My Dad went to a physician for many years and respected him tremendously. The physician was retiring, so at his last check-up my Dad asked him to sum up his years of experience and make a recommendation using one word. The doctor said, “Exercise.” As an avid exerciser, I agree with the doctor that exercise is so important and something lacking in many people’s lives. As a dietitian the one word summation for what I think is important is “Balance”. Balancing healthy eating, exercise, and all of your obligations in life is a lifelong journey. You may exercise regularly but not eat healthfully. You may eat healthy foods most of the time but still overdo the unhealthy foods. You may eat healthy but never move your body. You may eat healthy and exercise regularly but have a stressful job with long hours and little satisfaction. The key to a healthy life is balance. When you balance healthy eating, regular exercise, work, family, relaxation…you have arrived, my friend.
This summer I decided to train for my first marathon: the Quad Cities Marathon on September 26th. I started training for events three years ago starting with the Firecracker 10K, then the Quad Cities Marathon half marathon, and last year I completed a sprint triathlon. After much hum hawing around I decided to train for a full marathon this year. My husband, who has ran many marathons and ultra marathons, worked up my training plan. My training plan involves run, run, rest, run, cross train, long run, rest. Except for the one day of cross train it’s not very balanced. I love having a training plan because I’m a rule follower. I’ll get up and do the run because I get an email that tells me I’m supposed to. As I started my training plan I realized that my life seemed unbalanced. There was a lot of running and very little else.
I received an email from Indigo Wellness that a class called Boost was being offered this summer. The class included walking, strength, and yoga. I love yoga. The class was taught by Daina Lewis, my favorite yoga instructor. I decided to sign up for the 8 week class and pay up front. I know me, and if I pay for it, then I will go. I was so into running that the first class seemed a little slow to me. I got up early, put on my workout clothes, and we walked. We walked and talked by the river. I enjoyed the company but I found myself thinking about the 10 mile run I had to do the next day. We returned to the studio, and Daina put on some Black Eyed Peas and we did lunges, squats, and pushups. Now I started to notice something. I was getting a much more balanced workout than just running. My thighs and arms ached for the first time in months. The class ended with yoga which felt so heavenly I nearly groaned. Ok, I did groan quietly. All that running had tightened me up, and I was in heaven.
Boost class became my favorite workout of the week. I got an opportunity to talk to women of all different ages and fitness levels as we walked by the beautiful Mississippi river. The walk no longer seemed like a waste of time. I started doing yoga on my own after my runs. I started walking a few nights a week with some girlfriends. My life felt balanced.
I believe you can compare my summer exercise experience to other aspects of your life. If you struggle with overeating then you are leading an unbalanced life. Try focusing on exercise or stress reduction and your issues with food may reduce. If you struggle with insomnia it may help to eat healthy, avoid reliance on too much caffeine, and exercise regularly. When areas of your life are balanced you may find eating moderately and sleeping soundly come easily.
At the end of yoga class, Daina always leads us in meditation. As a mother of two young children I almost never get quiet time. I can feel the tension leave my body. Then Daina blesses all of us and wishes us happy moments where we positively touch the lives of everyone we meet. I often get chills during her blessing. What is more in balance than living your life in a way that positively touches everyone you meet? Here is my wish for you: May you find ways to bring balance to your life and the lives of everyone you meet.