Why I Hate the Typical Approach to Health (And What We’re Doing Differently)

I’m sitting here at my kitchen table after spending the last 24 hours bouncing across the country (hopping from Portland to Chicago to Cincinnati on a long day of travel). It was a day of modern adventure filled with taxis and planes and cars with dead batteries.

In other words, I’ve had a lot of time to think today.

…and I’ve been thinking about you.

More specifically, I’ve been thinking about what you and I are building, the type of community that we are creating here, the problems I’m trying to help you solve, and the ideas and values that we believe.

As I thought about these things, I began to realize that I don’t like the typical approach to health, fitness, and wellness.

Here’s why…

What I Don’t Like

I don’t like the typical approach to health, fitness, and wellness because most experts, teachers, and health practitioners share ideas, but don’t build a community that believes in those ideas. I think it should be about sharing great ideas and connecting people who believe in those ideas.

Let me explain…

I’ve spent the last 3 days in Portland at a wonderful conference run by my friend, Chris Guillebeau. Chris has done a fantastic job of building a community of people who believe in the same ideas and hold the same values. The conference is a way of connecting these like–minded people in one place.

And you know what has happened?

Those connections and shared values have created real change for people.

The most empowering thing in the world is being surrounded by a group of people who believe what you believe and who can show you that your dreams are possible.

It’s not just about handing you a good workout program, developing the best diet plan, or sharing useful strategies for building better habits. It’s also about providing you with a wonderful community as well. When you surround yourself with incredible people, your new life begins to form. Joining a better community is one of the best ways to make changes permanent.

And for that reason, I’ve been thinking about our central mission as a community and how we can organize a small group of remarkable people.

Our Central Mission

Here are the values that connect you, me, and other members of our little community…

The central mission of our community is to live well and do good.

Last week, I received an email from one of our wonderful members named Jennifer and she said that our community is about discovering “ways to contribute to our own life and the world.”

I couldn’t agree more. It’s about building a better life for ourselves while also lifting up the world around us. To that end, these are the values that drive our mission as a community…

We believe in challenging ourselves physically. This is why we talk about the physical quest of the Marathon Monks and why everyone should lift weights.

We believe in contributing to the world around us, creating things that matter, and building a better world. This is why we talk about the health benefits of art, the health benefits of entrepreneurship, and the dangers of not contributing.

We believe in balancing mental health and physical health. This includes pursuing adventure, exploring the world, and finding time to play. This is why we talk about lessons on happiness from surprising places and the science of positive thinking. It’s also why I travel, explore, and share my photography work from far off places like Moscow, Istanbul, and Northern Italy.

We believe that you need to make choices and decide what is important to you in life. This is why we talk about eliminating distractions, crushing procrastination, and choosing your direction in life.

We believe in mastering our daily behaviors. This is why we talk about mental toughness, consistency, forming good habits, and breaking bad ones.

But above all else, we believe in community. We believe in supporting each other, sharing our success and failures, and working together to improve our lives and the lives of others.

We’re building a community of people who believes that it’s possible to live a good life for yourself and do good in the world at the same time.

Where We’ll Go From Here

It’s important to me that this website helps you surround yourself with people who believe what you believe and support your goals in life. In the coming weeks, I will be letting you know about many live meetups that our community will be organizing in cities around the world. (Some details here.)

Of course, there is no pressure to be part of these live meetups if you don’t want to be. You are welcome to sit back and enjoy my articles every Monday and Thursday for as long as you find them useful without ever meeting up with other members in person.

But if you are excited about the possibility of surrounding yourself with incredible people and if you believe in the mission above, then we’d love to have you join us in person and take this community to the next level.

The world becomes a better place when people who hold the same values rally around one another, support the dreams of others, and build a community that is bigger than any one person. That’s what we’re working toward.

This is just the beginning and I can’t wait to see where we go.


  1. Kim Bova says:

    What a joy to read this article this morning! Thank you, James, I am really excited about this community that you are helping to create.

    • Heather-mae says:

      Me too Kim,I think it is sooo good, and the things that I have learnt in the month that I have been involved, the freedom that I feel following this program is phenomenal. My husband is talking about trying the 18:6 along side me and he is just not into diets or weightloss systems

  2. Excited to let the meetups begin, James! As always, let us know what we can do to help you out for them!

    Be well!

  3. Jessica Rea says:

    Great post James. I just got back from WDS too and was feeling really overwhelmed by everything that I’d experienced, not really knowing where to start to organize my thoughts. This post really helped me get clear on where to start, so thanks!

  4. Jim Henson says:

    Totally on board, James. Very inspired with your approach.

  5. Mike from Toledo says:

    This is a great idea, Jim and I will participate if a meetup group forms in Toledo, Ohio, however I am not optomistic. There is not much happening with “meetup” here. We have a couple Crossfit boxes that do OK as far as community support but kind of pricey and not for everyone. I really hope your plan will be successful overall.

  6. Jim says:

    I am in! You provide insightful and practical information. I have researched your supporting articles and they are solid as well. Keep it going.

  7. All I want to say is: I’m in!

  8. James says:

    I find your particular dislike of “health trends” surprisingly profound. Rather than the expected lecture on carbs vs fats or fads vs facts, you noted the lack of community surrounding one view or another. And that perhaps, the joining of people that support each other, regardless of view, and in spite of different views, can help lift each other higher by being an inspiration, and example of will and determination, to others with either similar paths and different destinations, or similar goals and different methods. Cheers-)

  9. Ash Menon says:

    I can wholeheartedly agree on the point regarding the power of community. I’ve been going to the gym for the past 5-6 years, and it’s always been an off-and-on thing. I’d develop some willpower to get that body, work out for a few days, then something would happen to derail my plans and it’d all get shot to hell.

    Then I found Fitocracy. It’s an amazing community of people dedicated to fitness and health, and now I look forward to new achievements in the gym, and telling all my friends in Fito about it.

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