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The Wellness Pyramid: Your Roadmap to Holistic Health

Cultivating genuine wellness in our age of misinformation and digital clutter is like being stuck in a maze of supplements and snake oil salesmen. Around every corner, a cacophony of options, opinions, protocols, and self-proclaimed experts waits to chime in.

It’s enough to make your head spin!

So, when it comes to health, most people follow one of two paths: Some do a lot of a few things, and others go all-in on one thing. Hitting the sweet spot — doing some of ALL the important things — is a rarity, and yet that’s exactly what we should be aiming for.

Thankfully, after 20 years of clinical practice, Dr. Neal has boiled down his tried-and-true, data-backed approach to holistic health into one, handy little tool: the Wellness Pyramid.

On the journey to genuine, sustainable well-being, the Wellness Pyramid is your compass, your trusty packing list, and your structured roadmap. Say goodbye to the confusion, the long cons, and the conflicting information!

Welcome back, clarity, we’ve missed you.

In This Article:

Conventional vs. Holistic Health and Wellness

In the quest for holistic wellness, it seems like there’s a never-ending clash between the “holier-than-thou” purists who reject anything conventional and the skeptics who dismiss the entire wellness industry as a bunch of quacks. 

And let’s be real, both sides have a point.

Sure, there are some profit-focused phonies out there in the wellness world, spreading misinformation while hiding behind the lack of regulations. And sure, there are massive gaps in our culture’s medical science because the field is mediated by — often internalized — ideology.

But that doesn’t mean we should throw the baby out with the bathwater! It’s time to break free from this black-and-white mentality of good versus evil. The truth is, you don’t have to pick sides.

There’s a sweet spot, a middle ground where the best of traditional, alternative medicine and modern, conventional care converge to create true holistic health.

A holistic approach isn’t about being anti-medicine; it’s about digging deeper, understanding the root causes, and embracing interdisciplinary practices for whole-person healing. It’s a comprehensive blend of modern science and complementary methods, working together to achieve whole-body wellness. 

So let’s drop the judgment, embrace the nuances, and find our way to a healthier, balanced existence. Because in the end, it’s not about choosing sides, it’s about finding what works best for you.

Using the Wellness Pyramid as a Roadmap to True Holistic Wellness

You know what’s worse than a crowded room? A crowded room full of people shouting conflicting health advice at you. 

All those voices telling you how to reach optimal health create a whirlwind of confusion that only empowers health influencers and wellness companies, lining their pockets with your lack of industry-insider information. 

The worst part? The wellness industry profits off of vulnerable people, or normal people in vulnerable positions. Whether you’re struggling with inflammation, chronic illnesses, or just generally feeling like crap, the self-titled gurus of the wellness industry are there to sell you a new magical pill — supplement or otherwise — that promises to cure all ails.

And if you don’t feel well, then of course you’ll try whatever wizardry is available!

But it’s time to stop blindly following those too-good-to-be-true recommendations from your well-meaning (but maybe not so well-informed) friends and getting lost in the never-ending scroll of HealthTok.

The Wellness Pyramid is Dr. Neal‘s way of giving you back control and helping you make intelligent choices in this tumultuous time. This simple structure puts the power back in your hands by:

  1. Filtering out the chaos of a for-profit industry.
  2. Acting as a point of reference for new trends or viral vitamins.
  3. Organizing your approach to health so it is sustainable and practical.

Make smarter decisions with the Wellness Pyramid as a roadmap. It is your anchor, your framework for achieving whole-being health. It’s like a sturdy scaffolding that helps you build a real plan, rather than jumping from one fleeting trend to another.

It’s a reference point. 

Whenever you stumble upon a new recommendation or the latest wellness approach, pause and ask yourself, “Where does this trendy trend, fancy supplement, or fad diet fit into the glorious Wellness Pyramid?” 

Let it be your compass, guiding you toward what truly matters and filtering out the noise.

Implement Lasting Change

Holistic wellness means looking at the whole picture of your wellness, not just slapping a band-aid on the symptoms.

(Although there are definitely times when a band-aid is called for!)

You see, true holistic care involves all the variables that affect your health, so you can address the underlying causes of your symptoms and find long-term relief. If you want to implement lasting change, build healthy habits, and create foundational wellness, then you need to approach the variables of your health individually — and holistically. 

But you don’t have to change your life overnight! And in fact, a cold-turkey approach will rarely, if ever, lead to sustainable change.

Addressing the variables of your health now, today, even if it’s through minor, incremental improvements, is better than doing nothing. You will eliminate the obstacles that stand in the way of your success one step at a time.

That’s why we follow the Wellness Pyramid. It’s a step-by-step process that allows you to optimize each variable and create an unshakable foundation of wellness. 

The Wellness Pyramid

But if you came here looking for a quick fix, this ain’t the blog for you, buddy!

The Wellness Pyramid is, indeed, here to cut through the chaos and give you a solid game plan for achieving true holistic health. But, we won’t sugarcoat it — achieving sustainable wellness is gonna require some tough choices and a little bit of discipline.

In fact, the Wellness Pyramid is the exact opposite of what the marketing teams of health companies would suggest. Which should be a clue that we’re headed in the right direction.

So let’s rebel a little! Make some waves in a polarized world by cultivating a middle path of wellness that embraces the gray area, boosts your self-reliance skills, and empowers you to make smart choices despite the inundation of sales tactics.

Tier 1: Foundational Lifestyle Domains

We’re starting at the very foundation: the lifestyle domains. But, try to refrain from rolling your eyes and thinking, “Oh great, more kale smoothies and yoga poses,” because as unsexy as it can seem, the bedrock of your health is established in the mundane.

That is — sleep, exercise, diet, stress management, and lifestyle changes.

1. Beauty Sleep

Oh, the sweet embrace of slumber. It’s not just a chance to drool on your pillow; it’s an essential component of your well-being. To make it abundantly clear: it’s time to stop ignoring fitful sleep and normalizing chronically restless nights.

Trust us, your overall health will thank you, and you’ll be waking up ready to slay the day, one well-rested step at a time.

But, it’s a lot easier to say “prioritize your shut-eye” than it is to actually get those Zzz’s.

There are plenty of easy-to-follow tips on better rest, but in order to truly improve your sleep, you’ll need to address the underlying issues that can impact sleep.

(Hint: they’re the other lifestyle categories we focus on in the foundational tier!). 

2. Nourish Yo’ Self

Let’s dish out some real talk about the oh-so-vital connection between what you put on your plate and how your body feels. Poor diet = poor overall health

You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating: you are what you eat. It’s cliche, but it’s also true. Your body is like a high-performance machine, and the food you consume is the premium fuel that either powers you up or leaves you sputtering on the side of the road.

This isn’t about depriving yourself or jumping on the latest diet bandwagon. It’s about caring for your body with wholesome, nutrient-dense foods and finding the balance between indulgence and nourishment

But, it’s not JUST about choosing the right foods. It’s also about fueling up consistently throughout the day to keep your blood sugar from going bonkers. 

And, psssst. Did you know that diet can impact your sleep?

3. Move Your Body

We’re talking about getting those buns off the couch and shaking ’em like there’s no tomorrow. Exercise, people! 

It’s no secret that regular physical activity can improve your overall health. Just ask the CDC. Or the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The World Health Organization (WHO). Or those experts over at Harvard

Whether it’s dancing like nobody’s watching, kickboxing your stress away, or mastering the art of parkour (with caution, please), embrace the joy of movement and make your body boogie.

Fun fact: your exercise routine can get you those Zzzs. And, emerging research points to exercise playing a beneficial role in digestion, too.

It’s almost like all these things are connected, right?

4. Zen It Out

Oh, stress, the unwelcome guest that loves to crash the party of our lives. Let’s be real here, though, because stress is no joke. It has a literal, physical impact on your body.

When you’re under stress, your body releases a flood of hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, that put your system on high alert. Chronic stress, then, essentially means your body is trapped in fight or flight mode — or the sympathetic nervous system — constantly.

Why does this matter? The sympathetic nervous system state (as opposed to the parasympathetic nervous system state) is the body’s intelligent approach to life-threatening danger. If you’re being chased by a tiger, your body will, quite cleverly, boost your heartrate and shut down unnecessary functions — like digestion.

While it might sometimes feel like we’re being chased by the tigers that are our bosses, landlords, children, etc., we’re rarely actually in this kind of crisis.

And, spoiler alert: Too much stress leads to too little sleep

So finding your zen is the key to better digestion, better sleep, and just generally better vibes. You may not have the power to flick a switch and magically make all your stressors vanish, but you sure as heck can take charge and identify the ones that push your buttons the most.

5. Revamp Your Lifestyle

We like to think of the lifestyle changes component as being related to all the stuff that goes on outside of you.

Because, if we’re really honest, making a few, small lifestyle changes that limit your exposure to inflammatory grossness can sometimes have a bigger impact than other improvements. Lifestyle changes are hyper-personal, though; it’s all about what works for you, specifically.

Make healthy choiceswhether that’s quitting smoking, bringing fewer toxins into your home, taking the TV out of your room, or all of the above — that support instead of derailing your progress.

Tier 2: Strategic Supplementation

We’ve aced the diet, nailed the sleep, and kicked stress to the curb. But something still feels off. Welcome to the middle of the pyramid, where we tackle those persistent difficulties like the champs we are — hopefully. 

This is all about those supplements, vitamins, and OTC medications that can help bridge the gaps and fill in the missing spaces. But, it is important to remember:

You can’t out-supplement a nutritionally bankrupt diet or sedentary lifestyle.

That’s why we tackle the bottom tier of the pyramid first before introducing additional supplements. The best place to start? If you ask us, it’s the Vital5.

The Vital5

The Vital5 — omega-3s, bone support, protein, probiotics, and multivitamins/minerals — are the rockstar supplements that deserve a special place in everyone’s routine. Consider these bad boys the nutritional building blocks that sometimes slip through the cracks of our diets (and the bottom tier of our pyramid). 

The key thing to know about these 5 nutrients are:

  1. Even the healthiest people are typically missing these nutrients in their diets.
  2. These 5 nutrients are backed by some of the best modern research around.
  3. And they impact multiple body systems, so it’s the best bang for your buck.

Once you optimize your intake of these 5 nutrients, your crucial bases are covered, and you’re free to add in whatever trending supplement has caught your eye!

But — and this is important — don’t forget to loop your doctor or healthcare professional into things.

Remember: Not All Supplements are Created Equal. 

And actually, there’s one more thing you should know before gleefully purchasing some black seed oil or cheap ashwagandha powder.

The wellness industry, supplements included, is not nearly as regulated as conventional medicines. So, it’s not just about choosing the right supplements, but the right brands. 

If the brand doesn’t uphold rigorous testing and manufacturing standards, you could be ingesting any number of contaminants like heavy metals or solvents that weren’t properly washed away between batches. 

So, don’t dive in blind: Do. Your. Research

Tier 3: Calling in the Pros

We’ve reached the tippy top of our Wellness Pyramid. Congratulations, you’ve become a wellness ninja, eliminating the junk, mastering the sleep game, and treating your body like a temple! You’ve got the supplements on lock too, optimizing absorption and dosage like a pro. 

Yet, something’s still off.

It’s time to bring in expert reinforcements, trained medical professionals, to unravel the mystery and restore balance to your body.

Now, some folks in the holistic wellness world are vehemently anti-medicine, or at the very least, critical of the medical industry. We’re not here to point fingers, only to point out the simple fact that not all ailments can be handled with simple lifestyle changes and a few supplements.

Sometimes, conventional practices are necessary to survive. Plain and simple.

And, it’s important to remember that your doctor can also test you for a number of health markers that can provide you with critical information about what’s actually going on in your body.

So, don’t try to ride it out or mask your symptoms with a bunch of small changes. Consult the professionals and get to the root cause of the problem before it’s (potentially) too late.

Embrace True Holistic Wellness From Top to Bottom

Here we are at the end of our wild and enlightening quest. But, if you were sad that our time is over, don’t fret! This journey is far from over. It’s a lifelong expedition, filled with twists, turns, and a few detours along the way. 

Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution in this game. It’s about finding what works for you, listening to your body’s whispers (or sometimes screams), and dancing to the beat of your own wellness drum.

As you venture forth, remember to be kind to yourself. It’s okay to stumble, to have a slice of cake (or two), or to take a break from your daily grind. Holistic health is about balance, not perfection.

You’ve got this.

And if you need a little help, that’s okay, too. Expand your education by exploring our informative blogs and listening in on our highly entertaining podcasts. Or, get direct, personal guidance from our pros with a free Counterside Consult!


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