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A Heart-Centered Check-In: The 4 Pillars of Sustainable Wellness

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last 12 years of knowingly living with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), or genetically high cholesterol, it’s that a heart-healthy life is multifaceted. Sure, anyone with high cholesterol should be taking care of their heart physically, but there are 3 other areas of life that I’ve come to realize are equally as important.

My '4 Pillars of Sustainable Wellness'

As a wellness professional and heart health advocate, I’ve created a framework that I call the "4 Pillars of Sustainable Wellness." The 4 Pillars is a system that guides me every day on my journey of a heart-healthy life, as well as guides every professional offering that I bring to my community of yoga students, wellness enthusiasts, and fellow FH warriors.

The 4 Pillars of Sustainable Wellness are:

  1. Mental health
  2. Physical health
  3. Spiritual health
  4. Social health

Here’s what the 4 Pillars of Sustainable Wellness have to do with heart health.

1. Mental health

Having familial hypercholesterolemia has definitely impacted my mental well-being. Between unfavorable blood test results, medication side effects, negative experiences with doctors, and the link between my diagnosis and my grief (I lost my Mom to this condition in 2010), I’ve had my fair share of tough moments in my mind. The truth is, this condition is not for the faint of heart (literally). It takes a toll on my mental well-being, and often when I least expect it.

I’ve often thought things like, "What’s wrong with me?" or, "I am broken." This negative self-talk can send me into a tailspin of mental negativity if I’m not careful. That’s why it’s important for me to catch it before it gets to that point and/or know how to soothe myself when it does.

Prioritizing my mental health is imperative, and here are some of my tops ways to do that:

  • Therapy
  • Meditation
  • Journaling
  • Breath work

Self-soothing statements like, "It makes sense that I’m feeling down about my blood test results, given the fact that I was hoping for better ones. Even though I’m feeling down, I am going to continue to prioritize my heart health because I deserve to live a healthy life."

2. Physical health

Familial Hypercholesterolemia is a physical condition, and although I cannot control my genes, I can control a lot of other lifestyle factors that impact my heart health.

Here are my favorite ways to focus on my physical well-being:

  • Yoga
  • Strength training
  • Walking or hiking
  • Meditation, breath work, and stress relief
  • A heart-healthy diet
  • Not smoking
  • Cholesterol-lowering medication

3. Spiritual health

I define "spiritual health" as the soul’s purpose.

Untreated FH increases the likelihood of early heart attacks and strokes, and taking care of my heart health requires intrinsic motivation.1

What helps me stay on my treatment path is feeling like I have purpose to do so. I have found such fulfillment and purpose in sharing my story and advocating for familial hypercholesterolemia, and that fulfillment keeps me going!

Here’s how I prioritize my spiritual health:

  • Meditation
  • Writing articles about FH (like this one!)
  • Sharing my story on social media

4. Social health

A condition like FH cannot be navigated alone. I am eternally grateful to my team of supporters. From my family members, my husband, and my community, to my team of medical professionals, I feel very supported. Connection and support is KEY!

Here’s how I prioritize my social health:

  • Attend events with the Family Heart Foundation
  • Chat with fellow FH warriors on social media
  • Host heart health events at my yoga studio
It is my belief that if we strengthen each of these 4 pillars, our foundation of wellness will be strong, and we will be able to handle any curveballs that life throws at us. <3

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