Goodbye to Gaia

She woke up feeling refreshed. She wasn’t tired, she wasn’t restless, she wasn’t anything – just plain refreshed.

She’d thought about doing yoga that morning but decided to get on the road and back to her life, her loving family, her little world outside of Gaia.

She did take a little walk across the grass to look at that view one last time. She had breakfast with Shana, a new found friend, then she said her farewells and left.

“Goodbye Gaia…” she whispered to the trees as her car turned off the driveway and back on the road to reality.

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……..

I really hope you have enjoyed reading these posts as much as I have enjoyed reminiscing as I posted them.

We all have those thoughts; you know the ones that sound like ‘gee I wish I could just stop time for a day, catch up on life, and take a breath!’ Well Gaia for me was like stopping time. It was about switching off from the outside world and diving deep into myself for a change. Life is so busy, so hectic at times that we forget about ourselves. I know it sounds weird, but, we do! We stop listening to our bodies, our hearts, our minds. We get up, get dressed, go to work, tend to the kids, do the chores, the shopping, the cooking, go to bed, get up the next day and do it all again! Rarely do we stop to enjoy the little things in life; rarely do we give in to what we really want. Maybe it’s mid-week, the house is a mess but all you really want to do is have a hot bath and read a good book.  Gaia was about learning to say yes to the bath and book. It was about learning to enjoy life, every precious moment and it was about living in the present moment too. We rush and we live in the future and sometimes the past. We don’t just be, in whatever moment we are in. This is what Gaia taught me.

I went to Gaia because I wanted to centre myself, calm my thoughts and learn to harness my emotions and energy. You see, I live in the future A LOT. I’m always thinking about what will come next – when will we get to travel again, where will we buy a house, when will we have kids, what job will I go for next, what is my destiny in life. I have these questions swirling around my head all the time and not being able to answer them drives me crazy! It’s like I need to know the answers, like my entire life depends on it. It was this attitude, this strange obsession with the future that was holding me back from living my life right now. I was missing things because I wasn’t even aware they were happening around me. Then there were those rare moments when I would ‘snap back’ to the present and be startled by its beauty. One day, for example, I was out in my backyard and realised there were the most beautiful white flowers growing next to my fence. There were just a few, a handful of tall stems shooting up from the soil. It was impressive. I couldn’t believe I’d never noticed them before!

flowers

Gaia taught me not to worry about the future. In fact, now I don’t even dwell on it. I have a book and every time I think about what I want in my future, I write it down in detail, and then I close my book and leave it. In June, I will go through the pages and see what themes reoccur. Then, when I’m ready, I will know which path I’m supposed to take.

By the time I left Gaia, my heart was open, I was letting life in, feeling positive, and I was physically rejuvenated too. The organic, healthy meals and the massages were divine and certainly helped regulate the internal creaks and cracks. All wrapped up, Gaia was like a warm blanket, a soothing touch on the body and soul. Gaia brings you back to where you want to be, where you should be. But only if you let it. It would be easy to go to Gaia for the massages alone. But if you open your heart and your mind, Gaia will fill you with love and wisdom…

Namaste

namaste

http://www.gaiaretreat.com.au/

An inner peace – Day 5 at Gaia

She awoke before her alarm sounded at 6.45am and prepared for her first yoga session. Obviously her body had gotten the rest it needed and was ready to face an earlier day. And she was so glad it had. Yoga was blissful – breathing, stretching, flowing through the poses for 90 minutes, lengthening her sore muscles, strengthening her limbs, by the end she was awake and buzzing with a happy, healthy glow that she was sure shone from the inside out.

Breakfast that morning was also a new experience, it was the first time she had sat at the communal table. Her and three other ladies enjoyed breakfast over chit chat and friendly conversation.

In fact, her day continued this way with a cooking class taken with new found friends by the head chef. There wasn’t much taste testing, but the learning was fun and everyone had a laugh and took home a little information they didn’t have before.

Before lunch the girl decided to take a walk. She had already ran around the property but this time she wanted to savour it. She wanted to look at the trees, feel the wind and take it all in because after all, this was her last day here.

Soaking in the sunshine and the view

Soaking in the sunshine and the view

The walk turned out to be even better than she had hoped. She wandered through nature, smile on her face and found the labyrinth; a section perched high on the property, in fact, at the highest point in the Ballina Shire. At its center was a Buddha statue. She bowed her head, put her hands to her heart in prayer and took the first step. She knew about the labyrinth, knew it was a section of the property that had a vortex of positive energy around it and she felt it straight away. Inside this labyrinth you are supposed to work out the meaning of your life. Ask and answer questions of yourself and the girl knew exactly what to ask. And, strangely enough, after all she had learned this week, she also now knew the answers. So instead of trying to work her way around the maze she just put one foot in front of another and trusted that she would get to the end. And she did. That’s what she had learned about life. You have to look up, trust in yourself and enjoy the journey.

Let your heart guide you through life

Let your heart guide you through life

She said another prayer and kissed the Buddha’s head before letting the paths lead her back out again, her heart bursting with love. She had opened up that space inside her chest and was able to let life in. Everything around her sang and life seemed to dance in the wind; she was at one with nature, and she loved it.

She touched the trees as she wandered along the rest of the walkway; she smiled, inhaled deeply, listened to the insects, the birds and heard them a little differently. It was as though their song was in time with her own breath. It felt surreal.

That afternoon she made her way back to the spa for a lymphatic drainage massage with Angelique. It was soothing, it was strong, lively and the chimes that centered her at the end left her buzzing. Everything about this day felt heightened and she knew she was ready to go home.

At dinner she sat with her new friends, enjoyed a glass of organic wine, another delicious meal and great company. It was her last night and she enjoyed every moment. Tomorrow she would see her amazing husband. She couldn’t wait to share this experience with him and cuddle up to her pup Sookie. She went to be that night feeling very content.

http://www.gaiaretreat.com.au/gaia-experience

Run in the sun – Gaia day 4

She slept until 9am. This was becoming a bad habit, but she took the advice of both her practitioners from the previous day; the acupuncturist who said she may feel overly tired, and if so, to rest, and the astrologist who said to listen to her heart not her head when making decisions. This morning’s decision was ‘get up for yoga or go back to sleep’. Sleep won.

After a quick shower she went over to breakfast and found one of her favourite workers, Josh, was there. He was a young guy, always happy and always helpful. He served her corn and ricotta fritters and a lemongrass tea to go with the porridge she poured out for herself.

She felt great today. The acupuncture had definitely done something because she had energy, and she wanted to get out and see some things down this end of the world. So running gear on, she packed some bathers and a towel and drove the half hour to beautiful Byron Bay. It’s funny because although she had been here before, she didn’t remember it at all. The beaches were stunning – blue and silver hues with crashing white waves and azure patches of green. The streets were filled with hippies and holiday makers walking, riding bikes and driving their cars in search of the best car park. She found her park just a block from the main beach, paid the $12 to park there and set off on a 7km run to the lighthouse and back.

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In the hot sun she ran along the beach track, up steps and steep winding pathways, down similar tracks and back up again to Palm Valley. From there, she had 1.7km to go to the lighthouse and with determination, sore legs and a lot of sweat she pushed on up even steeper paths and slimmer tracks until she reached the top. It was a great accomplishment and she felt a sense of pride. It was getting even hotter so she had a sip of water and carried on back to the starting point, this time stopping here and there for a photo and to take in the breathtaking views out over the rocks, the ocean, the beach, the trees – it was magnificent and in that moment she felt totally content just being who she was, where she was.

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Back at the main beach she ran onto the sand, stripped down to shorts and a sports bra and dived in to the powerful swell. The cool water hit her skin and she inhaled the smell of the salt, licked it off her lips and dived under the waves one by one until she felt ready to get out and walk back to her car barefoot.

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Back at Gaia a smoked trout salad was awaiting and she ate it all before meeting with the retreats owner Gregg for a chat about how this amazing place all came to be. He was an interesting man, wearing a suit with thongs, she felt envious of this amazing life he has made for himself out here. She really enjoyed their chat; he was easy to be around.

That afternoon she was treated to an hour of luxurious bliss at the spa which presented itself in the form of a steam room body scrub and facial mask. Wow. 20 minutes in a spectacular steam room, complete with twinkling lights on the roof, she lay there almost naked and let the steam engulf her from head to toe until the therapist returned and lathered the most deliciously scented lemon myrtle and wattle seed salt scrub on her body. Starting with the legs, the feet, the back, the arms, the chest and stomach and then finally the face. A mask and cucumber on the eyes then soothed the face and she was left once again to absorb this into her skin while the steam took her into a warm cloud once again. By the end her skin felt crazily soft as the therapist showered her right there on the bed.

She floated back to her room and there she stayed lost in thought for a few hours until it was time again for dinner. She stared blankly out the window, something that felt natural to her from the day she arrived, but something she didn’t feel at ease doing until now. It’s funny how society tells you something is normal and something else isn’t, she thought. People don’t just sit and ponder these days. Now she was.

Dinner was fantastic as always – beetroot and ricotta arancini balls, Cajun chicken breast and black bean salsa finished with mango and peach crumble. Another day in paradise she thought as she made her way to bed, but that niggling headache that had found her every night since the massage found her again. She took it as a good sign though, if not an annoying one, but to her it meant there was change inside her body, things were moving and energy was flowing. It was a sign of re balance so she sucked it up and tried to fall to sleep.

Body 1, Lahnee 0

So it seems as though my willpower is not as brilliant as I thought it was. Not that I ever really thought it was that good, but I’m learning now more than ever that our bodies are sneaky little buggers. They are tricksters!

When your body gets addicted to something, like sugar, or carbs or whatever it might be, you start to crave it. So the more you have eaten of it over your lifetime, the more your body starts to expect it. When you simply take this particular thing away, your body has withdrawals, your brain has withdrawals, and you start to crave it. Now here is where the willpower and discipline is supposed to kick in and say “NO Lahnee, you don’t NEED that piece of chocolate, you just THINK you do!” I’ve come to the conclusion that my willpower is broken; because that didn’t happen. Now I’m all ‘oh no, I’ve wrecked my nutrition plan, Jess is going to kill me,  how am I going to fix my body and make it healthy if I can’t say no to a bloody piece of white chocolate!’

Vicious cycle.

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After the craziness of feeling naughty, like I’ve cheated, or like I’ve done something really wrong calmed down, I realised that all I did was be human. If I have spent 26 years eating chocolate, of course my body doesn’t understand why I’ve suddenly stopped eating it. It takes time, and there’s no point in beating myself up about it. Jess is not really going to kill me (I hope!) and all I need to do is get back on track and keep on pushing forward. This is a journey after all and its one I will be on for a long time. So stuff ups are going to happen.

On a good note, I’m learning what my body craves when, like savoury stuff in the am and sweets in the afternoon. I’m also learning what foods make me feel good and satisfied, and which ones leave me groggy and bloated. I’m learning to look more closely at labels and to be aware of what I put in my mouth. Despite a few setbacks, I am learning, and this is the important thing.

So, til next time – eat well!

Testing, testing…

This morning I peed in a cup at 5.30am and had 3 tubes of blood sucked from my vein at 8am. Fun times.

blood test

The Indicant (urine) sample was dropped off in the little red samples box at Jess’s office in the city on my way to work, and now, I wait.

Yesterday marked the beginning of the 2 week trial period. The first part of the journey where you do the basic tests and cut a few potential bad foods from your diet to see what changes occur.

For me, this means no wheat and no dairy.

My food plan, which Jess designed specifically for me during our initial appointment, has enough options for me to stay interested and a lot of fresh healthy foods for me to eat.

I will follow it exactly for the next two weeks until our first follow up appointment on Wednesday Oct 23. At which time we will also go through my blood and urine test results and determine whether or not further testing is needed.

So far, things have been running pretty smoothly. I did a quick shop at IGA yesterday to pick up a few ingredients for the rye, oat, flax-seed and berry muffins (http://www.jessicacox.com.au/recipe/2013/4/10/rye-oat-flaxseed-berry-muffins-/) and it was pretty easy. Mind you, finding oat flour when you have no idea what it is or looks like can be a challenge. We settled with oat bran. Also, IGA was PACKED due to the Labour Day holiday so swanning through the aisles reading the backs of every package wasn’t really an option.

Side note; the muffins worked!!!!! and they taste delicious!!!! I’ll be trying a few recipes each week and adding them to the foodie repertoire.

But that’s it from me today, a short and sweet post because tonight is the big shop! I’ll be rearranging my pantry and fridge… it could be interesting… so check back in tomorrow for the video footage 🙂 (And im still a little dizzy from the blood test – blood and I just don’t get along!)

Peace

 

Operation Nutrition – the meet!

It was 4.30pm on a Thursday and I found myself wandering up the steps to Jessica’s office space in Brisbane CBD. With a big smile and hello I was in the room and sitting at the desk, anxious to get started. It was D-Day… the initial consultation was here!

So as you all now know I’m embarking on Operation Nutrition to get my health back in order. I shared a bit about my past in the last post and over the course of the next few months I’ll be sharing the journey.

Here is the starting point. In order to give you a real idea about what goes on I am going to be honest and share with you everything… the highs, the lows, the good and the bad. Starting with the pre Operation Nutrition pics…

These pics are post wheat based snack. As you can see there is some serious bloating going on. This is pretty much what I deal with daily. I’m not sure at this stage what exactly causes it, but with Jessica’s help we are going to find out and eliminate that sucker!

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Here is a pic of my bare naked… face! Straight out the shower sans everything (including moisturiser) this is all me.

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Now here are the stats:

Weight – 65kg, Height 161cm (yes I’m short!), body fat 22%.

Just to clarify, I’m not doing this to lose weight; I’m doing it to feel better and to learn how to use food to benefit my body. But in doing this, I’m pretty sure the weight loss and fat loss is going to come as an added perk! So I will keep track of this too!

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Now on to the initial consultation itself!

First let me just say, it was super easy and I felt really comfortable, even when talking about things like bowel movements and flatulence…Jessica covered all the nitty gritty bits and asked plenty of questions, most, I surprisingly couldn’t answer! It’s quite amazing how little notice you take of things like how often you go to the toilet, what foods/meals cause the bloating, whether the symptoms all came at once or over time. It comes back to being mindful and aware and in this day and age, we just aren’t aware of what’s going on in our bodies, or what we are putting in them!

I actually felt a little embarrassed if at any time when we were openly discussing my current diet. Which I thought was reasonably healthy, until I said what I ate out loud. It’s funny, I go about life thinking I’m pretty healthy, I don’t eat white anything, I exercise, I don’t smoke, don’t drink much, don’t take drugs; yet I get sick all the time and I’m constantly tired. You would think alarm bells would have gone off sooner than now! And to think it is all to do with the foods I’m eating.

Even something as simple as weetbix for breakfast could be upsetting the balance, or too much sushi, or those morning cappuccinos! I use skim milk, that’s healthy right? Not when your body hates dairy!

So in short, the initial consultation was exactly that; a starting point for us both to discover what’s been happening and to start talking about what is going to happen. One thing I was really thrilled about was that I got to take something home with me right then and there! Jessica created me a brand new food plan designed around what types of food I like and not too different from what I already ate. For example, weetbix and fruit with cow’s milk has been substituted for low sugar muesli, berries and almond milk. The coffees exchanged for herbal tea. All totally doable and delicious swaps; there is nothing on my new menu I don’t like. I also got some great new recipes for home-made dips, salad variations and pre workout muffins! I left with my next appointment booked for 2 weeks’ time, a pee cup for one test, a referral for another blood test with my local GP and I was feeling positive about the whole thing.

So what now you ask? Now I have a food plan with no wheat and no dairy so we can determine if it is one or both of these foods that my body doesn’t like. We will trial this until the next appointment, in the meantime I have the two tests done and then we bring it all together at our next session! The beauty is, Jessica is available any time I need help or advice and that makes me feel super excited and motivated to see this through!

Stay tuned for daily updates and the big shop!

Peace

Get into the Headspace

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”

Mediation; the foundation of peace. This is how I begin my journey.

Today will in fact be day 3 of ‘10 days for 10 minutes’. For the past 2 nights I have rested my head, palms to the sky, lavender infused eye cover on and meditated for 10 minutes. And I feel great.

I downloaded the app Headspace which in itself is a 10 days for 10 minutes challenge designed to make people aware of meditation, what it is, why it’s important and how it can help bring stillness to your life.

Every day we are so busy with work, family, life that it’s easy to forget how to just stop. This brilliant little app is the first step in my journey to be mindful.

I’ve chosen to meditate before bed for a few reasons. Firstly, I don’t get to sleep easy, so I figure actively disengaging will help bring on sleep. Also, it means I am turning off the tv, phones any electronics earlier and not touching them directly before bed. I’m preparing myself for sleep. I’m being mindful of the fact it is time for rest and taking steps to improve that rest period.

It’s worked too! The past 2 days I’ve fallen asleep within 10 minutes of tucking myself in, this is a big improvement of about 45 minutes which is how long it usually takes me to switch off.

So as I said, today is day 3 and already I’m feeling a change.

What will you do to be mindful today?

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Insanity vlogging

So here it is.. the first 2 vlogs.

I recorded them 2 days back, I’m now on Day 3 of my 60 Days of INSANITY Challenge and let me tell you… it’s already tough! Im excited and downright scared about what’s to come.

Yesterday, I was doing the plyometric cardio dvd and after about 10 mins Shaun-T says ok now let’s start the workout.. I almost threw the remote at the TV. I was damn sure we had already started. So that gives you an indication of how tough it is. But, it’s also a lot of fun and I’m pretty sure the results will be worth it! So stick with me and enjoy the posts.