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The Four Pillars of Health...The Key to Health and Longevity

I believe everything in life that affects our physical and mental health can be put into four categories. We have control over these four aspects of our life and what we can control we can change. We make conscious choices in each of these categories multiple times per day and those choices dictate who we are and ultimately our health. I know that sounds really simple and it is, but simple doesn’t mean easy. Today I would like to go over what I consider the 4 pillars of health and give you some strategies to help you make improvements in each pillar.

The starting point for everyone is always awareness because how can we change what we aren’t aware we are doing? If we can become aware of some of the not so healthy choices and design our lives around healthy choices in the following four pillars, we can strive to be the best version of ourselves. The first and most important pillar is nutrition.

1) Nutrition- This includes but is not limited to the quality and the quantity of the foods we put in our body. Think of nutrition as a zero sum game, If you are eating a variety of whole foods and preparing most of your meals with lots of vegetables, lean meats, healthy proteins, and sticking with your healthy fats, this will push out the processed foods because you simply won’t have room to eat those crappy foods. By virtue of following that diet, you will be covering any nutritional deficiencies you might have in your diet and giving your body all the building blocks it needs to stay healthy.

Strategy to make a change:

  • Track what you eat for a week. Write down everything you eat and drink at the time you eat/drink it. Don’t wait or you will forget. Ask yourself the question “why am I eating/drinking this food right now?” This builds off the awareness concept, now you know what you're eating, when you're eating it, and even why you are eating (stressed, bored,etc..) so you can see what is going on with your diet and bring awareness to your habits.

  • I would recommend a journal, hand written as well as using a tracking app such as MyFitnessPal (MFP) This will also bring awareness to how many calories you eat daily, the macronutrient content of each food, and the micronutrients in each food.

  • Now you have all this info...make one small change! Don’t change too much, too quickly….Make that change a habit before you make another change. Example: You realize you don’t drink enough water. Aim to drink ½ your body weight in water everyday. Go buy a nice water bottle that’s 20oz so you need to drink 4 of them a day, set an alarm on your phone for every 60 minutes and when the alarm goes off take 2-3 big drinks. Put a little piece of tape on the side of your water bottle and make a mark on it everytime you refill it to help you keep track.

2) Movement- Not only getting your heart rate up 4-5 days a week and sweating but also moving your joints through a full range of motion everyday. A big part of this one is resistance training to build and/or maintain muscle. Muscle is the most important tissue in our body for metabolic health and we naturally lose muscle as we age, therefore you have to do some regular resistance training just to maintain the same amount of muscle you had 5 or 10 years ago.

Strategy to make a change:

  • Do what you like to do...if it’s ride a bike, do that, if it’s hiking, do that, but it has to be fun if you want to make it a part of your life. Having said that, push yourself every once in a while, lift some heavy weights, do a few sprints during your morning walk/run, challenge yourself with a new sport or activity.

  • Get a coach or personal trainer: This could even be a friend that knows a lot about fitness but my point is have someone that knows what they are doing guide you! A coach, personal trainer, group fitness class like CrossFit, yourself from getting injured by moving wrong or starting too much too fast and really getting hurt. Start slow and allow your body time to adapt to the new stress of exercise and movement!

3) Sleep- Striving for at least 7 hours and up to 9 hours of sleep a night is critical for health. When we are sleep deprived some of the following problems can result, Insulin insensitivity, lowered immune system function, and fluctuations in body composition. These are just a few of the effects of not getting enough sleep. How much and the quality of our sleep is directly affected by the 1st and 2nd pillars.

Strategy to make a change:

  • Track your sleep! Yes awareness can bring about change so let’s become aware of our sleep quality and duration so we can make adjustments.

  • Use a sleep tracker: Ouraring, apple watch, whoop band, etc..

  • No electronic devices within 1 hour of sleep. This makes our body think it’s daytime and we stop producing hormones like melatonin to help us sleep.

  • Blue light blocking glasses or Night shift mode on your phone, if you’re using electronic devices before bed.

  • Don’t eat within 2 hours of sleep. Let your body rest and digest.

  • Supplements to help with sleep naturally..ZMA, Melatonin, Reishi mushroom complex

4) Social connections- We are social creators and need love, friendship, and family to be psychologically and emotionally healthy. This pillar is the “glue” that holds us together and often is incorporated with nutrition and movement. It can also affect sleep significantly as life and family place greater demands on your time and energy.

Strategy to make a change:

  • Incorporate as many pillars together with friends and family: Go for a run or hike with a friend and then get coffee afterwards to catch up. Have your tennis buddies over for a barbeque and make a really healthy balanced meal.

  • Have a family dinner without electronics for at least 30 minutes at least 5 nights a week. Just talk and get to know your family.

  • Call up an old friend you haven’t talked to in a while or even better set up a zoom call with them...catch up, talk about old times, and have a laugh.

If one of these pillars is neglected, it can and usually does lead to chronic health problems, disease and decrepitude. It’s not about one being better than the others, it’s about balance of the 4 pillars and having a stable foundation to build your life on.

Yes, at Nutrition1st Coaching we are a nutrition coaching company but our goal is to establish healthy behaviors in all the pillars of health so that you can become the best version of yourself. If you want to learn more about what we do or how we can help, go to our website and sign up for a free zoom discovery call or send me an email

Be Happy, Be Healthy

~Coach Brant

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