These are the 4 “Legs” of your healthy physique “chair.”
Take one away, you can still sit on the chair. Take 2 away and you’ve got problems. Focus too much on one and you can tip the chair over.
The goal is to try to get all 4 areas to be important.
And when you go through challenging times where one cannot be addressed, give attention to the other 3 so you can maintain your health.
To all of my amazing fitness Rockstars, be sure you’re not placing so much emphasis on exercise and neglecting your nutrition, sleep or feeling stressed.
If you get sick (like I did for 3 weeks this Spring), injured, or need to take an unplanned day or week off from your usual workout routine, use the time for something else that’s important and don’t “sweat it.” Life happens.
I know what a huge bummer it is to be thrown out of your routine for so long – and the nagging fear that all the hard work you’ve been doing up to that point is going to melt away…but actually, it’s NOT – if you focus on shoring up the other 3 pillars of your chair.
Don’t add additional stress to your mind worrying because you can’t do your workout. It’s not the most important thing when it comes to your body goals. Yes, it matters but what matters even more is hitting your nutrients daily, getting sleep consistently, and keeping unnecessary stress to a minimum.
Case in point….after not working out for 3 weeks, my physique changed very little. And the reason for that was I actively focused on my other 3 chair legs. Of course I have some muscle tone to rebuild, but I know how (and so do you). So I refused to stress about that while I needed time off because I knew how to keep myself in balance.
I’ll walk through the 4 pillars in this video from a live broadcast if you’d like to watch it and check in on where you’re at with me, and which pillar(s) need some extra attention – and you’ll also find the resources and information I talk about in the video below to help you shore up these 4 important areas of your health if you don’t have time to watch the full video.
I've listed the 4 pillars below in the order I weight them in importance.
If you're like I used to be, putting the majority of your focus on exercise, you'll be interested to see that it's actually the last on the list. That's because your hormone balance that governs fat loss, metabolic function and your overall mission control of health comes far more from the way you navigate sleep, nutrition and stress management.
YES they're all important, but if you've heard the saying "you can't out-train a bad diet," you could just as easily hear "you can't out train sleep deprivation" or "you can't out-train high stress."
Sleep is #1 on my list because without sleep, you're running in a restoration deficit for all of your normal body and brain functions. If you needed to choose which pillar to focus on first, this would be the one I would optimize EVERY TIME.
Lack of sleep messes with your metabolism by affecting glucose tolerance, making it hard to shed belly fat. Sleep timing, duration and quality play a major role in the hormones that govern appetite regulation and cortisol (stress hormone) levels.
Outside of its effects on your appearance, your ability to focus and perform at your best - and recover quickly - is clearly affected by lack of sleep.
Getting good sleep....
- Allows you to perform better
- Makes you happier
- Regulates your hormones
- Reduces stress levels
- Improves focus, creativity, and memory, and
- Regulates and reduces inflammation
Tips to Get More/Better Sleep:
- Create a sound barrier: use a fan, a white noise machine, earplugs - whatever it takes to create a buffer of white noise around you to prevent being woken up by outside noises. I sometimes use all 3 to create layers of sound that allow me to rest as I'm a light sleeper.
- Keep light away: use blackout curtains, get an eye mask (I sleep with one every night) to reduce light's effects on your skin and eyes which signal your body that it's time to wake up.
- Reduce your exposure to blue light, especially before bedtime: wear blue blocking glasses to help with exposure to light from cell phones, computers and TV's. Too much exposure to these lights - especially at night - make it much harder to fall asleep.
- Sleep in a cool environment: studies show that sleeping in warmer temperatures increases wakefulness, so try lowering the temperature in your room and snuggling up under the covers.
- Try out a no movement mattress: sleeping with pets or humans who move around a lot? Try a Tempurpedic mattress topper or mattress for the "marshmallow effect" that allows everyone to get comfy without the jiggle and bounce being felt throughout the entire bed.
- Set an Alarm to go to bed: it's hard to go to bed an hour earlier right away, so try setting your alarm for 15 minutes earlier to go to bed tonight, and try that for a couple days. Gradually increase the time you go to bed to earlier - until you can get yourself in bed at that time.
Nutrition is #2 on my list because your body uses every bite of food you eat to carry out its metabolic processes at a cellular level. You literally "are what you eat." Skipping meals or going over your daily sugar recommendations regularly both cause fat storage.
Too often we sacrifice meal planning or cooking for taking shortcuts or getting caught up in the business of life, and that's NOT doing us any favors.
If you pay attention to where you Protein (P), Carbohydrates (C), Fats (F) and Greens (G) are in your meals throughout the day, you'll be ahead of the game, so aim to get:
- Protein in every meal - in roughly the size of your palm
Here's a great reference for how much protein to eat daily, best sources of it and how it benefits you.
- Carbohydrates in your meals around your workouts and optimally in the morning - in roughly the size of your cupped hands
- Here's a great reference for choosing the RIGHT carbohydrates, how to incorporate them to your advantage, and the best ones to eat
- Healthy Fats in your meals in the size of your thumb, and especially when you're having greens
Here's a great reference for how fat works in your body so you can choose the best fats (the ones that help you LOSE fat), how fat helps your metabolism, and the best healthy fats to eat
- Greens in your meals in roughly the size of your fist.
Here's a great reference on why we need greens, how fiber helps you lose fat, and how to incorporate the best greens easily into your daily intake
Tips to Help You with Nutrition:
- Read your food labels and avoid buying pre-made foods with added sugars, high sodium, or lots of chemical ingredients that you don't recognize
- If you're having regular cravings, it's often a sign of a deficiency in one of the key nutrients listed above - most often complex carbohydrates. Read the reference article I linked to to see if that could be a culprit for you!
- Eat a variety of nutrients to get all the benefits of food supporting your health, so ask yourself when's the last time you switched up your greens? Or your protein sources? What about your complex carbs? Just like with your training styles, it's good looking out to mix it up every once in a while, so don't be afraid to try something new!
- Get a Plan to help you put the nutrients together easily and simply and plan your plate - whether you're doing all the cooking or taking healthy shortcuts.
❤ Let me help you make eating healthy easier with my ultimate nutritional blueprint, the Body Fuel System!
#3 Stress Management
Stress management and the state of our mental health on a day to day basis is the too-often unaddressed elephant in the room when it comes to achieving lasting health and wellness.
If you're in the habit of putting this at the bottom of your list, I'd invite you to reassess that assumption. Chronic stress has been scientifically proven to cause us to reach for comfort foods, undoing your efforts to have a balanced nutrition intake.
Elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, cause belly fat storage - the area most people have the hardest time losing fat from. And chronic stress really affects our brain, lowering our immune response so we get sick more often, recover more slowly from injury, and are simply unable to maintain a state of health and vitality.
There are external stressors and internal stressors. While we can't always control external stressors, working on strengthening our ability to manage our internal stressors creates a lot of "mental muscle" that helps us deal with things life throws our way.
I'm talking about the inner dialogue we all have, that inner mental game and mind soup we live in that no one knows about fully but us. It's so important that you get access to frameworks that empower you to think in positive ways and love yourself - because at the end of the day, it's between you and you.
The most important things I do in Rock Your Life is not "teach home workouts and provide challenges" (though I enjoy those things very much).
The most important thing I do during every workout, during every class, I share tools, examples, and provide frameworks for you to take hold of and use to strengthen your "mental game" and beat things that drag you down, like negative self-talk, nagging self-doubt, limiting beliefs about your value and self-worth, and the person you are.
And that is the defining factor that creates true, lasting success, fulfillment and happiness - the way you THINK.
Stress management techniques can be tools that help you practice thinking in ways that serve you. You can do breathing practices, walking or sitting meditations, listen to relaxing music, journal, go to therapy, join a supportive community, work with a coach, draw, paint, do yoga, the possibilities are endless - but having a regular, dedicated practice that you actively make time for daily is more important than fitting your workout in.
You can have a great eating plan, a great workout plan, time to get those things done and even support around you. But if you don't BELIEVE in yourself, or are constantly self-sabotaging, you can never take meaningful action and you're a prisoner of your own mind.
This was probably the hardest piece for me to realize, and it took me until I was in my 40's to start doing it routinely...so it's never too soon or too late to start. I've used EMDR therapy to help with my PTSD, anxiety and depression. I do a daily breathing technique called Heart Math. I love practicing Ziva Meditation techniques. Different things work for us all - I just want you to make this as important as any of the other 4 pillars and not neglect it. I want you around for a long, long time.
Yay! Exercise! Exercise has so many benefits, like being a natural stress reducer. It's been helping me naturally beat depression and anxiety since I was 17, and helps me have a strong, healthy fit body that I'm proud of.
Exercise gets the blood flowing through your entire body, including your brain - which helps you focus, think more clearly and perform better. Exercise promotes glowing, healthy skin - as long as you're hydrated and eating food to support your training.
Exercise energizes us, and improves our immune system by helping to move our lymph fluid through our body and keeping all the circulatory fluids flowing.
There are all these awesome benefits and reasons to exercise - and it FEELS GOOD when we do it, so some of us can fall into the trap of putting a little too much emphasis on this leg of the chair to the exclusion of the others. This isn't true for everyone, but overtraining is something I struggled with in the past before finding my balance.
Even professional athletes, who train at the highest level can't neglecting their 4 chair legs (I just like to imagine them having really high chair legs). Because the bar is so high for their athletic performance, they train at the highest level. And to stay in the game and be successful, you better believe they are getting optimal sleep, nutrition and stress management techniques. They have coaches and trainers who are dedicated to making sure that happens.
While I can't physically come to your house every morning and get you to exercise, I CAN be with you anytime you want me to coach you and motivate you with workouts from the blog right here in any category you like, or better yet with a workout plan to follow so I can coach you along.
You can also workout with me from home with the on-demand Rock Your Life 30-day Challenges and live classes - and get the full support community aspect to help you along the way - with everything from nutrition to stress management techniques.
You can take my Fitness Type Quiz to find the perfect program for you, or choose from the workout plans page for yourself!
- Home Workout Domination
8-week home workout plan that uses some minimal equipment like dumbbells, stretchy bands and an optional exercise ball that builds strength, tone and lean lines in your butt, legs, abs, arms and back.
- 30-Day Abs and Booty
30-day at home workout challenge that uses some minimal equipment and works your body head to toe, with an emphasis on sculpting and shaping your booty, legs and abs
- The 90 Day Challenge
12-week progressive bodyweight (NO equipment needed) home workout program that sculpts, strengthens and shreds you head to toe. Short, efficient workout sessions. Includes an 8-week meal plan and lots of bonuses.
- Lioness Strength Training
8-week gym program to build a lean, strong physique using gym equipment (barbells, weight bench, swiss ball and other equipment found in the gym); includes an 8-week meal plan.
So take a few minutes today and think about yourself and these 4 pillars of your health. I'm guessing that you've already identified the one(s) that need some of your attention.
Share your insights with me in the comments below.
Give the pillar that needs it some attention.
Get some new resources.
Spend the time.
YOU are that important, and so is your health.
- Andrews, Ryan, and St. Pierre, Brian. “Forget calorie counting: Try this calorie control guide for men and women.” Precision Nutrition. Web. https://www.precisionnutrition.com/calorie-control-guide
- Dallman, Mary F., et al. “Chronic stress and comfort foods: Self-medication and abdominal obesity.” Science Direct. November 2004. Web. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8ec8/644ad9887a9e7f9702298b38dff42fd02af0.pdf
- Leproult, Rachel, and Van Cauter, Eve. “Role of Sleep and Sleep Loss in Hormonal Release and Metabolism.” US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. November 2009. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3065172/
- Mariotti, Agnese. “The effects of chronic stress on health: new insights into the molecular mechanisms of brain-body communication.” US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. November 2015. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5137920/
- Okamoto-Mizuno, Kazue, and Mizuno, Koh. “Effects of thermal envionment on sleep and circadian rhythm.” US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. May 2012. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3427038/