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The 5 Pillars of Total Health.

I get asked regularly, “What does it take to maintain lifelong health and fitness? What is the secret to living a lasting, vibrant, energetic life?”

Of course genetics and luck play a roll, but I’m a big believer in optimizing that over which we have control. To that point, a study was recently released noting that many cancers are highly correlated to lifestyle choices (drinking, smoking, exercising, etc.) which I viewed as ‘great’ news in that it means we have more control over positive health outcomes than previously thought. The keys to leading a long, healthy, energetic life? Consider what I call the 5 Pillars.

The Five Pillars

  1. Nutrition

  2. Cardio

  3. Weight or Resistance Training

  4. Mind

  5. Spirit

Of course one can define health myriad ways: a marathon runner may view a body builder as unhealthy since he would have trouble running 5 miles, and the same body builder might consider the runner to be unhealthy given he may not be able to perform 5 chin ups. I think we can agree, however, that anyone past 40 years old (or any age for that matter!) who exhibits strength, maintains flexibility, possess endurance, is lean, has great energy, eats nutritious foods, and has a peaceful calm about him could be considered healthy. Simply put, you know it when you see it, and you certainly know it when you possess it!

However you define lifelong health, I would challenge you to break down each of the 5 Pillars and examine where you are practicing healthy habits - - and where you might be falling short. Do you regularly get in the weight room but rarely break a sweat doing cardio? Are you a ‘miles junkie’, constantly logging how far you run each week, but unable to touch your toes let alone bench press anywhere near your body weight? Are you ‘skinny fat’ due to a sub-optimal nutrition regimen? Do you get your workouts in but find yourself in a constant state of stress over things not within your control, events that have not even taken place, or worse yet that are buried in the past?

Perform an honest inventory of each area and consider dedicating a little more time to any you think could use some improvement to balance things out. Remember, it is not about making a drastic change, it is about developing habits, daily rituals that become part of the fabric of your life such that they require no discipline at all to pursue. Small changes practiced consistently over time lead to surprisingly big results.

If you are not convinced just look at the effects of compounding under different return scenarios:

There is certainly detail within each pillar that we will be delving into in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, I welcome any input or questions you may have.

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