Let’s take a closer look at the Wellbeing pyramid, we’ll start at the bottom left and work our way along the bottom row to determine the components which make up the balanced foundation.
These must become ‘forever’ habits:
- Varied diet based on needs
- Load bearing exercise
- Daily movement & mobility
- Steady state cardio
- Adequate sleep
Varied diet based on needs
Some high level features; reduce the use of processed foods. Reduce the amount of wheat products. Eat more vegetables and fruit but limit yourself to 2 pieces of fruit per day, aim for a minimum of 3 portions of vegetables per day. Avoid sugars as much as possible including smoothies and fruit juice. Eat good quality meat and fish if you are able. Drink water, milk and not much else. Limit alcohol; allow yourself tea and coffee if you enjoy it.
Aim to eat a colourful plate of food, ideally seasonal, be aware of portion size. Your needs will depend on your goals, for example if you are looking to reduce bodyfat a calorie deficit is required, conversely if you are looking to add muscle a calorie excess is required. I both instances enough protein from a variety of sources is important.
Load bearing exercise
This is important for our muscles, joints and skeleton- especially as we get older.To start with bodyweight exercises will allow for good progress and for some individuals may be all that is required – it depends on your goal. I’m speaking about press-ups, chin-ups, free standing squats, handstands (if you can manage them), certain yoga and Pilates moves if you know them and core work.
Daily movement and mobility
It doesn’t have to be all scheduled gym work or hill training to be useful. We need to look for opportunities to have background activities in our lives on a daily basis. Walking is a fantastic movement and looking for opportunities to walk on a regular basis each day is a wonderful way to move, gently raise you heartbeat and give yourself time to think, contemplate and be outside in all weathers. Other activities would include housework – vacuuming, cleaning windows. Gardening – leaf collecting, mowing the lawn, stretching to prune trees and bushes – these are all beneficial. DIY – painting, sanding down, tidying a shed or garage – all opportunities.
At the weekend involve the whole family in walks in the park, walk the dog, play outside with the kids. Help out family and friends. If a friend is moving house – offer to lend a hand moving boxes, if a family member is having tonnes of top soil delivered relish the opportunity to shovel by hand into a wheel barrow and help move it for them – this is being “fit for life”.
Set aside some time each day for some gentle mobility work. Think of this time as your time. FInd a quiet place and spend 5-20 mins each day on some stretching to relieve the pressures of everyday life compounded by too much sitting, driving and in poor posture using phones and other devices.
Steady state cardio
Cardio work – start easy here. 2 sessions per week – approx. 35 minutes per session including warm-up, cool down and stretching. The foundational goal is to get to the target of a 20 minute steady pace for each of the two sessions per week. If the target is reached do not increase the duration of the cardio sessions, the pace can be increased but should still be a steady pace at a moderate pace – this is building a foundation. Try to vary the cardio activity each cardio workout – eg run, row and cycle.