The 5 Pillars of Health
Starting an exercise program and cleaning up your eating is a good start to improving your overall health. But to experience optimal health, you need to focus on a few more things. Here are five fundamentals to follow to complete the package.
Pillar 1: Rest and Rejuvenation
Out of all the pillars of health, rest and rejuvenation seemed to have taken a back seat in the busy individual’s life. Overall, rest is the component I see my clients struggle with the most. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to get everything done and get the proper amount of sleep. Sleep is the foundation of the rest and rejuvenation pillar. Sleep affects everything from fat loss and immune function to hormone levels and energy. Consequently, if you don’t get enough sleep, you’re more likely not to exercise, eat correctly, have a positive attitude, or lead a healthy lifestyle. Getting a high amount of quality sleep impacts all pillars of health! Strive for eight hours each night.
Other methods of rest and rejuvenation are deep breathing (3 deep breaths), foam rolling and massage for soft tissue regeneration, hot and cold therapy (hot and cold baths and showers), and yoga. Another way you can rest and rejuvenate is to simply do nothing! Take 10 minutes each day to not look at your phone, computer, or TV and just sit in silence. This one is tough.
Pillar 2: Nutrition
In this day and age, it’s harder and harder to follow a healthy nutritional plan. Even though we know more today than we ever have about proper nutrition, our food environment is considered pretty weak. Poor quality food is cheap and readily available, and high-quality food takes a little more money and effort. We’re a fast-paced, I want it now, taste good society. I never tell a client that proper nutrition is easy because it isn’t. It takes some work to fuel your body properly, but the reward is well worth it. Instead of going cold turkey and cutting out all the bad nutrition in your daily intake, I recommend using a daily checklist of habits that you want to develop. Here are some examples.
- Drink plenty of clean water each day.
- Consume healthy fats such as fish, flaxseeds, almonds, and avocados at least two times per day.
- Eat a large green salad each day, or supplement with a green food powder or wheat grass cubes.
- Get in a serving of complete protein at each meal.
Pillar 3: Exercise
The exercise pillar seems to be the foundation and is the gateway to optimal health and wellness. I say this because most people
believe that if they start to move their body and exercise, good health will come. It makes sense to feel this way, but make sure you also invest some time in the other four pillars. Besides, what’s the point of exercise if you aren’t putting good things into your body, and getting proper rest? Focus on moving your body daily in any way, shape, or form.
You must plan for exercise just like you would plan anything else. It must become a habit, not merely a New Year’s resolution. Make sure you vary your workouts with strength training, cardiovascular training, mobility work, and recreational activities; always focus on having good posture. Use exercise to help improve overall strength, mobility, and cardiovascular health. In addition, make sure you’re balancing your workouts during the week, so you reduce the risk of injury and pain. Our bodies were meant to move so let’s get going!
Pillar 4: Attitude
Everything should be done with intensity and purpose. While this may be the case in certain areas of our lives, in others it may be lacking. People put thousands of hours of hard work towards their families and career, yet unfortunately, dedicate very minimal time to their individual wants and needs. Are you willing to make a change? Do you have what it takes to achieve your health and fitness goals? It all starts with having a good attitude! If you take care of yourself, you’ll be able to take care of anything you want!
Think about it. How much does someone bring you down when someone has a bad attitude? If you think it’s too hard to get healthy and get in shape, or if you feel there’ll never be enough time in the day to exercise, right there you’ve set yourself up for failure. When fitness professionals talk about clients or athletes who have achieved results, the word “attitude” is always used to describe them.
Overall, these clients come in and work harder than everyone else and then go home and eat better than everyone else. They have an intense drive to achieve their goals and do what’s asked of them. They have confidence and a positive outlook on what they’re trying to do. No matter what your goals are, if you bring a good attitude to the gym and at home with your nutrition and lifestyle, you will achieve your goals and a better body.
Pillar 5: Lifestyle
Lifestyle is where all of the pillars tie into each other. You’re not supposed to go on a “diet” to get in shape. You shouldn’t start the “12-week belly fat blast workout” for a special event like a wedding or class reunion. This health stuff is a lifestyle. It’s a daily practice that should become a habit, just like brushing your teeth or going to work. It’s essential to your well being. Not just a special event, as we often think of it.
You must surround yourself with positive and supportive people who understand that you care about your health. Plan and prepare your daily meals and snacks, schedule your workouts, leave enough time for quality sleep, and take vacations to relax and recover. Understand that desserts, fried foods, overeating, and alcohol should be limited to certain occasions, and aren’t an everyday thing. As I mentioned above, rest and rejuvenation is an essential component, but you must earn it. Workout hard – at least three days a week – and then you can be lazy once in a while.
Immerse yourself in a positive and healthy environment. As a result, the lifestyle will come. Create healthy habits and never look back!