One woman’s (ok Mel’s) account of her weekend at a ‘health retreat’

We sat at the bottom of the hill and starred at the tarred road climbing up through the bushland to the heavens. Here we were, my friend Belinda Bow and I, at the beginning of our journey: our climb to a well mind, a well body and a well spirit.

That winding road was leading us to Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, which is a ‘wellness destination to soothe your soul and inspire you to live a healthier life’.

I actually knew very little about Gwinganna, even though I had signed up to do their 3-day wellness weekend with Belinda and 50 other women as part of the ‘Business Chicks’ private retreat.

I read an article once in a Sunday paper that said there are two types of people in the world: permitters and restrictors.

Permitters can’t be bothered with plans and food ‘rules’. They pretty much eat what they like, when they like.

Restrictors like to follow food rules and are very rigid with what they eat. They can tell you the fat count, calorie count and carb intake of all they eat.

If you know me well, you probably know straight away which category I fit into. If you don’t know me well…I am a TOTAL permitter! I’m a three-course ordering, show me the dessert menu, more wine please gal! So is Belinda as luck would have it.

I’ve never been into gluten-free, dairy-fee, vegetarianism, veganism, or any other ‘ism’…and why on earth would I quit sugar? Sugar is awesome!!

So yes, this is the girl that is sitting at the bottom of that mountain staring up the long and winding road leading to total food restriction with screaming in her head saying, ‘WHAT AM I THINKING???’

Outwardly, Belinda and I just kept looking at each other and giggling uncontrollably.

Once we made it to the top of the mountain and through the entrance gate, Belinda and I headed over to join the 50 other women at the orientation to get the low-down on activities to enhance our mind, bodies and spirit. There are challenging physical fitness activities (yang activities), softer movement activities (yin activities), meditation, day spa and more importantly (for this permitter) meal times.

There are set meal times: breakfast at 8am, morning tea at 11am, lunch at 1pm, afternoon tea at 4pm and dinner at 7pm.

The meals are all gluten-free, dairy-free, caffeine-free, alcohol-free and sugar-free (except for some natural sugars in the fruit). There is no snacking, no bringing in food from the ‘outside’, no seconds, and no leaving once you arrive.

So you can imagine, this little permitter was freaking out!!

I try to be a positive person, I look on the bright-side, I believe the cup is half-full not empty. But l I can tell you I was totally out of sorts on Day One. I had a headache, I was pissed off I couldn’t start the day with my normal cappuccino, and I was freaking hungry!

At morning tea I asked for a second tahini ball and was told I couldn’t have one! WTF? I’m a permitter dammit! It’s not Oliver Twist…’Please sir can I have some more?’

So I retreated to our cottage most of the day (and sulked just a little), only coming out for feeding time and for my Reiki session in the Spa Sanctuary.

The Reiki session (and a Neurofen for my headache) was my turning point. That Reiki session was awesome!

Reiki is a Japanese healing technique commonly called palm healing or hands-on-healing as a form of alternative medicine. Through the use of this technique, practitioners believe that they are transferring universal energy (i.e. reiki) in the form of qi through their palms, which allows for self-healing and a state of equilibrium (from Wikipedia).

My Reiki therapist was amazing. I walked in and lay down on the bed; she covered me with a blanket and then began to press her hands on different areas on my body. I dozed pretty much the whole time but was aware of the different sensations going on throughout my body while she worked.

When she was finished, my therapist sat with me and told me all the health problems that she had intuitively found and worked to heal during my session.

I have some…ummm… digestion problems, putting it nicely, and she picked them and more. She was spot on!

Plus she told me a few other tidbits about my personal life – information she had channelled during my session. I was impressed!

Then Day Two I woke up feeling freaking amazing!

I was a different person – like my old chipper self, only better! Our resort host, Megan told me I looked so much better too!

I emerged out of my self-imposed exile. I swam in the infinity pool, read a book, chatted with all the Business Chicks there and then headed back up to the Spa for a hot-rock massage and a Soul Path Journey session that afternoon.

I still whinged to Belinda every hour that I was hungry, but I just felt so well, happy and uplifted. (Belinda just patiently nodded and placated me – Love you Bel ? ).

One thing that was totally awesome was meeting and hanging with the other Business Chicks. They were total Sistas – and it was funny, no-one really talked about business. We spent the 3 days with no makeup, hair however it fell, in our trackies and comfy clothes. It was the most chilled business retreat I have ever been too! Thanks to Emma Isaacs and the Business Chicks team for organising.

The morning of Day 3 (our departure day) something else happened, my digestion had noticeably improved. Which was great in one respect, but the only thing that had really changed was my diet. The gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free had worked. Dammit! So now I am on the plane, flying home to my family and am in a quandary.

To Permit or to Restrict? That is the question…

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