The four days at Te Atawhai that woke me up from the nightmare habits slowly making my life miserable.
Wednesday the 7th of September – a day that has changed my life. This was the day I received an invitation from Te Atawhai to attend a four day retreat in the town of Te Aroha. Short notice meant quick decisions had to be made. A quick look on Google to see what was instore. A glossary to entice you, enough for me to say “why not?”
Not knowing what lay ahead in terms of our daily activities meant my thoughts were for the moment not for what lay ahead. On arrival we were greeted by the softly spoken Sherryll who invited me into the historical building that was to be home base for the next four days – where we could hang out, lay about, and where we were to be nourished daily by dietician and nutritionist Erica. We were taken to our accommodation which was offsite – home away from home.
Once we finished settling in, exploring our tranquil surroundings and beautiful gardens, we were picked up by Rebecca – the firm forceful one of the two. From this time until we leave we will be picked up and dropped back to our accommodation. We are asked not to use the TV, phones or internet. Back to basics, allowing us time to reflect on ourselves more.
On arrival to home base we are offered herbal tea – this will become my new hot drink of choice. I can’t remember if we did stretching this particular night before debrief, but from here-on after we were to take part in stretching with Sherryll prior to settling down for a chat before dinner. These stretching sessions were amazing – something we don’t take time to do, but are so important and MUST be re-introduced back into my life.
After a debrief by Sherryll and Rebecca on what lay ahead for the next four days, we are asked to introduce ourselves and speak about what brought us to Te Atawhai.
Dinner is served and it was jaw-dropping food. We meet Erica our Japanese, born in Brazil, dietician and nutritionist. Prepare the food with love – so you will love the food – all that you put into the food you will get out of the food. Enjoy -and we did. Erica is so passionate about food – it comes through, not only in presentation but in taste. Her attitude towards food and healthy choices made me want to change.
We are introduced to mindful eating – no television blaring in the background. We not only eat with our mouth, but we also eat with our eyes. This plate of food before us is presented in a way that I just want to respect everything about it, so from enjoying the visual presentation, we then move onto the smell. I can barely contain myself – knife and fork poised, in I went. How did it taste – mouth-watering! We are reminded to eat slowly, to chew lots and savour the flavours in our mouth. OMG ORSUMNESS – Lamb Moussaka and the tastiest salad. I look around the room and we are all on the same page – each one trying to be slower than the next. I follow Rebecca’s lead, after all I can’t go wrong if I finish behind her and she was the fastest out of the slowest – LOL.
The following morning we are picked up at 6.30 – it’s drizzling so we rug up, as we know regardless of the weather we will still be hiking. When you walk into the beautiful building that overlooks Te Aroha town-ship, the beautiful smell of calmness permeates from the candles, and the fresh flowers in the vases all complete the serenity of this wonderful old building. Sherryll is waiting for us and we are put through a twenty minute stretching session before breakfast.
Breakfast is porridge made from brown rice, cinnamon, honey and almond milk – just divine, but each day each meal is different from the day before. Snack boxes are prepared for the morning hike and off we go. This was to be our daily routine each morning – lways starting with the stretches, breakfast and a hand-out of a snack for our journey. Always back for lunch, except for the last day as this hike was all day, so a packed lunch is made, and as always – divine.
We have use of the mineral spas in the afternoon, and massages to die for. There’s lots of time to reflect on as each day unfolds and how we are feeling. Everything is connected to ensure the journey is challenging, rewarding, enjoyable, and educational.
I could go on like an evangelist really. But there was one huge unveiling on our last day that really hit home for me. We were asked to jump on these very special scales that Erica had which not only gave you your weight, but a host of other information that I have never been told – two of the eight things beside my weight that shocked me to the core was my vascular fat reading and my metabolism age. I felt sick and very sad. I had no idea about these things – I am 58 years old so my years ahead are shorter than the ones behind – I couldn’t stop asking myself ‘why am I 58 without knowing what I have learnt over these past 4 days?’ My sadness was for the fact that not only was I in a bad way, I was the wife of someone who is in worse condition that myself, and my son is no better to be fair. So when it came to leaving Te Atawhai I cried, I felt like I had finally been assisted towards re-setting my life and I was being set free to do so. I felt afraid to leave this safe haven. The people on this journey, the support by each other and our hosts, made such an impact I wondered how I would cope without them.
It took only four days for Te Atawhai to wake me up from the nightmare habits that were slowly making my life miserable. They empowered me with confidence and knowledge on how to change without force – without diets, pills or magic potions.
I came home, cleaned out the cupboards and fridge of all things that were not fresh, raw or were processed. I started up a support page between Karen myself and another friend in Australia who was in need of similar support, and have shared my journey thus far.
I feel amazing, my weight and well-being are heading in opposite directions (weight dropping – well-being increasing.) LOL. Thanks to Te Atawhai I no longer worry about the weight – just my well-being. I have attended a mindful eating course which solidified my Te Atawhai teachings. My journey is mine, and I am happy to share this with anyone that seriously feels they need to change. I am curious and excited about all the options I have ahead. Thank you Te Atawhai and the amazing team whom I will be forever grateful to.