A Matter of Balance: A Woman's Quest for Health, Harmony & Kick-ass Heels

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fall wish list.....

Photo taken on an excursion last fall

Autumn is upon us and it's my favorite time of year.  Have you been scratching your head lately wondering where summer went? 

In looking over my summer 'wish list' I'm happy to say that I did in fact enjoy everything on my list, except golfing with my hubby.  Unfortunately an injury early in the summer has kept me off the golf course and in physical therapy.  But other than that, I made the absolute most of my summer and enjoyed it to the fullest, including my kick off summer hot fudge sundae (which wasn't on the list, but a revered summer tradition)

When fall arrived on Friday, I started crafting my autumn wish list; There are lots more fun events and projects on tap,  but here are a things that I want to do this fall, and a few things that help me enjoy, appreciate and savor the season.

  • Make homemade soup  - every week if often as possible 
  • Try fencing
  • Recycle old cassettes
  • Teach a four week Pure Muscle class (will be packing my bikini for Aruba in Nov so this is a must!)
  • Go to an orchard for apples, cider and a pumpkin
  • Make something with the apples, maybe a pie or applesauce
  • Stock up on red wine (get ideas from wine class I'm taking in Oct with hubby)
  • Take some photos of fall foliage
  • Get a massage
  • Watch at least two documentaries I've been meaning to watch from my Netflix list
  • Sand and stain bench for living room
  • Take Belly Dancing
  • Do something spontaneous every week (believe it or not this might be the most challenging as I tend to PLAN my spontaneity.!)

What's on your Fall Wish List?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Give Your Body A (Healthy) Cleansing

Did you have too many barbecues and ice cream cones this summer? You're not alone in having indulged in summer delights. 

But as fall approaches, it's the perfect time for a simple cleanse to clean out all the "gunk" accumulated in the body from food, cleaning products, water and air. Just as cars need an oil change to operate efficiently, so does the body. 

We are constantly accumulating toxins, often resulting in symptoms such as headaches, poor concentration, fatigue, joint pain, muscle aches and pain, skin problems and more. In order to improve these conditions and increase your energy forget the expensive fancy colon cleanse that will keep you in the bathroom for a week and try eliminating this items for no more than seven days. 

Caffeine: This includes caffeinated beverages such as coffee, soda and black tea. Sip herbal and green teas with no caffeine. 

Refined and added simple sugars: Refined sugars refer to anything with added sucrose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, molasses, honey, maple syrup or alcohol. This includes cakes, cookies, candies, pastry, beer, wine and liquor. Use a natural sweetener such as Stevia. 

Gluten containing grains (wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut): Only quinoa, oats, rice, millet, buckwheat, teff and amaranth are acceptable grains. For a more hardcore detox, consider eliminating all grains, then if desired work back in those containing the non-gluten grains listed above 

Eggs and dairy products: These include egg, milk, yogurt, cheese ice cream, sour cream, butter, etc, as well as any soy based dairy substitutes. Experiment with items such as almond and rice milks, which are tasty alternatives. 

No processed foods: A no brainer. 

No meat (at least try eating no red meat): For additional protein during a particularly physical day, try grilled fish or chicken (preferably organic) or turkey (not processed). 

What should you much on? Plenty of fruits and veggies. Try fresh, raw, steamed, sautéed, juiced or roasted (but not creamed vegetables). Play with a wide variety of spices, oils and vinegars, but steer clear of ketchup, mustard, relish, soy sauce and other packaged condiments. 

The first few days can be challenging, but stick with it and you'll be amazed at how your body will restore itself to radiant health. 

Kristen Hallett Rzasa is the owner of InterPlay Health, LLC and Jazzercise. She is an entrepreneur, dancer, instructor, writer, yogi, golfer and avid reader.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Brits are on to something - taking time for tea at The Plaza

From the pages of The Great Gatsby to the big screen of The Way We Were (and most recently Bride Wars), The Plaza Hotel has been the backdrop for many scenes of drama, romance and fantasy, including the famous adventures of naughty Eloise in the magical children's story from the 1950's.

Yesterday in our quest for monthly adventure, Pina and I ventured into Manhattan for tea at The Plaza's Palm Court.

Surrounded by timeless elegance, we sipped pear tea, people watched and dished about men, money, and menopause, or in other words, the things that keep us up at night.

A few musings brewed over  tea time:

Look in your own backyard - Neither Pina nor I had ever set foot in this gilded luxury hotel despite countless days spent in NYC and residing less than an hour away. It's amazing how much there is to explore right under your nose. In fact, over tea we discovered that there are many other quintessential NY experiences neither of us have yet to try.

Take time to savor - I'm the fastest eater I know, and frankly I've never tried very hard to break that bad habit. But tea time demands a slower pace. If you've taken to inhaling meals on the run and make a regular habit of dashboard dining, it's time to brew a pot of tea and slow down.

Finish your dessert without guilt - The pet it fours were too refined, too gorgeous, and frankly too pricey to leave any on the plate. We devoured them whole heartily and enjoyed every bite. I briefly considered nabbing the two left behind on the lovely tiered dessert stand at the adjacent table, but thought better of it.


Seek out some ambiance - Tea at The Plaza of course is never about the tea, or even the food. It's about donning your Mary Janes (preferably a more modern version with a heel) and soaking up the palm trees, piano music, and sneaking a peek at what the ladies at the next table are wearing. 

Sheer elegance

One lump or two?

"Your girl is lovely, Hubbell"

Me & Eloise

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What happened to the question about world peace?

This morning I was sipping my coffee, thumbing through news articles from the last week of Financial Times and perusing my news feeds on my iPad.  

I almost stood up and applauded when I read this article on CNN about what transpired at the Miss Universe pageant earlier this week.

Here's an excerpt.
This question was posed to Leila Lopes of Angola, now our universe's newly crowned Miss Universe. 

"If you could change one of your physical characteristics," the designated judge asked her, "which one would it be and why?"

Are you (insert profanity) kidding me?

After standing under the magnifying glass of millions, this 25-year-old, 5-foot-10 ½-inch knockout had to publicly contemplate if she was physically good enough.

Her response was quick: "Thank God I am very-well satisfied with the way God created me, and I wouldn't change a thing. I consider myself a woman endowed with inner beauty. ... I have acquired many wonderful principles from my family, and I plan to follow these through the rest of my life. And now I would like to give all of you a piece of advice: Respect one another."

Now that's TRUE BEAUTY!    Leila, you definitely deserve a tiara for that answer!

Read the full story here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

When does busyness end and balance begin?

There has been a lot of tough stuff happening the past few weeks. My Facebook inbox is filled with a few dozen messages about difficult times rather than the usual routine chit chat from friends and clients.

Sending prayer requests to my Cursillo community has become a daily occurrence.

Sunday we reflected and remembered and recalled how our priorities shifted along with the NYC skyline. But how has that translated into our week just three days later?

I often refer back to these questions from author and coach, Cheryl Richardson, just to keep myself in check:
  • If this were my last hour on earth, would I be happy with how I've spent my time today, this week, or this year?
  • Would I feel good about the priorities I'm focused on right now at this point in my life?
  • Do I feel complete and at peace with the people who matter most?

I think I can answer a strong yes to each of those questions, but I need to continue to ask them. It's so easy to get drawn off course.

Today's been jam packed and I look back at the day so far....teach a class, cover the desk for the remaining classes, participate on a conference call, finish a marketing project, write a blog post, a physical therapy appointment,  a hair appointment (like I said priorities!), prepare for a charity walk where I've volunteered to do the warm up, and get ready for a meeting and presentation in Rhode Island.   Am I happy with how I've spent my time? 

Actually yes. It always feels good to be productive.  But when does busyness end and balance begin? 

There's a small business meeting I could/should/had planned to attend later this evening,  but if I'm really listening to what I need, I think I'll be ready to hang out with my hubby and chat and then curl up and watch my latest Netflix (High Society - can't believe I've never seen it!).  Ah, I feel more relaxed already.

What do YOU need right now?

Saturday, September 10, 2011


In honor of the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, I am re-running a blog post from last year. What happened on my plane that day remains one of the most terrifying moments of my life. Everybody has a story to tell.

Everyone will at some point tomorrow remember where they were, what they were doing, who they called first, who they hugged first.  We will remember and reflect and pray in our own different ways.

At the the time I was fortunate to be part of an international team at DaimlerChrysler Financial. Belonging to an international team added a perspective to this event and provided a sense of support beyond the boundaries of my own country.

I was also fortunate that  my company did everything possible to bring me home safely that week. A long trip from Prague, to Germany to Paris, became even longer when I heard the news while in flight heading to New York. 

There was a uniqueness being on an international flight and sharing this experience with so many non-Americans.  We were also initially removed from the horrific pictures and news accounts, as we remained on the plane until 9/12 and ultimately in the care of the Canadian Red Cross and Navy for several days following. 

While reflecting, I pulled out a folder of emails I received the days following from my colleagues from around the world.

This line came from my boss Stephen Jepsen of Berlin...

"So far as I see, nobody was able to go back to work today without the feeling that something fundamental had changed in our western world in seconds yesterday. ..and  that these buildings, symbols for freedom and pride, don't exist anymore."

9/11/01  From the plane window in St. John's Newfoundland
Sept. 11, 2001
Yes, something fundamental did change that day.  I hope that what we hold on to is the reminder of what's really important in life.  I believe that we can keep the kindness and courage that was shown during that time alive in our words and actions every day. 

The moment that will forever be burned in my memory is finally reaching US soil and seeing the American flag, the true symbol of our freedom and pride, flying brightly.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Stir up your workout

Zip lining & tree climbing; Fall 2010

You are determined to hit the treadmill every day this week. But two weeks later, things have petered off and somehow Dancing with the Stars, that glass of Merlot and your couch pull you in like a magnet. 

Are you completely void of will power? I doubt it. Most people find themselves quickly tiring of the same old (and repetitive) routines. 

Here are a few ideas to breathe more life into your exercise routine to stay on track. 

Do one different workout each week: As a Jazzercise instructor I teach classes most days of the week, so once a week I do something completely different. Sometimes it's a yoga class, a bike ride or rollerblading. I can always ensure that there will be one non-Jazzercise workout in my week. 

Try a new sport or activity each month: I strive to try something new every month. I've tried belly dancing, Tai Chi, kayaking, Qigong, surfing, zip lining, horseback riding and boxing, and next month I'm trying a fencing class. Investigate sources such as www.meetup.com, or your local Continuing Education program for low cost options. 

Mix up your music: Sometimes just downloading a new playlist of fresh music can energize a workout that's lost its zip Surf iTunes to get ideas for motivating playlists. 

Plan an exercise outing or challenge: For the past three years I've ridden in the Five Boro Bike Tour. It's a 42-mile ride, which is a real challenge considering I don't bike very often. It's also now a tradition with friends, a physical challenge and an event I look forward to every year. Have you always wanted to run a 5K or tackle a triathlon? Make a plan to go for it. 

Use technology to spice it up: Surf podcasts, apps and websites for material to mix up your workouts. There is a lot of free material available to add variety to your workouts. Check out Netflix for a variety of workout DVDs to sample and you'll have new material delivered right to your mailbox. 

Try an active vacation: A hiking trip, white water rafting or a biking trip can be a great way to get out of a rut. This summer I went hiking in the Huangshaun mountains and climbed the Great Wall in China. The majestic scenery and breathtaking views made me forget it was a workout. 

Get inspired and get moving. 

Kristen Hallett Rzasa is the owner of InterPlay Health, LLC and Jazzercise. She is an entrepreneur, dancer, instructor, writer, yogi, golfer and avid reader.