We are often told we should live a balanced life, eat a balanced diet and seek a good work-family balance. But what does this elusive word mean? For me, it means looking at what is most important in your life and investing your time and energy accordingly. I believe that finding balance comes from giving your time and energy to the things that build you up and eliminating or at least managing, the things that bring you down and stress you out.
I recently attended the Balance Expo in Killarney and in my opinion, the organisers couldn’t have captured this any better. The expo focused on striking balance in all areas of fitness, health, nutrition and sports. My personal highlight was taking part in a panel discussion with Kieran Donaghy, Derek McGrath and Eimear Cregan, discussing balance on and off the pitch.
One thing I found really interesting was the discussion about finding balance when it comes to social media, especially from the player perspective. Derek highlighted how important it is to be aware that when we talk about social media and coverage of events, it filters down to those involved in sport. Well-intended comments from family, friends and fans can end up having a huge impact on the player’s mindsets and stress levels.
Personally, I tried to avoid print media and social media when racing professionally. But if there was a critical review of a race I’d run I’d still hear about it. Overall, I think we just need to be aware that it does get in and perhaps be a little more mindful of the impact it can have on the athletes. When someone sends a tweet or writes a comment online about performance it would be good to think about the person reading that comment before pressing post.
Another topic we discussed was how to strike balance with our social media and personal lives. For me, the stuff I share on social media is a pretty accurate representation of what my day to day work life looks like. Because I work in the health and fitness industry there will always be a certain amount of insight into my family and home life, for example if I share a recipe video, my kitchen will make an appearance but I’m always conscious of how much of my personal life is on social media and I’m mindful of managing it.
I thought Kieran made a really interesting point when he talked about balance in life. He stressed the importance of planning because generally, there are enough hours in the day, you just need to plan and prioritise to make sure you get things done. A great example was when he spoke about things like getting your training sessions in early so that you can spend the evening with your family or sitting down on a Sunday afternoon to map out your schedule for the week.
The final question was a really great one and something I think we can all reflect on - what makes you unbalanced? For me it’s definitely my daughter Dafne. Those who know me will know that I love to have a plan, I love to know what I have to do and where I have to be each day.
Since becoming a mother I’ve learned that children are a true wildcard and all the planning in the world means nothing to them. It’s a challenge but definitely one that I’m getting better at.
Miriam is a pharmacist with a huge passion for integrated wellness. She is an international keynote speaker, yoga teacher and health and wellness coach. She conducted the yoga classes at this year’s Balance Expo and took to the main stage as a guest speaker as well. For anyone inspired to try and bring more balance into their lives this year, be sure to check her out.
Spiced Chickpea Mash with Chilli and Lime Salsa
This is a great weekend brunch option. It’s gorgeous to share over a cup of coffee with friends and family. Throw in a weekend newspaper and you are living my weekend dream! I love mine topped with a poached egg for an extra protein boost.
2 tins of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 cloves of garlic
Thumb size piece of ginger, grated
1 red or green chilli, seeds removed
150g parmesan, grated
1 tblsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg white
2 tbs coconut oil, melted
Sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
2tbsp of olive oil, for frying
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 small red onion, finely diced
2 tbs olive oil
Juice and zest of 2 limes
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
Bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped
Bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
½ a chilli, finely diced and seeds removed
1 tbs honey
Salt and pepper, to taste
Place all the ingredients for the mash, apart from the olive oil, in a food processor and blend until smooth reasonably firm. Transfer to a bowl and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes
Meanwhile, make your salsa by combining all the ingredients together in a bowl and setting aside for now.
Remove your chickpea mixture from the fridge. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the mixture until the outsides start to brown and crisp up. It’s best to do this in batches.
Place onto kitchen paper to drain off the excess oil and serve hot accompanied by your lovely zingy salsa and some natural yoghurt for dipping!
These truffles are delicious with a cup of coffee mid-morning or as an after-dinner treat.
250g sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
30g unsalted shelled pistachios
4tbs freeze dried cranberries/raspberries
40g desiccated coconut
125g soft dried apricots
200g dried almonds
1tsp ground cinnamon
3tbs maple syrup
Put the sweet potatoes in a bowl, cover with clingfilm and pop in the microwave for 4-5 minutes on high. Allow to cool and drain off any liquid.
Blitz the apricots in a food processor until finely chopped and add to the sweet potatoes along with the ground almonds, cinnamon and maple syrup and stir to combine.
Roll the mixture into small balls and set aside.
Blitz the pistachios in a food processor until finely chopped then transfer to a small bowl.
Repeat with the cranberries/raspberries and place in a separate bowl together with 2tbs desiccated coconut. Place the remainder of the desiccated coconut in a third bowl.
Roll 1/3 of the balls in the pistachio mix to coat, 1/3 in the fruit and coconut mixture and the remaining 1/3 in the desiccated coconut.
Store in the fridge and eat within 3-4 days.