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How one workaholic is using exercise to bring her body back into balance

Kelley Keehn is photographed in Toronto on March 15, 2012. She has different workout routines depending if she's on the road or at home, including the Billy Blanks Tae Bo program.

Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Motivated by a big career push, Kelley Keehn, 36, a personal finance expert and author based in Edmonton, follows an Ayurvedic diet and works out to manage stress when she travels. Of Indian origin, Ayurveda is self-healing based on treating mind, body and emotions, using herbal remedies, and managing diet, lifestyle and surroundings. Ms. Keehn may be overdoing it; she needs a little help to bring her body back into balance.

My goal

"To stay healthy and strong so I can do my job better. I'm a workaholic and when my career got more stressful in 2005, after I left the comfort of a predictable job, and started doing TV and public speaking – things that terrified me – exercise gave me mental focus while strengthening my body and a way to channel my energy."

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My workout

"Five days a week I do one-hour sessions using Billy Blanks Tae Bo Total Transformation Training program, with another 30 minutes focused on ab work. I used to study Tae Kwon Do many years ago and it makes me feel strong. With Billy's motivational aerobics-meets-kickboxing style and his yelling at the camera, I can work out anywhere in the world. I don't get bored with his stuff because just when I think I've got it, he changes steps – forget kicking to the head, I can barely kick to the shin.

"At my core, I'm very shy and I'm a high-strung kinda girl, and [doing his workout]I'm like 'arrghh' so I'm punching and kicking and I have a metaphorical opponent. With martial arts it's about respecting and serving.

"On the road, I do 40 minutes on the hotel's elliptical. It's not unusual for me to be up at 3 a.m. to get in a workout. There probably are programs I could use on the machine, but I'm into my music."

My lifestyle

"I have a challenge eating animal protein, but I love cheese. I cannot eat breakfast. I do a light lunch that's based on my Ayurveda body – mine being Vata. I learned this listening to Deepak Chopra on tape 15 years ago, who explained that certain exercises and foods bring my body into balance. When I eat cold foods I have digestive issues. The guideline is: no cold foods, no carbonated beverages, no salads and only eat cooked vegetables, and eat dairy and yogurt at noon, warm milk before bed.

"I added cayenne pepper to my foods, other than desserts, and now I hardly get migraines.

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"I'm totally hooked on Emergen-C [a powdered supplement mix]because with a high-stress job you blow out your B vitamins and your electrolytes, but it makes water yummy."

My motivation

"To do the best I can in my career. Without the DVDs or elliptical or a big city to walk around in, I'm not as grounded and physically strong throughout the day."

My anthem

"Paradise by Coldplay, Invincible by Hedley, Florence + The Machine's Drumming Song, and Rococo by Arcade Fire."

My challenge

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"Following the recommendation for my body type of only eating warm food, which means saying goodbye to healthy snacks, bars and sandwiches. My diet can't be rigid; I'm on the road way too much."

The critique

Jane Clapp, founder of Urbanfitt in Toronto, is certified in physical activity, fitness and lifestyle assessment through Ryerson University and the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiologists. Ms Clapp says Ms. Keehn needs help to manage her fatigue.

Test for adrenal fatigue

"Kelley should consult with a professional who can check her health and assess her risk for burnout. With the amount of travel, the lack of sleep, and being up and working out, these sound like symptoms of adrenal fatigue. This means you start running on cortisol [a chemical produced in the body to manage stress]and adrenalin as energy in response to stress. That translates to inflammation and higher levels of cortisol, so you can't rest, you can't repair, and you can't get the benefits of your workout."

Meditate to fall asleep

"Sleep is essential. After a high-intensity workout, Kelley's immune system is suppressed, and if she can't get eight hours, she can't rest, repair, and can't get the benefits of her workout. Kelley should eliminate caffeine after noon and try 10 minutes of mindful meditation before bed to calm her nervous system."

This interview has been condensed and edited

Special to The Globe and Mail

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