If you missed part 1, it’s worth reading first as there’s a lot more on the why and how we arrived at 7 pillars. But essentially, at Encore, based on personal experience and training hundreds of individuals, we believe that to achieve fitness and personal happiness goals, there are seven key areas where making a daily change improves results.
Our 7 Pillars of Health and Wellness are:
Body, Mind, Soul, Nutrition, Mobility, Self and Sleep.
From working with our members, we also found that the magic number of pillars to tackle at any one times seems to be four. Four daily challenges to change our behaviour is challenging but achievable. Do more and we see people slipping, missing challenges faster and then losing momentum, or less than four challenges and the results aren’t as quick and impact motivation.
In part 1, I covered Body, Mind, Soul, so read on for some thoughts, science and challenge suggestions covering Nutrition, Mobility, Self and Sleep.
An easy way of segmenting your nutrition is by splitting it in two: Quality and Quantity.
Are you eating the right amount? If you’re looking to drop a few pounds, you need to reduce your calories sensibly and sustainably. If you’re underweight, then we need to do the opposite.
These are the areas that come under the quantity bracket.
If you’re feeling lethargic, your energy levels are erratically up and down instead of sustained. If your digestive system isn’t as ‘regular’ as it should be, then this would come under quality. Are you drinking enough water?
How can we use nutrition to help you feel better? More vegetables, more slow-release energy foods, more whole foods vs processed foods, and more protein to help with energy, repair and satiety.
Research has shown us that adding something positive into your diet is a preferable choice to excluding something.
There are fewer negative feelings attached to certain foods or the act of depriving yourself of something. That’s why adding more vegetables, protein or water is a positive way of taking control of the Nutrition pillar in your life.
In the days of lockdowns and Zoom meetings, we need to look after our bodies in a way that goes beyond just training more than ever… I’ll put it this way – even personal trainers are now stuck behind a laptop 12 hours a day!
If we don’t stretch our muscles and move our bodies out of these sub-optimal positions, then the results won’t be pretty.
Certain muscles get shorter from sitting for too long and our posture gets worse from being in front of the computer. Once that happens even day to day life becomes painful and awkward.
Yoga is an obvious go-to here, but it’s not for everyone. A less spiritual stretching practice is completely acceptable, just follow a whole-body approach. Everything is connected, which means that just focussing on the tight bits isn’t necessarily the answer.
At Encore, we teach whole-body mobility sessions online and in the gym (when we’re open). We also have a routine called Netflix N Stretch where we encourage our members to take 15 minutes in their evening downtime or when they need a break from sitting at a desk to perform a couple of upper and lower body stretches in pairs.
5 or 10 minutes each day stretching will be so beneficial to all other aspects of your health and wellbeing. Have a look at how the system works here.
What makes you tick?
What makes you shine?
Art? Music? Sport?
This is the pillar where you get to be selfish. Some time just for you, doing the things you love.
Singing at the top of your lungs in the car… Dancing like no one is watching… Dancing like the whole world is watching… Playing some one-on-one basketball… Sketching for 20 minutes, with no texts or emails beeping at you.
If you’ve seen the movie Soul, then I’m asking: when do you get in “The Zone”?
Hopefully, you know what I mean.
This is important. Is it selfish to take a few minutes a day exclusively to yourself? If it makes you a better person for the people/cause you devote the rest of your day to, then I’m saying it’s a good thing. #fityourownoxygenmaskfirst
Sleep hygiene is a term used a lot these days. Just like personal hygiene goes deeper than smelling nice, sleep hygiene refers to the behaviours and practices before you sleep just as much as during.
Reducing screen time, not eating too close to bedtime, having a cut off time for caffeine and other stimulants way before bed, the surroundings in your bedroom such as light levels, noise, electronic devices. There’s a lot to it.
If you struggle to get a good night’s sleep, then the chances are you need to address one or more of the issues mentioned above.
I’m not a sleep expert, but some questions that one might ask you would be:
How dark is your bedroom (the darker, the better)?
Do you have any electronic devices near you at night (their presence can interfere with a good sleep)?
What do you do before bed? Light from screens stimulates the brain making sleep harder to come by as your brain thinks you should be wide awake.
What’s your pre-bedtime routine? The lights in the room, the shutting off from sources of stress like work emails or fools on social media or even the news will all have an effect.
There are a few things for you to think about.
How does all that sound?
You don’t have to do this at all, but with lockdown, cold weather, short days and minimal social contact, multi-faceted self-care is so important.
It is also a reliable port of call when it comes to addressing issues that arise from living life.
Feeling low, for example: if you’ve been in a funk for a while now, when you read through the list above, you might have realised that you’ve been neglecting several of these pillars. So, chances are we can start to improve your mood just by looking at some of those.
Energy levels: rather than cracking open another energy drink, I think we can all agree that better sleep and better food choices will help far more.
I’m sure you’ve got a couple of questions. Leave a comment or drop me an email and let me know.
If you like the idea of including some of the 7 Pillars in your life, but don’t know where to start, here are some of the activities that members have included and enjoyed for each area IDEAS hyperlink
The Encore approach to non-stop progress
At Encore, you will find a results-focused fitness environment, designed to constantly move you towards your personal goals.
Our unique blend of intelligently intense small-group sessions, evidence-based exercises and ever-changing programmes trains you as an elite athlete, keeping workouts challenging and exciting.
Our strength and conditioning training programme includes classes that focus on lifting weights, in a closely monitored environment, while other build aerobic capacity.
The Encore team also provides nutritional guidance, sharing a range of information sources and expert advice to complement your fitness programme, and help you reach your goals.
Join us and get fitter, leaner and stronger.