- Courtesy of Spa Le Finlandais | Rev. Diane Sullivan
For many of us, the New Year brings a renewed focus on health — which makes sense. The weeks from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve are a nonstop smorgasbord of pies, cookies, cocktails, roasts and general gluttony when even vegetables are drowned in cream of mushroom soup and/or bacon. So it follows that January is a time to shed our vices and pounds in the name of self-improvement.
Hardy souls brave "dry January," swearing off booze until February. Some folks opt for the diet fad du jour. Others re-up their lapsed gym memberships or resolve to dust off the Peloton they got last Christmas. Still others take a more moderate tack and simply make a point of eating a little more healthily, drinking a little less and exercising a little more.
When it comes to health and fitness, there's no one-size-fits-all approach. As most experts will tell you, the best diet or exercise regimen is the one you'll actually do.
Following that principle is how Seven Days calendar writer Emily Hamilton discovered pole dancing. For various reasons, the self-described "book nerd" had never been able to stick to a workout routine. But she's recently become obsessed with swinging around poles for both fun and fitness and, she writes in an essay, has finally "found a form of exercise that I enjoyed for its own sake".
Beloved PE educator Robyn Newton has been encouraging kids at Vergennes Union Elementary School to enjoy exercise for 28 years. She begins her term as Vermont Teacher of the Year this month. Gym teachers can leave lasting impressions — both good and bad, as Seven Days writers recall in a companion piece on gym class memories.
Of course, wellness is not all about exercise. Sometimes the best way to work up a sweat is to sit back and relax. To do just that, travel writer Jen Rose Smith ventured north of the border to explore Montréal's steamy hydrothermal spa scene.
Viruses are rife this year, and they aren't always easy to shake: An estimated 45 percent of patients who recover from COVID-19 experience symptoms that last four months or more. Some Vermonters suffering from long COVID are turning to hyperbaric oxygen therapy, Ken Picard reports. That includes Montpelier's Merin Perretta, who called the treatment "a total game changer in my life."
Other Vermonters swear by herbal medicine, although, as Fiona Lucia Genadio-Allen put it, "A lot of times, it doesn't taste very good." Her chef-owned apothecary, Wolfpeach, alchemizes food and herbal medicine to produce herbal formulas that people will actually enjoy.
Medicine isn't the only thing we ingest that affects our wellness. In Erika Nichols-Frazer's new memoir, Feed Me: A Story of Food, Love and Mental Illness, the Waitsfield author and journalist explores how learning to feed herself contributed to her mental and physical wellness. "Feed Me is all about sustenance and nourishing oneself ... in terms of taking care of your body as well as your mind," she told Melissa Pasanen.
That's certainly food for thought.