I write regularly about essentials as they pertain to health and wellness. Essentially (huck, yuck), they are the most important components that are also the least appreciated or worked upon. The purpose of this post is to attempt to suss out the essentials for so many components of health and fitness so as to help you make a complete system as a result.
Why essentials? Because we’re so very complicated! Humans are AMAZING, our physiology is brilliant, and if we can just give it the right input it takes care of everything else. After that you’re twiddling knobs for less and less returns. I always like to show this to illustrate the point:
If you’re coming from a very specific discipline, you have your hammer and everything is a nail. The essentials dictate that you need every part and specific tools to build the house, but only enough of both. More screwdrivers don’t build the house faster. More tools without more workers doesn’t build the house faster. More workers without enough tools doesn’t build the house faster. It’s enough of every component that makes the house complete.
Many Essentials = Complete Health
Given the complexity above, we fail to appreciate how making a small change in one area results in the improvement of a previous small change. Essentials create leverage, which bootstraps you up to vitality. The list below is my humble opinion about the essentials for each component. Get them in check and you’ll find improvements OR find places to throttle back because you blew past the steep part of the curve ages ago:
- Movement: walking, running, rolling, crawling, playing, dancing…living your one wild life with as much vigor as possible. Don’t quantify this stuff, or try to load it for “optimization” (whatever the fuck that means).
- Strength: loading patterns congruent with muscle and joint function. Once or twice per week. Eventually unquantified.
- Diet: species-appropriate diet most of the time. Veggies, legumes, and bread are all modestly hormetic (unless you’re celiac or have some recovering gut issue). YMMV, but I can tell you we didn’t evolve on go-gurt and Halo Top. Meat isn’t the issue.
- Fasting: At least 13 hours if daily. Ignore the myopic bench scientists and mouse doctors who don’t do this stuff on humans. Consider periodic longer fasts. A useful tool.
- Rest: Sleep, siesta, and doing fuck-all is a requirement. Our physiology needs stress to optimize but those optimizations only manifest during recovery.
- Mobility: explore the full range of motion without external load. Consider a 5-minute morning or evening routine. Unquantified.
- Environment: stop the blue light at dusk. Get some sun in the morning. Get out in nature for at LEAST an hour per week and away from the city for a few days every year. Lose your phone once in a while.
- Stress reduction: breathing, sleeping, OODA-looping, foam rolling, meditating, massage; it’s all good.
- Socializing: WHAT IS THE POINT OF BEING HEALTHY IF NOT TO SHARE YOUR LIFE EXPERIENCES WITH OTHERS?! Use “social” media to actually set up social interactions. Use Dallas Hartwig’s program if needed. Put your phone away when interacting with real humans.
Initially you may need some meta-cognitition around this stuff. Don’t go buffet-style: choose one part where you’re deficient and work on adding that in. Eventually it becomes habit and then you move onto the next deficiency. Self-efficacy builds over time.
EDIT: I was reminded that I missed social interaction. Duh! I added that above.