9 Factors into 4 Keys to Living Better
2009 saw the launch of Whole 9 and first iteration of Whole 9 Factors for improving health and wellbeing. Today, I’m introducing my 4 Keys to living better.
I’ve spent the last 8 years looking for ways to simplify these 9 Factors you may recognize:
- Fun & Play
- Stress Management
- Natural Environments
- Personal Growth
In the four years since their last update, I’ve been further expanding, refining, and evolving my thoughts on what makes up the most basic and fundamental aspects of health. The 9 Factors were good, and if you addressed them all, you’re likely in a pretty good spot as far as your health was concerned.
But there were always questions like why 9 and not 10? Why not remove the one nobody understands and add 4 more in its place?
What the hell is temperance anyway?
Less is More
In his book, Essentialism, author Greg McKeown talks about our “undisciplined pursuit of more” — getting ourselves caught in the trap of forever chasing more; of pursuing breadth over depth. It’s not enough to just improve our diet by eating better quality food, for example, but rather we have to eat low carb, then push that to keto diets, add some intermittent fasting, extending the hours and days which we fast.
Ironically, when it comes to food, our “undisciplined pursuit of more” becomes more ways not to eat, often resulting in less nourishment.
If two sessions of high-intensity training are good, then more must be, well, better! Suddenly, two CrossFit classes per week becomes two per day, 6 days per week. What began as a high-intensity approach to training rapidly becomes a high-frequency, “chronic cardio” approach, with our “undisciplined pursuit of more” resulting in less intense training in order to meet the demands of the more frequent sessions.
We have sacrificed the depth (intensity) for breadth (frequency), and wonder why we often stall in our progress.
As I saw time and again with the 9 Factors, by the time people had found more ways to eat less of the recommended food (while simultaneously finding more ways to circumvent the rules of Whole30), and found more ways to exercise more (even though the specific factor was movement, not exercise per se), there was little energy left over for the remaining factors.
“Can I just add another WOD as my ‘Fun & Play?’”
Minimalism, essentialism, simplification, less being more — call it what you will, but my goal over recent years has been to strip back the original 9 Factors into 4 Keys to living better with the aim of exploring each in more depth.
Here they are.
4 Keys to Living Better
You’ll notice it doesn’t start with food anymore.
It starts with Sleep.
If you need “Stress Management” (Whole 9 factor #5), then you will likely need to be eating more nourishing food, be moving in ways which reduce rather than add to your total stress, you will need to prioritize your sleep, and perhaps most importantly, you will need to make changes with how you connect with the people and places which give the highest feelings of calmness, fulfillment, and emotional support (and maybe face up to those connections which add to your stress).
The way you Eat, Move and Connect will determine how you Sleep — the part of our lives that literally sets the rhythm (circadian) for everything else.
If you’re not getting a good night’s sleep, you’ll start your day tired and stressed. That sends you looking for cheap rewards like too much sugar and caffeine in your diet. Your movement sessions will be strained and less productive. And by the time you take care of all of that you won’t have any energy left to connect with the people you love. So you’ll just check social media and expose yourself to blue light — inhibiting melatonin release and leading to a late night.
More poor sleep. More stress. More difficulty eating, moving and connecting.
And the cycle continues.
I want to help you find a healthy cycle through understanding the depth of each of the 4 Keys to living better and how they work together.
I’ll explore Sleep and the others in detail over the next few months.
I would love it if you joined me.
Sign up for my newsletter to get introduced to the first Key — Sleep.