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Get Active. Get Balance. Get Care.

Into the woods OCT

Well, it’s October already. If you are like me then you will feel the year flying by. To slow down that feeling, it’s essential to ground and calm your mind and body. I know that the busier I am, the quicker I feel time go by. When I am with my kids taking an hour to walk 100 metres, time slows down as I’m more grounded and in the moment, just as kids usually are. Seeing the world through their eyes is so magical. Trying to combine that magical feeling with purpose and productivity can sometimes be challenging. Too much magic often means nothing gets done. But too much focus often takes the fun out of life. Balancing your health physically, biochemically, and emotionally is an essential part of finding the right life balance for you.

This month we have a special focus on physical activity. Keeping your body moving is essential, not just for health and fitness, but also for the balance of those delicate neurotransmitters that directly affect the quality of your mental health. If you have a set goal you want to achieve, such as to run a marathon, then you may have to step out of your comfort zone to achieve this (especially if you don’t like running!).

When something is important to you, and especially if you are organised, you will find it’s much easier to stay motivated. This applies to your children too. More than ever we live in a world where technology, screen time, study pressure, etc. means our children are outside playing much less. Structured sports or classes aren’t necessary to help your children achieve optimal physical health. Get them outside climbing trees, playing at the park, kicking a soccer ball, etc. and make some wonderful relationships at the same time!

When it comes to exercise there are generally two types of people. The Type A overachiever who finishes anything they set their mind to, and the slow achiever who often doesn’t get to starting something, let alone finishing it. If you are someone who joins the gym but never makes it in the door or someone who wants to try yoga but has never booked a class, I encourage you to find your “thing”. The best place to start is with something you enjoy (even if it’s just walking to have coffee instead of driving!). Start small and give yourself credit for every achievement. Ask for help more often and try to find ways to include social into exercise. Group exercise or walking with your friends is a great place to start. Not only is this more fun but it will keep you accountable. The more you do, the better you feel, the more achieve.

One day my sister decided she was going to do the couch to 5km. She had no running experience and lived in an isolated area with no gym, just a dirt road. In previous years, she poured all her energy into her family and let her physical health slip. Many people in this situation decide to start running or go to the gym, but overwork themselves so that it takes a week to physically recover (and even longer to be motivated to try again). So instead my sister walked to the mailbox and back every day. Slowly, over weeks she built up to running 5km. She didn’t get sore after her first session, she didn’t get injured, she didn’t lose motivation. After she ran the 5km she kept going! 6km, 7km, 8km. She began to love running. She would get up at the crack of dawn in the cold (as that was the only time available for her) and run. She became happier, healthier and even though she was getting up early she felt more energised. She lost 28kg in a year by running and changing her diet. I love this story and am very proud of my sister.

If on the other hand, you are a motivated, crazy, Type A personality like myself, then you may need to try something different to balance yourself out. Be open to changing the plan and being flexible. Be aware that achieving a goal is not necessarily the definition of success. This is especially true if you have run yourself into the ground or missed out on other wonderful opportunities to achieve it. For example, I LOVE running and I used to run run run all day long. As a child, I could get away with that but as I got older I felt I needed to balance my “yang” activity with some “yin” so I introduced yoga.

At that time of my life, I found it so hard to focus my energy on something much slower. I often felt it was a waste of my hour of exercise time. It took me 5 years to fall in love with yoga and now I can’t survive without it. I crave it. My lifestyle, goals, and focus have also significantly changed since having children. I have learned to be more flexible and change my goals as needed. Meditation has also been a huge challenge for me, but also one of the most significant contributors to finding a better balance in my life.

No matter who you are and what exercise you love doing (or not doing), it’s essential to have exercise as part of your life. The next step is to make sure you are doing your chosen activity as functionally as possible. So if you are going to the gym, make sure you have good technique and choose exercises that will balance the muscle groups you use most in your life. We all want to have great abs and do a million sit-ups but this is not good for the lower back and it’s essential to be doing exercise that balances out the flexion / strong abdominal muscles. Even more important is the training of your lower abdominal (core muscles) and stabilising muscles. If you are doing high impact exercise it’s important to balance that with some rest days. Recovery activities such as float tank, massage, stretching, yoga, pilates etc. will make an impact.

The biggest thing we find at the clinic is that people wait until they are sore or injured to come and seek help. What if before you started an exercise program, you got your body checked and aligned? What if you knew what your strengths and weaknesses were before you started your exercise program (and were working on fixing them already)? This information could help you balance which exercise to choose, how much to do, when to increase training load, and what recovery is best for you. This is the world I live in, and the world we at Health Space want to inspire you to be a part of. Where prevention is better than cure. Where feeling good is a process, not a destination. Where pain is an indicator that health is off track, not something to ignore or suppress with medication.

So the message here is to listen to your body and have an easy day if you had a late night, have been sick, or are really stressed. Nourish your body, try different forms of recovery to see how you feel, and most importantly come and see us so we can help support you every step of the way.

Author: Kate Wood

Kate has represented Australia as an 800m runner, winning five Australian titles and competing on the international stage. She also lectured track & field at the Australian College of Physical Education. After being forced into an early retirement due to injury, Kate turned to helping others with their health and wellness, with a special focus on families, pre-conception, pregnancy and paediatrics.

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