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10 Things I Learned Living In Bali For 6 Weeks

Time is our only true currency. So use it wisely. This message gets imprinted on my brain every morning as I power through my Tim Ferris, Tom Bilyeu, and Lewis Howes podcasts on the F train to work. This dream of Urban Wellness Clinic has never really felt like “work” but why not take a break, let the brain breathe to invite in some creativity, and go check on our newly finished house in the rice paddy fields of Ubud, Bali. We flew the 26 hours to Bali, 1 year old Baby Elvis in tow, on December 12th to spend 6 weeks training staff, finishing up loose ends, and relaxing by the pool. Little did I know, so much more would come to the surface in my daily musings and down time. Here’s what I learned:

1.I love hard work. I love the hustle of NYC, coming across all walks of life, and spending long hours working with patients to get them moving better and pain free. I’m good for about 5 days of down time before I start to get restless. Then I just get tired, as if my body clock is slowing down in light years. Some colleagues would call this healing from adrenal fatigue. I call this the Bali decompression helped by 100% humidity and 85 degree heat.

2.The Balinese love babies. OMG do they swoon over them. The rice paddie farmer to the shop owner will stop what they are doing to come over, smile and play with your baby. Perfect for the germphobic NY’er. I’m told the Balinese don’t put their children on the ground for the first year of life. I’d love to do a study on how this affects their attachment, weaning, and motor control skills.

3.Bali is the wild west amongst the ex-pat community. Souls from all over the world are starting their own business, freelancing, or becoming digital nomads choosing how and when they work. We met a Canadian couple with a pickle business, a couple from Denver with an online Vape shop, and another Australian couple teaching guitar lessons online, just to name a few. All working as little as 4 hours a week to 14 hours a day, depending on their desire. They’re not hustling hard because they needed to make rent, but rather that was their nature. I love this spirit to create your own reality and everyone loves to share their ”insider secrets” that they found to work for them in Bali. Examples: The best Sim card for your area in Bali and how to contact food distributors to get the same food as the restaurants at a discounted price.

4.Your health is your top priority, without it in check, every else falls apart. This has always been a clear value but even more so after a bout of Bali belly exploding from both ends and an asthma attack from trash being burned. 40 years ago banana leaves used as plates was the only trash, now there’s a combo of this with plastic bottles and building materials. Yucko!

5.Full body massage is no longer my thing and makes me feel crooked. I have old injuries like a sprained ankle and shoulder instability. I love the way a good massage calms the nervous system, but all my problem areas once rubbed down, turn off and get weaker. This leads to days of trying to regain that lost strength walking around with a kettle bell pressed overhead. I also witnessed my 67 year old mother, god I love her, get a daily massage ranging from 1-2.5 hours glow radiantly afterward but her posture wasn’t any better and she wasn’t any stronger. Simply put, in the big picture, it’s just one piece of the puzzle on the road to good health. You still gotta put the work in to condition, strength train, breathe better, and reverse years of sitting too much. This reinforced for myself that the tools we teach our patients are sound advice.

6.I love my alone time (I’m an introvert at heart). It tops up my energy tank. I found myself walking around the house with headphones digesting podcasts and Audible books when the baby was sleeping.

7.Ubud has an awesome foodie scene which is one of the attractions of building in Bali. There’s the Bali Food Festival, NY renown chef Will Goldfarb’s Room 4 Desert, and you would never believe the food at Moksha is vegan. I have yet to find a good burger in Ubud but I do love that every meal was under $30 per person.

8.I love the NYC fitness scene. Don’t get me wrong, Ubud is yoga heaven with world class teachers and 3 studios an 8 minute scooter ride away. But I admire a well-executed studio in NYC, and the branding that goes into every detail from the candle aroma to the writing on the stairways. There’s also a void of strength, spin, and HIIT workouts in Ubud. New business opportunity anyone?!?! Oh yeah and I love walking everywhere in NYC. Bali is really more of a get around by scooter country and I got away with DJ chaperoning me everywhere. 😉

9.Once I ______, then I will _________. Fill in the blanks potentially with “arrive in Bali”, then “work out every morning, do yoga and meditate everyday, journal, and wake up at sunrise.” While all this didn’t happen EVERY day, I’ve reaffirmed for myself that this can happen anywhere, it’s not about the place, it’s all mindset and keeping promises to yourself.

10.Patience is a necessary virtue when traveling to a developing and religious country. There are so many situations that can be trying: clogged traffic, language barrier, block streets from religious ceremony, and inaccurate google maps. Pause, take a breath, and know that you are exactly where you are meant to be in that moment.

Bali is a gorgeous country and someday we’ll retire there. The people are warm, hardworking, and amazing craftsmen. But for now, we’ll visit Bali when NYC is terrible and snowy. For the rest of the months, you can find our Villa Graceland, named for our Baby Elvis, on Airbnb.

Any other questions, feel free email me at or call 212-355-0445, I could talk about Bali all day.

Best in health xo

Dr Emily Kiberd