To be empowered is to be happy – Day 1 at Gaia

She indicated right and with that single motion turned off the busy highway and pulled on to a rougher road with no markings. Another few kilometers and she would reach her destination, Gaia.

As she drove around the first bend, the most magnificent trees towered over her pearl coloured car to the right. An antique shop appeared seemingly from nowhere to her left on the edge of a tiny town that almost looked out of place; like time had forgotten it. Considering Newrybar was founded in 1881, I suppose in ways it had been. As she continued on, the fauna became more diverse – fig trees, palms, gums –a few scattered frangipanis lined the old wooden fences by the roadside boasting bursts of pink from their creamy centers. Then she was there.

Gaia Retreat and Spa is perched beautifully on the edge of what seems like a hundred rolling hills in all directions flanked by a myriad of plant life, some native, others there for effect. She could smell the change in the air, literally, the scent from the trees was strong and with a deep breath she filled her nose with it. Ahhh, she exhaled. This was the smell of peace.

Tyres squelched on a rocky ground at the top of the steep driveway. She parked the car and took another breath. This was home for the next five nights.

Welcome to Gaia

Welcome to Gaia

A man named Tim dressed in what looked like the most comfortable brown pants and olive shirt she had ever seen greeted her as she entered the Kukura House. He offered her a seat, some delicious chicken kofta’s and salad with a lemongrass iced tea. It felt good if not a little odd sitting in the dining area at a table by herself looking around at the décor, so perfectly suited for where she was. Natural hues of brown and green made up the bulk of the design with muted whites and black stripes here and there. There were peach coloured curtains adorning the wooden beams and bamboo standing tall in the centre of the space. The restaurant was at the far end of the room, the library, a gift shop and Indian inspired nook closer to the entrance. It was really quite beautiful, like a very fancy version of someone’s expensive home.

At the heart of Gaia - a meeting place

At the heart of Gaia – a meeting place

It was Tim who showed her to her room when her plate was cleared and check-in process completed. Lucky number 13, a Sura Terrace room entered through a big brown wooden door with intricate detailing. The room was complete with day bed, beautifully striped in the most calming yet energizing colours of maroon, lime green, lemon yellow, black and watermelon.

Outdoor reading and relaxation

Outdoor reading and relaxation

Next to the daybed was a wrought iron table with two chairs. A hedge and other green plants offered privacy. The bed inside the room was large, perfect for spreading out head to toe and adorned with squishy pillows. Hidden inside the wardrobe was the ‘restore’ section of the room, a little fridge and herbal tea station complimented with a plate of fruit. The bathroom boasted a sunken tub and a view to an outside reading table. There were plenty of options inside the room for reading too; a chair here, one there with a foot rest. She was glad because reading was something she had come here to do.

A place to rest

A place to rest

She had also came here to find herself again. To reconnect to that deep spiritual center of herself and ease the stresses of modern day life. She had come to learn how to enjoy her own company, revel in doing things only for herself and to simply sit back, shut out the outside world and breathe again. The anxiety that had crept up on her like a disease was lurking behind her forehead, her heart and she wanted to push it out. So what better place to come than here?

A few hours, a brief run and bath later she ventured to the Gaia Day Spa for a wellness consultation; a half hour meeting with Naturopath Grace to chat about her goals and treatments for the week. When Grace asked her what she hoped to achieve in these five days the girl had to choke back tears. An overwhelming sense of purpose hit her hard. The walk back to her room was one of raw beauty, an unusual and rare experience in a life as busy as hers. She saw the same palms again that towered over her on the way to the spa, but this time their fronds danced in the breeze, the grass was a little greener and at the exact moment she smiled the heavens opened and sent down the most beautiful sun shower. The cool water on her cheeks, her lips made her smile even harder.

By the time the clocked clicked over to 5pm she had herself a berry and green tea, pen and paper in hand awaiting the talk by Naturopath Grace on stress and nutrition. One and a half hours of realisations as she scribbled notes and drank in the information that seemed so simple. She learned how the digestive and endocrine system is intertwined and connected with the immune system as well. All these questions about her own inner workings seemed to be answered in some small way. Gratitude was what she felt toward the woman with a glowing smile, long slim legs and a mess of beautiful brown hair wearing the female version of Tim’s comfy attire.

At dinner that night she sat by herself at a beautifully set table with three candles and a single white lily. It was a strange feeling sitting down to a three course meal by herself, but at the same time it didn’t feel wrong. Like most other women in the room she grabbed a magazine and flicked through its glossy pages in between the courses – asparagus salad, swordfish, poached peach in jelly – but just sitting staring at the surroundings almost felt more natural.

She put into practice what she had learned that afternoon, chewing 20 times for protein, 10 for carbs and sipped slowly on a glass of bubbles as the sun sank out of sight and the candles flickered brighter.

After dinner and a short wander back to her room dodging cane toads that had positioned themselves on the red brick path, she sunk deep in a warm tub, book in hand and sprinkled the sea salts and rose petals around her. Dark had arrived but instead of feeling homesick she felt empowered.She heard her husband’s words in her head ‘you deserve it, make the most of it’ and so she did.

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(chapter 1 in a 6 part series – my time at Gaia by Lahnee Pavlovich)

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

Operation Nutrition

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So all my regular readers know I’m on a bit of a health kick lately both inside and out – The Insanity Challenge (which you will see and hear the results from soonish) most recently the 10 Minutes for 10 Days (which I am on day 9 of and going strong) and now, let me introduce you to Operation Nutrition…

Tomorrow a very special journey will begin; a journey that really should have started a long time ago.

Let me go back to the start for a moment and give you a bit of an intro on me and why all of this is so important.

I was always very fit and healthy as a kid. I was part of numerous sporting groups, surfed every day, I ate well – I felt great. Then like a lot of adolescents, I fell from grace. Long story short I put on about 20kg, felt like shit and was very unhealthy and unhappy.

At 19 years old and 80kg I had a meltdown and with the help of my now hubby I lost about 15kg and was back on the healthy trail. And to see just how far I could go, I enlisted in a great trainer and decided to compete in a Sports Modelling comp. I trained my ass off (literally) for 12 weeks, lost another 10kg, went on stage and won! Yep… I looked hot! And I felt great! Momentarily. You see as great as you look on a body building diet, it really isn’t very sustainable. Well it wasn’t for me anyway. I fluctuated for a few years, competed in a few more comps and pushe my poor body to the brink. I was burnt out by the end. So much so I gave up on the gym, quit that membership and did a backflip with my nutrition. Before I knew it I was 65kg again. Rollercoaster right?

I suppose it’s quite important to point out at this stage that during all of this craziness it wasn’t just my weight that suffered. My insides hurt. For years I would go back to the doctor, different doctors, and every time they would suggest I might be pregnant (which I never was). Why you ask? Because my symptoms were always the same: nausea, fatigue, headaches, bloating, cravings, cramps.

After blood tests, urine tests and ultrasounds over and over again, well apparently there was nothing wrong with me. So on I went.

Which brings me to the present – I am currently working out again, about 5 x per week, and eating reasonably healthy, I still weigh 65kg and still have the weird symptoms.

Naturally, I went back to the doctors, because now I also taste metal in my mouth (yay!) and finally we had a breakthrough… this wonderful doctor suggested it might be as simple as acid reflux caused by my diet. Hmmm, ok. So a few tablets later and well, I felt better. This is good! But what it means is that I am probably intolerant to something in my diet, if not numerous things.

Enter stage right… Operation Nutrition!

In a bid to right this for good, to get off the rollercoaster and start living a better life, I decided to enlist the help of a nutritionist.

So last week I met up with the very lovely Jessica Cox, a Brisbane based nutritionist who is about to get my life and my health back on track. Over the next few months I’m going to be seeing Jessica every couple of weeks and documenting the journey. Through the good and the bad, the hard and the easy times, the failed and successful recipes, the cravings, the delicious times – through it all – join me and see how this works. If you have ever wondered whether seeing a nutritionist is for you, well use me as your guinea pig. Follow my journey and make up your own mind.

Tomorrow it all begins – my initial consultation and then it’s all go!

Keep in the loop on here, my instagram and facebook page! And wish me luck.

Peace!

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