How to Build a Strong Foundation to Support Wellness
How have you enjoyed the Four Pillars of Wellness series so far? Was there a single revelation, or what were the biggest lessons that you learned?
If you are experiencing exceptional health and wellbeing, you are fortunate. Yet most of us have one or more aspects of our health that we want to improve.
Let’s review the four Pillars of Wellness:
The 1st Pillar of Wellness: Frequent Movement
Take a moment for quiet inner reflection. How does your body feel? Does it feel strong, yet loose and flexible? How does your breathing feel? Does it happen easily and without any discomfort?
The 2nd Pillar of Wellness: Sleep & Recovery
What about your energy levels? How is your sleep? Do you feel rested and recovered when you wake up most days? Is it easy to stay focused during the day?
The 3rd Pillar of Wellness: Healthy Eating
How are your eating habits? Do you feel comfortable with the food that you cook and eat? Do you eat slowly and rarely to the point of feeling stuffed? Are you rarely over hungry or do you crash and need to rush out for coffee and a snack?
The 4th Pillar of Wellness: Emotional Wellbeing
What about your emotional health? Is stress something you can easily manage? Do you feel calm and relaxed? Do you know with clarity what you value most in life versus your choices and priorities?
Wellness is a Living Practice
Improving and maintaining your wellness requires constant attention as well as a conscious effort.
Now, if you have any health issues you are most likely aware of what pillars you need to work on. Sometimes this results in spending too much time in that one area, and neglecting others. This holds true even for someone who seems to be in optimal health.
For example, the athletes of the 2016 Olympic games in Rio spent years mastering their physical abilities to the highest levels possible.
You might be surprised to learn how many athletes have a horrible diet. When you are training for Olympic level competition you can get away with eating a lot of processed and junk food.
When Michael Phelps was preparing for the Beijing Olympics he was consuming a diet of over 12,000 calories a day.
“Before the Beijing Games, Phelps said he was chowing down on an insane 12,000 calories a day, or 4,000 calories per meal. (He later said this could have been a bit of an exaggeration, but he was still eating quite a lot.) He’d start off with egg sandwiches loaded up with all the fixings, ranging from cheese to fried onions to mayo. After that, he’d go for chocolate-chip pancakes, French Toast, grits, and a five-egg omelet (gotta get that protein). Lunch would include a couple ham and cheese sandwiches, energy drinks, and a pound of pasta to top it off. For dinner, he’d down a whole pizza. And yet another pound of pasta.” Source
Phelps’ strategy was to consume caloricaly dense foods (cheese, pasta, pizza, etc) to meet his energy demands. The nutritional quality of this temporary diet was low, but he could not have met energy demands by eating salads!
Wellness is a Balancing Act
You can’t eat like this Phelps all the time without it negatively affecting your health. In his case, the physical demands of the Olympics required Olympic sized meals and calories in excess of normal human energy needs.
What about the person who is not well but neglects other pillars in their life?
Let’s take an example of someone who is in extreme physical pain.
Someone in pain might focus on improving their strength, flexibility and getting various types of physical therapy. Perhaps they eat well because they know a good diet factors into the health of their body and recovery. They may, for example, neglect their emotional wellbeing. Yet this is not to say they’re a bad person, or that they’re making this choice consciously. Instead, when you are in physical pain it’s easy to get caught in a pain trap and allow it to influence how you think.
I know many people who are in physical pain and allow it to negatively affect their mindset and emotional outlook, including myself. I spoke about my sciatica in the Pillar of Frequent Movement. What I didn’t mention was how angry, frustrated, vulnerable, and reactive I was. In short, I was irritable most of the time.
It wasn’t until I started a business that required me to recognize that if I wasn’t a likeable person, no one would want to work with me. That was a time when I immersed myself for a couple of years in personal growth and development. I realized that I am responsible for my own choices, actions, responses, and feelings. This awareness has had a profound influence on my happiness and emotional wellbeing.
How to Build a Solid Foundation that Supports Your Wellness
Read and study, but be discerning in what you chose to practice.
What I have attempted to do with the 4 Pillars of Wellness program is to open up a dialogue with you.
It’s not about me telling you what you should do in step one, step two, and step three.
Instead, you need to flex your mind and nourish your thinking.
Practice what you have learned from this course in small, actionable blocks of time.
For example, you can use a habit based approach to improve one area of your health. Take on something that you want to improve and practice that for 2 to 3 weeks. It’s important that it only be a single habit or practice.
For example, do you feel better if you eat breakfast, but you often skip it?
Here’s a simple breakfast strategy
Book a recurring appointment in your calendar to prepare breakfast in bulk that you can enjoy during the week.
You can hard boil a dozen eggs and either prepare or buy a small platter of crudités’s from the grocery store. Pack up two hard boiled eggs and 1 to 2 handfuls of vegetables in five containers for the week. You can eat breakfast at home or take with you to the office. Or you could make my quick and easy mini quiches and eat two quiches for breakfast with the vegetables.
You will find many more easy strategies to improve your health in the Four Pillars of Wellness Bonus content.
Knowledge and Supporting Habits
Make the time once a month or every 90 days to assess how satisfied you are with each of the Four Pillars. To do this, use the “Life Web” worksheet found in the 4th Pillar, Emotional Wellbeing.
Imagine your life with sturdy, well maintained health pillars. You’re body feels great and pain free. You’re strong and flexible. You eat well, have steady energy all day long, and you have a healthy body weight. You wake up feeling rested with a clear head and you find it easy to focus. Finally, you feel great emotionally. You know what you value most in life and you prioritize what’s most important.
When you have strong pillars of health to support your overall wellness you can live an engaging life. You can focus on achievement and what matters most to you, without nagging health issues.
Tell me what a healthy, happy life looks like to you in the comments below.
Eat healthy, move often, be well.