My week at a Health Retreat (UPDATED)

I was lucky enough to head back to Gwinganna a couple of weeks ago, and it astounded me what a different experience it was.  It was still JUST WHAT I NEEDED, but it really hit home the point to me, that the dynamic of the people that you attend anything with have a huge factor in determining how much you like or dislike something.

The main difference for me was that on this occasion, there seemed to be an unwritten rule, where you don’t talk about what you do, or why you are there.  Instead, everyone got to know each other without any pre-conceived ideas, and it was refreshing. I found the mood much lighter too which was brilliant.

What I love about Gwinganna, is that you are under no pressure to do anything you don’t want to do…  I went in feeling absolutely burnt out, and 7 days later, I feel amazing, my face screams health, I’ve found my love of exercise again (or more the energy for it) and the energy to be a better parent (well happy with just managing to parent).  My immune system is renewed and I have a mind free from clutter.  I am ready to forge ahead, and enjoy the everyday.  Will I go back, yes absolutely – but I will definitely try one or 2 other health retreats before I go again (having said that, I am in the process of booking hubby in for a break)… my next retreat that I will attend will be a little bit different though – I am heading to Bali for the ‘WELL FIT BREAK'(by Body by Bex and Kristina from Lighterliving Wellness), you can read all about that here.

Now that I have seen the benefits (twice) of a health retreat/fitness break – there is no going back (as in, they are very much part of my life)..

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Originally posted January 2015.

I have been married for nearly 13 years… and in that time, had 3 children and moved around a fair bit.  Alot of the time we have lived away from family, and hubby has always had a demanding job.

 

Because of this, any holiday time we have had away from the kids, has been just Greg and I.  Since I have been married and had kids, I had NEVER had more than 2 nights away on my own.

Last year, the stars aligned, and I spent a week at a Health Retreat… and there is no stopping me now.

 

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I booked in for the 7 day Detox at Gwingana on the Gold Coast in Australia (detox being no sugar, no dairy, no gluten and no alcohol).  I thought I would starve, but the food was AMAZING.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  I was going for what I would call a ‘mummy break’.

To sleep.  To have my meals cooked for me.  To exercise.  To have spa treatments.  To lose the last of my baby weight. To just be.

Let me start off by saying, I love love loved it, and I would go back.  But there were things I didn’t love about it.

 

 

We were picked up by bus from Gold Coast airport, and I was surprised to see so many males.  I don’t know quite what I was expecting.  Maybe more mums on mummy breaks.

 

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On arrival to Gwinganna, I felt instantly relaxed.  The retreat is high in the hinterland with views back over the Gold Coast and out to the ocean.

The retreat is made up mainly of old Queensland buildings that have been transported to the site.  There are a few new buildings as well.    Wondering around the retreat, I felt like I was on the movie set of a cult thriller!  It made me laugh.  It wasn’t the only time during the week that I felt like that.

 

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Generally each day starts with up to 3 hours of exercise (easy/moderate sessions or higher energy sessions), a seminar, lunch and then rest time/spa or wellness sessions.

A typical day started at 5.45 with Qi gong on the hillside as the sun rose.   I did not partake in this.  I was on a mummy break incase you hadn’t worked this out.  It didn’t make sense to me, to have a week away from the kids, and get up EARLIER than I do with a baby.  Are you serious?

You can do as little or as much as you like (sleep for 7 days and have your food brought to your room if that’s what you need) I did pull myself out of bed for the 6.30am morning hike though everyday, and was pleased that I did.

 

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Day ONE and I felt I needed to go to all the sessions and all the seminars, and I was exhausted – so I reminded myself why I was there.  So I did the exercise in the morning, lay by the pool in the middle of the day, then did spa treatments, and read my books and napped.

I cannot tell you how amazing I felt.  I felt energised.  There was no tv.  Mobile phones only in your room.  I felt rested.  My brain felt calm and clear.  No schedules.  No interruptions.  Nothing to think about.  Seriously the hardest thing I had to do each day was decide which main to have for my dinner (2 options).

 

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Gwinganna doesn’t come cheap… so I had pretty high expectations of the rooms.  They were lovely, with relaxing scenic views.  But I was a little disappointed.  The reminded me of a 5 star school camp cabin.  I could hear the people in the other rooms.

One of the things I really was in 2 minds about, was that we sat at communal tables for all of our meals with the other guests.  On one hand, it was really nice to meet some new people, but on the other hand, due to my husband’s job and having to attend events, and moving frequently, I am over making small talk.  I still did, but my heart wasn’t it in.

 

I felt somewhat superficial when on the first night people where talking about why they were there – couples trying to reconnect, people with drinking or drug issues, people needing guidance on how to cope their life.  I was there for diet, sleep and exercise!

 

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Gwingana is quite a spiritual place.  I am not.   Everyone is very cheery – some people would find this annoying.  It makes me sound bitter and twisted, especially if you are one of these cheery people.  They were lovely, and helpful… and if I am even in a place in my life where I need to talk to someone, I would TOTALLY chose to go and see them.  I’m not sure if I was in the right place for a mummy break though.

There exercises ranged from meditation, yoga, Pilates to Tribal dancing (so funny), TRX training, hiking, walking, gym work, personal training, fit ball, spin classes, water polo.  My favourite was the boxing.

The spa is beautiful.  Set amongst the forest.  I had some interesting spa treatments.  The usual facials, and massages.  I decided to have a Thai massage (have had a few in my time).. but this one, OMG, could you hear me screaming?   I also decided to have a colonoscopy.. for the first time (they say its good for you)… a lot more uncomfortable than I expected.  It was recommended to have a special stomach massage prior to the treatment for best results.  Hmm, that was interesting too.  I felt like my masseuse was reaching into my stomach and ripping out my internal organs… for the first 15 mins, then after that I was so relaxed I feel asleep!  Apparently its something to do with the toxins.

 

By the end of the 7 days, I felt like I had been away for 2 weeks.  It was incredible.  There were people there who had been several times, and I can understand why.  It’s a total reset.

Many men and women  in high stress jobs go there to just take a step back and rest.  There were overworked celebrities there who just needed a break.

 

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So now, I am hooked.  I have made it my mission to have a mummy break every year at a health retreat.

It had the desired effect.  I lost my baby weight (3 kgs and it stayed off).  I lost fat content.  I slept and slept. I was pampered to the ends of the earth.  I lay by the pool.  My mind was clear and I was ready to face whatever life had to throw at me next.

There is alot to be learnt whilst you are there, and they say if you can take just one thing away from it, you will be better off.   I started getting up an hour earlier everyday, and its changed my life.  Seriously.  (More on that another time).

I totally recommend it.

 

 

 

 

 

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