Just the Basics, Please
For this one we must give due credit to Dr. Rangan Chatterjee for his work and the ideas in his book, The 4 Pillar Plan. While we don't follow his "structure" to the letter, he has provided a fantastic foundation for this concept. We have always centered our reasoning on this pattern of thinking, and we feel he summarized it incredibly well. We recommend his book(s).
We expand a bit on Dr. Chatterjee's ideas and add our own twist to them to describe our philosophy. We have always felt that good health essentially boils down to the three concepts on our home page, but, in terms of the nuts and bolts of physical health, it's pretty much the same stuff you learned in your 5th grade health class. The challenge is that we are constantly bombarded with messages encouraging us to buy and consume goods and ideas that serve the seller. We are told our lives will not be complete or satisfying without their products or lifestyle. This is, of course, complete baloney.
The truth is we can't add any more hours or activities to the day in order to live more. But, there are things we can do to optimize the time we have. The key, instead, is to prioritize and simplify, and, if someone is selling you something, you probably don't want to buy it. If we start with and stick to the basics, our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual lives will be built on a solid foundation, and we will have the potential to flourish.
What are The Four Pillars?
The Four Pillars of good health are: Diet, Sleep, De-stress, and Movement. We break each of them down into subsections of type, amount and timing. You'll have to experiment to see what works best for you, but, to summarize, it might look something like this:
Diet: Mediterranean-type, avoid ultra-processed, artificial, and fertilized foods, think ‘natural’
Type: Core foods: beans, multi-colored veggies, whole grains, fruits and nuts. May include lean meats a few times per week, prefer fish. Minimize sugar, salt and saturated/trans fat.
Amount: What fits on a 9" plate, three times a day. Dinner is a smaller meal. Avoid snacks.
Timing: Fast daily for ~13 hours, eat only half of your daily calories once per week to lose 1 lb per week
Sleep: Proper sleep hygiene, avoid caffeine 12 hours prior to bedtime, no screens (TV/phone), start with progressive relaxation techniques
Type: Deep stage, REM
Amount: 8.25 hours per night (optimally)
Timing: Use light as your guide, same wake/sleep times, prepare for sleep 30-60 minutes prior
De-stress: Meditate, be calm in the moment, avoid stress situations by planning ahead
Type: Meditation, prayer, deep-breathing exercises
Amount: 10 minutes in morning and evening, plus 1-minute mini-breaks during the day, hourly
Timing: As you rise and in preparation for sleep, during stressful activities
Movement: Consistent, enjoyable
Type: Weight-bearing, heart-pumping, daily motion
Amount: Minimum 150 minutes per week
Timing: 5-6 days per week, 2-3 hours after a meal, short sets in the moment or while-u-wait
Please note that every Pillar is filled with numbers and parameters. This is because we must measure in order to gauge progress and move forward. There is a plan attached to every goal, every dream that will ever be realized, and we need to see ourselves in motion along the path we create as we make choices about how we are going to take care of ourselves and live our best lives. It is about being aware of ourselves and the world around us. We must not turn off. We must tune in.
Rounding It Out
Why do the Four Pillars matter? Because they hold up the roof and the flag. If the Four Pillars are not strong and stable, the roof and the flag will fall to the ground. You may have heard a version of the quote: "Without your health, nothing else matters." Well, that's what we're saying here. We have to accept our physical existence, and, in order to accomplish our purposes here, we must protect and nurture ourselves. Our minds and bodies can only be part of the temporary gift we are given, and it is our responsibility to manage them with care, gratitude, and respect.
Indeed, all the parts of the system work synergistically to create a complete picture of health - your health. If you haven't done so yet, please check out Joy and Purpose and Lifestyle and Environment to help you round out the big picture.