A reader asks the following question:
“What are some easy things I can do to incorporate your 3-legged stool of balance?”
Please join this discussion and post your comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts about balance. Here’s the answer . . .
Balance – What Am I Really Talking About?
Balance was a topic I first covered back in December on my radio show Eat Well to Live Well with Kellie Hill on Voice America. Balance is such an important topic (ok, and a listener pointed out I hadn’t explained my 3-legged stool metaphor), that I decided to really delve into the topic of how to find balance in our busy lives.
So, a brief overview . . . I think of health (and balance) as a 3-legged stool. One leg of the stool is movement or exercise, one leg of the stool is stress management and one leg of the stool is nutrition. Note here that I said movement or exercise. You don’t have to hit the gym for hours every day to obtain optimal health but you do have to do something everyday / walking, pilates, gardening, playing with the kids, whatever makes you happy, keeps you engaged, and gets you moving.
And each of these legs needs to be equal or your stool becomes off balance and you’ll fall over. For example: you can exercise all you want and you might find good health, but you also might end up being injured or sick if you ignore good nutrition and stress management. On another leg, controlling your stress is important but if you’re ignoring movement and a healthy diet than you’ll never find optimal health. And, of course, you can eat a perfect diet but if you’re never moving or you’re too stressed out than you won’t have optimal health either. No one leg can be ignored in order to find balance. If you neglect one, the whole stool falls over and every area is affected.
I mean, think about it. If you are so stressed you can’t sleep than you end up tired in the morning, making it difficult to make healthy food choices or get you motivated to workout. Same with movement, once you get out of the habit, for most people it’s hard to get back at it / then you’re feeling sluggish so you start choosing comfort foods instead of health foods and begin to get stressed about weight gain. And of course, eating a bad diet puts stress on your body, doesn’t give you energy to do the movement you want to do, and you begin to feel the stress / usually of weight gain again. These types of examples can go on and on.
Finding balance takes paying attention to all three aspects. For good balance we have to focus on movement, nutrition, and stress management. You can hear the entire breakdown of my balance theory here.
Balance – Hear It From the Experts
I really wanted to take this discussion about balance further with the help of some amazing experts. First, I interviewed Dr. John Mason, founder of The Stress Education Center. Not only did he detail the health benefits of managing one’s stress levels, he explains the difference between “coping” and “managaing”, and gave some simple breathing techniques you can add into your life anywhere. And, not surprisingly, he talked about the role of stress management in regards to balance. Listen to his interview here.
Next, I interviewed Kristi Cooper, co-founder of Pilates Anytime who explained all about the importance of movement to our health and gave us some easy tips about how to add movement into our lives every day. And, again, we discussed the role of movement within balance in our lives. That interview will air next week. Look for it here.
Balance – A Few More Tips
Between all three of these Eat Well to Live Well with Kellie Hill radio shows you can get a ton of great tips regading stress management, good nutrition, movement, and balance. But, since a reader asked the question, and the timing was spectacular, I’m going to give you three more tips to help you find balance so you can be the healthiest you!
Walk Around / even if you find time for an hour-long workout in, it’s not enough to offset all the chair time. When you sit too long, your body stops producing lipo-protein lipase, an enzyme that essentially vacuums fat out of your bloodstream. Set a timer and walk to your glass of water every half hour. Place your trash can on the other side of your cubicle. Walk to talk to a co-worker rather than send an email. Instead of a meeting at the conference table, do a group walk-and-talk around the block. Activity has been shown to increase brain power so you’ll also be more focused and creative while improving your health. Just move around to help you find better balance.
Snacks / without your own stash it’s easy to be tempted by foods containing added sweeteners which are typically higher in calories and can add extra pounds. Plus they are digested quickly, making you hungry sooner, and more likely to snack again. In a desk drawer have nitrite-free jerky, almonds, trail mix, Lara or Organic bars. If you have access to a refrigerator add turkey breast slices, red peppers, hummus, hard boiled eggs, and olive mix. Good nutrition is a major piece of balance for our bodies.
Breathe – I’ve written about the power of the breath to calm our systems before, and I have a video for a simple breathing technique for you to watch. The abbreviated version is to take some very deep breathes. Feel the air enter your nose, travel down into your lungs, feel your stomach rise as the air enters, and then slowly descends as you exhale. Count how long it takes to breathe in and how long it takes to breath out. Can you increase the number / taking longer for each inhale and exhale? This starting stress management technique may be enough to lower your heart rate and blood pressure, calm your nerves, get your body into the parasympathic state, and decrease your stress. Extend the breathing technique practicing until you feel better balanced.