How I Transformed My Health by Transforming My Life – The Elegant Balance Solution

“This new awareness has enabled me to reconnect to myself deeply; learning the secret language of my body so I can hear it whisper, rather than endure its screams. The persistent illnesses that plagued my daily life are a distant memory. I move through my days with comfort, ease, clarity, balance and a deep sense of purpose and fulfillment. Everyone deserves to live like this.”

Outwardly everything looked fine. I had a successful, challenging career with a Fortune 100 company and all that it implies: a prestigious title, a generous compensation package, and plenty of perks.  I was happily married and living in a beautiful custom home in an upscale area.  I had reached the sweet spot, the place I had been aiming for since early college years decades earlier.  Yet something was not right.

world awaits

All along the path of my adult life I had battled persistent chronic illnesses ranging from TMJ dysfunction to persistent upper respiratory infections, environmental allergies, pelvic and back pain, GERD, and IBS. I was on a constant merry-go-round of symptom-pain-medication- repeat. At times I felt like I had a terrorist living in my body – a sleeper cell that would attack without warning and completely immobilize me, taking me out of my productive routine and robbing me of everything from enjoying simple pleasures to having peace of mind in my daily life.

I worked hard at getting my health back and keeping healthy: listening to and following the doctors’ advice – changing my environment, changing my diet, even having surgery to alleviate my pain.

And there was the nagging feeling that something was missing. I had ‘arrived’ but it wasn’t fulfilling me.  There was a sense of emptiness.  Was the conquest really more satisfying than the attainment?  Had I been tricked into believing in something that was an illusion?  Or had my values changed over time with life experience and maturity?

Old wooden door with bougainvillea in CyprusAlong with the emptiness came a sense of restlessness, an urgent need to seek out something more.  I knew deep in my soul that what was precious and sacred within me would not survive another two decades if I continued on the current path. I knew I had to make a change, but to what? And how? Fortunately, the circumstances of my life created a window of opportunity, a chance to leave what I knew to seek what my soul needed. Little did I know that the act of following my heart and changing careers would be the beginning of re-inventing my life in a way that brought me back to the authenticity of my childhood and embraced my soul’s true purpose.

After a great deal of research and planning I determined that I would open a business that would enable me to work with the animals closest to my heart since early childhood: horses. That decision opened a path that I could not have comprehended at the time, and became the catalyst for a journey that has been more of a personal metamorphosis than merely a career change.

Beautiful sensual women with white horse

Over the past decade and a half horses have opened my heart and my broadened my awareness to all things spiritual and metaphysical. These teachers have taught me about being fully present and self-aware in a way that is grounding and peaceful. They have taught me about energy and personal boundaries. As I worked on them they were working on me, helping me to become a better person. All along the way the horses were quietly working their magic in transforming me and my entire life for the better, leading me to new adventures and insights and greater fulfillment.

This new awareness has enabled me to reconnect to myself deeply; learning the secret language of my body so I can hear it whisper, rather than endure its screams. The persistent illnesses that plagued my daily life are a distant memory. I move through my days with comfort, ease, clarity, balance and a deep sense of purpose and fulfillment. Everyone deserves to live like this.

It is now my great privilege to help others step out onto their path; to overcome the obstacles that keep them stuck in patterns that create dis-ease, stress, pain and lack of fulfillment.

I believe there is magic in following the whispers of our hearts. I believe that when we step off the well-worn path towards our heart’s desire, help is manifested.  I believe that when we reach for our dreams, we are lifted. This is my wish for you in your life.

Lisa Murray Machala is the owner of Winning Edge Bodywork and the creator of The Elegant Balance Solution, a private 90 day program for busy professionals who seek to transform chronic illness, pain, stress and overwhelm so they are free to contribute at their highest levels and live the life they are meant to LOVE.

Contact Lisa at or visit to schedule your complimentary phone consultation.

Top Five Things You Can Do to Combat Chronic Pain

Business woman stress and headachePain is a very personal experience and chronic pain can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. The truth is that most adults experience chronic pain in their lifetimes and the most commonly reported pain is back pain. These five strategies can help most people to some degree, and results will vary depending on the cause, location, and severity of your pain. Always consult your health care provider before making changes to your nutrition or exercise programs.back pain man

#5 – Make sure you are drinking plenty of water daily. One of the greatest contributors to muscle pain is dehydration yet most of us wait until we are thirsty to drink water. Usually this is too late. Drinking caffeine like coffee, tea, or sodas actually contribute to dehydration, so if you are drinking these, be sure to increase the water you are consuming.

The general rule of thumb is to drink one ounce of water for every two pounds of body weight. A 150 pound woman would drink about 75 ounces of water per day, and more if she consumes a lot of caffeine.

pouring water in a glass collection isolated
Stay Hydrated!

#4 Eat a more anti-inflammatory diet. Nutrition plays a larger role in our overall health and this also includes pain management. Sometimes it is easier to begin small, and just cut out a few items that you know create inflammation in the body. Sugars are a big contributor to inflammation in the body. There are a lot of great resources on the internet to find the anti-inflammatory diet that suits you best. Here are some links:

Rainbow heart of fruits and vegetables
Eat a Rainbow of Fruits and Vegetables

#3 Each morning and night, take each joint through its full range of motion. This can be done lying in bed, seated, and standing. Starting with your toes and fingers, move each joint slowly through its complete range of motion. Then proceed to wrists and ankles. First flex back and forth, and then in a circular rotation. Take your time with each movement and remember to breathe slowly. Do not force the motion.


Then move to knees and elbows, shoulders and hips. Each time, using a two dimensional movement (back/forth, up/down) and then gradually moving into a circular motion. Finally stand tall and slowly bend down to touch the floor (or as close as you can get.) I find it helps to visualize each vertebra moving, and breathe with each movement. At first this will feel difficult, but as you continue to practice, you will see more movement and ease.

#3A Keep moving. It is important to keep moving every day. Set small achievable goals, and gradually increase them. Walking is a great place to start. Walking outdoors is even better. If weather is challenging or unsafe, there are often walking groups at local malls and high schools.


#2 Take Epsom salt baths and use Epsom salt warm compresses. Moist heat is good for chronically sore muscle and soft tissue. Epsom salt can take that comfort to an even higher level. Epsom salt has minerals that help alleviate painful muscles and joints.

mature woman in a bathtub
Epsom Salt baths soothe achy tired muscles

You can purchase Epsom salt at your local drug store or online. Remember to increase salt volume if you have an extra-large tub. If you don’t have a tub or cannot safely get in and out of tub, then you can make hot compresses with Epsom salt to get the same effect. Fill a sink with warm / hot water (to your liking) add Epsom salt and let it dissolve. Place a white towel (salt can bleach colors) into the hot Epsom salt solution, wring it out, and wrap on the affected area. This is great for neck, shoulder, knee, back – pretty much anywhere you need some relief. Try this before bed time and see how it improves your comfort and quality of sleep.

#1 Be conscious of your posture. Many of us stand and sit in a slouched position. Check your posture daily. Poor posture contributes to pain and to other health issues.


#1.1 Get regular therapeutic massage. In general there are a lot of great health benefits to getting a massage, and even more so for pain relief. Massage helps get the body out of ‘flight or fight’ mode, and promotes natural relaxation including the release of “feel good” hormones like endorphins and dopamine. Therapeutic massage includes specific techniques to stretch and release tight muscles and connective tissues that contribute to or even cause pain.

massage 9


When selecting a massage therapist, be sure to ask what their training and experience has been. You want to work with a therapist who is specifically skilled in therapeutic techniques to reduce pain and improve mobility and range of motion.

LMACHALALisa Murray Machala, LMT is the owner/ operator of Winning Edge Bodywork. For over 14 years she has been working with athletes and chronic pain clients to help them feel and perform at their best. She specializes in fascial release and CranioSacral Therapy to help clients get out of pain and return to the activities they love. Winning Edge Bodywork is located at Park on the Green at 12 Mile and Halsted Roads in Farmington Hills Michigan. Please visit to learn more, or click here to schedule a complementary 20 minute consultation:        

5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Reduce Your Back Pain

Eighty percent of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Back pain affects half of working Americans.  Sources estimate that there are over 206 million people in the U.S. workforce.  That means over 103 million people will at some point suffer from back pain. That is a staggering number!

woman back pain

Here are a few more interesting facts about back pain:

  • Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the Global Burden of Disease 2010.
  • Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work.  In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.
  • One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year.2
  • Experts estimate that as much as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in their lives.3
  • Most cases of back pain are mechanical or non-organic—meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer.
  • Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain—and that’s just for the more easily identified costs.4

These facts come from the American Chiropractic Association.

As a licensed massage therapist, I see a lot of clients with back pain.  Most of the time I am able to help them relieve the pain and resume normal activities. Often clients get some immediate relief, some times it may take a number of sessions to maintain a comfortable back.  Over the years I have noticed that we often set ourselves up for back pain and there are a number of small but important modifications we can make in our lives to reduce back pain and even reduce the risk of back pain in some cases!

Here are some of the small actions we can take today to reduce back pain and improve the quality of our lives.

#5. A healthy back starts from the ground up.  This means wearing good supportive shoes and maybe even insoles or orthotics.  Having our feet in proper position and feeling comfortable is the best start to reduce the risk of back pain.  Uncomfortable shoes can cause foot/heel pain, and this pain can set the stage for a series of compensation patterns that change your gate and posture, and ultimately contribute to musculoskeletal pain in the legs, back and elsewhere.

Athlete running road silhouette
Are your shoes road weary?  Worn shoes can cause musculoskeletal pain that leads to back pain.

If you are wearing the same shoes every day for work, you probably need to replace them within three to six months, perhaps sooner if you are standing / walking a great deal.  The same holds true for athletic shoes.  Really, any shoe that is being exposed to regular work should be examined carefully for wear and replaced at the first sign of discomfort or wear.

#4. It amazes me the number of women and men who carry boat anchors over their shoulders!  I am being facetious, but I am trying to make a point here!  So many people today are carrying computer bags, gym bags and oversize purses that weigh too much.  Remember a 20 pound weight exerts more than 20 pounds of force if it is being carried over your shoulder on a two inch wide strap. Take a look at what you are carrying around every day. Do you really need to carry it all?

The busy working woman
A recipe for neck and back pain: carrying a heavy bag over the shoulder, cradling a phone between shoulder and ear, and having neck and head position out of correct alignment.

If so, maybe you should consider a rolling bag. Years ago my employer had employees parking in a deck located several blocks from our office building. I had no choice but to buy and use a rolling bag. Within a couple of weeks I noticed that I had less fatigue and soreness at the end of the day.  I never went back to using a shoulder bag.  Even though I left Corporate America over 14 years ago, I still have a rolling bag for those occasions when I know I will be dragging a lot of supplies with me.  I even bought a rolling cart for my massage table to make sure I don’t fall into the trap of carrying my table from a shoulder strap.  Do your back a favor and stop carrying heavy bags with your shoulders!

back pain illustrationAnd guys if you are still carrying a gigantic wallet in your rear pocket, you are crooked.  A thick wallet or any other thick object in a back pocket tips your pelvis when you are sitting. A crooked pelvis puts uneven pressure on surrounding muscle groups and changes the shape of the back. It is impossible to sit up straight and even with a level pelvis when there is too much in your pockets.

#3. Now let’s talk about one of my favorite subjects: sleep.  Good quality sleep can be a huge catalyst for an improved life.  Some day I will tell you about sleep apnea, but today we are talking about back pain and how to prevent it.  If you have ever slept on a poor mattress and woken up with a backache, you know how important good spinal support  is for the back.  If you suffer from back pain, a bad mattress makes matters worse. If you don’t have back pain, but sleep on a poor mattress, you will eventually get back pain.

spinal alignment
A supportive mattress and pillow help keep the spine in correct alignment. This provides better quality sleep and reduces risk of back pain.

The spine needs to be in alignment, from the base of your skull to your tailbone.  This means having a supportive mattress (and pillow) that allows you to feel supported with your spine fully aligned.  Pillows that are too high or too low create incorrect curvature of the spine and can also contribute to back pain, to say nothing of neck pain too!


looking down at phone man.jpg
Looking down strains neck muscles and upper back muscles.  This position also allows the front muscle line to contract, making it more difficult to keep healthy alignment.

#2. There are several habits we also need to consider as contributors to back pain and a couple of these are related to our dependence on technology.  Two of the most common habits that contribute to neck and back pain are cradling a phone between the shoulder and ear, and looking down at screens.  It is so tempting to try to multi-task when we are in a hurry. Cradling the phone between shoulder and ear frees our hands to do important things, right?  This is a sure path to a sore neck or upper back.  With the advent of ear buds, better head sets, and blue tooth, there are plenty of other options. Your neck and back will thank you for it.

#1. Being careful of our seated and standing posture can produce dramatic improvements in our overall well being and reduce back pain.  We are often not aware of how much our posture has changed over time.  Check how you are sitting in your chair right now.  Is your spine straight, chest lifted, head centered over shoulders? Or are you slouching, with your head forward of your body? Checking in and taking standing and stretch breaks are really helpful if you sit at a desk all day.  If you have a


desk chair that does not promote correct posture relative to desk top, computer screen, and keyboard, see about getting a better chair. There are now adapter kits that can turn your desktop into a standing desk configuration.

#1.1 Our muscles store patterns. These patterns can make it hard to change habits.  Working with a healthcare professional like a licensed massage therapist can be the key to getting successful results in reducing or eliminating your back pain.  You can locate a qualified therapist through professional referral sources like


Lisa Machala is a licensed massage therapist and practitioner of CranioSacral Therapy. She owns Winning Edge Bodywork in Farmington Hills, Michigan. If you would like to book an appointment, please click on  Or visit for more information.



Welcome to Winning Edge Bodywork

I created Winning Edge Bodywork because I believe good manual therapy is one of the most under-utilized, yet most effective methods for creating and maintaining vibrant health and an active lifestyle.
As a survivor of two roll-over car accidents and multiple concussions, I attribute my active lifestyle and overall health to regular bodywork. I know this works, because I live it!
Winning means different things to different people, but I believe we all want to win and we all want to be winners at the things that are important to us. I believe most people want to live an active, happy, healthy life. They want to be able to move through their days with ease, comfort, and passion. However you define your Winning Edge, I want to help you achieve it!
I serve clients who are challenged by moderate to severe chronic pain, who just want their active lifestyle back. Having a Winning Edge means reducing or eliminating the pain that prevents you from living a happy, active, fulfilling live.
I serve athletes looking for a competitive advantage by enhancing the body’s natural abilities through specific bodywork. Having a Winning Edge means systematically challenging your body to do and be more, and CORE Myofascial bodywork helps thousands of athletes around the world do just that!
I believe that bodywork is not only a gateway to a better functioning, pain free body, but it is also a pathway to greater possibilities in life. I offer packages and programs that are results-based, so whether you are an athlete looking for specific improvements in athletic capability, or whether you are someone wants to feel better and function with more ease in your body and your life, I can customize a bodywork program that meets your needs and gets you the results you want!
My approach is holistic and my programs involve specific bodywork sessions as well as other Body-Mind-Spirit activities and practices, resources, tools and coaching to help you reach your specific goals.
I look forward to working with you to help you achieve the Winning Edge in your life!