by Abby England
The start of a new year brings the potential of a new you. If you’re like most, a few health-related goals earn coveted spots on your New Year’s resolution list. But data shows that by the end of January, nearly 43% of people have given up on their goals in part because health information is confusing and conflicting. In this article, I help you navigate the maze and we deep dive into what I call the Five Pillars of Health which are the foundation for optimal well-being.
In my dual role as a National Board Certified Health Coach and a marketer, I partner with clients across diverse spectra, and a common thread among them is the aspiration for better health. However, the challenge lies in aligning this aspiration with daily actions. When we start comparing what they want against their day-to-day habits, these don’t support their bigger health goals. They want their new, healthier lifestyle to be on autopilot, the habits already engrained, freeing up mental energy, but that doesn’t happen by accident.
With planning and creating sustainable daily habits that prioritize the Five Pillars of Health, eventually, your healthier lifestyle will feel like it’s on autopilot. Like setting up a new marketing automation drip campaign, it takes concerted effort and planning in the beginning, but once it’s in place, it’s automatic, doing the work for you in the background. By prioritizing the Five Pillars of Health every day, you’re doing the background work to ensure your long-term well-being.
1. Adequate sleep
2. Stress management
3. Proper nutrition
4. Frequent movement
5. Deep friendships
Let’s deep dive into each pillar:
If your business was ‘sleep’ you should have fired your PR agency long ago. Think about how we deprioritize sleep in our society: “Sleep is for the weak” and “no rest for the weary.”
Sleep needs a rebrand because it’s the most pivotal pillar of health, influencing immune, endocrine, and neurological functions. Inadequate sleep is linked to chronic diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, and mental health issues.
• 3 hours before bed: No more food or alcohol.
• 2 hours before bed: No more work.
• 1 hour before bed: No more screen time (shut off all phones, TVs, and computers).
Aim for at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night. And instead of the cultural colloquialisms we associate with sleep, let’s collectively rebrand sleep to “an investment in tomorrow’s productivity.”
Stress is known as “the silent killer” and while it’s a little harsh to label finance managers as killers, they can stop an idea if the ROI isn’t clear. The same can be said for stress – you can be doing all the right things but if you don’t have a way to manage your stress consistently then it sabotages all your other concerted health efforts.
Chronic stress, or constant stress experienced over a prolonged period, affects all systems of the body including the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous, and reproductive systems. Unmanaged stress sneaks up on us after years and years and manifests as a plethora of chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Finding sustainable ways to hit your release valve is imperative and may require some personal A/B testing. Meditation, a mid-day walk, a daily bath, prayer, yoga, etc, the list of stress management activities is near endless. Test and experiment to see what induces the most enjoyment and relief for you and consistently prioritize it.
We marketers love our KPIs don’t we? Impressions, traffic, conversions – we track it all. But what most people don’t have a good grasp on is proper nutrition.
Here are your five daily nutritional KPIs:
1. Eat real food. The best fuel you can put in your body is food in its original form, like it’s found in mother nature.
2. Avoid “Frankenfoods.” Frankenfoods are ultra-processed, chemical-laden, and made with inflammatory vegetable oils, developed by scientists in the laboratory, not mother nature.
3. Only eat nutritive sweeteners. These are nature-made or sweet whole foods that have nutritional value (ex: honey, whole fruit, maple syrup, molasses, coconut sugar)
4. Consume protein based on your goal weight. Ex: if a woman’s goal weight is 140 lbs, she’ll aim to eat 140g of protein per day.
5. Drink half your goal weight in ounces of water. Ex: If a man’s goal weight is 180 lbs, he’ll aim to drink 90oz of water per day.
By following these principles, you won’t have to track your calories as meticulously as you track your Google Analytics data.
If market segmentation separates a broad consumer base into sub-groups based on shared characteristics and goals, then think of ‘movement’ similarly: certain types of movement for certain goals.
While ‘exercise’ is essential, tap into your creative headspace and broaden your perspective to ‘movement.’ Exercise typically means an hour(ish) each day of targeted activity for fitness purposes. In a 24-hour day, if 8 of those are for adequate sleep, 1 for exercise, that leaves 15 hours to incorporate more general movement such as: standing more, walk and talks, stretch breaks, chores, errands, and playing with your kids. All movement counts.
Segment your ‘exercise’ and aim for these weekly activity guidelines:
• 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity (walking, yoga, light bicycling, etc)
• 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity activity (swimming, sprints, singles tennis, etc)
• Two or more days per week of strength training targeting all major muscle groups
Perhaps everything you’ve read up to this point is not new information, but I’d be willing to bet your annual marketing budget that the fifth one is: friendships.
The loneliness epidemic, as highlighted by the 2023 Surgeon General Report, is linked to negative impacts on our health and happiness. Poor or insufficient social connection is associated with increased risk of disease and stroke; increased risk for anxiety, depression, and dementia; increased susceptibility to viruses and respiratory illness, and ultimately premature death. Astonishingly, research shows that lacking social connection is as dangerous as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day!
The reverse is also true. Extensive scientific findings from numerous disciplines converge on the same conclusion: investing in friendships and social connections is a critical indicator of life expectancy and improved physical, emotional, and mental health, while social isolation and loneliness are substantial predictors of early mortality and poor health.
Simply put: better social connection can lead to better health, whereas less social connection can lead to poorer health. So maintain and invest in your friendships as fervently as you tell the sales team to maintain their CRM contacts.
In summary, the Five Pillars of Health work in harmony and yield a remarkable return on investment. Increased energy, reduced stress, enhanced confidence, and insurance for long-term well-being are the results of a well-strategized health plan. The Five Pillars are your health blueprint, ensuring a robust and sustainable campaign towards a healthier, happier you.
About the Author
Abby England has career experience leading marketing, communications, sales, and program management from Fortune One to private equity. She’s deeply passionate about all aspects of well-being and earned the National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach accreditation. Abby, the founder of Abby England Wellness, empowers clients through coaching and group workshops, leveraging her corporate background. Focused on goal attainment, habit building, and holistic well-being, she guides individuals toward their ambitious aspirations. Beyond her practice, she contributes actively to various associations including the American Marketing Association, serves as Wellness Engagement Chair at SHRM-Atlanta, and holds a Marketing Co-Chair role at Emory’s Executive Women of Goizueta