03/31/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Soho House New York Wellness Week, Day 4: That's All, Folks!

Soho House New York Wellness Week


And so, on this penultimate day of January, Soho House New York's Wellness Week comes to an end, as all good things must. But who's to say we can't have wellness week every week? If there's one thing I've learned from my happy meeting of all the excellent holistic teachers featured in these posts--I didn't even get to talk about Dr. Alejandro Junger's candid chat on Tuesday night, not that he needs any more press from me, or about the awesome vibrating guys from Station fitness, though I hope to feature them in the coming weeks--it's that lasting wellness is not something you can achieve with sporadic spurts of dedication. It's a gradual process that requires daily engagement. In the case of health, slow and steady wins the race, and this is anathema to the general human preference for immediate gratification.

Self-care seemed to be the pervasive theme, whether it manifested as administering your own belly rubs, or simply being in-tune enough to know when you need to reach out for a professional's help. The most important thing to realize is that each of the therapies I experienced--as is true for most of holistic medicine--are not miracle cures; they simply work to fortify your body's own functioning. But this improved state of being is only lasting insofar as you manage to keep away from doing things that actively harm your body's ability to perform, as so many of us are wont to do when we're in the thick of it, only to come searching for some magic pill to make the aches and pains and allergies and sickness go away. Unfortunately, none exists. And where would be the fun in life if actions had no reactions and a simple pill could make it all better? Feel free to quote me the next time I ask you for an Advil.

When I queried SHNY's Guy Chetwynd why he and his staff chose the end of January for their first ever Wellness Week, he offered these savvy insights into our collective psychosis.

"Everyone comes off their New Year's Eve champagne hangover with a laundry list of uncompromising resolutions: 'Never drink champagne again.' 'Never eat chocolate again.' 'Be asleep by 7:30pm with kids.' 'Two hours of cardio...a day.' And three weeks later, we've all slid back to our old routines, and we're as unhealthy as ever. Wellness Week was designed to give everyone a chance to revisit the resolutions they'd made and jumpstart their health routine with a variety of healing treatments. By gaining a bit of distance, and harnessing the holistic view of the alternative therapies on tap this week, the hope is to make reincorporating some of the more manageable resolutions a bit easier."

It's true, the American version of resolution making seems to be an exercise in futility, if only because we are a bit over-eager to improve ourselves and end up setting unattainable goals. And so, this idea of giving everyone a second chance to do it right--of bringing everyone back to square one, just as we were beginning to let it all slide--is quite an interesting one. Out of the gate, we're all gung ho about punishing ourselves with stringent rules for 2010 to compensate for all our indulgences in 2009. But the confines are too rigid, and it's only a matter of time before we revert to old habits, searching again for the illusory cure-all that can absolve us of all responsibility for taking care of ourselves. Isn't it time we inject some sanity into this crazy ritual?

The real goal should be to make small changes that can truly promote wellness because they are lasting. SHNY trail blazed a path for us this week. But to continue the healing process, we'll need to remind each other and ourselves to come back to center as needed, to recalibrate and find where a happy medium lies, and to make ours a daily commitment as we strive to gain permanent health.