The Five Pillars of Health

Being healthy is about more than working out or eating well – it is about balancing what I call “The Five Pillars of Health.”

These five pillars are:

  • Diet
  • Activity
  • Sleep
  • Vitamin D/Sunlight
  • Stress

When you do your best to get the most out of all five pillars, you will be healthy. Ignore one and all of your hard work with the others may go to waste.

Being healthy is all about BALANCE.

Let’s take a look at all five pillars and how they each contribute to us being healthy.

DIET:

The foods you put in your body are the fuel your body and mind use to run. Put in good fuel and your body and mind will run well. Put in crap food and your body and mind WON’T run well.

It’s as simple as that.

Put in crap and you will feel like crap. You will probably get sick more often. Your workouts won’t be as good. And your energy levels will be low. And you may even have a hard time learning and remembering new things.

Your body won’t be healthy if it doesn’t get the sustenance it needs. We all know about the disease that can be caused by a poor diet.

So if you eat a healthy diet, your body will be healthier.

Plus the proper foods mean hormonal balance, better sleep, less stress and energy to workout (AKA a healthy diet supports three of the other pillars of health)!

I mean just think about how you feel when you eat badly. You don’t want to move. You feel crappy during workouts. You may even toss and turn at night (or even be unable to sleep).

Your stress levels may even be higher (be it that you are stressing because you are eating bad or because your eating is directly contributing to hormone imbalances).

Here are 10 Guidelines to help you eat well and build a strong healthy diet.

And remember…A healthy diet also means drinking enough water. Proper hydration is essential to staying healthy and getting results. For example, if you are dehydrated, your body may be craving water; however, you may confuse that with HUNGER.

Improper hydration will throw our body off.

So if you want your diet to benefit your health, you can’t forget about proper hydration!

ACTIVITY:

activity walking

Leading a healthy ACTIVE lifestyle is about more than simply working out a couple of times a week.

The reason this second pillar isn’t called ‘Working Out’ is because being healthy isn’t dependent on working out, it is dependent on being ACTIVE.

And on top of that, working out can actually negatively affect your health if not done in the right way.

So to be healthy, you must be active in a way that makes you BETTER – not more stressed or worn down or injured.

Your workouts should make you stronger. Working out too long or too much can have negative effects.

Pushing your body to do things it isn’t ready to do, can have negative effects.

Your workouts should PROMOTE HEALTH.

So if you are feeling more worn down and injured from your workouts, are they really working?

In my opinion, they aren’t.

Because being worn down and injured, means you are going to end up moving less. And MOVING is key to health.

Our bodies were meant to move.

Sitting all day isn’t good for us.

But neither is working out super intensely for hours to try to make up for all the time that we sit.

Ideally, we want to vary the intensity of our workouts and use lower intensity workouts to allow us to move more than our 3 or 4 hours of intense exercise each week.

Walking is a great way to vary your workout intensity and move more. Walking is something you can do to make your body feel better and stronger while not beating it down.

Walking is also social and a great way to de-stress. It can also be a great way to get Vitamin D and keep our body running efficiently.

Walking and other leisure ACTIVITIES are a great way to move more to keep our body healthy.

Being active, when done in the right way, makes us healthy by preventing disease and helping us avoid injury. It can also lower our stress levels and help us sleep better (thereby promoting and supporting the other pillars of health!).

SLEEP:

We often sacrifice sleep to fit other things into our day, but sleep is ESSENTIAL to health.

Honestly, it may just be as essential as eating well and working out.

If you do not sleep enough, your body won’t function as well and you place yourself at higher risk to get certain diseases and illnesses.

Sleep is essential to recovery. And recovery is essential to get results and maintain your health.

Sleep is essential for us to be able to function. No amount of caffeine is going to make up for a lack of sleep.

Plus when we don’t sleep well it is hard to stay committed to a healthy lifestyle.

It is hard to force yourself to workout when you are exhausted and your body feels worn down from lack of sleep. It is hard to eat well when your body starts craving crap because it’s tired. It is hard to not overeat when your body is telling you that you are hungry even though you are truly just tired.

A lack of sleep makes it hard to commit and build strong pillars to support your health!

VITAMIN D/SUNLIGHT:

Vitamin D

While getting enough vitamins and minerals is important, Vitamin D is a slightly more important one in my opinion, ESPECIALLY when it comes to getting Vitamin D from SUNLIGHT.

Vitamin D is a common deficiency in our society and can cause a variety of problems – from physical diseases to depression.

It is a common problem because people aren’t getting enough sun. And when they do go out in the sun, they either slather on sunscreen or are out so long they burn and cause other problems.

It is also a problem because people are eating less whole natural foods and more processed crap.

And having enough Vitamin D is important. Having enough Vitamin D fights disease, promotes strong bones and strengthens your immune system to keep you healthy. It can also improve your mood.

So Vitamin D affects your body and mind?

Sounds like it has a huge affect on your health!

And while you can get Vitamin D through foods, the reason I put Vitamin D and Sunlight together as a pillar is because I feel like getting sunlight is equally important to feeling good and being happy.

To some extent we CRAVE the feeling of the warm sun on our skin. It feels good to be outdoors under the sun.(I think this pillar, Vitamin D/Sunlight, strongly ties in with Activity to make walking an all around excellent activity….)

Sunlight can also serve to make us happy and when we are happy, it is easier to stick with our goals.

However, all too often we don’t get enough sunlight and when we do go out in the sun we either slather on sunscreen or stay out way too long and get burned.

To get Vitamin D without putting ourselves at risk, we need to get 10-30 minutes of sun WITHOUT sunscreen. Sunlight can be good for us as long as we don’t fry ourselves.

Eating fatty fish can also help, however it can be hard to get enough Vitamin D without also getting sun.

While sunlight and a healthy diet with whole natural foods is ideal, you can also take a Vitamin D supplement if necessary.

The point is…You need Vitamin D…And honestly, you need sunlight too!

STRESS:

Stress…Anytime you tell someone they need to stress less, they say they can’t.

They have a stressful job. They have a family to care for on top of everything else.

They have too much to do and too little time.

But that is simply an excuse.

Because we can completely control our stress level.

And actually our health DEPENDS on us lowering our level of stress. All of the four pillars of health that I’ve listed above all contribute to and are affected by STRESS.

So yes, maybe you can’t change your job. Maybe you do have too much on your plate.

But you CAN change your stress level.

Getting enough sleep. Eating well. Working out. They can all improve your stress level.

HOWEVER, if you let your stress level win, you may not be doing any of those three things.

And I get that you may be pressed for time. But you actually do have enough time to eat well. Too move for 15 minutes. To get a bit more sleep.

Those things just aren’t priorities and that is the problem.

Instead you stress.

And stress is potentially even worse to your health that not working out and eating crappy food.

We don’t often discuss how important it is to get our stress in check because it isn’t as easy as changing our exercise and diet habits.

But it may be even more important.

Take a deep breath and make one small change this week. Let that become habit.

Then make another change.

Being healthy doesn’t mean you need to overload yourself with changes all at once.

And as those changes do become habit, they won’t take much time or energy…AKA they will stress you out less.

Those healthy changes will also make you feel better. They will help your body function better.

They will cause you to STRESS LESS even with your chaotic life.

And as you stress less, those changes will become even easier.

It’s all a cycle – stress feeds your unhealthy lifestyle and your unhealthy lifestyle only compounds your stress.

So stop ignoring all of the different pieces of a healthy lifestyle!

Start making small changes to at least one of the five pillars and you may just see changes in the others.

Don’t act like you can just out exercise a bad diet and be healthy. Don’t act like you can sleep 2 hours a day and get the most out of your workout.

All of the pillars are connected. You need a balance of all five to truly be healthy!

 

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Posted on March 31, 2014, in Diet, Man Biceps, Recovery, Supplements and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Reblogged this on Leanne Nalani and commented:
    I love this post. Personally, my biggest challenges are stress and vitamin D (hello Seattle! Sometimes I feel a bit like a vampire…).

  2. Florida will be so good for me. Should take care of the 1 I have issues with here! 🙂 Nice post!

  1. Pingback: April – National Stress Awareness Month | Man Bicep

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