Norman Swan laments that we've been led to believe there are people out there with white teeth and perfect bodies, who jump out of bed every morning feeling fantastic before they tend to their three perfect children.
"The reality is, almost all of us get out of bed in the morning feeling complete shite," Swan tells The Canberra Times.
Indeed, he reckons wellness is "one of the biggest bullshit words around at the moment".
And it's being sold on every corner.
The veteran broadcaster, physician and award-winning co-host of ABC's Coronacast says the human condition isn't wellness, it's "ups and downs", and people get too anxious about the downs when they're "mostly normal".
He says we've been sold lies including that, if you're not feeling well every day, you should feel anxious, and if you're not sleeping for eight hours a day, you should feel anxious.
"If you're not having fantastic sex every day, you're feeling anxious," he says.
"[Then there's] our diet: 'Am I taking the right micronutrients?' 'I'm on a high-carb, low-carb [diet] ... should I be on Pete Evans' latest paleo diet?'"
In Swan's new book, So you think you know what's good for you?, he aims to quell some of those anxieties in his famously frank way.
"I will judge it a success if people relax a bit into normality," he says.
Swan is acutely aware people don't have time to waste when it comes to getting information about their health; a factor that's gone some way to informing the pretty strict 10-minute format of Coronacast.
He says we're "in a world of brevity", where people want to be told exactly what they need to know, and they want it given to them straight.
So he wrote So you think you know what's good for you? with busy people in mind.
Yes, it's about 350 pages long, but after an initial read-through, it's designed so that readers can pick it up again and flick to whatever part they want a refresher on.
It's part-memoir, part-health handbook, covering everything from the Mediterranean diet, smoking and divorce, to looking after kids, sleep deprivation, sex when you're a transgender person, and pilates.
"If you're interested enough, you'll read on and read the rest of that chapter, but if you only read the summary at the top, you'll get what you need to know and then you can move on," Swan says.
"In fact at several points I say to people, 'You know, if you're getting bored here, just skip the next two paragraphs and catch up later'.
"It sounds a bit cute, but it just means I'm not going to waste your time [and] here's what you need to know."
Swan says he was determined not to make So you think you know what's good for you? like any other health book; others have aspired to comprehensiveness, or to "the author becoming some sort of oracle".
"In a sense, the way I've written this is, you know, don't necessarily trust me - trust the information I'm giving you - and feel free to question," he says.
For many, though, Swan is a kind of oracle; the one they turn to every morning to inform how they think about the pandemic. The book's cover names Swan "Australia's most trusted doctor".
He says the health industry "is one of the most inefficient industries in the world", with between about 20 and 30 cents in every dollar being wasted.
And that's a "huge" amount of money when we're talking about a $180 billion industry, and people get harmed by that waste because they don't get the care that they need.
That's partly down to consumers not knowing as much as their healthcare providers, a problem Swan hopes the book will go some way to solving by closing the knowledge gap.
"You're much more liable to accept what's said because this person knows more than you," Swan says.
"What my whole career is about, and what this book is about, is closing that knowledge gap between those who know more, and those who know less.
"Not because they necessarily are poor, or badly educated or whatever - it's all of us.
"It takes 15 years to become a fully-fledged surgeon. You'll never know as much, but there's some key information that you do need to know to take control."
'The dim, distant past'
Swan writes that he first became aware of the knowledge gap when he was in medical school.
He discovered his home city of Glasgow, in Scotland's west, had the highest rate of heart disease in the world, and the life expectancy gap between those in the richest and poorest suburbs was about 25 years.
He writes about how both of his parents smoked more than 20 a day, as did all their family and friends, "inside the house and in their cars with the windows up". He talks about the delicious fat-laden dishes that were the mainstays of his childhood diet.
"I'm not normally somebody who likes to talk about the dim, distant past, but nonetheless, there are memoir elements to [the book]," Swan says.
"Normally, in a book like this, you would hunt out people who have their own story to tell ... and you would use that as a case study.
"It's hard to do during a pandemic when you're in lockdown, and I've got plenty of anecdotes from my own life which illustrate the point."
Australians have become keenly interested in Swan's personal life, particularly after he was catapulted into position as a beacon of knowledge and reason for millions throughout the Covid crisis.
His family have profiles too: son Jonathan Swan is a political reporter for American news outlet Axios, and drew heightened international attention when his sit-down interview with then-US president Donald Trump went viral.
Meanwhile, his daughter Anna Swan was involved in a catastrophic cycling accident while on a family holiday in Italy in 2016, and the story of her recovery journey made headlines.
Swan talks about the accident in the book, maintaining he's not generally an anxious person, and is the one his family knows will "stay cool" in the face of a crisis.
Yet he says he has felt repeatedly paralysed at times by stomach-churning anxiety that's so bad, he wants to "double over in a crouch position", and the most recent period of that lasted more than a year.
Swan recalls in the book breaking down in an Italian hospital, before his friend reminded him of the saying: "Keep your shit wired tight". He explains how he had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for most of his adolescence, having been 14 and on a bus when it unexpectedly exploded into flames.
Swan uses that experience to explain the theory behind PTSD. The book ends with a dedication: "My children are my nourishment: Jonathan, Anna and Georgia.
"I love them more than they'll ever know."
The Covid part
Early last year, Swan says, he figured he'd write a book about Covid - then he spoke to a literary agent in Washington who dealt him some "wise advice".
"[The literary agent] said: 'Look, there's going to be 400 books on Covid - Michael Lewis is probably tapping one out' - and indeed, he was tapping one out as we [spoke]," Swan says.
"[He said]: 'Nobody's going to want to read about it really during the pandemic, and so let's just put it on hold ...
"I was really grateful for that advice, because he was right."
Swan says he's resisted writing a book when, every so often, a publisher has taken him out to lunch.
But for So you think you know what's good for you?, he "just felt the time was right", even during the busiest period of his career. He started writing the book in July last year.
"The amount of time you waste in your life flying - you [would] go to Melbourne or Canberra for an hour, and a whole day would be gone, and that wasn't happening anymore," he says.
"So, despite the fact that you were busy, there was time - albeit it between 5am and 8am when you had to get 1500 words done - but it was interesting. I got it done."
Swan says the book was "very deliberately" a kind of self-directed occupational therapy; it focused on topics he had wanted to write about for a long time, and allowed him to draw on conversations he'd had with people over several years.
"What you see in the book is my day job - that's what I do, and that's what I've done," he says.
The book makes little reference to Covid, whittling it down to a few mentions and then a nine-page section aptly titled "History and your health (this is the pandemic bit)" - "because people kind of expect me to write about it", Swan says.
Despite that expectation, he says his role hasn't changed throughout the pandemic, and that "it's just been, on a day-by-day basis, giving people the information they need to know".
Swan says he and the Coronacast team, which includes co-host Tegan Taylor, feel the pressure given they have such a "huge" audience - the podcast attracts three million unique downloads a month. He has two measures of traction, and how the pandemic is going.
"One is, what time of day my phone runs out of battery," he says.
"If it runs out of battery in the morning, I know things are hotting up ... if I didn't know that already.
"The other is the attack rate from News Limited ... [which] is a badge of honour, really ...
"At times it has been uncomfortable with the government putting pressure on the system, but the reality is you've just got to keep focused on giving the information based on science and evidence and being able to justify it."
Swan says one of the biggest changes he's seen throughout the pandemic is that "people understand a huge amount more about their health and their body than they did a year ago".
He says that when he was reporting on technical topics almost up to the point of the coronavirus pandemic, he was never quite sure whether people understood what a cell was.
"Now, mRNA flips off the tongue, antibodies," Swan says.
"A year ago on Coronacast ... we were getting questions, 'How do I wash my hands?', 'Can I use soap?', 'Can I go to the swimming pool?' - stuff like that.
"Now, the questions are: 'I read that paper that you referred to on December 8 in The Lancet, and I reckon you've got the statistics wrong'. And these are the same people.
"They're more tuned in, they're more clued in, and yes, on a personal level, we've had to focus on what counts."
And that Covid book? Swan says the Washington literary agent told him to hold off for maybe a couple of years.
- So You Think You Know What's Good For You? by Norman Swan. Hachette, $39.99.