider what their credentials are. Are they a doctor or dietitian or are they just someone who looks good? It’s so important that you can know and trust your source of information. I also think, that there’s no one size fits all approach, and the most important source of information should be yourself. For example, I love chaos and I thrive under pressure, so taking five minutes to write affirmations down just doesn’t fit with me. It’s important to trust your own intuition and timing. If you can do both these things then when influencers promote low calorie diets in partnership with these big brands you can ask yourself, what are their credentials, what do they stand to gain and is this something that I think from my own experiences would work for me and make me happy?
What is a truth that you've learned during your journey that you're passionate about and think that everyone should know?
To get something you've never had you must do something you've never done. What I mean by this is that it's not your fault if something hasn't worked for you. A lot of people blame themselves for not sticking to diets and fitness regimes but if you didn’t stick to it, it’s not you that failed, it’s the diet/ fitness regime that failed. There's a reason why it was so difficult for you to stick to it; perhaps it was too restrictive and resulted in binge eating. Perhaps it was stopping you from enjoying meals out and living your life fully. The answer should never be to blame yourself. You just have to try something new. Create a meal plan which allows you to feel good without restricting yourself and cutting out whole food groups, try a sport you actually enjoy and keep trying new things until you find something that works. You’ll never get to a different destination by taking the same route over and over again.
Finally, it feels very relevant to discuss this during January. There’s always this huge influx of mixed advice, myths, and fads at this time of year so what’s your opinions on this and particularly the idea of New Year New Me?
I think it's utter rubbish (laughs). You don't need to change people. It's just January. The only changes you should ever make are the ones that genuinely make you happier and you can make these year-round. We all experienced this during lock-down too, there was this huge hustle culture and pressure to use lockdown to learn a new skill or achieve your dream body, and if you weren’t doing this, you were lazy. It made me feel rubbish and I know lots of other people felt the same. It’s so important to try to drown out the pressure and just focus of being in touch with what makes you come alive and what makes you happy. Shifting my focus from external validation to internal happiness is the most important change I made when transitioned from the miserable person I was, to the person I am today. Of course, in the spirit of transparency, not every day is a good day for me and some days I have identity crises and some days I break down. But that's all just part of the job. We’re all a work in progress and the sooner you can embrace all of this and focus on do what makes you happy on a daily basis instead of doing what you think should make you happy, it will open so many doors.