In interviews and workshops, Vancouverite and health and wellness expert Dr. Susan Biali promotes her approach to living a full and holistic life. Her message resonates because her ideas are informed by her own personal experiences. She left a successful (and stressful) full-time position as a doctor so that she could pursue her unfulfilled passion for flamenco dancing. She now dances professionally part-time in Mexico and works part-time at Vancouver medical clinics. Her advice can be inspirational to busy parents who endeavour to make healthy living choices as a family, while instilling concepts of healthy living in their children. Often intentions and goals do not match the reality of day-to-day routines.
In her book Live a Life You Love!: 7 Steps to a Healthier, Happier, More Passionate You Dr. Biali discusses seven steps to living well. These steps include the following concepts:
- Allow yourself to be you
- Learn to love yourself
- Honour your body (Both your physical body and your nutrition)
- Rescue and revitalize your relationships
- Get a life
- Make room for the divine
- Make someday today
Here are further tips from Dr. Baili. All of these ideas appear to be based on common sense and pull together much of what we are hearing about and reading in health reports these days. However it is important to remember that Dr. Biali has successfully transformed what was an already “textbook” successful life, coloured by severe depression, into a life that brings her much more happiness and well being.
1. Vanity can be a great motivator.
Dr. Baili explains that sugar can hurt your body in the long run; however, if you focus on how it can cause puffiness in your skin, your vanity may motivate you to cut down your sugar intake.
2. I’m a huge fan of anti-inflammatory foods.
Processed foods, sugars and refined flours increase inflammation. This is something that many other health and wellness experts are saying as well. Inflammation speeds up aging and chronic disease. One often hears a doctor say that one condition or another has an unknown cause, but is known to be triggered by inflammation.
3. The best advice I can give for mental well-being is to always look for the gift and the lesson in any challenge or crisis. My challenges transformed me into the person I am today. I wouldn’t give them up for the world.
It can be challenging to look for this gift where you are in the midst of a challenge or crisis. When a friendshp or relationship turns sour, for example, it can be hard to look for the gifts that that person brought into your life. What a struggle it can be to come up with ideas in a genuine fashion. Over time, though, it is possible to think of some gifts and have a much healthier perspective about the role that that relationship played in your life.
4. Passion can instantly transform a lack luster life into an extraordinary one. Find at least one thing that you love to do, and do it regularly. That injection of passion will light up all the corners of your life.
It can be hard to switch gears dramatically in one’s life to pursue one’s passion, as Dr. Baili did. Perhaps you are a single parent who is stuck in a “pay the bills” job. Over time and with careful planning small steps can lead to larger changes in direction. Additionally sometimes that passion can be found in side-line interests. This interest may not be the main focus of your life, but it can sustain you through more dreary challenges and requirements.
Dr. Baili has suggestions for those who have experienced anger, hostility, resentment or all-out blaming in any of your relationships:
Tend Your Own Garden.
Instead of wasting time thinking about or complaining about what someone is doing wrong, catch yourself and stop. Change your focus, immediately, to what would be the best thing you could do, right now, for yourself and your own life.
Learn to be Happy, No Matter What Others Do
If your happiness depends on the actions of another person, you (and they) are going to be miserable. Find, or create, things about your life that you enjoy, and focus on them when things get tough.
Listen to Your Body
Hostility and resentment can hurt you more than they do the other person. Learn to recognize signs of tension in your body: stomach pains, neck or back pain, headaches. At the first sign, do something that helps you immediately feel better (attacking the other person does not count!).
Own Your Own Buttons
If someone knows just what to do or say to set you off, don’t blame them. You can’t control them, but can control your reaction. Notice yourself as you react and interrupt it: e.g. take a time-out; leave the room; do something silly.
Focus on What’s Good.
Focus on what you like about the other person, and what you could or should improve in your own life. When you focus on the good things, the change in you will often cause the other person to miraculously improve on their own.
If you’re feeling down or lacking in motivation, give people like Dr. Susan Biali some of your time. You just might find that she will put a fresh spin on ideas that have been bumping about in your head for some time now.
If you are eat really well, particularly if you eat organic, and if you get regular exercise and you laugh, and you have fun, and you spend time with the people that are important to you…that is so critical to our health. And you have things in your life that you are passionate about and you drink enough water and exercise and you get enough sleep and you minimize stress as much as you can, if you go on vacations. If you do those things, whether you take all the supplements or you go to the alternative practitioner or your doctor or not, you are going to look better and you are going to have better health. (S. Biali speaking with Amy O’Brian, Vancouver Sun, Dec. 29, 2008)
Dr. Susan Biali on Twitter
Morning exercise motivation tips by Dr. Biali