Balance Expo (2019) :Ireland’s Premier Event for Healthy Lifestyle Enthusiasts

The 20th January 2019 marked the second annual Balance Expo in the INEC, Killarney and it was my second year attending the event. You may remember my posts from last year where I met Roz Purcell, Rob Lipsett and the incredible Siobhan O’Hagan who inspired me on the day to pursue my dream of being a qualified PT. This years lineup was just as impressive and was headlined by Dr Hazel Wallace aka The Food Medic.

The incredible thing about Balance Expo is that everybody will have a different experience depending on what they choose to attend on the day. Timetables change by the hour where you could choose between attending a talk on the main stage, a niche talk or an activity. Activities included yoga, meditation, zumba, pilates and HIIT.

Unlike last year there weren’t a huge amount of stalls as the emphasis was placed on the activities and talks but they most certainly did not disappoint.

Meditation

First up I attended a mindfulness session with Platinum Pilates which provided a sense of calmness before a jam packed day. The session ran for thirty minutes which was the perfect amount of time as gave enough time to be present in the moment while being short enough that it didn’t tire people out.

Morning Meditation

Joe O’Connor: Rethinking Stress from an Exercise and Nutrition Science Perspective

Next I went to Joe O’Connor’s talk on stress management. He spoke about the science behind stress and the different forms of stress on the body. He placed emphasis on stress from exercise using the example of the gym. If we were to do a resistance session and tear our muscle fibres but not give our muscles sufficient time to rest we will not progress and make matters worse. However if we give our muscles time to repair we will grow stronger and make greater progress.

Joe O’Connor on Stress Management

Alison Canavan: The Mindful Path to Better Living

Next up was Alison Canavan who spoke about how we can make small changes in our lives to be the best versions of ourselves. Alison had everybody’s attention from the minute she started talking. She spoke about her past and her history of addiction and the steps she took to overcome her struggle.

The most powerful tool she gave to the audience was ‘Stop-Catch-Change’. If people find themselves slipping back into old habits or speaking negatively to themselves they should STOP themselves, CATCH the thought or behaviour and CHANGE what they are doing. Alison emphasised the fact that change has to be sustainable and slow for it to make a change in our lives.

Alison Canavan on making sustainable changes

Alison has a member of the audience come on stage at the end of her talk to practice gratitude. She listed off all of the things that she was grateful for which made for an emotional few minutes and showed how practicing gratitude can improve our lives.

The Food Medic: Cooking Demo, Health and Wellbeing Discussion

Next up came Dr Hazel Wallace. She started off by showing the audience how to make rice paper rolls and a peanut dipping sauce, a healthier alternative to spring rolls. She proved how easy and quick it is to make a healthy meal by having a member of the audience prepare one herself. Hazel spoke about how taking time to cook a healthy meal can be a way to destress and take time for ourselves after a busy day.

The Food Medic cooking up a storm

Unlike many health professionals, Hazel isn’t a fan of counting macros or calories as it isn’t sustainable in the long term. She spoke about this in her Q&A with the audience and she also touched on the topics of coffee and alcohol consumption, both of which she believes we can have in moderation.

Myself and Dr Hazel Wallace

After Hazel’s talk I nipped out for a healthy lunch. There was great feedback on the food that was available at the venue and the coffee got a huge thumbs up from me. 

David Gillick: Cooking Healthy Meals to Keep You on Track

Next up on the Main Stage was former Olympian David Gillick with a cooking demo. David cooked a prawn stir fry recipe from his latest book ‘Back on Track’. He gave fantastic tips on food prep to make healthy eating easier as well as tips for making quick healthy homemade sauces. David spoke about improving gut health with consumption of vegetables being his top tip as well as eating regularly.

David Gillick cooking a recipe from Back on Track

David bravely opened up about his struggle with depression and the steps he has taken to improve his mental health. He strongly advised that people should seek help if they are struggling as it is the first step to getting back on track. He also spoke about the importance of diet and exercise for a healthy mind. I found Davids’s talk to be the most inspirational of the day due to his honesty and advice for others.

Catching up with David Gillick

There were some fantastic stalls on the day such as Fulfil, The Gym Advisors, Nisus fitness and my personal favourite dōTerra essential oils.

The event was absolutely fantastic and had everybody going home with lessons learned and great moods. I would like to thank Balance Expo for having me on the day and I will definitely be attending in 2020. Be sure to follow Balance on Instagram @balance_expo and check out their website balanceexpo.ie. You can also find my interview with The Food Medic here.

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