In a recent podcast episode, I spoke with celebrity trainer and bestselling fitness and nutrition author Harley Pasternak about how to look and feel our absolute best. We discuss how he trains some of the most famous names in TV, movies and music, how his approach for fitness and nutrition has evolved over the years, as well as the five core pillars of health that he has all of his clients focus on (after exhaustive research). These five pillars of health are essential for looking and feeling our best – they are daily habits that are sustainable for long-term health. So, here are the core five pillars of health that Harley recommends we focus on each day.
1. Walk 12,000 steps per day
Some of the healthiest cultures walk two to three times more than those of us in the US. They move more throughout the day and walking is a part of their regular daily routine. 12,000 steps might seem like a lofty goal, especially if you work full time or have a busy schedule. So, do the best you can at incorporating more movement throughout the day. Instead of taking work calls at your desk, go for a walk instead. Or, if you’re grabbing coffee with a friend, take your coffee to go and go for a walk. The majority of the calories you burn while walking are from fat, whereas intense cardio might burn more calories, but those calories are primarily from carbohydrates. So, if you want to burn more fat, then walking is one of the best ways to do that.
2. Get quality sleep
If we don’t get good quality sleep, there are a number of hormonal things that can happen to our bodies. These hormones affect our appetite, fat metabolism, and our immune system. There are a number of things that can affect your sleep including screen time, stress and anxiety. I know that when I’m more active throughout my day, I sleep better at night. I also limit screen time before bed. So, if you’re having issues sleeping, try being more active and have a nighttime routine that helps you destress before bed.
3. Limit screen time
That blue light that emanates from our phones, laptops and tablets plays havoc on our neurotransmitters. It affects our sleep, mood and adrenals. Harvey recommends having at least two hours a day without technology – an hour before bed and the first thirty minutes in the morning should be screen free.
4. Maintain a balanced diet
There a a hundred different diets out there, but most of them aren’t sustainable. They might work for a short period of time, but eventually they’ll be too restrictive for long-term success. However, if you focus on eating a balanced diet without restricting yourself too much or punishing yourself, then that’s really the key to long-term health. Harvey recommends incorporating protein, fiber and healthy fats at every meal versus counting calories. The bulk of your diet should include protein. You should also incorporate unlimited vegetables as well as complex carbohydrates like high-fiber fruits, legumes, whole grains, and healthy fats.
5. Resistance training
Incorporate at least five minutes of resistance training into your schedule each day. This could include body weight training, yoga, Pilates or weight lifting, but you should challenge your muscles daily. There is a misconception that weight lifting will bulk up your muscles, but that is a myth. In fact, strength training will make you leaner and more toned.
For more information about what kind of exercise is best, what to aim for with nutrition, or how to lose fat and gain muscle, then listen to the full episode here.