This is part one of a four part blog post on my overarching theory of everything.
Here it goes!
There are three pillars of fitness. Each pillar is distinct, but they interact. A weakness in one can (and probably will) infect the others over time.
In this post, I will generally describe the three pillars approach. In the next three posts, I’ll go into each pillar separately.
The Three Pillars
The Physical; and
- “The Psychological” refers to your existing mental framework with regards to food, movement, body image, and self-esteem in general. When you don’t identify as a member of a certain group (in this case, “fit people”), you are far less likely to take actions consistent with belonging to that group.
- “The Physical” refers to forces that are generally either outside of your conscious control, or at the very least which exist at the periphery of your conscious control. These include “mechanical” or “chemical” forces that keep you heavy – anything from hormones, metabolic state, genetic predispositions, state of your microbiome, etc. For most people, physical barriers can be easily corrected. This will put you in optimal state to achieve a healthy weight.
- “The Habitual” refers to your automatic or “default” behaviors. This is the most important pillar of all, and also the toughest to fix. But have faith!! Science has given us proven methods to replace bad habits with more constructive behaviors. Even in the absence of willpower.
The Purpose of this Framework
There is no objective truth to this particular framework. Rather, the three pillar approach is meant as an aid – to help you identify specific problems, so that you can work specifically on those problems, rather than wasting your time on problems you don’t have.
Within each of the three pillars, you can look for research based methods to take the exact steps you need to address your particular issues.
This framework recognizes that there is NO one size fits all approach to maintaining a healthy weight. That’s because people’s pillars are not weak in the same places.
If you’re overweight – consider:
how did you become overweight in the first place?
- Were you overweight as child? If so, you likely have barriers in all three pillars.
- Psychological – It’s likely that your own mental representation of yourself does not include thinness. It just isn’t who you are. Because you don’t see yourself as a “fit person” your brain is making thousands of subconscious choices each day that are different than the choices that a person who sees themselves as fit would make.
- Physical – You likely have physical dependencies on certain foods or feeding behaviors, which go above and beyond mere habits. These may be largely the result of metabolic syndrome, or the beginnings or it.
- Habitual – Whatever habits that led you to become overweight at such a young age are deeply engrained. You haven’t successfully replaced your default behavior to more closely resemble that of a fit person.
- Did you become overweight simply from bad habits? On the other hand – you might have acquired bad habits with age. In this case, you may STILL have problems in each pillar but those problems are different. Some examples include:
- Maybe your framework around food is perfectly healthy -you’ve just fallen on bad habits. In this case, addressing the habits will be sufficient to address your fitness problems. Or maybe those bad habits are beginning to affect your self-esteem. A third possibility is that you were never psychologically healthy to begin with, but only now are the results catching up with you.
- In the second two cases, you need to deal with your mental framework in order to achieve lasting results.
- Maybe you have physical dependencies on food, and maybe you don’t.
- If you’ve been eating poorly, it’s likely that a host of changes in your body have occurred – to your hormones, in your blood, and to your gut flora. These physical changes may make it more difficult for your to lose weight.
- You could have fine psychological and physical health, and yet still become unfit over time. Poor habits tend to accumulate.
- Luckily, this is an area rife with hacks and psychological tricks to improve your outcomes.
Luckily, each of these pillars can be strengthened.
In terms of ease of change I’d rank them as follows (from easiest to toughest).
You also DON’T need three PERFECT pillars to achieve results. You simply need to begin making improvements where they are most needed. Where you make improvements will depend not only on the severity of the problem, but also on the importance of the pillar.
In terms of importance, I’d rank them as follows (from most important to least important).
The cool thing is this. Just as problems in one pillar can begin to affect the integrity of the others, so can solutions for one pillar improve the health of the others.
In Part Two of this post I will discuss the Psychological Pillar, including concrete tactics you can use to create healthier mental associations with food and movement.