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Experience Life editor in chief Jamie Martin

Nearly 15 years ago, in what I’ll always consider a stroke of good luck, I was introduced to Experience Life’s founding editor, Pilar Gerasimo. I had applied for an editorial internship, and thanks to the good word of a college professor — who happened to write for the magazine — I got an interview.

A couple of weeks after graduation, I met with Pilar, and our conversation set the course for my career to date. I attended my first editorial meeting two weeks later.

Over the next 12 years, I had the great fortune to work closely with Pilar on the magazine, as well as on new initiatives and special projects. She taught me how to be a better editor and writer, as well as how to be proactive, lead a team, and evolve a business. And her progressive approach to health and wellness gave me a refreshing perspective on what it truly takes to be healthy in our modern world:

It’s not about six-pack abs, fad diets, or quick fixes. Instead, it’s about realistic lifestyle-behavior shifts that result in sustainable, lasting change.

It’s not about operating from a place of guilt or shame but about feeling empowered to take your health and wellness into your own hands so you can discover self-efficacy and self-confidence.

It’s not about treating symptoms, but instead about getting to the root cause of health problems and advocating for yourself as a patient — and as a human being.

It’s not about one-size-fits-all solutions, but rather understanding your unique body and mind and finding what works for you.

Pilar stepped away from the magazine in 2016, yet these tenets continue to guide the work the Experience Life team does today — they’re our norm. But we understand they’re not the norm for many people. In fact, they flip the script on what so many have been taught about health, fitness, and wellness.

Thankfully, there is now another resource that addresses these values and gives more people the chance to discover this approach: Pilar’s new book, The Healthy Deviant: A Rule Breaker’s Guide to Being Healthy in an Unhealthy World, released in January. The book’s concepts are the foundation on which this publication was built and through which thousands of lives have changed for the better. Mine included.

The book, however, didn’t come easy for Pilar. Though she’s been immersed in the health-and-wellness world for more than two decades, it took nearly a decade for it to come together. She faced resistance, doubt, and rejections, yet she continued to fight for the right to share her alternative philosophy with a larger, broader audience.

She reflected on the book in a recent episode of her podcast, The Living Experiment: “This has been one of the biggest goals of my life. . . . [It’s also] the heaviest lift of anything I’ve ever done, including starting Experience Life magazine.

“There is a part of me [that thinks] this is a life’s work . . . and if I die tomorrow, I’m glad to leave this behind. It’s the truth I wish someone would have told me.”

In writing her book, Pilar did what she’s taught all of us to do over the years: Advocate, experiment, persist, trust, and believe. And though she faced setbacks the whole way, she made it happen, one step at a time.

That’s what this issue of Experience Life is all about. One goal, one day, one year at a time — you’ve got this. And thanks to Pilar’s vision, we’re here to help you on your journey.

Photo by: Sara Rubinstein

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