Diet and exercise have long been thought of as the pillars of a healthy life. They go hand in hand: eat right, exercise often, and wellness will come. But what about when you’re not working out, meal planning, or preparing healthy food? There’s a third pillar of any healthy lifestyle and it’s most often the component overlooked and not properly plan for. The truth of the matter is, any diet and exercise plan loses its effectiveness without a plan for rest and recovery to back it up.
Imagine your body sitting on a three-legged stool. One leg of the stool is your healthy diet. The other leg is your exercise plan. The third leg is your sleep and recovery cycle. When all three legs are strong, your body feels secure and well-supported. The weight of your body is evenly distributed and stable. Now imagine that one of the stool’s legs is suddenly compromised. It’s weakened and wobbly. Your body no longer feels secure. You feel off-center, like at any moment your support system might fail, and your body might crash. No one leg of the stool is any more important than the other when it comes to supporting you. Each one must be equally strong and stable.
Personally, I feel like my own three-legged stool is most weakened by a lack of rest. Being Dr. Active means I’m constantly on the go. Not only do I love running and marathon training, I have a busy family life. Active Life Solutions has given me the platform to share my knowledge and experience with a community of people who share my love of being active. But, it’s also given me a rigorous travel schedule. With all of this, I’m challenged daily with maintaining a proper sleep and recovery plan to support my busy life. If I’m not careful, the recovery leg of my stool is weakened and my body is at risk of crashing.
Most people I have met throughout my journey as Dr. Active have related to me that they feel a similar struggle, but it’s different for everyone. Each person faces a challenge unique to their lifestyle. Some people are dedicated to their daily exercise, engage routinely in positive active recovery and sleep, but struggle to plan healthy, balanced meals around a busy family life. Or, people are passionate about their diet plans and dedicated to fueling their body with the right sustenance every day. But they just don’t feel quite as engaged with their exercise and fitness goals. What each of the people I have described have in common is a weakened support structure. As they say “you are only as strong as your weakest link.” In this case, you are only strong as the weakest leg of your stool!
Fortunately, with the right amount of dedication and planning, it’s easy to keep all three pillars of wellness stable and supportive. Whether your diet is vegan, paleo, ketogenic, or something else entirely, it comes down to properly fueling your body with the right things in the right amounts. Your exercise plan should also be a suitable fit for your age, your fitness level and your personal goals. And, it should be a variety of activities you enjoy. The more it feels like work, the less likely you are to stick to your plan. Finally, your sleep and recovery schedule should provide you with time to rest, both physically and mentally, and incorporate activities that you find restorative. When you are well-rested you think and perform better, which helps you to accomplish more, be happier and navigate the path to full-body wellness.