Hello friends! Last weekend I attended my first wellness retreat at Lake Arrowhead, CA. In case you’re wondering what such retreats are all about – I’m here to share my experience.
I’ve been wanting to do this ever since discovering Sedona yoga retreats and Canyon Ranch wellness vacations (horse back riding at sunset included. YEAH). All those options were out of reach financially and time-wise. I mean, what busy mom can spend a week away from family?
- It was only a weekend long
- It was affordable
- Workouts and healthy food included
- Amazing speaker line up
- Beautiful location
It sounded like such an incredible event! So I checked with my husband (who graciously agreed to mind the kids for the weekend), called up my best friend to join me and booked out spots.
This event came at a perfect timing. I so desperately needed to disconnect from my every day routine just for a few days. I love my family and my children more than anything, but there comes a time when it feels like your identity dissolves into every day dish washing and laundry folds (especially if you are a stay at home mom). I’ve been neglecting my body and mind more often that I should in favor of other priorities. This wellness retreat would do beautiful things to revitalize and recharge for a long time. I knew I’d return a better wife and mom.
A beautiful resort town near Lake Arrowhead, California was a perfect location to host the retreat. Just imagine being in the mountains surrounded by magnificent pine trees and crisp air, lovely blue lake peaking through the trees in the distance. I felt the stress of a previous week melt away into the ground.
All the retreat events were held at a beautiful multi-story villa with a nice fully stocked kitchen, a huge living room featuring a fire place and a lovely balcony with breath-taking views. Guests either had their own rooms or shared them with a friend. Our was rather comfortable, and although I did bring my favorite pillow – I didn’t feel it was necessary.
One of the days my friend and I ventured out into town for a quick lunch by the lake. There were a number of little shops, restaurants and a beautiful walking path along the lake. I made a mental note to come back here with the entire crew (husband + kids) one day. It was such a refreshing change of scenery from hot brownish landscape of Las Vegas.
Gorgeous view of Lake Arrowhead, CA
As a self proclaimed foodie, I couldn’t have been happier with food and drink options offered at the wellness retreat! All meals were freshly prepared from the best ingredients. Everyone pitched in a little in the cooking process, and it was a lot of fun!
It was a nice treat to eat well while being away from home! There were fresh vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats. A tiny healthy food snob inside of me kept doing a happy dance the entire time.
One of the nights we had a taco bar, and the other night we cooked the most amazing cauliflower crust pizza with toppings of our choice. It was so fun to put on our chef hats and create different pizza combos!
We used Cali’flour Pizza Crusts, and I think it made all the difference.
Can we just all agree that pizza is never a bad idea?
Usually it’s hard for me to nail cauliflower pizza crust (it’s either too dry and burned or still undone) but this one came out perfectly cooked! I went for a Mediterranean style with garlic sauce, olives, roasted red onion, some pesto and mozzarella. A side was the most delicious salad with Brussels spouts. I need to get that dressing name from Jess!
I was especially grateful to Jess for showcasing us that you can still enjoy your pizza (and other favorite foods) in a healthy way. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring, you simply need to use wholesome ingredients instead of over-processed toxic ones. For help with nutrition and health, make sure to check out Jess’s website at Body Bliss by Jess.
While the food cooked, we sipped on organic Rose by Drink Bev and chatted with other girls. It was a perfect way to unwind after a busy week.
In between meals Jess treated us to nutritious shakes and matcha tea. She educated us on how to properly prepare matcha (her secret is to blend it in a blender first, then warm up) and what adaptogenic herbs and supplements she uses in smoothies.
We got to try Erika Elizabeth Adaptogens blended in our shakes. These herbs come preblended based on your needs: Detox+Synergy, Beauty+Brains, Nutrition+Flow. You can pick up a jar based on your needs without having to know each herb’s qualities.
Jess used Plantworks Nutrition in our shakes, which is a plant based protein with a number of flavors. I thought it blended well and had a mild flavor that you can easily enhance with other fruit or veggies.
Each guest left with a few packets of Plantworks Nutrition protein powder and a nutritious smoothie recipe!
On another exciting note, I was blown away by the abundance of healthy “clean” brands and snacks around the house! Cupboards and fridge were stuffed with my favorite brands. It was like my dream kitchen from WholeFoods. HA!
There were Siete chips that are made with almond flour and only few other good-for-you ingredients. If you’ve never tried them, I highly highly recommend! There was vegan cashew cheesy sauce, collagen, tumeric, Vital Proteins products, HUM products and RXBars!
It seems like collagen products are the new health trend. There is a lot of buzz about them in the Internet world and I appreciated the opportunity to try them first hand.
Collagen is proven to help with skin, hair and nail growth, improve joint health and even promote longevity (read about centenarian diet in this post). This is one ingredient that both Western doctors and holistic/functional doctors agree has a huge potential.
We were also treated to the top almond milk and fresh juice brands. If you haven’t heard of Malk – it’s the only brand on the shelves that contains nothing else but nut milk. Other brands – even my beloved Califia Farms have other ingredients (some of them controversial like carrageenan).
The fridge was also stashed with a variety of organic freshly pressed Suja juices. Such method of processing retains nutrients for a longer period of time, so you’re basically consuming all the best vitamins and minerals directly from the source. Green juice is my favorite, but it was fun to try a new variety.
Besides indulging in the healthiest foods and drinks, we also got to participate in a variety of activities. On the first night we were presented with a schedule of activities, and it ended up being a perfect mix of workouts, workshops, and time to relax.
I absolutely loved seeing a daily meditation built in at the end of each day. It’s such a great way to unwind after a long day, and I was especially looking forward to doing it with Rachel, a NASM-certified fitness professional. One of the nights, she did a moving release meditation that allowed all the women to let go of anything holding them back in life. It involved moving, chanting and physical release that was so powerful all the women were blown away and felt so much lighter by the end.
Rachel also led a Box & Recharge class that was so high energy with the best music! Everyone was sweating, laughing and really enjoying the class…. enjoyment was a non-negotiable for Rachel when it came to movement!
The itinerary included healthy meals and nutrition education with Jess who is a health coach at Body Bilss by Jess, workouts and meditations with face masks by Rachel, a certified fitness instructor, Hormone Happy Hour with a special guest Candace Burch, Redefining Sexy workshop with Carla Romo, Switch to Safer with Lauren Breiding, a morning walk, a journaling workshop, and a picnic by the lake.
Women’s hormones is the topic that I’ve been hugely interested in lately. This is an often overlooked by Western doctors topic, yet hormones regulate pretty much everything in our body. Since I’ve been dealing with fatigue, sleep issues and brain fog issues myself, a hormone balance presentation by Candace Burch – one of the experts in the field – was of special interest to me.
Candace Burch is a health educator, a highly sought after speaker on hormone issues, and she runs Your Hormone Balance website and practice. She talked about issues like stress, anxiety, sugar cravings, heart palpitations, breast health, mood swings, day time fatigue, sleep issues, etc. It was so fascinating to me that a hormone imbalance can wreck such a havoc in our bodies!
Candace’s suggestion if you’re dealing with some of these issues is “Test it, don’t guess it”. There are simple things you can do to re-balance your hormones with nutritional changes, adaptogens, lifestyle changes. But without knowing what exactly is out of balance, you’l be shooting in the dark. Check out Candace’s website for information on proper testing of your hormones and what to do with the results.
To all my mamas who are struggling to lose weight, I highly recommend to have a chat with Candace. She explains that if you’re already stressed, doing high intensity workouts all the time, and not eating enough – you will never lose weight because your adrenals are shot and your body goes into a fat saving mode. Belly fat is a perfect example of stress fat. Instead introduce calming activities, such as yoga, meditation, or even Pilates into your fitness routine.
Jess reminded us that there are natural ways to re-balance hormones and help your adrenals. She suggested adaptogenic herbs because they can help adapt to stress. Her top choices are calming ashwaganda, energizing rodiola, and stimulating maca. She recommends starting with small servings to see how your body reacts at first.
Carla Romo talking about importance of self-love
I was totally intrigued to see Find Your Sexy workshop led by Carla Romo on the itinerary. Carla is a dating and relationship coach with a genuine desire to help people. I really enjoyed chatting with her the first night, so I knew she’d host an amazing workshop!
Self-image is an issue many women struggle, especially with the rise of social media and culture of over-sharing. Carla had us imagine what would make us feel sexy and taught us the power of positive affirmations. We left with a homework: repeat something good about yourself every morning. I just loved Carla’s positivity and passion for helping women. She’d be a great resource if you are looking for relationship and self-image help.
I was also fascinated by Lauren Breiding’s presentation on clean products. I feel like this is such a frequently forgotten topic when we talk about health and wellness, so I am grateful to Lauren for raising awareness about environmental toxins. Currently, there is a lack of regulations when it comes to fragrances. Most of the time we don’t know what they are, and most of they time they are toxic.
Generally, you want to use products that are BPA-free, sulfate-free and paraben-free. Parabens are a major endocrine disruptor, so you may be unknowingly sabotaging your health while using a particular brand of shampoo or conditioner. Lauren recommended Healthy Living App as a great tool to check for harmful substances in cosmetic products.
If you are looking to “clean up” your life, Lauren suggests ditching perfumes (or praying them on clothes if you have to), switching out plastic products for glass, and watch products you buy for toxin content. Her favorite beauty brand is Beautycounter and she recently switched out her pans for Green Pans. Lauren runs a fun and educational Detox Me Tuesday feed on Instagram, make sure to check her out!
Photo credit: Rachel Recharged
Another highlight of the retreat itinerary that I was looking forward to was a journaling workshop. It was led by Ryan Burch during the wrap up picnic at the park. The weather was lovely, and everyone had such a blast soaking in the sunshine (hello, Vitamin D!) and recharging body and soul.
GIRLS WHO ROCK
An unexpected fun part of the retreat was meeting other women who came to the wellness retreat. They were all interested in improving their health and simply recharging over the weekend. We had SO MUCH FUN just chatting, sharing our stories and laughing together.
I especially loved meeting wellness advocates, health coaches, hormone gurus and other like-minded people at the retreat! There was something very empowering and synergetic about having all these women with huge passion for health and helping others in one room.
I left the retreat rested, re-energized, fueled with positivity and hugely inspired to implement positive changes in my life. Here are a few main takeaways from the wellness retreat:
- Jess introduced us to how easy it can be to cook a healthy meal from scratch. You can still enjoy your favorite foods like pizza and tacos, just use the right ingredients! Nutrition matters, and you feel best when you fuel your body with whole foods.
- We got to try some of the well known healthy brands such as Suja, Four Sigmatic, Vital Proteins, PlantWorks protein powder, etc. There are many healthy products out there, and it was exciting to taste a lot of them at the retreat. If you’ve never tried Malk cashew milk – this retreat was the place to discover your passion.
- Hormones rule, the govern every single reaction on your body. Have them tested on a regular basis.
- Toxins are real and they build up in your body over time. Get educated on what products cause harm, and ban them from your life
Each guest left with a bag full of goodies that reminded us about making healthy choices 🙂
As I was driving back home to Vegas, excited to finally squeeze my munchkins after a few days away, I caught myself thinking WOW I do feel recharged and rebalanced (as the retreat name promised!).
Leaving this beautiful place and my new friends behind, I was charging forward with a newly found energy and motivation to implement all the healthy living tools I’ve learned over the weekend.
As a mom, I am responsible not only for myself but also for raising little human beings. I need to take the best care of myself, so I can take the best care of them. I highly recommend that all mamas make self-care a regular thing and maybe every once in a while treat yourself to a wellness retreat! 🙂 Keep an eye out on Rachel’s and Jess’s websites for future events in your area.
Have a beautiful day, lovelies!
Curious about my other wellness trips? Check out my solo Wellness Getaway to Newport Beach California.