Wow!! The Healthy Deviant really blew me away! So I had to write a book review and share it with you here. If you’re thinking “deviant” seems like a less than desirable trait, think again. The definition of deviant: “a person or thing that deviates or departs markedly from the accepted norm.” Hum…if you put it that way, I guess I’ve always been a deviant. If you know me, you’ll know I’m a “color outside the lines”, “think outside the box” kind of gal. I mean, I live on a sailboat, currently in Mexico, who does that?! And who determines what is considered the “accepted norm” anyway?
The Accepted Norm
As a rule-breaker, The Healthy Deviant: A Rule Breakers Guide to Being Healthy in an Unhealthy World, by Pilar Gerasimo was right up my alley. And I hope you’re as shocked as I was to learn that the “accepted norm” in the US currently includes the following statistics:
- 50% of adults in the US are diagnosed with a chronic illness
- 70% of American adults are overweight or clinically obese
- 70% of adults in the US are currently taking at least one prescription drug
- 80% of Americans are not mentally or emotionally well
- Only 2.7% of Americans are maintaining healthy habits
- < 1% of American adults are truly healthy, happy, and on track to stay that way
These statistics are astounding! So how did we get here? The human body didn’t develop over the past 2.5 million years to be sick and tired, and fail us, or humans would have died out long ago. So what gives? Why have we become such an unhealthy society?
100 years ago the biggest worldwide health concern was infectious disease. But thanks to advances in sanitation and antibiotics that’s no longer the case. Today 70% of US deaths (60% worldwide) are caused by chronic inflammatory diseases that were virtually unheard of 100 years ago, not infectious diseases. (COVID aside, however, 94% of COVID deaths worldwide ARE linked to pre-existing chronic metabolic conditions, suppressing the immune system.) While these statistics aren’t great news, there is something you can do about it.
“For most of our 2.5 million years, we humans lived as nomadic hunter-gatherers, living communally in small tribes, cobbling together our own makeshift shelters, making our own tools, subsisting on whatever seasonally available plants and animals we could find, and expanding vast quantities of physical energy in the process. Then, over the course of just a few thousand years (a super sudden change by evolutionary standards), most humans were thrust into an agrarian world, resulting in rapid and dramatic shifts in our diet, culture, habits, and way of life.” — The Healthy Deviant
The Unhealthy Default Reality
As Pilar Gerasimo teaches us in The Healthy Deviant, the UDR or the “Unhealthy Default Reality” has become our norm in America today. This includes not only Big Agra, Big Pharma, environmental toxins, and the “disease care” system that passes for “health care” in the US, but also the fast-paced, busy-busy, do-do-do, work-a-day STRESS-FILLED world we live in.
We skip breakfast and down three cups of coffee on the way to work, eat a donut in the break room, slouch in front of a computer all day, grab a fast-food lunch and eat it in the car on the way to a stressful business meeting, work late, come home and pop a pre-packaged meal into the microwave, gulp it down in front of the tv with copious glasses of __________ (insert favorite alcoholic beverage here), stay up waaaay too late going down the rabbit hole of _________ (insert favorite social media platform here). Take a pill to help you sleep, set your alarm clock to get up early and do it all again. Is it any wonder we feel sick and tired? And this doesn’t even begin to cover your day if you’ve also got kids, pets, and/or aging parents you’re caring for. If any of that sounds a little too familiar or feels a little too “Ground Hog Day” for you, then you will love The Healthy Deviant.
One thing the Unhealthy Default Reality does with great efficiency is convince us that we are inadequate failures and that we should expend all our energy and resources striving to become something that the Unhealthy Default Reality can accept and approve of… That experience plays out differently for each of us, but with some surprisingly similar results: stress, anxiety, insecurity, and struggle. — The Healthy Deviant
Pilar Gerasimo has spent 20 years as a wellness journalist and is the founding editor of the magazine Experience Life. “In an era when consumers are bombarded with hype, quick fixes and conflicting messages, Gerasimo and team have applied unwavering focus on empowering readers to become their best, healthiest, most authentic selves.”
The Healthy Deviant
If you’re sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, tired of going to the doctor only to be offered a pill for every ill, masking your symptoms but never getting to the root of why you’re feeling so out of balance, meh, exhausted… while you feel worse and worse as the years tick by, The Healthy Deviant is for you!
Pilar’s book The Healthy Deviant is written in the same style as her magazine. The Healthy Deviant was actually recommended reading for my functional medicine course work at SAFM. And I feel incredibly lucky to have been on a live Zoom call with Pilar and my classmates to discuss this book with her in person. But don’t worry, it’s not a textbook at all. In fact, it’s really written for the layperson just like you, who’s been trying to get healthy—maybe for years—and so far not succeeding.
“About sixty years ago… we got walloped by the Technological Revolution. It delivered all sorts of life-easing, labor-saving automation, plus television, radio, mass-market advertising, and computers. We also got artificial flavors, colors, and lab-created preservatives, mass-produced plastics, nuclear power, nuclear weapons, and a lot more toxic pollutants.” — The Healthy Deviant
It’s Not Your Fault Your Sick and Tired
It’s not your fault that you are sick and tired… you’ve been trying every diet known to man, every different workout program, every new miracle supplement that comes on the market, yet not feeling any better nor losing any weight. Or worse, adding on more pounds while you’re trying your hardest to lose them. You are not alone. In fact, based on the statists above, you’re in good company with at least 97% of the US population! It’s the way the “system” is designed, crap-food, stress, and toxins are abundant in our daily lives, and have sadly become the “accepted norm.”
If you try to eat healthy, go gluten-free, dairy-free, meditate, get eight hours of sleep a night, you become the “healthy deviant” because those things are not considered “normal” in our American society. And while they are becoming a bit more normal for sure—partly thanks to Sprouts and Whole Foods many Americans have healthier food options—there are still plenty of unhealthy choices even in those stores. However, the majority of Americans still live in food deserts, with zero healthy options. And peer pressure abounds in ads and social media, encouraging you to keep up with the Joneses, even if the Joneses are sick! Eat this, buy that, ask your doctor if this pill is right for you… it’s mind-numbing.
“We are the first generation of humans ever to have been exposed to anything remotely like our current circumstances.” — The Healthy Deviant
The Big Experiment
The wellness industry and Big Pharma take billions of our hard-earned dollars each year, selling us a bill of goods. And sadly, it’s all been one BIG experiment with us as the guinea pigs. In The Healthy Deviant, you’ll learn how this all came about, how our bodies evolved over 2.5 million years ago, exactly how our wellness goals have backfired more recently, and how none of this is your fault (spoiler alert: it’s not about ‘will power’ and you ‘not trying hard enough’). You’ll also learn how to take your own health back into your own hands once and for all.
“When we’re fully embedded within the Unhealthy Default Reality, and when our daily lives, choices, and perspectives are largely dictated by it, it’s not something we can easily see or hold in our conscious awareness. We have too much of our attention focused on problems that seem more pressing. And that, my friends, is how the Unhealthy Default Reality keeps us in its grip.”— The Healthy Deviant
Becoming a Healthy Deviant
The last half of the book is devoted to helping you reclaim your health with practical tips and exercises (not “working out” type exercises, think lifestyle exercises to help you expand your horizons to become a Healthy Deviant). These are step-by-step solutions you can implement on a daily basis. And creating your own journey back to wellness is just the beginning. Pilar’s tips will also help you stay well once you reclaim your healthy self.
“The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.” — Albert Einstein
As Einstein observed, we often can’t see the forest for the trees. In order to make changes for the better, we have to think outside the box and become Healthy Deviants. As the saying goes, “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.” And if you’re truly interested in turning your health around once and for all, that means doing things differently and embracing your inner deviant.
Are You a Healthy Deviant?
Take the Healthy Deviant Quiz to find out. Then join in the healthy deviant movement to take back your health. You’re going to love this book.
In particular, I love that Pilar has actually been through her own wellness journey and understands exactly where you’re coming from. As a wellness journalist, she’s covered every health topic for decades and has first-hand experience with how and where big industry has failed us, if not flat out lied to us about wellness. I also love that many big publishers wanted her to change her book to “fit the norm”, but she refused because she’s a Healthy Deviant!
“The real problem is not just that making healthy change is difficult in our culture. It’s that it’s difficult for reasons that are not openly acknowledged, much less effectively addressed.” — The Healthy Deviant
So I’m recommending this book to all of my clients, and I’m also recommending it to you. If you’re DONE feeling sick and tired and not getting answers to your health issues, you’re not alone. Get your hands on The Healthy Deviant ASAP, and start your wellness journey today. Your body will thank you. And if you need someone to help hold you accountable as you make your new lifestyle changes, schedule a free call.
If you’ve read The Healthy Deviant, we’d love to know your biggest takeaway? What was your Ah-ha moment? Please leave a comment and share this article with your friends and family so they can become Healthy Deviants too!