As a nutrition counselor, I am constantly reminding people that what you are putting in your mouth is 80% (some may argue more) of the equation when it comes to your health and weight. Your exercise routine and your genetics make up the rest of the equation–which isn’t very much. However, I quickly add that their are countless benefits to exercise, both mental and physical, which is why a day rarely passes that I don’t do SOMETHING active. And when I do, I notice an immediate improvement in my mood, my appetite, my sleep, my flexibility, and even my appearance! But I do not like exercise to become a “chore” for people–after a long day at work and caring for your family, who needs the guilt trip of not having broken a sweat? Instead, I urge people to keep their body in balance throughout the week–and ask what it “needs”. Sometimes a brisk walk alone with the dog after dinner clears your head and gets your heart rate up; a run with a friend on Sunday is what I call my weekly “adult playdate”; a class with a familiar group of women that increases your strength and flexibility brings camaraderie and a great workout; or a yoga class at 6:00a.m. where you do not know a soul brings you peace and solitude. Find YOUR balance, and just do it. Exercise (like anything) can become a competition, and instead of leaving us feeling refreshed and strong, it can make us feel inadequate or desperate to keep up with others. Remind yourself that exercise is a gift to your body–and mind–which helps you stay balanced. And remember all the amazing things your body does for you in return. The perfect balance.