Health Pyramid: Building a Healthy Lifestyle
When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by all the information out there. From fad diets to complicated exercise routines, it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why many health professionals advocate for a more holistic approach, starting with a foundation of basic healthy habits and building up from there.
One way to conceptualize this approach is through the use of a “health pyramid.” (This idea came to me from Dr. Peter Attia, MD and his new book Outlive) At its base, the health pyramid emphasizes the importance of nutrition and exercise as the foundational building blocks of a healthy lifestyle. From there, it includes tiers for sleep and recovery, stress management, and supplementation, before culminating in the tip of the pyramid, which represents advanced healthy habits like sauna use, cold tubs, nasal strips, and red light therapy.
Let’s take a closer look at each level of the health pyramid, and what it can offer in terms of building a healthier, more vibrant life.
Tier 1: Building a Healthy Lifestyle - Nutrition & Exercise/Daily Habits
At the base of the health pyramid is the cornerstone of good health: proper nutrition and regular exercise. This level encompasses everything from eating a balanced diet full of whole foods, to finding an exercise routine that works for your body and lifestyle. (this is vitally important, I often see people adapt routines that are not sustainable). It’s also about establishing healthy daily habits, such as staying hydrated, getting enough sunlight, and practicing good hygiene.
By focusing on these foundational habits, you can ensure that your body is getting the nutrients and movement it needs to function at its best. You’ll feel more energized, focused, and mentally sharp, and be better equipped to handle the stresses of daily life.
Tier 2: Building a Healthy Lifestyle - Sleep & Recovery
Next up is the tier of sleep and recovery. While it might not seem as glamorous as the other levels of the pyramid, getting enough sleep and taking time to recover after strenuous activity is crucial to maintaining good health. Sleep is when the body repairs itself, and without enough of it, you’ll be more prone to illness, injury, and mental fatigue.
Recovery practices can take many forms, from stretching and massage to foam rolling and yoga. The key is to find what works for your body and prioritize it as part of your routine. By doing so, you’ll help prevent injuries and soreness, and feel more energized and focused throughout the day.
A final comment on rest and recovery is that neither of these are passive. Rest as well as recovery are both things you must actively participate in. Sleep, active participation? Yes – having a nighttime routine and consistent bed and wake time can greatly benefit your sleep.
Tier 3: Building a Healthy Lifestyle - Stress Managment
Stress is a fact of life, but it doesn’t have to take over your health. That’s where the tier of stress management comes in. This level of the health pyramid is all about finding healthy ways to cope with stress, whether that’s through meditation, deep breathing, a walk in nature, or other relaxation techniques.
By taking time to manage stress, you’ll improve your overall mental health and reduce your risk of developing chronic health conditions like heart disease and high blood pressure. You’ll also be better equipped to handle the challenges of daily life, from work stress to family obligations.
Personally for me taking my long runs into the woods rather than on the road or getting a quick get away in nature (snowboarding/beach) are huge in my stress management.
Tier 4: Building a Healthy Lifestyle - Supplementation
At the fourth level of the health pyramid is the use of supplements to enhance overall health. While supplements should never be used as a substitute for proper nutrition or medical care, they can be helpful for filling in nutrient gaps or supporting specific health goals.
Supplements can take many forms, from vitamins and minerals to herbal remedies and probiotics. The key is to do your research and talk to a healthcare professional before starting any supplement regimen.
My daily supplementation stack:
Tip of the Pyramid: Building a Healthy Lifestyle - Healthy Habits
Finally, at the very top of my health pyramid, are the advanced healthy habits that can take your health to the next level. These habits include things like sauna use, cold tubs, nasal strips, and red light therapy, which have all been shown to have positive effects on overall health.
Personally, I have been finishing all of my showers with 1:30-2:00 mins of cold water. I try to sauna 3 x per week and sleep with a nasal strip each night.
In conclusion, this pyramid will look different for everyone. I believe this pyramid is cyclical for everyone based on what season of life you are in. I believe everyone should have a general understanding of their personal pyramid.
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