When I’m asked, “Whats the best thing to do for ________ “. The last word of that question usually falls into one of four categories. These four categories are what I like to call the “Pillars of Health”. People come to the Training Room in order to improve themselves and that doesn’t stop at learning how to correctly go about strength training. As coaches it is our responsibility to educate everyone we come in contact with on the 4 Pillars of Health and how working to improve each one can lead to living your best life. Here’s to feeling good all the time! (obligatory Seinfeld reference)
What exactly are the 4 Pillars of Health?
- Stress Management
In order to put the best version of yourself out there it is imperative to get familiar with these four areas and how you can go about improving each one individually. This is something I will cover more in-depth in my book “The Pillars of Health: Live Your Best Life” at a later date, but today lets take a little preview.
If only this was as easy as “get more sleep”. As humans we are creatures of habit and we have daily, hourly habits that define us. The hardest and most difficult step in the sleep department is creating a set bed time. With the increased availability of information through our handheld electronic devices we are seeing people who were already stressed out now transforming into someone who can never “switch off”. The always on crowd are never too far away from a screen and they tend to carry a lot of stress to boot. Basically they have no “off” button. This can be difficult as we need that off button when it comes to recovering from stress and life in general.
“Prioritize Your Life before Someone Else Does”
Having a set bedtime is something I picked up from Craig Ballantyne. Holding yourself accountable to making sure you go to bed on time can be one of if not the most self prioritizing things you can do. Basically, good quality sleep enables us to do more, that means take on more stress and also more than likely excel in the things we are doing. Creating a set bedtime is tough for a lot of people and starting off I recommend you do not try going cold turkey. If you usually turn in at midnight, aiming for 10pm may be a long shot. Instead wind it back 15-30 minutes to begin. The light you’re staring at all day and night interrupts your sleep schedule and tells your brain it is not to go to sleep.
Sleep Tip: “I have so much work to do” is a line frequently used to justify not getting enough sleep. Think about investing in your current and future self with more sleep and persuade yourself the work can wait. In reality, it really can.
The good news is we are in control of what we perceive as stressful. The bad news is we have gotten to the point that almost everything is stressing us. Read “Why Zebras Dont Get Ulcers” for a more in-depth look at stress. I also wrote a book review with some main points outlined. “My wi-fi isn’t working, Starbucks is closed, traffic is awful, I look fat”, yada yada yada. You get the point. It’s time to put life in perspective. What are you doing to relax or tone down? As Pat Davidson says, most of us are walking around “toned up from the bone up” and he is correct.
Here are some things we can incorporate in order to manage stress more effectively.
A – Take time on weekends to reflect in peace and quiet/in nature
B – Change perception of stressful events. Consider this a long term approach.
C – Breathe at the beginning and end of our day (PRI techniques are beneficial here)
Also, go on vacation more! (The USA – the only country where how busy you are is a medal of honor. Last time I checked those medals were not being issued but good luck with that.)
The food we consume can play a huge role in continuing the “Inflammation Cycle” as Joel Jamieson puts it. If you are overweight or in pain there’s a good chance you are in that cycle. In order to reduce inflammation I recommend a simple supplement regimen once you’ve consulted with a medical physician that the following is okay.
From there we can look at food that will aid us in what we do everyday not throw us further into inflammation. Staying away from fried food, processed foods, foods cooked in canola oil and sugar can go a long way towards getting someone back to being pain free or losing weight. I wrote an article on the ABCDS of Nutrition a while back and it is relevant here. Pick one area to focus on and look to decrease intake in that one area before moving on to include more than one area to focus on.
When it comes to exercise the lines have been blurred. Exercise is a celebration of being alive, a chance to move in the fundamental movement patterns – hinge, squat, push, pull, carry…… you get the picture. Exercise is a chance to deposit into the movement bank, moderate deposits are highly recommended here as this is a long term investment into your long term health as the main beneficiary.
Exercise is NOT an offset to a weekend of bad eating habits. It is not something that you can go all out with for six months and then quit and expect to see long term results. Consistent moderate deposits is the key going forward. Make it a lifestyle habit not a new years resolution.
Combining the best of the 4 Pillars of Health will lead to a better you, a more enjoyable life and less time lost to things you’d rather not be doing. Whether your goal in the gym is weight loss, strength or just feeling good all the time ala Cosmo Kramer, incorporating the better approach through the pillars will lead you to better results down the line.
Take one element of the 4 pillars and see how you do over the course of a month. A better you is not too far away.