Rachel's Blog

3 De-Stress Tips for Busy Executives to Sleep Well and Perform Well

by Rachel Grunwell  
Life can be busy and we can hold onto a lot of stress. So, it’s important to take time to pause , unwind and to re-set. If you don’t take time for self-care, then you can wind up facing “burn out”. If this stress carries on for too long, it can snowball.

Too much stress can lead to poor sleep and poor concentration. It can then spiral into things like anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

Stress chemicals can stay in your brain and body if not addressed. Worse still, your sensitivity to stress can increase if it continues to accumulate. So the trick is to embrace calming strategies into your life so you can perform at your best.

Stress can be scary. It results in chemicals throughout your body and brain. This includes adrenalin, noradrenaline, serotonin, histamine, corticotrophin-releasing hormone and acetylcholine. These chemicals activate the fight-or-flight response in the body so it gets into ready-to-run mode. This in turn impacts on you being able to have clear, logical thinking, your digestion working optimally (ie the ability to lose weight is hard!) to not being able to function well in your work or life…

I’m a qualified coach, and yoga + meditation teacher. I co-lead the Mindful Moments retreats at the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua. Here, clients get to tap into an amazing weekend getaway. They learn diverse strategies to de-stress. So there’s bound to be one technique that resonates to fit into your every day life back home. On the edge of Lake Rotorua, it’s a blissful setting. Clients also get a chance to dip into the relaxing and rejuvenating waters of the 28 pools on site. The pools are of varying temperatures. This alone will calm your body, mind and soul. The retreat also includes mindfulness and meditation training. A spa treat treatment is part of the weekend too. There’s a walk in nature in the Redwoods Forest, nourishing lunches, and restorative yin yoga. Lastly, there’s a wellness workshop where retreat-goers learn lots of science-backed wellness strategies from my book Balance, which includes 30 global experts on how to live healthier and happier. I promise you’ll leave this retreat empowered with more knowledge and how to kick-start your own health journey and goals.

Here are 3 de-stress tips I share for busy executives on these retreats:

1. Take time to find “flow”. What I mean by this, is I encourage you to do something you love. This could be exercise, knitting, painting, playing music or going for a walk in nature, for instance. This “me time” helps you to feel calm, happy and to harness your monkey-mind.

2. Have a night time ritual to help you unwind before bed-time. And of course get the mobile phone’s blue light away from your face.

3. Practice mindfulness . This helps you to live life more in the moment and to feel happier, rather than anxious.

Find out more about the Mindful Moments retreats. The retreat dates for 20/20 are now live. Click HERE

Rachel is the Polynesian Spa’s ambassador and co-leader of the spa’s Mindful Moments retreats. She is a wellness expert, coach, yoga + meditation teacher, and author of Balance: Food, Health + Happiness, which boasts 30 global wellness experts sharing science-backed advice on living healthier and happier. Find out more about the book HERE

Peanut Butter & Honey Choc Slice

My kids give this recipe the big thumbs up. It’s not always easy to please my three boys when it comes to baking – especially the teenager. But all my boys dig this. The secret ingredient is the new 100% natural 1839 Mānuka honey, which is a premium Mānuka honey from New Zealand. This is uniquely triple churned so it is silky smooth and mouth-wateringly delicious. Mānuka honey is well known for its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and good health benefits.

Pair this delicious honey with a crunchy peanut butter and, of course, the all-important chocolate top and bottom nutty layers, and it’s quite simply heavenly. This slice is nutrient-dense, great for satiety (it fills you up) and of course, yummy. Give it a whirl too and let me know what you think! Good luck with stopping at one piece. I ate three in the first sitting. And people wonder why I run and lift weights… This gal LOVES to eat amazing kai!

Ingredients & Method


1 cup hazelnuts

¼ cup cacao powder

½ cup raw cashew nuts

2 tablespoons 1839 Mānuka honey

Pinch of cinnamon

3 tablespoons coconut oil

pinch Himalayan salt

Middle Layer

1 cup crunchy peanut butter

1 cup coconut cream

pinch Himalayan salt

2 tablespoons of 1839 Mānuka honey

Top Layer 

300g cacao butter

¼ cup cacao powder

pinch Himalayan salt

3 tablespoons 1839 Mānuka honey

First layer. Place the nuts in a blender and blitz them until they are fine crumbs. Then add the cinnamon and salt. Next, spoon the coconut oil into a pan on the stove and gently melt it. Once melted, turn off the stove and add the honey and mix with a spoon. Next, put the honey and coconut oil into the nut mix. Use a spoon or your hands to mix well into a wet crumb. Place baking paper into a cake tin. Pour this mixture into the tin and then press it down with your hands. Place the tin into the freezer while you make the 2nd layer.

Second layer. Place the peanut butter and coconut cream into a pan and heat gently while using a spoon to combine these ingredients into a smooth blend. Once blended, turn off the stove and add the salt and honey and stir well. Next, spoon this onto the base layer and then put the this back into the freezer while you make the top layer.

Top layer. Place the cacao butter into a pan and melt slowly on a low heat. Then remove from the stove and add the honey by stirring it in. Next add the cacao powder and salt and stir until silky smooth. Take the slice out of the freezer and then pour this chocolate layer on top. Then place the completed slice back into the freezer for 30-minutes. Remove from the freezer and cut it into slices roughly. Then place all the slice in a container in the freezer. Dip into it whenever you want a piece!

PS I can’t promise that your kids will not sneak into the freezer when you are not looking and scoff the lot. Or does that just happen at my place???

This recipe was kindly sponsored by 1839 Mānuka honey. To check out this silky smooth honey click HERE 

Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Wellness expert, coach, yoga + mindfulness teacher, and wellness columnist for Good mag, Indulge mag, and the Herald online. Rachel is the author Balance: Food, Health + Happiness which boasts 30 global experts sharing science-based wisdom on how to live healthier and happier + 30 nourishing recipes. Find out more HERE.

1839 Manuka honey is triple churned so it is silky smooth and almost fluffy. There are no gritty bits! It just melts in your mouth. The stuff in the pouch is divine. It’s easy-peasy to squeeze it out.

Workplace Wellness Works

Rachel Grunwell smiling while doing Yoga

Are you in a workplace that has an ambulance-at-the-bottom-of-the-cliff style wellbeing strategy? You know, an organisation that only has counsellors at hand to deal with the most catastrophic events when things are already a mess…

Or does your workplace care about trying to uplift your wellbeing so you are more balanced and resilient if your stress-levels tip over the edge?

If you work for a smart company, they’ll understand that workplace wellbeing strategies are smart. If employees are healthy and happy, then this can increase productivity, more engagement, result in fewer sick days and help staff retention rates. So, a good organisation that treats people well has a better chance of holding onto good employees for longer….

These are just “some” of the many benefits of caring about staff.  There are so many cool strategies too on how to help staff to uplift their wellbeing.

Since the launch of my book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness, I’ve been doing lots of speaking events in front of corporates. I share science-backed wellness ideas and strategies from the 30 diverse global experts from my book – as well as advice I use when coaching clients. Recently I spoke in front of workers at the Trustpower building in Tauranga doing just that. I was in front of hundreds of staff at a bank too in Auckland. That talk got live streamed to staff nationwide. Soo too, I’ll be in front of a room full of business leaders sharing the same messages…

Workplace wellness speaking has fast become one of my favourite things I do now through my wellness work framework.

The mission of my business InspiredHealth is to inspire Kiwis to live healthier and happier through science-backed strategies. This is the same mission for my book also.

So, talking in a workplace means I can potentially help to propel a whole organisation forwards and working happier and “smarter”. Even if only one person in the room is inspired to make healthier changes… then there’s magic in that. That one person is someone’s sibling, parent, relative or friend. They’re loved and so important. Actually, one of the people who bought my book from a recent workplace wellness talk actually took me aside at the end and asked advice to help their partner. So even if I help or inspire a partner of someone in the room at one of my talks… that’s heart-lifting. There’s a ripple effect in helping others. It starts with one person. Then they inspire others. And it continues on…

Profile Picture of Rachel Grunwell sitting in the forest

Rachel Grunwell is a wellness expert and award-winning writer. She’s a coach, yoga + mindfulness teacher. She writes the wellness column for Good magazine and Indulge magazine. She co-leads the Mindful Moments retreats too at Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa.

Yoga Girl to CrossFit Addict…

Yoga-Girl to CrossFit Addict…

About two years ago I joined the CrossFit Newmarket gym in Auckland with the intention of turning up twice weekly to purely strengthen my running. I wanted to strengthen my legs to power myself up the hills faster. I was also curious about CrossFit because I teach yoga at the CrossFitNZ premises (and I love working with athletes on re-balancing their bodies and minds).

Fast forward to today… and I’m doing CrossFit five times weekly. I’m doing more CrossFit more than actual running. It’s a classic case of getting the CrossFit addiction! I dig feeling stronger. The cross-training has also been a great way to underpin my running. I don’t do three-hour training runs for marathons anymore. Nah, mostly shorter runs with intensity and blending that with CrossFit and yin-style yoga. Below are some cool tools and gear I use in my training. I can now double under skip (whoop!!) and deadlift 95kg by the way. These are just two skills I’ve been working on. And if this mum can, you can too….

Reebok PureMove Bra. Did you know that bra is made of the same materials as NASA uses in its space suits? It’s also on the TIME’s best invention list.
Reebok PureMove Bra, shorts and Nano 9 kicks. Check it out the cool new Reebok gear on their website Reebok website.

CrossFit/Yoga… I love the power of play….

CrossFit Nano 9s – love these #gifted kicks. Foam roller and ball = great recovery tools. I recommend using them – and also doing yoga, of course!

  • Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Award-winning journalist, wellness columnist for 2 magazines, author of the book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness. Qualified coach & yoga/meditation teacher. Wellness speaker.

5 Tips to Wardrobe Edit – with personal stylist Johanna-May Manks

My “closet confessions” are already laid bare in my new wellness book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness.

I ‘fess up in a chapter in the book on de-cluttering that I need to work on my wardrobe… In the book by the way, I interview declutter expert Rachel Hoffman from Rhode Island, in the US. She shares tips on how to unclutter your habitat ie your wardrobe, house, to emails. She explains how getting rid of excess stuff and mess can link with our wellbeing. One of her top tips is to start small and clear a little bit of stuff often. This stops things from piling up and us feeling overwhelmed and like the task is too big.

I confess in my book that I need to put Hoffman’s declutter advice into action with my wardrobe. My closet is chaos. I have dresses in there since I was in high school. Gulp. Don’t ask me how many decades ago…

I’m terrible at letting clothes go. I use the excuse: “it’s vintage”.

My wardrobe is full of things I never wear, but I’m confused about “why” I’m not wearing them.
Enter personal stylist Johanna-May Manks, who is based in Auckland. She is willing to go into battle with my over-flowing wardrobe and wade through the mayhem. I hope she isn’t mortified by the mess. I’m concerned too about her trying to take clothes from my tight grip. We may end up wrestling over dresses I wore when I was 17…

Oh. My.  What am I thinking?

Manks says we wear 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time. So I should let stuff go that’s wearing me, instead of me wearing it.

She gently explains why some clothes are not my “fashion personality”. These clothes don’t suit me for reasons like they are not my colour or are a weird fit. Or they are not doing my figure any favours – like making me look frumpy. She breaks the news that the colour black isn’t the best on my pale complexion. While, muted colours are best. She mentions shiny fabrics are not my friend either. 

I have lots of clothes that look great, she says. So she reasons why I would want to wear other things that look drab…

After two hours together, I see what Manks is saying clearly.
So now there is room in my wardrobe. I can actually move things in and out. . It’s no longer like that movie The Lion, the witch and the Wardrobe where you might never come out of that wardrobe again if you go in. 

She helps me see how some clothes might work if I wear them in certain ways. Like this top I had forgotten, which actually looks ok with jeans and my yellow jacket.

Meanwhile, this is phase one. I’ll tackle my fitness wardrobe next!

Johanna-May Manks’ 5 wardrobe tips:

1)  Know what colours suit you.  Don’t just buy a garment because it’s the latest colour you need to know if that colour actually suits you.   How warm or cool should your red be or should you blue be muted or clear, these are all important factors when choosing your most suited colour.
2) Shop for your lifestyle.  There’s no use buying something just because it’s awesome, work out if it will actually work for the life you lead.
3) Identify your fashion personality.  Fashion fads come and go, ask yourself, ‘does this style suit my personality?”
4) When buying a garment stop and think of at least 3 ways you can wear that garment, do you have different jackets you can wear with it along with different shoes, how about mixing  a top with different skirts/trousers or jeans.  How many ways will you wear it to really make it value for money?
5) Ask for Professional help.  Employ a Stylist to work that 80% of your wardrobe for you.  Get them to find out why you’re not wearing it or get them to show you how you can wear it.  If it still doesn’t work, shift it out, let someone else enjoy it as there will be someone grateful of your unused clothing.

Check out Johanna-May Manks website to find out more and book and appointment with this wardrobe magician! Click HERE

* Rachel Grunwell is the author of Balance: Food, Health + Happiness which boasts 30 global experts sharing science-backed wisdom on how to live healthier and happier + 30 recipes. Rachel’s background is an award-winning journalist. She’s a wellness columnist for Good magazine and Indulge magazine (the latter goes on the Herald online weekly). Rachel is also a qualified wellness expert (coach and yoga + meditation teacher) who collaborates with brands on inspiring Kiwis on how to live healthier and happier.

Follow Rachel via the InspiredHealthNZ facebook page and instagram

Cheers to Low Beers

Cheers to Low Beers

By Rachel Grunwell

Conscious consumers are increasingly choosing low carb and low/no alcohol beer products in New Zealand, says the head honcho of a big brewery. And the owner of the New World Mt Roskill supermarket says he has noticed the trend in store too.

By the way, it’s not just chicks who want the beer alternatives; Blokes order it just as much. Actually, millennials are driving the trend.

According to Neilson statistics, nearly 1 in every 10 beers bought (8.9%) are either a low carb or low/no alcohol product. Low carb beer has grown 41% compared with last year, and low/no alcohol has grown by 14%.

DB Breweries managing director Peter Simons says “conscious consumers” are driving what he calls “the better for me category”. 

He predicts this category will be 20% of beer sales in New Zealand in 10 years.

“This category is growing fast,” he says, noting he saw the growth first in Europe and knew Kiwi drinking habits would follow.

Simons says the Heineken brand (DB is owned by the Heineken company) reached its highest global growth in over 10 years last year. This was led by demand for its new product Heineken 0.0 (zero ABV) . In New Zealand, DB sold 2.2 million bottles of Heineken 0.0 since the beer’s launch in August last year.

Beer connoisseur, Aaron Scanes, remarks on the taste of the 0.0 Heineken compared with the brand’s original beer: “If you blind taste tested them then I think a lot of people would struggle to taste the difference between them”.

Scanes, who owns New World Mt Roskill supermarket , remarks the increasing sales around low carb and low/no alcohol beer  “continues to surprise me”.

Aaron Scanes with some “better for me” category beer products at his store, New World Mt Roskill. He says this category of beer has been selling well. The top seller in recent months from this category is the Heineken 0.0 product.

So who is drinking these products?

Simons says 48% of people say they are trying to minimise their carb consumption – skewing slightly female (50%) vs male (45%).

Another trend across the alcohol category, Kiwis say they are drinking less compared with 5 years ago. Men and women are changing their drinking to similar extents.

Simons says younger drinkers (aged 17-25-years) are choosing more consciously. The company aims to cater to new styles of beverages to react to this market. Simons says the zero alcohol beer isn’t cheaper to make. They have to double ferment it, remove the alcohol, and it takes longer.

Rachel Grunwell with Dave Eaton, a Heineken master brewer at DB Breweries giving Rachel a tour of the brewery. They’re pictured in the old copper part of the brewery. It’s all now stainless steel. The factory has machines that spit out bottles on machine lines almost non-stop.

Meanwhile, low carb and low/no alcohol beer still has calories. The Heineken 0.0 may have no alcohol, but there’s about a teaspoon of malt sugars in a bottle, compared to less than 1g per bottle in the Heineken original and light varieties. This is because sugar is what ferments to produce alcohol, and given Heineken 0.0 doesn’t contain alcohol not all sugar is fermented during the brewing process.

* Rachel Grunwell is an award-winning journalist. She works too as a blogger and is currently working with the team at New World Mt Roskill, inspiring Kiwis to save time by shopping online. Click here to check out their store and shop online.

Rachel is a writing geek (wellness columnist for Good magazine, and Indulge magazine – and the latter goes online on the Herald every week). Rachel is also a wellness expert & author of the book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness which boasts 30 experts who share science-backed advice on how to live healthier and happier. The approach of her book is about enjoying all things in life “balance”, not perfectionism. And yes, she enjoys the odd beer, wine and chocolate too. To find out more about the book Balance click HERE.

#sponsored content

Join author + wellness expert Rachel Grunwell for breakfast at Miele Experience Centre

Join Miele in celebrating the new book from award-winning writer Rachel Grunwell. This 2-hour experience is a unique opportunity to meet Rachel in person as she talks about her inspiration behind her new book, and how you can balance a busy lifestyle whilst maintaining your health and happiness. Enjoy some of Rachel’s favourite dishes from Balance: Food, Health + Happiness, prepared by Miele Culinary Experts, for a nourishing breakfast. The cost of $55 per person includes a standing breakfast and a signed copy of Rachel’s new book. To come along to the event (Aug 15, Thursday, 7am-9am, Miele Experience Centre, 8 College Hill, Auckland), sign up now by clicking HERE

Balance: Food, Health + Happiness boasts 30 global experts sharing science-backed wisdom on living healthier and happier as well as 30 recipes (smoothies, snacks, breakfasts, juices to cakes).

If you would like to learn more about Rachel please visit her website www.inspiredhealth.co.nz

About the author:
Award-winning writer Rachel Grunwell is a respected health and wellness magazine columnist, yoga teacher, personal trainer, motivational speaker and recipe creator. On top of that, the mum-of-three is the blogger behind Inspired Health which aims to inspire Kiwis to move more and live well. As a qualified coach and yoga instructor, Rachel helps people to manage their weight, get fit and feel happier. Rachel is one of New Zealand’s top wellness bloggers and influencers, collaborating with brands and businesses to inspire Kiwis to live a life with “balance”, not perfectionism

10 Reasons Why CrossFitters Need Yoga

Rachel teaches yoga at CrossFitNZ on Monday nights.
Pic courtesy of CrossFit Newmarket. It was a dress-up comp – so hence the Baywatch outfit chuckle!

By Rachel Grunwell

10 Reasons Why CrossFitters Need Yoga I’m a mix of CrossFit chick and restorative yoga teacher. I also teach yoga at NZ’s longest-established CrossFitNZ gym run by a fitness industry leader, Darren Ellis.   The two movement disciplines don’t usually mix; But they should. They’re actually a movement marriage made in heaven.   Cue raised eyebrows in the room!   Many CrossFitters look at yogis sideways, but they could learn grace and gather more mobility tools from them. While, yogis don’t usually get enough high-intensity effort into their routines.   Firstly, it’s important to note that CrossFit is a blend of ten general physical skills: Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, power, speed, agility, accuracy, co-ordination, flexibility and balance.   You’ll notice the last three physical skills listed actually underpin yoga too.   10 reasons why CrossFitters need yoga…   1.   CrossFitters need to move well (ie have good mobility) in order to lift well – and heavy. Yoga is the ultimate tool for mobility and flexibility.   2.   Yoga helps you ace balance. You need to be able to control the placement of the body’s centre of gravity in relation to its base at all times.   3.   Proprioception is paramount. By the way this fancy word is just about knowing where your limbs are in space. Call it body awareness if you prefer. Yeah, it’s a good idea to know where that heavy load is positioned above your head!   4.   Static stretching after class can bring length back to tight muscles. This is all about moving well after class (and the next day)! Or do you prefer to walk like a lego-man?   5.   Yoga teaches CrossFitters numerous ways to stretch their tight muscles so they can re-balance their body any time they get a niggle. Most CrossFitters only know a couple of stretches, but there are actually thousands. So stretching can become more varied and fun.   6.    Yoga helps with injury-prevention. Just ask any elite athlete if they stretch and they’ll say “yes!” So you can learn from the best in the business.

rachel doing yoga pose at thievery studio

  7.    Yoga can help you spend less cash at your physio ie injury prevention. Do you really need any more reasons?   8.    Yoga helps to fine-tune your focus. This can seriously uplift your performance.   9.   The meditation side of yoga can help you to de-stress and calm your nervous system. Recovery is crucial for fuelling PBs (Personal Bests). If you don’t recover enough and push and push and push… then you can burn-out or your body can break down and injure…   10. Yogis know how to harness the power of breathing well. That’s a tool handy for weightlifting too.   This blog was originally published in Indulge magazine and the Herald online. Rachel is a weekly columnist for these two media avenues. 

Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Wellness expert, PT, yoga-teacher, CrossFit enthusiast & author of the book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness which boasts 30 global experts sharing science-backed wisdom on living healthier & happier (and 30 recipes too). Order the book via https://inspiredhealth.co.nz  Follow Rachel on Instagram http and InspiredHealthNZ’s Facebook https://www.facebook.com/InspiredHealthNZ/

Beetroot Energiser Juice

You’re guaranteed to feel virtuous after drinking this vibrant, refreshing juice

There are so many benefits to beetroot juice. Beets have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, contain brain function-boosting vitamin B3 – and I also love how they taste in this drink.

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