The 8 Pillars of Amazing Health You Should Follow
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How do you find the time to stay healthy in the fast paced world that we live in? I know from my own experience that my health is often neglected when I get busy, stressed, and overworked. From poor eating choices to lack of exercise and not enough sleep … our health is one of the first things we sacrifice in our day.
So what do you say we do something about taking back control of our health? If you don’t have a lot of extra time to spare in your day, that’s okay … you can still make small sustainable changes in how you live that will improve your health.
Making just a few simple changes in your daily routine can have amazing results.
Today I would like to share with you the top pillars of health that we have identified. By following these healthy pillars over time, you can see some amazing results.
Even if you focus just a little bit of time on one of these pillars, you will see improvement in your health.
My Journey to Healthy Living
When I was in my twenties, I thought the only path to amazing health was working out. And when I mean working out … I mean running 5 or more miles every single day. With no interruptions.
I was so focused on getting my run each day (no matter the weather), that I started stressing about not running.
So in reality … I was doing my body harm because of something I was trying to do good. Kinda crazy when you think about it.
Then as I got a few years older, I realized that eating whole foods was also very important to your health. And oh yeah … maybe running 5 or 6 miles every day is probably not so good for you after all.
So I cut back on some of the running and attempted to eat better.
Then I soon realized that going without food for extended periods of time could also provide some healthy benefits. That is about the time I started intermittent fasting.
Then some time later I realized I wasn’t drinking enough water in the day. So I started committing to drinking more water and to stay hydrated.
The list goes on and on when it comes to the activities and tools that can give you amazing health.
Which is why I put together our 8 pillars of total body health, which I’d like to share for you!
The 8 Pillars of Total Body Health
Below you will find the pillars of health that I believe can help change your life.
These pillars have worked well for me, are not overly difficult, and can be started on their own at any time.
For example, this month you could make it a priority to start eating a whole foods diet. Maybe next month you decide to start walking a mile at lunch every day.
And in a year … why not try that intermittent fasting thing you heard about.
List of healthy pillars to live by for an amazing life!
In the article below, I will explain why I believe each of these healthy activities, or “pillars” have helped me take back control of my health.
I’m sure they can do the same for you!
And while I do focus on living my life following these pillars, I’m always on the lookout for other healthy life hacks. This list of healthy life hacks will likely grow in the future as I add new behaviors to my life.
So let’s get started!
1. What You Eat
Arguably the most important change you can make in your life for better health is the food you eat.
While it won’t make you super human, changing your diet can truly change your life.
Adding whole, unprocessed foods to your diet can make a huge difference in your energy levels and how you feel. Foods like organic vegetables and fruits, seeds and nuts, and healthy fats can all be beneficial to your health.
And it isn’t just about adding quality types of foods to your diet … but also just as important is removing foods and ingredients that can cause inflammation in your body.
For example, removing any of these foods listed can probably have a huge impact in your life –
- Gluten – grains and any pseudo grains
- Dairy – most dairy that is pasteurized
- Sugar – any form of sugar should be eliminated
- Legumes – can cause problems for some people
- Alcohol – self explanatory
Many popular diets and lifestyles are built on removing these types of foods like the Whole30 program, paleo diet, and even most of the ketogenic diet.
Personally, if I have to give up one type of food or ingredient to start with … I would give up sugar first and then probably gluten.
I always can tell when I start eating sugar again … as my skin will start to breakout some and my body just feels off. Then when I cut out sugar … I feel the effects of the detox from the severe migraine headaches I get.
That right there should tell me all I need to know about how bad sugar is for you.
How Changing Your Diet Can Change Your Life
A little personal story about how diet can change your life.
My oldest son has grown up with asthma and severe food allergies which included milk and eggs since the age of 1.
As a toddler, anytime he would eat anything with dairy in it … he would break out with a rash and have trouble breathing.
Overtime as he grew older these food allergies began to disappear, so he started reintroducing milk and eggs into his diet. The allergic symptoms began to disappear from eating these foods.
The one thing that never went away however was his asthma symptoms. So he spent many years doing breathing treatments and even was admitted to the hospital in a few cases.
Let’s fast forward to about 2 or 3 years ago when he started middle school (and now in high school) and decided to run competitive cross country and track.
With chronic asthma, it can be a little difficult and scary participating in competitive sports. So as a family, we decided to go on the Whole30 program during his first cross country season.
Amazingly, his asthma almost completely went away.
No breathing treatments or wheezing symptoms.
In fact, he had a lot more energy and was able to compete at a higher level when eating this healthy diet.
We have seen first hand the positive impacts of eliminating dairy, gluten, and sugar have had on his life by following the Whole30 program on several occasions.
For more information about the Whole30 program, you can start here.
It is a healthy way of eating that is more of a lifestyle than diet.
You remove ingredients like sugar, dairy, gluten, and more from your diet for 30 days to heal your body.
Personally, I think it is a great way to take back control of your health.
2. When You Eat
Not only should you care about what you eat … you should also pay attention to when you eat.
If you have been following along here on the blog for anytime, then you probably know we are big fans of intermittent fasting (IF).
Personally, I think it is one of the best healthy life hacks one can add to their life. I have experienced much less inflammation in my body when following along on the 16/8 intermittent fasting protocol.
In fact, I feel so strongly about how I feel from IF, that I am experimenting with adding a 24-hour fast a couple times per month.
Living with an autoimmune condition (in my case psoriasis), I have come to realize how important it is to let my body heal as much as possible. And one of the best tools that I have found for doing that is … intermittent fasting.
Instead of eating small quantities of food (which is what I used to do) constantly around the clock, I have switched to only eating during blocks of time.
So with a 16/8 intermittent fast, I eat all my food within an 8 hour time frame (usually lunch and dinner) and then fast for the remaining 16 hour window.
During my fasting window, I make sure to only drink water and black coffee. And I don’t eat any calories.
Usually after a couple days of following my fasting protocol, I don’t feel the urge to snack or eat during all times of the day.
Recently, I even experimented with IF for 7 straight days. I blocked off at least 16 hours each day for one week straight … where I only drank water and/or black coffee.
The intermittent fasting results from this experiment were amazing as I lost almost 5 pounds in just one week!
If you want to learn more, we have provided some intermittent fasting tips for beginners as a place to start.
And if you don’t think you can go 16 straight hours without food … you could start small. For example, try not eating any food after dinner when starting out. So no more snacking at night, eating empty calories while watching television.
You could also push your breakfast window later in the morning to get some extra fasting hours. Then maybe work up overtime to not eating until lunch?
These little steps will eventually become habits and make you much healthier in the long run!
3. Move a Bunch and Lift Heavy Things
We are huge fans of exercise here on the blog. I guess we have to be since we run a health and fitness site?
I always prefer to “move” whenever I can in combination with another “fun” activity like playing basketball with my kids. Or swimming, biking, and maybe playing a game of kickball with the family?
Incorporating active play with the family is my preferred method of exercise. And I plan to continue this lifestyle well into my 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and beyond.
Then there is the more formal exercise that is also important. For example, I try and get in a couple 30 minute walks at lunch a couple days per week. As long as the weather is decent, I try and head out for a brisk walk during my lunch.
I also try to incorporate a 30 minute cardio workout at least 3 to 4 days per week … and I attempt to mix up these workouts to work different parts of my body.
Another exercise that is still important to me (even into my 40’s) is running at least a 5K a couple days per month.
Running isn’t as important to me as it once was (in my 20’s) because I don’t want to mess up my knees. However, it gives me time to relax and think while getting in a good cardio workout.
Recently, I have added a daily healthy habit of completing 30 quality pushups first thing in the morning. By picking up this daily habit, I plan to do 10,000 pushups this year and have a goal to stretch it to 15,000 next year.
No matter what fitness level you are at, there are always options to start moving.
Go get that 15 minute walk at lunch. Take the stairs at work instead of the elevator. Park your car further away in the parking lot to force yourself to move.
Adding daily small habits to force you to move can make a huge difference in your long term health.
4. Stress Management
“Take a couple deep breaths and relax.”
I have to tell myself that a couple times per day, especially when I am at work.
Stress was never something I thought much about a decade ago … but I wish I would have. Over the past several years, I have realized just how dangerous chronic stress can be on your health.
Even though I try and manage my stress now … it will still creep up on me if I don’t watch out. And when it does, my healthy habits spiral out of control.
I tend to start eating bad foods when I am stressed. I don’t get the quality sleep that I should. My exercise routine is normally cut short or skipped altogether.
Unfortunately, those are many of the side effects that stress has caused in my life.
I also believe that chronic stress brought on my psoriasis symptoms (autoimmune condition) many years ago. It was a time in my life where I let work and our social life impact my health.
Managing my stress wasn’t a thought at that time. And a few months after the worst of the stress … my psoriasis symptoms began to appear.
Fast forward many years later and I am still trying to reduce my autoimmune symptoms … from what I believe were originally caused by stress.
Today I still don’t have all the answers when it comes to stress management. However, I think I do a much better job and have started experimenting with deep breathing exercises.
I have also added a morning daily habit of 3 to 5 minutes of meditation. If anything I feel this is a push in the right direction of taking control of stress in my life.
5. Quality Sleep
For years, not only did I ignore the stress in my life … but I also didn’t care much about sleep.
I almost never got enough sleep to begin with. And when I did … it usually wasn’t quality sleep because of all the mismanaged stress, poor diet, and erratic exercise.
Our bodies need to rest … plain and simple.
This is only something I have recently figured out … although it has taken me over 40 years to realize.
As I grow older … it just makes more and more sense that proper rest is critical to being healthy.
I find now that I need more time off in between workouts. The time to recover from a HIIT leg workout is longer.
If I go for a 5-mile run one day, then I probably won’t run again for another week.
Many years ago I would try and run 6+ miles a day. I have realized now that behavior is not healthy because I wasn’t allowing my body to rest properly.
Rest in between workouts is not a priority and a critical pillar of health.
In the past, sleep was always something I could steal some hours from if I needed to get something done in my life. There are only 24 hours in a day … so when I was busy I would just sleep a little less – often times 4 or 5 hours.
Today as I travel along my health journey, I make it a priority to get 7 hours of quality sleep.
I’ve slowly been working up to 7 hours of sleep and hopefully I can push on to closer to 8 one day. But that takes sacrifices from other areas of my life that I am trying to work on.
The cool thing about working on the other pillars of health I have mentioned here is that they all can work together to make your healthier.
For example, by eating healthy foods and getting proper exercise … I have noticed falling asleep is never an issue. My body know that around 10:00 PM it is time to go to bed.
And the quality of the sleep is great now compared to the past when I was stressed and had a poor diet.
It’s also important to get rest by taking time off from work to recharge your batteries. Or using that vacation time at work that you want to save up to take the family to the beach.
Your body needs rest in order to be at it’s best when you are awake!
6. Stay Hydrated
Guess what else is important to a healthy lifestyle?
We’ve covered the foods we eat and when we eat. And we know that exercise, stress management, and rest are also critical to a healthy life.
But what we haven’t covered yet is staying hydrated.
As you start to eat better and possibly try intermittent fasting … you should also focus on drinking more water.
I set a daily goal to drink half of my body weight in ounces of water. First thing in the morning, I drink 12 ounces of water as soon as I wake up.
This amazing healthy habit has helped me to start my day off right.
Plus, this tiny morning habit has helped me to meet the bigger goal of drinking 90 ounces of water (half my body weight in ounces) throughout the day.
I am starting the day off with a healthy habit that leads into other awesome habits!
Then throughout the day I make it a priority to continue drinking water. I have noticed that since adopting this habit, my bowel movements are more consistent.
And with the exception of my horrible detox headache I recently went through … overall I don’t get any headaches or feel overly thirsty.
It’s important to hydrate your body before you get any signs of a headache … because at that point you are basically dehydrated.
Set some goals for increasing your daily water intake and you will have more energy and feel a whole lot better.
7. Living With a Purpose
I’ll be honest … I used to shrug off people claiming living with a purpose was important to your well being. I mean … who really has time for caring about that?
But as I get older and a little more wiser … I’ve come to realize that living with purpose has a big impact on your mental and physical health.
So often we worry about things like making more money that we never take the time to step back and ask the “why”?
Why do we want to earn more money?
Are you focused on earning more income just to go out and buy more things that we don’t need?
Maybe a bigger house?
Or a new car?
In order to lead a healthy and fulfilling life … we need to take the time and focus on living with a purpose.
Ask yourself how you want to be remembered one day when you are gone?
What legacy do you want to leave behind for your children?
I’m pretty sure when I reach 80 years old … I won’t really care that much about how much money I made when I was 40 or 50. I hope that I would think back to the impact I left on this earth and those I love.
Not only does living with a purpose matter for things like your job and finances, it is also important when it comes to health. You don’t want to overdue it on your health either.
It is important to sit back and enjoy your life and not get so wrapped up in working out every single day. Or if you slip up and have a cheat meal.
Just make sure to recognize these situations and correct that behavior.
Since changing my thought process of living for a purpose a few years ago (my kids and family) … I have been able to take more control of my health.
8. Be Part of a Community
I don’t know about you … but when I am stuck in the house all day I get jittery. Especially if I am at home alone, with my family out of the house.
Social interaction and being part of a community is another important pillar of health.
And we are not talking about being on social media … but rather face to face human interaction.
You could get social interaction from your co-workers. Or maybe you have joined an adult sports league or book club.
It doesn’t necessarily matter the number of friends or acquaintances you have either. But rather the quality of the people you interact with. Do you share the same interests or hobbies?
The human race has evolved and thrived because of community and the reliance of others.
I have a co-worker who I have looked up to for years. This person could have retired about 5 years ago. But they live alone and their family members are all out of town.
They have chosen to continue working for the social benefits and the community. This person enjoys going out to lunch with co-workers and the friendships they have established.
Focusing on Total Body Health
Being healthy doesn’t only come from eating a healthy diet.
For example, you could eat all green leafy vegetables and still be unhealthy because you don’t get enough sleep and can’t manage your stress.
Nor does it come just from working out. In some cases, working out too much could actually make you unhealthy.
You also wouldn’t want to overdue on fasting for too long … especially if you decided to give up water too.
No, total body health doesn’t just come from one source. But rather it comes from a collection of habits and activities you do in your daily life.
This could be a combination of following the paleo diet, along with moderate exercise 4 days a week. And maybe you could push yourself and do a push-up challenge … while spending your lunch hour walking.
Don’t forget to get enough quality sleep and try and manage your daily stress as best you can. Be involved in your community and have purpose in life.
Humans are programmed to live with other humans … not on their own. Social interaction is very important to your health.
While it is likely incomplete still, we have identified 8 important pillars of health.
Even focusing on improving just one of these factors in your life can help push you to be a healthier person.
And what I have found is that focusing and accomplishing one of these pillars makes the others easier to work on too.
What are your healthy pillars in life that don’t exist yet on this list?