The Secret to Creating Healthy Habits that Stick — My 5 Pillars of Wellness

Hiya Gorgeous!

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say we’ve all struggled to create and/or keep healthy habits that help us feel better—body and spirit. At one point or another, most of us have probably wished for a quick fix—a straightforward formula that’ll get us from A (pre-habit) to B (vibrant health and a little more ease in our lives).

Starting and maintaining healthy habits can feel like an uphill battle (the kind with steep cliffs and sweaty pits). It’s no wonder many of us end up searching for ways to hack the path to point B. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a magic habit wand.

That said, developing sustainable routines that support you doesn’t have to be so hard. Magic wands may be a bust, but there IS a secret sauce. And once you learn it, you’ll never approach healthy habits the same way again.

Here’s an important truth: the real key to cultivating the life you want is actually a lot simpler (and a lot less popular to talk about!). That’s what my 5 pillars of wellness are about, and we’re gonna explore what that means in just a bit.

But let’s pause for a second, because I have a special gift just for you!

Quick sidebar: If this habits chat is resonating with you so far, then you’re gonna love my free Wellness Tracker. It’s here to help you get honest about your lifestyle practices so you can break through the barriers blocking you from your vibrant health goals. If that sounds like exactly what you need right now, download the tracker for free below!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming. 😉

My 5 Pillars of Wellness: The Foundation for Vibrant Health

So, remember what I said before about there being a secret sauce for creating healthy habits? Well, all of the best sauces start out with a great base… and that’s exactly what the 5 pillars of wellness are all about. Think of the pillars like the tomatoes to your favorite marinara, the avocados to your guac (ok, not technically a sauce, but you get the picture!).

If you’ve been hanging out with me for a while, then this might sound familiar. But if you’re new here or just need a reminder, my 5 pillars of wellness are: What you’re eating, drinking and thinking, and how you’re resting and renewing.

Out of all the stuff we can choose to focus our energy on, I’ve found that these five categories have the biggest impact on our overall well-being. In other words, the pillars are must-haves for creating the kind of internal and external environments that allow us to truly thrive.

Let’s break down each pillar so you can get more familiar with how they’ll support you.

What You’re Eating

Is it any surprise that I’m starting here? The produce aisle was my first stop after my cancer diagnosis, after all!

I will never forget the moment in my Healing Cancer World Summit interview with Dwight McKee, MD (a leading integrative oncologist who helps his patients heal from and prevent cancer with proper nutrition) when he said, “Cooking is a survival skill.” Boom.

I couldn’t think of a better way to sum up this first pillar than with those words. Knowing how to nourish our bodies is at the core of health and healing. I’m not talking about deprivation. I’m talking about respecting ourselves by cooking and eating plenty of eating whole, plant-based foods… Reducing inflammation and increasing our joy in the kitchen. Savoring the flavors we love and trying new stuff too—without compromising our health. And ultimately, accessing and trusting our own inner wisdom when it comes to what we eat.

This may sound like a lot to keep track of, but I promise that it’s easier and a lot more fun than you might think. It all starts with eating your veggies.

What You’re Drinking

I love having coffee a couple times a week and indulging in the occasional cocktail, but no drink gets me more excited than good old H2O (well, green juice is a close second!).

If you’ve been tuning into my weekly Wellness Wednesday broadcasts on Facebook and Instagram (join me live!), then you know how passionate I am about hydration. And it’s not just because I know how good I feel when I get enough water every day. Dehydration (especially if it’s chronic) can be a serious problem for your health. It can cause fever, low blood pressure, fatigue and even mess with the way your brain functions (source). And you can bet that stuff will stand in the way of those healthy habits you’re working so hard to create.

To find out how much water you should aim to drink every day, divide your body weight (in pounds) by two to get the approximate amount of ounces you need. For those using metrics, divide your weight in kilograms by 30 to determine how many liters of water you need per day.

Psst… here’s a pro tip to get you started on the path to better hydration: If you feel thirsty, chances are you’re already dehydrated (source). Keep sippin’, sweetheart!

What You’re Thinking

Now that we’ve covered the first two pillars of wellness—what you’re eating and drinking—it’s time to talk soul stuff. Because at the end of the day, all the kale and water in the world won’t add up to our healing if we’re out of balance in other areas.

The thinking pillar is about noticing your thoughts, especially the thoughts you have about yourself. It’s about letting go of judgement about your feelings (the good, the bad and everything in between). And perhaps most importantly, it’s about creating healthy habits for managing stress, because that’s the number one catalyst for disease.

Learning how to manage stress and be kinder and more compassionate to yourself is different for everyone (meditation, Tapping, mindful breaks, etc.!). It takes practice. Remember: If you can change your mind, you can transform your life.

How You’re Resting

The fourth pillar of wellness may sound like a snoozefest, but it’s just as critical to your overall well-being as the rest (heh… pun intended!).

I’ve written so much about sleep because I know that so many folks struggle to get the recommended 7.5-8 hours per night. I hope you’ll check out some of those articles (here’s one of my faves, or just search for “sleep” here on but here are some of the need-to-know details:

  • An estimated 20-40 percent of adults aren’t getting enough sleep. In America alone, 70 million people suffer from some sort of sleep disorder.
  • Getting sleep is necessary for everything from building your immunity and regulating your appetite, to cleaning out your brain’s waste products and saving your memories (learn more about what happens when you sleep).
  • Not all sleep is created equal—your bedtime routine and environment can have a huge impact on the quality of your rest.
  • There’s more to rest than sleep. Taking time to refuel your energy tank while you’re awake is important, too.

Luckily, there’s a lot you can do (minimal effort required) to create healthy habits for sleep.

How You’re Renewing

This last pillar is about two things: movement and play (yup, having fun is part of the pillars!).

Let’s start with exercise. According to the CDC, less than a quarter of Americans get the recommended 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week (source). I’m a firm believer that this isn’t the result of a lack of understanding about the many benefits of movement. It’s really because exercise has an image problem that we desperately need to clean up. If you take nothing else away from this pillar, I hope you’ll remember this: Exercise does not have to be painful. It should be something you actually enjoy doing. You have one beautiful body, treat it with care.

And last, but certainly not least—play! Part of the renewing pillar is to have fun! Allow yourself regular, unstructured free time to follow your whimsy. Enjoy a hobby, see great art, travel, connect with friends and fully recharge. Just because you’re a grown up, doesn’t mean you don’t need playdates. In fact, your soul comes alive through joy. So if you crave a well-lived life, make play a non-negotiable part of your schedule.

Let’s Build Your 5 Pillars Together!

If you didn’t grab the free Wellness Tracker I mentioned earlier, now’s the time! It’ll help you turn what you learned in today’s post into meaningful action. Tracking your current habits is the most effective way to figure out what you can do to step up your self-care game. And ya know what? You deserve that.

Get your free Wellness Tracker!

Your turn: Which of the 5 pillars would you most like to work on? Let me know in the comments below so we can support each other!

Peace & pillars of wellness,

Kris Carr

P.S. Join the Inner Circle Wellness community!

If you want me to be your coach, guide and head cheerleader, joining my membership community is the only way to do it. You’ll get everything you need to build the 5 pillars of wellness in your life, including live coaching, exclusive recipes and meditations, group challenges and so much more! Go here to learn more and get started.