The Four Pillars of Health and SEMM Prescriptions
Health has never been a bigger issue in the forefront of more minds than it is right now. We’re all paying close attention to risk factors and trying to take action on anything that will increase resiliency. You might be thinking about your health insurance, but that conversation is above my pay grade. Health Assurance, on the other hand, isn’t.
If you want to be healthy, we’ve more or less settled on the Four Pillars of Health. They are Sleep, Nutrition, Exercise and Stress Management. If you are sleeping enough, eating well, moving enough, and coping with the stress that accompanies life, you will always be better off than you would have been.
I can give a million examples, but one is close to home right now at my house. When you add a baby to the family, sleep gets disrupted. That’s a good thing because you can and should make sacrifices for the good of others. As a well educated fitness enthusiast, you realize that not sleeping as much means you’re getting a little/a lot less recovery time than you would if you had deep, uninterrupted sleep night after night. You might be foggy-headed or more irritable than usual. Your stress can accumulate until you start to understand why some animals eat their young.
But then a miracle happens. That new baby sleeps through the night. You get a good night’s sleep for the first time in a long time and it’s like you woke up into a whole new world. You can shrug off little annoyances. You can plan for the future and execute. Your workout goes just how you pictured it in your head.
When the Four Pillars of health are optimized, your capacity goes through the stratosphere.
We do a Pretty Good JobTM knocking out the Exercise component of the Four Pillars of Health. If you come to the gym ~4 times per week, you get a great dose of planned exercise at intensities you probably would not hit on your own in the garage. You get some variety which makes you work on aspects of your fitness you would otherwise avoid. You build strength, endurance, speed, balance, and a host of other physical skills.
Now we want to give you more. We want to help you improve the other three pillars of health.
I got this implementation idea from Chris Cooper, who has run a CrossFit gym since the olden days of yore up in Canada. Summing up the Four Pillars of Health we want to plan to Sleep, Eat, Move, and Manage.
Generally, the more stressful your training and life become, the more you want to Sleep. On average, the recommended range for good sleep is 7-9 hours per night. Knowing that a particularly arduous workout is looming, your coach might suggest that you go to bed early tonight to prepare.
Eating is the foundation of the fitness pyramid. How you fuel your body makes a huge difference. I had a cupcake at my mom’s birthday party last night, and that extra sugar is making me feel creaky this morning. When I was 20, that wasn’t an issue, but here we are approaching 40 and it matters more. If you generally eat well, largely vegetable-based with lean proteins and healthy fats, you will be better prepared to deal with workouts and life stress.
Move is the part you already get. Come to the gym ~4 a week. Play sports. Go hiking. Walk the dogs. Wrestle with your kids if you have them. Our bodies are meant for action and locking them into a seated posture for 14 hours a day is borderline self abuse.
Manage your stress and internal life. Exercise is one good way to help manage stress, but it’s not the only way and constantly doing high intensity exercise is actually a sneaky stressor. Read books that make you think and expand your mind. Attend religious services or connect with your community around other deeply held beliefs. Begin paying attention to your stress and learn how to react to it with deep breathing or mindfulness exercises. You might find that meeting with a therapist allows you to lay down a burden that you’ve been carrying in the background for years.
Each day at the gym, our coaches are going to work on offering you SEMM prescriptions. We’ll suggest that you get enough rest and help dial that in with you if you need some specific tools or accountability to help. We’ll broadly suggest what you could eat to maintain a healthy body and lifestyle. We’ll think about and suggest what you might reflect on after the workout to help you manage stress during the day.
Let us know how you like the broader lifestyle coaching. We want to help you balance the Four Pillars of Health and unlock your potential.
P.S. – I’ll write a few more posts this week to dive in on each of the Four Pillars of Health with more granularity, so stay tuned!