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The Holistic Standard: Dr. Neal’s Philosophy for Long-Term Health

In a fast-paced world where time is our most precious commodity, we often look for quick answers to deep-rooted health dilemmas. 

Who can blame us? 

We just wanna feel better without wasting the little free time we have scrolling through endless articles and ads for the secrets to long-term health.

But when it comes to genuine wellness, sponsored shortcuts rarely lead to long-term results. 

After watching this same behavioral loop play out in patients for over 20 years, Dr. Neal knew he had to do something to make our lives easier. And thank goodness he did!

The Holistic Standard, Dr. Neal’s framework for whole-being health, is the opposite of a shortcut. While it does simplify a multi-faceted approach, it also offers foundational transformation that, when done right, can change your life.  

No gimmicks or magical pills — just science, strategy, and sustainable practices. 

In This Article: 

Why Do We Need a Framework for Holistic Wellness? 

Many modern people have chosen to dive into the wild world of holistic health because they’ve felt let down by our Western medical system. 

Too often people turn away from our medical establishment because of the well-publicized greed and corruption of the past. It seems like we’re just a number and our doctors don’t have time for us.

Dr. Neal Smoller

And then those well-meaning folks go on to find that the natural products industry isn’t exactly the greener pasture they were looking for. 

We talk a lot about the inundation of information (and misinformation) surrounding supplements and how hard it is to sift through the crap and find what actually works. 

If you’ve been hanging in the Woodstock Wellness World for a little while, you already know this is partially due to the lack of proper regulations for the supplement industry, and partially because these companies need to make a quick buck

But really, the same can be said for the entire natural health sphere. 

There are conflicting opinions and ideas on everything from what you should or shouldn’t eat to how much sunlight you should or shouldn’t get daily. And every wellness influencer, nutritional therapist, personal trainer, yoga teacher, and life coach is trying to make sales. 

As a result, figuring out how to actually get healthy in the modern age is a whole a** quest. 

It can be a lonely quest, too. Discovering that, as Dr. Neal always says, the system is sick and you’re the cure is a hard pill to swallow. 

The Holistic Standard, then, serves as a framework to answer the call of wellness seekers from all walks of life. It does so by incorporating the best of both worlds — effective, natural supplements and wellness practices with life-saving medical care. 

Cutting through the chaos, The Holistic Standard is a flexible approach that condenses a mountain of information into an accessible, science-backed, sustainable structure. 

The Three Components of The Holistic Standard 

There are three core components to The Holistic Standard and three core reasons why we love this framework so much:

  1. It’s free, so you don’t have to pay a dime to learn from Dr. Neal’s clinical experience. 
  2. It’s not flashy, because this approach to health is backed by science, not by hype. 
  3. It’s simple, despite the fact that whole-person wellness is an increasingly complex topic. 

Sure, you might go on to purchase supplements or make The Holistic Standard seem really cool and complicated to people at parties. But at its core, this structure for well-being is free, simple, and as unsexy as it gets. 

The Holistic Standard is made up of: The Wellness Pyramid, the Vital5, and the 1-2-3 Vitality mindset.

The Wellness Pyramid – A Roadmap for Holistic Health

The Wellness Pyramid embodies all three of The Holistic Standard‘s benefits in one fell swoop.

  1. It’s a free frame of reference that can be used to verify or vilify the latest health trends and viral vitamins.
  2. It’s a distinctly not-flashy point-of-view that prioritizes the mundane — diet, sleep, exercise, stress management, lifestyle changes.
  3. It simplifies the big picture of health and the areas of self-care that can be seriously overwhelming in an illustrative, integrative way.

Bottom Tier: Lifestyle Domains

The 5 lifestyle domains — diet, sleep, exercise, stress management, and lifestyle changes — make up the bottom tier, the largest portion of the Wellness Pyramid.

Why? Well, you build the foundation of your health through your seemingly inconsequential, day-to-day decisions.

With proper education, you can make better, simpler, and more effective choices in these 5 areas. It sounds boring, but when done right it leads to this interesting little thing we call self-empowerment.

Because if you ask us, there’s nothing more empowering than learning how to manage and improve your own wellness easily.

Middle Tier: Supplementation

This second tier is somewhat self-explanatory. 

We know that even the best diets, sleeping habits, and exercise routines can’t outweigh the fact we live in a world that erodes our wellness daily

Supplements can then fill in nutritional gaps, prevent us from getting diseases of deficiencies, and generally let us live better lives… When they’re implemented strategically. 

What’s missing from most supplement plans? The plan itself!

Dr. Neal Smoller

So this middle tier takes what used to be a very personal, arbitrary approach to taking this vitamin or that and turns it into a data-backed, strategic plan for leveling up health-wise. 

Top Tier: Medical Care

Because, despite what you may have heard about the word “holistic” in terms of wellness, it doesn’t actually mean anti-medicine. It denotes a whole-person or whole-picture approach to health, which includes the less pretty parts of the picture.

Like needing a life-saving surgery or preventative medical care. 

Does the Western medical industry have its flaws? Absolutely

But does that mean you shouldn’t get regular checkups, go to the hospital if you break a bone, or loop your doctor in on new supplements you’re trying? Absolutely not

The ultimate goal is to find savvy doctors that you can trust, while also challenging yourself to be your healthiest self without leaning on drugs.

The Vital5 – Strategic Supplementation

Remember the data-backed supplement plan we mentioned earlier? The Vital5 is where that strategy comes into play. 

When Dr. Neal first formulated the Vital5, it was to answer the question he heard most often from patients:

“What supplement should I take?” 

Because, after optimizing the 5 lifestyle domains in the bottom tier of the Wellness Pyramid, we move into the realm of supplements, of course! But this realm is definitely more difficult to navigate, thanks to the influx of digital clutter and pseudo-science that’s flooded the web. 

In this second tier, we have to do a few things to successfully supplement our healthy diets and active lifestyles:

  1. Fight the compulsion (taught to us by supplement companies) to buy unnecessary supplements. 
  2. Prioritize the supplements that will both have the biggest impact and are verified by scientific research
  3. Make sure we’re getting the proper dosage and form of the nutrient we’re supplementing. 

The Vital5 serves as a starting point that incorporates all three of these key points for strategic supplementation. 

The five nutrients that make up this quintessential quintet have earned their status as “vital” for three core reasons: 

  1. Almost none of us are getting enough of these nutrients from our diets.
  2. These nutrients influence the functioning of not one but multiple bodily systems. 
  3. There’s a huge collection of research that supports supplementation of these nutrients. 

Best part about the Vital5? You don’t have to choose our formulas. 

The conceptual framework of the Vital5 stands on its own — providing a launching pad for strategic supplementation that ensures your body gets what it needs most, first. 

So long as you focus on getting high-quality forms and doses of these critical nutrients before trying other supplements, you’ll be golden. 

1-2-3 Vitality Mindset – Creating Lasting Change

The last component of Dr. Neal’s Holistic Standard, 1-2-3 Vitality, is where the magic of real change happens. 

As we said at the beginning of this blog, there are no quick fixes or overnight miracles when it comes to foundational health. But, thankfully, we can get pretty close to a quick fix with this mindset guiding our wellness journeys. 

1-2-3 Vitality is a simple, 3-step formula for implementing the new knowledge we’ve gained into our lives in a sustainable way. AKA, how to create long-term change in your life without giving too much of your blood, sweat, and tears.

These three steps, while simple, are actually more like bins or behavioral containers. Rinse and repeat as you work through these three steps, and spend as much time in each area as you need. 

And, remember, we’re not trying to become immortal. We’re creating a healthier life through behavioral changes that integrate a holistic point of view, that’s all.  

Step 1: Take an Honest Inventory. 

Where are we at? Where do we want to be? What do we consider healthy things (foods, practices, supplements)? What would healthy look like for us as individuals? 

This first step is a deeply introspective one — we start our journey to holistic wellness by stepping inside our internal monologues. 

By getting familiar with the beliefs, biases, and baseline assumptions you have about health, you’ll be granted a level of self-awareness that is absolutely crucial for goal-setting and creating change.

We take inventory of our personal stock before diving into a new workout routine or wellness practice so the goals we set are realistic and the changes we make are lasting

At this stage in the process, you don’t need to have conquered your objectives or transformed your life — you just need to become deeply conscious of the reality of your health.

(P.S. – Re-education is a huge facet of this step as well. Don’t be afraid to challenge your long-held convictions on health!)

Step 2: Climbing the Wellness Pyramid

After getting to the intellectual heart of your health, wellness goals, and accessible strategies, it’s time to put it into action. 

But this doesn’t mean you have to dive headfirst into the paleo diet or Peloton payment plan. Rather, the objective at this stage is to make incremental changes in the right direction

The example Dr. Neal uses in the podcast episode on this topic is kinda gross but super emblematic. It starts like this: If you don’t eat enough chicken, start eating more chicken. 

Does it have to be chicken that’s fresh from the farmer’s market? No! If you need to eat more chicken, you can start with gas station chicken if that’s where you’re at. 

If you already eat gas station chicken twice a day, then in this second step, your goal would be to replace that chicken with grocery store poultry. 

Because you’ve spent a long time getting familiar with your habits and honest about your current health in step one, the incremental goals should be easy to identify. 

Step 3: Optimize and Thrive.

You can think of this step as a placeholder for the “rinse and repeat” concept.

Continual optimization of your health is ideal, sure, but not all of us are trying to become Olympic athletes. When it comes to wellness, shooting for a B+ is more than okay. 

B+ efforts towards better health can still increase your lifespan, improve your quality of life, and help you feel better. As long as you’re regularly revisiting steps one and two to check in with yourself and refresh your goals, you’ll be in a great place! 

For the real health diehards, this step is where you can update your supplement strategies and wellness practices with the latest science.

We don’t recommend striving for perfection — or any unrealistic ideals — but if your health is already in an amazing place, feel free to be as perfectionistic as you want in this step. 

The Holistic Standard: Forging a New Path to Optimal Health

If you made it this far in this cornerstone post, we should be friends.

Not only are you clearly quite serious about living your healthiest life, but you obviously don’t mind silly gifs and inopportune puns, either.

So, hop on a free Counterside Consult! Our team of supplement strategists and holistic health experts will be hanging on the line, waiting to help guide you down the rabbit hole of modern wellness with personalized advice.


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