Six key pillars of health

IN YOUR quest for outstanding health and superb performance, you should address both your physical training programme and your nutrition.
However, to exceed your health expectations, you should also address lifestyle issues such as thought management, sleep quality and breathing patterns. In all (thoughts, breathing, sleeping, drinking, eating and exercise), these make up the six fundamental pillars of health. Plainly speaking, you’ll never attain that desired state of magnificent health without addressing all of these.
On the surface of it, it’s easy to change ones diet and drinking habits, and – to some extent – to make proactive changes to ones sleep quality, but the really tricky part is addressing thoughts and breathing patterns, simply because these are such ingrained and unconscious habits. Tricky, but not impossible…
Let’s run through them all briefly now, so you can get a sense of what issues need to be addressed under each “pillar”.
Eating – stick to real food, in the appropriate ratios (carbs, proteins and fats) for your particular biochemistry and eat frequently enough to stay feeling energised throughout the day.
Drinking – drink clean, filtered water appropriate to your body weight and level of physical activity (0.033 X kg for your base-level intake, before exercise).
Sleeping – make sure your pre-sleep activities (i.e. in the two hours prior to bedtime) are low-key. Use dimmer switches, lamps or candles; avoid PC and TV exposure; engage in relaxing activities/listen to relaxing music. Try not to wake to a noisy alarm as this hikes up stress hormones considerably.
Exercise – don’t over-train; stay in touch with the messages your body gives you energy and injury-wise; be sure to engage in activities that result in energy conservation (physical activities you could do on a full stomach) as well as energy utilisation (those you can’t). This way you keep the physical body in balance. Equally, don’t under-train; be sure to move your body every day in some way and preferably throughout the day.
Breathing – most people have developed an “inverted” breathing pattern, meaning that they tend to use their secondary breathing muscles (the chest), instead of their primary ones (the diaphragm). On inhalation, your belly should relax and expand outwards (like a balloon filling) and you should see outward expansion of the ribcage, as opposed to an upward lift.
Thoughts – while many people may underestimate the power of the mind in helping to improve both performance and health, it is indisputable that what you think can affect your state of being. Do you start your day with a “Yay”, or an “Argh”?.

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