100 Days of Fitness
Four Pillars of Health
by Lauren Squier, MPH, RD
Welcome to 100 Days of Fitness! Congratulations on taking a step toward better health. Although some think about health as the absence of disease, it has a far greater meaning! We can enrich our health by nurturing “a balanced foundation.” This foundation is made of the four pillars of health.
Exercise is one of the pillars of health. You will get plenty of instruction and practice on this pillar over the next 14 weeks. Nutrition, stress reduction and sleep are the other three pillars that make the foundation of health.
All four pillars of health affect your energy levels, weight, metabolism, immunity, and quality of
life. If you are not getting enough sleep, your exercise and nutrition suffer. If you are stressed out, your sleep and nutrition suffer. You get the idea, right?! Let’s learn how to strengthen these pillars in favor of good health.
Your food and hydration choices have a big impact on health. What’s the healthiest eating pattern? One that features real food and unsweetened beverages and is appealing so that you can stick to over time! You can eat Mediterranean, vegetarian, paleo, or your own custom eating style. It’s less about the label, and more about eating whole foods that nourish and agree with your body. Need inspiration? Check out the overview of Traditional Diets at Oldways to see a multitude of ways to eat healthfully.
When you are stressed, the “fight or flight” response is activated and leads to changes in the
body. Research suggests that chronic stress contributes to high blood pressure, formation of
artery-clogging deposits, obesity, and brain changes that may promote anxiety, depression, and
addiction. ¹ Find ways to help keep stress in check such as working out, quiet moments to set your intentions, laughing with friends and family, meditation, and breathing exercises.
A silent slumber allows the body and mind to rest and repair. Getting fewer than six hours of sleep a night over time can contribute to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and a case of the grouchies! Bedtime routines, a quiet dark room, consistent sleep schedules, as well as limiting screen time, caffeine and alcohol before bed may help you get better and longer sleep. MITMedical.com has resources for improving length and quality of sleep.
Ready to make lifestyle change?
A big determinant is making healthy habits. Habits don’t require a lot of thought; they are part of daily life. Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before is a fascinating way to examine how we make and break habits. Guess what? It differs between personality types.
We encourage you to make new healthy habits during your 100 Days of Fitness and maybe even break a few that are not supporting better health.
Cheers to good health!
Lauren Squier, MPH, RD
Lauren Squier, MPH, RD, is a Registered Dietitian, trained chef and owner of Culinary Enlightenment. Lauren’s nutrition background and culinary skills provide a unique blend of resources to help people plan meals, shop, cook, and eat better. For more than a decade, she has been teaching nutrition to children, adults and families through healthy cooking and eating.
Read more about Lauren here. Reach out to her via her website or better yet come to bootcamp and talk to her in person about your nutrition challenges. She has a lot of knowledge and is always ready to share it.
¹Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. www.health.harvard.edu/staying-