Body + Balance: Maintaining an upbeat life

Yoga, gardening and a Waiheke escape pad are just some of the pastimes that help this media creative to maintain her optimistic outlook on life

Heather Lee, managing director of production company ZoomSlide. Photo / Babiche Martens
Heather Lee, managing director of production company ZoomSlide. Photo / Babiche Martens

Creative and dynamic, Heather Lee leads a busy life as managing director of Zoomslide - a media production company responsible for a number of top TV shows including World Kitchen and the current Real Pasifik with chef Robert Oliver (TV One, Saturday, 4pm). Having originally trained as an actor in London, Heather moved into producing in the 90s, working with Theatre At Large, Arts Alive, Q Theatre, Silo and Tempo Dance Festival at the Hero Parade. The constant in her life is change, she says, as well as working with fascinating people and stories. "It makes life, interesting, inspiring and also stressful."

How is life for you right now?
It's amazing at the moment, but I'm also pretty out of balance. I'm coming off the back of three big, busy work years and need a decent break. So I've just booked two weeks' yoga in Thailand and leave this week. I went there five years ago, and it was amazing.
What keeps you focused and in a good state of mind when you have so much going on? I'm an eternal optimist. I look for the best in situations and people and even though I set lots of goals, I tend to let things find their natural flow and try not to sweat the small things. I'm starting to understand more that without good health you don't really have anything so I'm making this a priority.

How do you stop yourself from feeling as though you are being pulled in several directions at once?
I'm always being pulled in 100 directions. I'm consciously trying to simplify things at the moment, not fill up all my time, and leave space to be more spontaneous. I'm good at prioritising and lists so I just write a list and work through things and don't give myself a hard time if I don't get it all done.

What keeps you motivated?
I'm a big dreamer and often set huge goals and then have to work out how on earth to do it, so that keeps life pretty interesting. I have lots of friends and colleagues who are pretty inspiring.

If you start to feel low in energy what do you do?
If I'm really tired I sleep. If I'm unmotivated I try to work out why and see what I can change. In dire moments of unmotivated headspace I resort to big doses of St John's wort - works a treat for me.

What do you do to switch off?
If I need to be still I can lie around and watch movies, read a novel or listen to music. If I want to be more active, a few hours in the garden always works, and I've just started mountain biking, which I love. And massage. I carry all my stress in my body so I've always had lots of massage and bodywork.

How do you incorporate exercise into your life?
I know when I exercise that I just feel so much better but for the past 10 years, exercise in my life has been less routine. I blame working too hard and not prioritising it. I'm trying to change this. I started yoga about 15 years ago and have managed to maintain a series of poses/stretches even when I can't get to classes.

Who has shaped your way of thinking and how?
My parents gave me a great set of values which I still run my life by: be kind to people, be responsible for your actions - cause and effect, work hard and always give everything your best shot. I've been influenced strongly and inspired by the amazing directors, artists, actors, writers and musicians in my life.

Describe a dream day or dream week?
I had the best day in the office about a month ago. Sailing on the vaka Hine Moana on Auckland harbour as part of Real Pasifik. Actually the Real Pasifik project has been a dream job.

What books have influenced you most and why?
I read a big combo of fiction and non-fiction. My favourite novel recently was Ann Patchett's State of Wonder and I loved Patti Smith's Just Friends. I read a lot of business books, too, which are generally recommended by business mentors, stuff like Good to Great, Where Good Ideas come from, Strengths Based Leadership, etc.

Describe your beauty routine?
My beauty routine is pretty simple. Internally - drink lots of water, eat well, exercise and sleep. Externally - go for a run rather than succumb to buying bigger clothes. A good hairdresser is essential. I don't wear a lot of makeup but rely on red lipstick, mascara and tinted moisturiser and I like to paint my nails - a lot.

What are your top five essentials to living life well?
Live your life by your experiences and not by the things you acquire. Spend as much time as possible with people you love. Try to align your work and your passion if you can. As you get older, prioritise your health. Take responsibility for your life, the good and bad, and realise you are the only person who can change it.


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