With a doctorate of Medicine and a Bachelor’s of Science in Dietetics from the University of British Columbia, Dr. Susan Biali is perhaps the best-educated flamenco dancer in the world.
In addition to her part-time medical and coaching practice, Dr. Biali dances on international stages. She had her own flamenco and salsa dance company in Los Cabos, Mexico, from 2006 to 2009, and has danced for celebrity and has also given private dance lessons to singer/songwriter Pink.
Last but certainly not least, Dr. Biali is also an author. She writes columns for several prominent magazines and websites (including MOMeo Community), and her book Live a Life you Love, 7 Steps to a Healthier, Happier, More Passionate You hits book stands everywhere on March 1st – or on her site at www.livealifeyoulovebook.com.
MOMeo: This must be very exciting for you – your book is available next week. Tell us a little about it.
Dr. Susan Biali: Of course! The full title is Live a Life you Love, 7 Steps to a Healthier, Happier, More Passionate You. Basically how I came up with it, is me! (laughs) I changed my life so dramatically. I was an emergency medicine resident…
MOMeo: I always forget you were a doctor!
Dr. Susan Biali: Tell me about it! Now, I’m a dancer, speaker, author, I love my life now. My life then felt so completely different. My overall sense of optimism, my energy, down to the way I feel energized when I get out of bed every morning – everything is just so improved. So, I decided to write a book specifically about how anyone can improve their own lives on seven levels.
MOMeo: Without giving the book away for free, what would you say is best single piece of advice?
Dr. Susan Biali: Well, for entrepreneurs – moms especially, who are so busy, just go go go, all the time – what I recommend, is taking time to stop completely and detach from the responsibilities of day to day life. That’s a consistent theme through the whole book.
MOMeo: You must get some pushback on that one. (laughs)
Dr. Susan Biali: I know it sounds airy fairy! I’ve experienced this myself: when we’re too busy, we create distance from who we are – really are – inside. What moves us, brings us joy, what the body is telling us.
MOMeo: Can you give me an example of that?
Dr. Susan Biali: Well, you can hear me sniffling through this cold! (laughs) I’ve been pushing too hard lately, and my body is out of balance. That happens quite often with we entrepreneurs; it’s wonderful to be so passionate about your business, your “new baby.” But that passion can push you over the edge and you can be spread way too thin. It’s vital to remember the 3 fundamental balance basics.
First, and I know it’s hard, but try to get 8 hours of sleep. A recent study in moms showed additional sleep made the greatest single improvement in their quality of life. An extra of hour sleep per night was worth $60,000 in more income. Hard to believe, but true.
Second, making sure you eat throughout the day, starting with breakfast. We tend to skim, rush – but have to be there for yourself. Third and finally, exercise. I know it feels so cliché, but it’s so little. It doesn’t have to be a huge workout. Most days for me, my exercise consists of just walking the dog for 20 minutes – but it makes such a difference. Studies have shown 20 minutes of moderate exercise creates a mood boost; emotional stability that lasts for 12 hours afterwards.
MOMeo: So if having a cold is evidence you’re asking too much of your body, feeling unmotivated is evidence you’re doing the wrong thing with your day?
Dr. Susan Biali: Yes. You’ve got to stop and listen to yourself; ask where you’ve gone astray. Most of the time, we don’t stop and pay attention.
MOMeo: is that what happened to you?
Dr. Susan Biali: Totally! During my research scholarship, a very successful person told me it was ridiculous to just be a dietician. Instead, I should be a surgeon, GP (doctor), dentist or lawyer. Otherwise, it would be a waste, you know? But, here’s the thing: I don’t like to touch people!
MOMeo: That’s not good for a GP!
Dr. Susan Biali: Not at all! When he told me thought, I thought: eew! That’s an authentic response; me saying “I don’t want to do.” My society-trained, conditioned brain took over then. I told myself, this man had a point; he’s brilliant man, he knows more about life, and logically, his advice made great sense. But for me – the real me, that went “eew” – it was totally the wrong choice. Culture pushes us to be driven by norms, where it’s normal for a person with a doctorate in medicine to be a surgeon or something like that. It’s more comfortable that way.
MOMeo: Okay, that sounds great – but let’s say I yearn to be a (ice hockey) goalie. No matter how much I want to play for the Calgary Flames, it’s not going to happen. Deep down, everyone wants to be a quarterback, or movie star, right? How can people get there?
Dr. Susan Biali: Studies have shown people always assume (other) people want the same things they do – but that’s so very wrong. Variety is mind boggling – and it’s so revealing. You’d be amazed what people’s true passions are.
But let’s say it’s something really hard to accomplish. One of the most common ones – more than you’d think – is people decide “I want to be singer.” Of course, the killjoy pipes up and says it’s really hard to be famous, why bother, that sort of thing. But some people when they take the steps towards what they want to do, have just the most unbelievable experience as a result of following that path.
I mean, I started flamenco at 30, and since then I’ve performed for major celebs, and otherwise done quite well – what are the odds of that? You have to consider the flipside – maybe a goalie doesn’t have the stature or skill to play in the Olympics, but they can have the time of their life going to hockey camp.
MOMeo: So you’d agree it’s better to try and maybe fail?
Dr. Susan Biali: Totally. People who have succeeded have found they’ve failed constantly on the way. They’ll tell you if you’re not failing, you’re only slowing yourself down. You’re not aiming high.
MOMeo: What do you say to people who feel tied down to their situation? Let’s say a single mom has an OK job but really wants to launch her own business, but just doesn’t feel she can justify the risk?
Dr. Susan Biali: I would say: start with small steps. You can certainly do that. There’s a very strong gut instinct there; you might be burning bridges and you’ll sink or swim. I mean, I haven’t even had guts to completely do that – I still work part-time as physician. It came in handy in downturn, when my husband lost his job. We were quite stuck. Besides, so many employers support these steps, and are happy to support people wanting to run or start businesses in addition to their “real job.” Get creative, and you’llbe amazed by things that happen.
MOMeo: Finally, where can MOMeos find your book?
Dr. Susan Biali: I’m so fortunate – it will be a Barnes & Noble front of store feature in March. I had great success with that – I learned a book is a business. You can’t rely on your publisher (although mine is great) to do all your marketing; you have to drive most of it yourself.
MOMeo: Thanks for your time today – and best wishes!
Dr. Susan Biali: Thank you so much! Any time!