The 7 Pillars of Wellness

I had an interesting discussion with one of my medical colleagues the other night. We were talking about trying to help people get their hormones to really work the way they are supposed to and how difficult it can be if the patient’s lifestyle isn’t good. We both noted that the same thing could be said of virtually every chronic health problem from cardiovascular disease to cancer and from irritable bowel disease to low thyroid. Even if we consider powerful medications that can suppress symptoms and make the person feel better, the real solution lies in creating a lifestyle that will make a difference over the long haul.

The problem is that everyone thinks that there is a quick fix solution out there that will give them the health they want without any effort on their part. Sorry to break it to you – it doesn’t exist. The only way for long-term results is to develop a balanced way of living that supports the way our body’s are designed to work. So what are the key elements to this lifestyle and how do we apply it on a daily basis?  Let’s dive in to the basics and break it down together.

The 7 Pillars of Wellness

When it all comes down to it, there really are 7 major areas of life that we need to address on a daily basis to support health. I like to call them the 7 Pillars of Wellness.

Pillar #1 – Eat Well.

There may not be a more contentious topic in the health world than that of diet and nutrition. With literally dozens and dozens of competing camps, each with their own smart sounding scientists making the claim that following their own code of eating is best for humanity.  In stead of promoting 1 particular approach as better than all the rest, I think that we can actually tailor our dietary choices to our specific needs and based on our health status (or disease status as the case may be). Based on my research and clinical experience, I have found that starting from what some authors call a “paleo template” is the most appropriate starting place for most people. A paleo template would include a foundation of a variety of starchy and non starchy vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, fish, shellfish, grass-fed beef, game, fowl, eggs, grains, fats and oils, legumes and dairy. From these basic categories we then customize the diet based on individual needs for proteins, carbs, and fats.  There may be times when certain elements of this basic “Real Food” approach need to be eliminated altogether.

Pillar #2 – Drink Well.

This pillar is pretty straight forward. We are 70% water. You’ve heard that statistic since you were in 5th grade. It’s pretty strange to think that with that basic fact of nature well ingrained into our heads, we still think that we can get away with drinking just about everything BUT water without it affecting our health.  We need to dramatically reduce our intake of soda, coffee, milk, fruit juices and energy drinks and increase our water intake on a daily basis.

Pillar #3 – Move Well.

No secret here. The modern lifestyle has become sedentary. We are sitting more and moving our bodies less. Research has proven that even those who try to exercise an hour every day can completely lose all of the benefits from that exercise if they remain sedentary the rest of the day. We need to learn how to create a foundation of movement and activity every day and then add to that smart and sensible exercise. We advocate High-Intensity Interval training (HIIT), bodyweight based exercises, and yoga to build strength, stamina and flexibility.

Pillar #4 – Sleep Well.

Sleep is one of the most often overlooked aspects of a healthy lifestyle. In fact, we quite frequently see people who start a lifestyle program sacrifice an hour of sleep so that they can workout. In effect, robbing Peter to pay Paul. Our bodies need 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night in order to repair and heal. Unfortunately, many aspects of modern living have sabotaged our sleep and the number of people with some level of insomnia is continuing to grow. We offer powerful tips and solutions to help you get the sleep that your body is quietly craving.

Pillar #5 – Think Well.

Let’s face it, happiness in life really boils down to how positive and optimistic we are about our life and our future. Most of us are carrying around a fair amount of negative baggage that seems to creep into our thoughts on a daily basis. We pick up patterns of thinking and beliefs about ourselves early on in life and often these patterns continue to play out in our minds for years or even decades. In many ways, we can never outgrow our own limited beliefs about ourselves until we learn to recognize them and critically evaluate them. Something as simple as daily affirmations, a vision board or a powerful purpose statement can shift our mental state almost immediately.

Pillar #6 – Play Well.

This powerful pillar is also often gradually lost as we grow into adults. We forget all of the great things that we learned through having fun, being creative and playing games as kids. In addition to being a powerful stress reducer, time spent in “play energy” activates parts of the brain that are often neglected and helps us function more wholly as human beings.  When we put some attention to recreation, fun and play every day it balances our body, mind and spirit. Time spent playing, whether that is playing a sport, a board game or even writing and creating is not time wasted! It is a powerful aspect of wellness.

Pillar #7 – Love Well.

As the famous Dean Martin song so clearly states, “You are nobody until somebody loves you…so find somebody to love.” Without connection, intimacy, friendship and knowing that we are important in other’s lives, people simply can’t feel lasting happiness. We are social creatures that need connection and love. That said, developing and maintaining deep and lasting relationships is one of the hardest things to do. Other people let us down and frustrate us. They don’t do what we want them to do and we often take for granted those who are closest to us. Taking time to nurture the most important relationships in your life on a daily basis is vital to wellness because as Dean Martin continues, “You may be king. You may possess the world and its gold. But gold won’t buy you happiness, when you’re growing old”.

There you have it. Building a perfect lifestyle is super simple right? Well, it’s obviously easier said than done. It takes lots of work and effort. Some of us are just out of practice on many of these pillars and others seem to require swimming completely against the stream of the rest of the world. It kind of feels like we’re trying to spin 7 plates at the same time but we don’t have to be perfect over night. We can self-evaluate and find our weakest area and focus on that first. As we get better at that pillar we can shift attention to the next in line.

Want a secret weapon to getting all of these in order fast? Working with a certified health coach like Tammie can help you take massive shortcuts in the learning process. Reach out to us via Facebook or call the office, 801-677-7878 to learn more about health coaching.

 

 

 

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