I’ve known for a while now that I wanted to start a business helping people with training and nutrition. It’s taken some time to come to fruition (and much of it I suppose is still in the works) but one of the first things my husband and I did when I explained my idea to him, was search for a website domain name. It seems kind of silly, I suppose, to purchase a domain name for a website that doesn’t exist yet, for a business that doesn’t exist yet. But in hind’s sight, I’m actually glad it went down that way. I knew my business name would be a play off my own name, Brick, as in “B” for Beth and “rick” for Rickman. And obviously it would have some version of the word fitness in there. After all, I am a certified personal trainer, so… duh. So we started playing around with different names. Some were available and others weren’t. Then Eddie mentions an available name: BrickFitLife.com. As soon as I heard it I knew, that’s the one. The “life” at the end made it mine. Because even though I am a trainer and have a certificate in holistic nutrition, and those are my areas of focus, my ultimate mission is to improve more than just my clients’s ability to exercise and eat well. I want to help improve their lives. I mean, it’s in my mission statement: building a solid foundation for a healthy LIFEstyle. So even though it may just seem like an extra word to set me apart from whoever runs brickfit.com, that word, LIFE, actually became the most important part…
So what is a [Brick] fit life? I’m sure most would assume it has to do with some sort of diet or exercise plan. And yes, what we eat and how we move play very important roles in a fitness lifestyle and they happen to be the main services I provide to clients. But it’s actually SO much more than that.
In the Holistic community you’ll often hear about the “pillars” of health. Some combine them into four or five pillars… But the premise is always the same. To be optimally healthy, or as I like to call it, fit, these pillars ALL must be working together. I, personally, believe there to be 6 pillars: Nourishment which is food and hydration, Movement refers to strength, flexibility, endurance, explosiveness, Recovery which is a combination of sleep, rest, and breath, Hygiene or the habits we have that take care of ourselves that aren’t related to food or training, External Environment which is anything outside ourselves like relationships, work, the air we breathe, etc… and Internal Environment, or our thoughts, our stress levels and how we manage them.
Think of it this way… If someone asks you about you and your life, how do you describe it? Do you say, “well I ate some eggs for breakfast, salad for lunch, chicken and veggies for dinner, I drank 64 oz of water and strength trained for 32 minutes.” And that’s it? Like that’s your life in a nutshell? I mean, there’s probably some competitive bodybuilders out there that don’t have a lot more going on during their prep for a show, but I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that you’re not a competitive bodybuilder (although kudos if you are) and that’s not how you would describe your life. You might mention a meal you had or this awesome new trainer you’re working out with named Beth (see what I did there?) but you would also mention people, places, your interests, maybe even that asshole co-worker that’s really grinding your gears a the moment. Who knows? It’s your life! But my point is, our lives are intricate and complex, yet we tend to dumb down fitness or a fitness lifestyle to just what we ate and how we exercised. Which those are SUPER important, yes. I’m building a business around these two pillars, so please don’t misunderstand this to mean that you can be fit WITHOUT these things. But there’s a bigger picture here and I’d like to take a step back and examine it as a whole for a minute…
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
I wasn’t a philosophy major in college (art history if you’re curious) and I think I spent a total of two semesters learning about Ancient Greece. So, I’m not going to pretend like I know exactly what Aristotle meant by this quote, but I think I’ve got the gist of it, or at least as it pertains to this topic. I don’t think he was trying to make arithmetic more confusing than it already is. I think he was pointing to the notion that quality is greater than quantity. And that if the parts of a whole are not working harmoniously then the whole will be lacking. But if they are working together the quality of the whole will be greater. The same applies to these pillars of health. These pillars are essentially the aspects of life that make us whole human beings. So, if one is out of whack or neglected then the quality of the whole person will suffer.
Let me break it down here for a second. I mentioned quite a few things that contribute to a healthy lifestyle, but I’m just going to pick one… Let’s take an aspect of Internal Environment: stress. It’s a big one these days. We all have it. Evolutionarily speaking, it’s crucial. It helps us know when we have to run or fight for our survival. But we don’t do a whole lot of that in modern day society so a lot of that stress stays pent up in our system… But I digress. So what would it look like if we just ignored the stress in our lives and tried to be fit anyway? Well, stress makes it difficult to get adequate sleep so we never get restorative rest and recovery. We wake feeling groggy and drained every morning instead of refreshed. That leads us to reach for sugar and caffeine instead of a balanced meal. Those choices lead to imbalanced hormones and brain chemicals that lead to junk food cravings. Junk food makes us feel sluggish so we’re not motivated to exercise. The lack of exercise leads to weight gain which makes us feel insecure about going out in the world and cultivating relationships or passions. The lack of community or pursuing your interests leads to a feeling of isolation. And isolation is stressful. See what happened there? And the cycle continues. And you can see at any point in this cycle, if any of these pillars is neglected that it could create the same result. But the good news is it can work conversely as well. When we recognize that all of these parts are integral, placing our attention or focus on any one of these pillars can also begin to improve the whole.
Obviously, most of us do not have the time, or even the metal capacity to focus on every single one of the pillars and try to improve all of them every. single. day. And if you did you’d probably just end up more stressed out (see vicious cycle above). So, I’m not going to ask you to do that. What I am going to ask you to do is choose one or two, heck three if you can… focus on them and then notice how all this begins to affect all of the other pillars. If you see an overall improvement then you’ll know that you’re on the right track. If not, then you may need to tweak your strategy. But even though you’re only focusing on a couple pillars, the mindset is always on how it affects the whole.
So, which ones should we focus on? I feel like that’s different for everyone, and that we should consider our individuality when making this decision. I believe that you should focus on the areas where you’re weakest first. Here’s what I mean and I will use myself as an example…I love to train. Working out is my favorite! I’ve always been into sports and competition, even with myself. Eating well, on the other hand, is difficult for me. I love junk food. I have always been able to override that sensation of being “full” so I can go in for just one more slice of pizza. Ok two more. And I’ve noticed that when I “give up” or “lose focus” on eating well, I feel terrible, I get depressed and I lose motivation to even *gasp workout. One of my favorite things to do! Yes, training does make me want to eat better to an extent. The relationship is still symbiotic. But if I’m actually going to put a conscious effort into one of the two, eating well is by far more effective for me. I know people who are the exact opposite though. So, it’s important to take inventory of your own life and figure out which areas will have the biggest overall impact. Those areas should be addressed first. I find that they are typically the ones we struggle with the most.
Now, you’ve established which pillars to focus on, how do you go about improving them and tracking your results? Well, I have two words for you: goal setting. I’m not going to get in to every goal setting strategy you can implement because that’s honestly a whole separate blog in and of itself (that I’m sure I will write someday. Stay tuned). But I will use myself as an example again. One pillar I’m currently focusing on (in addition to Nourishment. Always Nourishment) is Recovery. So, I have set a goal to take two rest days from training (I know it sounds like a silly goal, but it’s actually tough for me) and also to improve my sleep. So the two rest days is pretty straight forward, right? Exercise on 5 days and then don’t on two. Ok got it. But “improve my sleep”? That’s a little more abstract. How do you do that? Well, the first thing I did was evaluate what it was in my life that might be contributing to poor sleep. For me, there were a couple things. One was lack of a consistent bedtime routine and the other was late night snacking. Ok, now I can work with that and implement some specific goals. My goals are now to not snack after dinner and to establish a bedtime routine around the same time each night in order to signal to my body that it’s time to wind down and get ready for sleep. This routine includes my nighttime skin care routine, brushing and flossing and putting my phone and tablet away an hour before I plan to hit the sack. Side note… the blue light emitted from electronics actually stimulates the production of cortisol, which is a “wake” or “stress” hormone and disrupts melatonin, which is a “sleep” hormone. So, that’s why I’ve decided to put the electronics away before I go to bed.
But as I was saying, when it comes to goal setting it’s important to do a few things. First, to establish an area, or pillar, of focus. Next, to evaluate the obstacles hindering your progress in this area and begin to strategize ways around them. And last, to set specific and achievable tasks in order to help you achieve these goals. Then track your progress and log your results! Again, there are many ways to do this and I will get into the specifics of that at another time. But that’s the gist of how you can set goals and create a fit life!
One last side note… I find the example that I used about improving my sleep kind of interesting. My pillar of focus was Recovery. But by examining the lifestyle factors that were hindering that process, I actually am improving multiple pillars simultaneously. By not snacking after dinner I’m improving Nourishment (because let’s face it, most late night snacking is unnecessary and leads to nourishment issues). By establishing a consistent bedtime routine I’m improving my Hygiene because I’m not getting to the point where I’m too tired and decide to skip flossing or go to bed in makeup (not a good idea for my skin). And by putting my phone away an hour before bed I’m improving my Internal Environment by decreasing cortisol production which is a stress hormone. And perhaps I may even see an improvement in my External Environment and relationships because instead of being buried in my phone or whipping up late night snacks, I can have some extra quality time with my loved ones at night.
As you can see it all comes back to the mindset that everything is working together to make you who you are and who you want to become. And if you want to become fit and have a fit life, it’s imperative to consider all of these pillars and how they affect each other. If you’d like more information on the topics discussed in this blog please subscribe and comment below or email me! And if Nourishment or Movement are pillars you need to focus on definitely message me about the services I offer and we can get you started on your [Brick] Fit Life journey! Thanks for reading