When it comes to wellness trends, there isn’t much I won’t try. I’ve floated in a sensory deprivation tank to relax, performed a 12-hour “dopamine fast” to try to temper impulsive behaviors, and had the blood plasma drawn from my arm and micro-needled into my face in an attempt to shrink my pores. When I heard Gwyneth Paltrow was an advocate of bee-sting therapy, I hunted for someone to sting me just to see what would happen. (The short story: no one would do it.) But one portal I’ve never attempted to find enlightenment through? Netflix.
Like most streaming services, Netflix is saturated with documentaries, including an overflowing pool of films dedicated to wellness; a simple search for “health” and “wellness” brings up more than a hundred results. I started to wonder: Could watching wellness documentaries be the new version of reading self-help books, a method to absorb advice that would lead to self-improvement? To find out, I resolved to watch at least two documentaries a night for three days. Here’s how it went.
See also: Is Wellness Coliving the Key to Modern-Day Happiness?
I started with (Un)Well, a series that takes a critical eye to questionable health and wellness trends, such as adults drinking breast milk to grow muscle or undergoing weeks-long, water-only fasts to stave off disease and increase mental agility. Thirty minutes into the water-fast episode, I was visualizing myself galloping through oceanside hills, feeling powerful and in tune with my surroundings, surviving on nothing but H2O. But five minutes after it ended, I made myself some eggs.
The Goop Lab with Gwyneth Paltrow was next on my list and was similarly entertaining—but not motivating enough to trigger change. The six-episode series follows the Oscar-winning actor and her colleagues as they delve into practices that claim to be life-improving. After watching the episode on the Wim Hof Method, a mind-over-body mastery that involves breathing exercises and jumping into freezing-cold water, I resolved to exercise outside the next day. When I woke, it was 40 degrees outside. I made it 50 feet out my door before returning to the warm comfort of my treadmill.