7 Pillars For Optimal Health
It’s not long now until I turn 50. Seems strange to think of that number when I feel so young. Not only do I feel young, but I also feel the healthiest I’ve ever been. How is that so? Health is a process. It’s not a goal. Goals are something you reach, and then it’s done. Health is never done. It’s a daily process that I’m dedicated to and conscious of, where as lack of health more often than not is due to no dedication and unconscious decisions.
I want to clarify that fitness and health are two very different things. My friend is fit! He runs marathons all the time. But if he’s not running and training he’s battling flus and sleeping. Professional athletes are fit. I read an article on the weekend about Lauren Jackson the basketballer. She was fit! She was a professional athlete and paid lots of money to shoot hoops. But she was addicted to pain killers and sleeping tablets! Healthy? Or fit? You decide.
Of course, the body is fallible. It has limitations. And over time it will show signs of wear and tear. I have a tear in my meniscus in my left knee, some rotator cuff issues in my right shoulder, minor pain in my left wrist when I do downward dog and push ups and I now need glasses to read! Yep, the creaky old thing is showing the effects of age. But beyond that there is health. Health is vitality, zest, strength, aliveness, stamina, immunity, potency, lightness and energy.
To be healthy I have a 7-pillar program. It’s simple and I believe if you follow this 7-pillar program you will reach optimal health in no time.
1. Sweat. 2-3 times a week I will have big sweat. Either through training or in a sauna. I believe sweating is a great way to cleanse the body. I will sauna 1 hour at a time to really cleanse deep in the body with intermittent swims at 20-minute intervals. Be sure to drink lots of water. (See Step 4)
2. Strengthen. 3 times a week I like to lift heavy weights. There is something grounding, strengthening and empowering about lifting heavy metal to the point of exhaustion. Deepak Chopra says that lifting weights increases bone density and obviously develops muscle tissue and if great for longevity.
3. Stretching. Be it yoga or just stretching before bed at night or first thing in the morning is something I like to do every day. It could be as little as 5 minutes or up to 2 hours for a yoga class. Stretching opens up the tension points in the body allows the energy to flow more freely increasing immunity and vitality.
4. Hydration. 2 litres of clean filtered water to hydrate the body a day. Many people are suffering from dehydration, which will affect your adrenals, your immune system and kidneys and liver. I have a 2-litre BPA free bottle that I fill up in the morning and make sure I finish by the end of day. Take into account caffeine and alcohol do not hydrate the body, they dehydrate it.
5. Nutrition. Hippocrates nailed it when he said, “Let thy food be thy medicine.” There is more than enough information in the world today to know that clean organic fresh foods are good for you. Processed foods, sugary foods and trans fats aren’t. I will have 1-2 cold pressed organic vegetable juices a day and eat as much natural food as possible. Whether you are paleo, vegan, Ayurvedic, pescetarian or whatever, that’s up to you and I think everyone has to find what’s right for them. But under all that the same simple principles apply. Eat for health.
6. Sleep. There are not many people I meet in my coaching and training sessions that aren’t tired. I think the biggest imbalance we have on the planet today is fatigue. We simply don’t rest enough. (Guilty here!) Ideally I’d like to be in bed asleep by 9-9.30pm, but that rarely happens. I wake regardless around 5-5.30am, which is my body clock that wakes with the sun. I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where I can take breaks and nap in the afternoon. (Those Spanish were on to something!) Making sure we are rested and our battery cells are charged is key to being healthy.
7. Mental clarity and calm. Ok let’s cut straight to the chase, I’m talking about meditation here. Meditation has been a priority in my day for 20 years now and I won’t let a day go by without sitting in meditation. It’s like eating food, going to the toilet and sleeping. I don’t question it. It’s a non-negotiable. The body is a print out of the mind and if the mind is busy and filed with negative thoughts then this will transfer through into the body.
It’s not complicated. Following these steps has had a huge impact on my life. Of course there are times when I deviate from this and it shows when I do. Life isn’t rigid and you cant always fit everything into a day or week. But if health becomes a priority then you will probably find ways to fit most of these pillars into your week in some way shape or form. Have you got any other pillars that I might have missed out? Please let me know below, I’d love to hear them!
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