Living in a ridiculously affluent locality has many downsides. Most things are unaffordable. You have to ride a good 3-4 km to get cheap services. But there’s an upside. The best thing about living with the rich is that they assume you to be rich and often let you in, very easily. They are craving for human connection. The last three months of living amidst the rich and successful, thanks to a temporary work project, gave me an insight into their problems and how they solve them.
We are always so concerned about the poor that we forget the rich have their unique set of problems. And they might have won the lottery of privilege but they are not immune to the human capacity for self-destruction. It is just not the poor who make poor choices. One of the reasons, governments are usually wary of giving direct money in the hands of the poor is because policymakers often suspect that they would blow up the money buying a television set or in alcohol.
Rich though make far wiser economic decisions but when it comes to health decisions they are driven by a sense of gratification. They can eat their way into morbid obesity. And this is not to say overeating alone causes obesity. There are multiple other reasons but binge eating, which is also classified as a psychological-food disorder has high comorbidity with obesity.
The biggest affliction the rich suffers from is obesity among many other lifestyle diseases. The area I live in has a gym every kilometre. And each of these gyms claim to provide “customised services”. The drill by the receptionist is the same everywhere. They first take you through their state-of-the-art set-up, then sell you a dream body and eventually quote an amount that can feed me for three months. Some of them have taken it a notch up. Now, sports nutritionists and sports psychologists are guiding the rich on how to stay fit.
Many hire dieticians and coaches who send them manual reminders to keep themselves in a calorie deficit. The rich run an entire industry of fitness coaches, nutritionists and personal physical trainers.When you do a job that is complex and requires you to work on multiple fronts, you need someone to share the cognitive load that decision-making puts on you. Not eating a burger is an executive decision of the brain. And you need your coach to physically tell you to not do it.
Coaches prevent you from resorting to self-destructive behaviour like emotional eating and binge eating when you are at your lowest. The rich have understood that and they are outsourcing these tasks employing a huge number of coaches in the field of nutrition, fitness and psychology — who themselves do not come from very privileged backgrounds.
Will-power is like a capricious lover. It’s inconsistent and it’s not available when you most need it. That’s where coaches step in. Yes, they are expensive. But they also make up for the second biggest affliction that successful and rich people suffer from — loneliness. Coaching and therapy are the only services where you get a confidante along with the specific skill you pay for. The relationship is very much a part of the process of compliance and healing.
My learning from the moderately rich to the affluent is to hire a coach in life for whatever goals you have — be it planning a new career or losing weight — as soon as you can afford them. It takes the load off your shoulders to do it all alone. This is what real privilege is after all. You hire help not just to share your workload but your psychological load as well.
(The writer is a mental health and behavioural sciences columnist, conducts art therapy workshops and provides personality development sessions for young adults. She can be found as @the_millennial_pilgrim on Instagram and Twitter.)
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Published on: Sunday, January 02, 2022, 08:35 AM IST