Intermittent fasting is very popular in my office, the idea of taking the body into starvation mode and then eating for a set timeframe appears to be the current dieting wisdom of the moment.
This strategy has seemed far less revolutionary and modern of late as we are now in the month of Ramadan. This centuries old religious requirement of all Muslims, essentially demands them to take on the principles of intermittent fasting; an edict that was expected long before the current wave of books and lifestyle coaches promoted the practise.
Before the intermittent fasting craze, the world was obsessed with the Atkins diet. This diet promoted the abstinence of carbohydrates from your diet. A little like the actions of Christians over Lent, the dieter would stop consuming an item that was identified as bad for them but desirable
On reflection it seems that modern day dieting owes as much to religious texts as it does to revolutionary new ideas.
The same can be said for exercise; trends come and go. Now when you look across any patch of open space on a weekend or lunchtime you will see a variety of people participating in Boot Camps. These Boot Camps are basically PE classes taken from British Schools in the 50s. Simple exercise routines done repetitively over 45 minutes. There is a religious zeal to these routines; a zeal shared by the trainers and practitioners alike
There is something fascinating that in a period of time when technology is transforming so many areas of society that there is a such a harking back to the past in diet and exercise trends.
There are lots of reasons for this, in my view it is because the basic core principles of leading a happy and healthy life have not changed over the centuries. The principles of eating in moderation and looking after you body are reflected in all religions; as are the concepts of mindfulness and looking after your mind body and soul.
With religion no longer being such an important part of everyday life I believe people are filling that void with the same messages but from different messengers. A life coach will most likely tell you to spend less time on your phone or "connected", while a Christian or a Jew would simply point towards the importance of observing the Sabbath.
There is an irony, that in an age when there is so much attention on being progressive in your personal and social attitudes that people seem to be reverting unwittingly back to old religious teachings. Maybe like Vinyl records people will go full circle and there will be a momentum towards a more collective belief in the benefits of religion in the years to come.