By Rachel Grunwell
AD – This content is kindly sponsored by FitbitNZ. Rachel is a Fitbit ambassador and proud spokesperson.
Make your Xmas gift count this year by giving something that inspires good health and an inner or outer glow! Here are some of my top picks of things I LOVE and back…
- Fitbit Sense watch. This really is the ultimate Christmas Prezzie (for yourself or someone you love). This watch can help you to transform your health. It will help you to be sleep fit (monitor your sleep score!), be heart rate fit (this device can detect your resting heart rate score with incredible technology) , be brain fit (the watch can guide you through mindfulness exercises to help you manage your stress levels) and be body fit (monitor your exercise and nutrition too through the watch)! I’ve worn a Fitbit watch for about eight years now and LOVE this brand. This latest watch is Fitbit’s most advanced health smartwatch. I wear it everywhere including running (it measures steps done, kms run, distance run, run pace and keeps check on my heart rate levels). It’s so easy to use that it really is the ultimate run watch. I wear it to de-stress (the mindfulness exercise for two minutes is my fave and can calm my nervous system so quickly). I wear it to bed to check my sleep score, which has been so interesting. And I wear it whether I’m in a dress and heels or wearing lycra to teach yoga. I wear my Fitbit Sense more than jewellery! This really is the ultimate Xmas prezzie. This gift also keeps giving – it will be worn for years to come.
- An entry into the Rotorua Marathon event on May 8, 2021. This will inspire action on a fitness goal to get fitter and healthier – and as a ripple effect, exercise uplifts your happiness levels. This is NZ’s most iconic run event which has a fun run, 10km run through stunning and unique sulphur flats, a half marathon forest off-road run and a road marathon where you lap Lake Rotorua. Take the family for the weekend too and explore Rotorua. There’s adventure on your doorstep, great places to eat, a City full of beautiful Maori culture and lots of lakes and forest walks to explore.
3. A health inspired book. How about Luke Hines’ book Barbecue this! which has 80 quick, vibrant and flavour-packed dishes for weeknights, or for times of entertaining. Or a great book for managing anxiety that hell help you feel calmer via teaching calming breathing techniques is Dot, by Kieran E. Scott. Or of course, I’m biased in also recommending my own full colour book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness which boasts 30 global experts on how to be healthier and happier + 30 nourishing recipes. The book has tips around nutrition, neuroscience, psychology, emotional intelligence, de-cluttering, fitness, losing weight, feeling happier and more. My fave expert in the book is Shaun Achor, a happiness researcher from Texas. You can order it through this website HERE.
4. Natural beauty products that support your outer health. My top picks right now are Linden Leaves Miraculous Facial Oil (a light formula that’s NZ-made for more youthful, nourished skin), Nellie’s Tier’s face mist (to refresh and hydrate with the incredible perfume of a blend of floral waters), or Weleda’s Birch oil (to put on my body post exercise for muscle recovery. The fresh smell of this, feel of it and it’s purpose is pretty rad).
5. Sponsor a charity. My top pick is the Cambodia Charitable Trust which helps kids access education, and more, in Cambodia. I bought a bag of rice for $60 which will help feed a family for a month. The lawyer who started this trust lives in Tauranga and she features in my book Balance. She helps thousands of kids in Cambodia now and her work is extraordinary. Help her to make more of a difference in the world by helping this trust with whatever amount that you want. Whatever you gift will be super appreciated.
6. A voucher for a retreat. Indulge your loved one (or yourself!) in a blissful weekend getaway at Rotorua’s Mindful Moments retreat. The dates are now up on the Polynesian Spa’s website for 2021. This getaway boasts a beauty treatment at the spa, a premium good bag, lunch on both days, spa dips in the 28 pools on site at the spa, yoga, mindfulness, meditation sessions, a forest walk, a wellness workshop and more. This is such an affordable retreat as far as retreats go in NZ. A journalist dubbed it one of NZ’s most affordable and top micro retreats in NZ. I co-host this retreat and love connecting with the incredible men and women who attend. This sells out fast as only 14 guests are taken at a time per retreat! I promise you will leave this retreat feeling more calm, happy and rejuvenated.
Sponsored blog by Fitbit NZ
Declaration: Rachel proudly works with Fitbit, the Rotorua Marathon, Linden Leaves, the Polynesian Spa, and is the author of the book Balance which she promotes in this article too. She genuinely backs these as incredible Xmas gift ideas that have helped to transform her health and vitality.
Rachel Grunwell is a wellness coach, speaker, and her mission is to inspire Kiwis to live healthier and happier by aligning with partners that care about promoting good health.
Follow her on instagram for daily posts and more wellness Inso. Click HERE
AD This blog was created for those training for the Rotorua Marathon event on May 8, 2021
By Rachel Grunwell
It’s the festive season and I too love to savour some wine and soak up social gatherings and the fun.
I thought I’d share some tips and advice around alcohol for those of you who love “the sweat life” too. Alcohol can impact on your performance if not drunk in moderation. So it might be helpful to know some of this stuff for when you are next contemplating how much to drink at a party or social gathering.
Firstly, a standard drink is 100ml wine (12% alcohol – and not that much liquid in a glass!) or a 330ml beer (5% alcohol).
According to the National guidelines, the consumption of any more than two standard drinks for women and four for men in one sitting is associated with increased risk of health problems (obviously if this is sustained over a period of time).
According to the Nutrition for Life book by Catherine Saxelby, hangovers are caused by dehydration and things like the substances in alcohol like congeners, such as tannins, volatile acids, methanol and histamines.
Dark-coloured drinks like red wine, brandy, and sherry can cause the worst hangovers – especially the cheaper brands, she says. Mixing drinks can also spell bad news for a sore head (and leave you witch-like the next day – likely! Or is that just me? ha ha ha ha ha).
Here are 5 tips to help avoid a hangover:
- Stop at one drink. That’s smart! Or have none, if you have a very long run planned the next day. I totally recommend this. I’ve drunk ONCE the night before a long run and I will never do this again. I felt nauseous!! However, some people can get away with this WAY better than me.
- Don’t mix a whole lot of different drinks. This is REALLY bad news for a hangover.
- Drink non-alcoholic drinks in-between an alcoholic one to slow down how much you drink ie water, fruit juice etc
2. Have lots of water to combat the dehydration.
3. Have something like milk, or cheese, before you drink – as this lines your stomach. So our mothers telling us to “line the stomach with food” wasn’t just them being bossy.
4. Foods like toast, fruit, flat lemonade, weak black tea with sugar, boiled rice, and eggs, can be kinder on the stomach when you have drunk a lot.
5. Sleep it off. You should feel better after 24 hours.
ps an extra tip from Catherine Saxelby is not to bother with those effervescent tablets. She reckons they are just expensive urine!
Meanwhile, when I coach clients on how to move, eat and live healthier and happier, I advise clients too that alcohol has a lot of calories (7 calories per gram). A lot of my clients are chasing weight-loss goals. So there’s that to consider too.
ps remember all things in life in “balance” can be okay. Just make informed choices about how you fuel your body and have moderation in mind.
Set your next run goal by entering the Rotorua Marathon event held on May 8, 2012. There’s a fun run, 10km, half marathon and marathon distance to contemplate. Enter HERE
Rachel is a wellness coach, keen runner (25 marathons at the last count) and Rotorua Marathon ambassador.
Rachel is also the author of the book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness.
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…
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…
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….
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.
Article by Rachel Grunwell: InspiredHealth Director, collaborating with businesses to inspire Kiwis to live healthy and happy. Award-winning writer. Magazine wellness columnist for Good magazine & Indulge magazine. Yoga & meditation teacher. Fitness consultant. Co-leader of the Mindful Moments retreats at Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa. To find out more about the next retreat in Aug click HERE
If you want to uplift your health – get moving.
Movement can help with your concentration and energy levels and improve your mood and sleep. It also helps to reduce tension, anxiety, hostility and depression. It helps you to be social if you keep fit in a group too.
Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Award-winning journalist. Wellness writer for three magazines (Good, Indulge and Run4YourLife). Magazine smoothie creator. Yoga Teacher. Fitness Consultant. Multi-Marathoner x19. Blogger. Co-leader of health retreats at Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa.
I’ve done some sessions with run coach Kiri Price, who takes classes at the AUT Millennium as well as private lessons. I’d recommend a private lesson for your first time so you can suss the technique and so you know you are doing it right. There’s an art to mastering it.
Kiri says deep water running classes have come a long way from the aqua jogging classes of the 80’s and 90’s. AUT Millennium’s Deep Water Running sessions have been developed specifically for runners and athletes to develop and maintain their aerobic fitness and running technique in a non-weight-bearing environment.
The AUT Millennium sessions have been developed specifically for runners and athletes to develop and maintain their aerobic fitness and running technique in a non-weight bearing environment.
“The biggest benefit of deep water running is that it is no impact, therefore minimising musculo-skeletal stress, while still providing a full body workout,” she says.
Kiri says it is biomechanically the closest cross-training method to actual running, providing a fantastic aerobic training workout. Deep water running is perfect for those currently suffering from injury, or who are on the path to recovery. Kiri has 100% success rate with helping injured runners she has worked with, to heal, and achieve marathon running success.
So what’s the experience like? Well, I did this for several weeks while training for the Chicago Marathon in 2016. You strap a blue float device tight around your waist and then get in the pool with a bunch of other folk wearing blue-belts too.
Kiri starts with a warm up – getting students to tread water for a few minutes – maintaining an upright position with minimal forward leaning from the ankles, shoulders just out of the water, core-tight, and pushing the feet straight down and slightly behind you, feet relaxed, toes pointing down (so you imagine pushing off the bottom of the pool). Meanwhile, your arms pump forwards and backwards by your sides).
The class includes things like drills, interval sessions and the class is full of different things to focus on to improve things like run technique, form or to have some fun.
The pool here is massive, multi-million-dollar complex where you can often spot some elite athletes. Kiri says she has seen rugby legend Sonny Bill Williams and lots of elite athletes here. I’ve spotted Valerie Adams a few times too on her way to the AUT Millennium gym nearby.
The deep water running workout is tough by the way; It is no walk in the park. You get red-faced and feel like you’ve done a really tough workout. The best thing is it helps you keep your running base strong. I recommend this for injured runners and I highly recommend Kiri’s sessions. She’s an incredibly experienced runner (she has run close to 150 marathons) and she’s also one of the nicest coaches you could hope to meet.
One-on-one sessions are available with Kiri Price and these can be booked directly with her – just email [email protected] (please tell her Rach recommended her!) Group sessions available by appointment. You can click this link to find out more .
Pic of Kiri Price pacing at the Rotorua Marathon.
To find out more about the health retreats she co-leads at Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa click HERE
Nurture. Nourish. Thrive.
These are the beautiful words that underpin the mission of Te Atawhai retreat, nestled out in the countryside at the foot of Mount Te Aroha in the Waikato area, in the North Island of New Zealand. It’s about two hours’ driving from Auckland, or about an hour drive from Tauranga.
Te Atawhai specialises in offering a four-day “wholeness retreat” (although they offer one-day retreats at request too). Here you can learn, grow and flourish by learning healthy habits based around a blend of movement, mindset, real foods, and rest.
The retreat is run by an all-women team including: Rebecca, who worked for many years as a nurse in the mental health sector; Sherryll, who has 20+ years experience as a personal trainer; Well-known NZ fashion designer and businesswoman Annah Stretton. Rebecca and Sherryll run the retreats generally, while Annah drives the business-side of the venture and often joins guests for a meal.
Each of these three women have inspirationally transformed their own lives to be healthier and happier in recent years and so want to help others rise up in the same way too.
Pictured, Sherryll, left, and Rebecca, right.
I experienced Te Atawhai in December 2018 and felt the retreat was heart-led. Rebecca and Sherryll care about the guests and keep numbers relatively small – so everyone gets incredible personal attention.
The absolute magic in Te Atawhai truly is the people. They care about what they do and put their hearts into helping their guests. They are heart-connected to those who come to this place to re-set.
Te Atawhai is not a bootcamp-style environment. You are challenged, but not pushed. You can go at your own pace and opt in challenges at the level of intensity that feels right for you. It’s not a yoga retreat – there is stretching in the morning, but it’s about mindful movement and starting the day inspired, rather than learning difficult yoga poses. This makes the retreat accessible and relatable to most people.
There is no alcohol, caffeine, wheat, dairy or refined sugar on the menu here, but rather nourishing, healthy, seasonal and real foods that are delicious. You will feel full at every meal too (and I do like to eat a lot and so I’m a good measure for this!) This is not a retreat about weight-loss, but rather the focus is wellness. I really love this – because the emphasis is about building healthy bodies and minds.
Karissa is the whizz in the kitchen and is passionate about serving seasonal and nurturing food that’s truly delicious. The flavours she creates are memorable. She picks fresh produce from the garden daily to add to meals. One guest kept saying “I can’t believe healthy food could taste so good”.
Check out this healthy breakfast. This was one of my faves.
The retreat is run from a large house in the countryside, where cows are thy neighbours and you get to see the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets.
Check out this view from the bedroom I stayed in. This is bliss.
It’s like a home-away-from-home, rather than a fancy-pants, minimalist resort. There are books scattered around the house to read, a pool, health teas always on offer and you get to breathe in fresh air, unplug from technology and escape a hurried life and set goals for a healthier way forwards.
Each day starts with a gong to rise (you are encouraged to leave your watch in your suitcase for the four days). Then it’s a swig of apple cider vinegar (which boasts many health benefits), some gentle stretching with Sherryll and a sit-down breakfast. A challenging walk is then on the agenda – and each day you go to a different location for memorable scenery. An absolute highlight was climbing to the top of Mount Te Aroha (it took me 2.5-hours to get to the top at a gentle pace and 1.5hrs to come down). Half of the group opted in for this, while the rest of the group felt the half-way point was a challenge right for them.
At the top of Mount Te Aroha, I felt on top of the world. You can see the sea.
You can also see green for miles miles and even the hump of Mt Maunganui far in the distance (in the far right of the picture). I wished I could sit there for hours. This, to me, is the definition of magic.
Being in nature is a therapy in itself, plus there are the movement benefits of course!
After walking, there’s a spa dip at nearby mineral hot springs (and you can opt to pay for a beauty treatment if you wish). Then in the afternoon there is an educational health seminar and some free time to relax. Then it’s a sit down chat for some reflection on the day, dinner and then free time before bed.
On the website, Annah Stretton writes “Come to Te Atawhai to Nurture, Nourish, and THRIVE”.
Rebecca spoke memorably about learning “awareness” – “which is a key to setting you free”.
I’d also say come along too to this home-away-from-home to connect with these incredible women. Here you can learn tools to inspire you to live your best life.
* Watch a quick video interview with the retreat’s chef Karissa about nourishing kai. Click HERE
* Rachel was kindly invited to review the retreat as a professional wellness blogger.
I’m an ambassador for the John West 12km Traverse at the Auckland Marathon event on October 29. Here’s week two of my blog that features on Good magazine too. Here I get some top fitness tips from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, rugby league player, Vodafone Warrior Captain and Canterbury ambassador. To see the rest of the blogs in this series on Good magazine find the link at the bottom of this blog.
By Rachel Grunwell
Mind-set and motivation matters. It doesn’t matter what kind of sport or fitness activity you do, your mind drives your motivation..
I did a fitness workout with Roger at Health101 in Auckland – trailling the new Spring season of the Canterbury sports clothing line. Needless to say, I got the questions covered before the workout. Afterwards, I wasn’t useful for much. Other than gasping….
Strength work is a key to Roger’s power on paddocks. Strength work is also a key part of my run training too. Although the crossfire-style work out we did took strength work to a whole new level. Handstand push-ups anyone? Er, yeah, I suck at those too.
Anyway, here are Roger’s top fitness tips. They don’t suck. They’re worth noting by anyone taking on the 12km John West Traverse event – or wanting to “be their best”.
- Train right. Make sure your training is specific to the event. i.e lots of power presses in the gym might not be best in this instance! Be sure to mimic the event into your training as much as possible.
- Nutrition. A healthy diet plays a huge role in success in sport. Especially for game day. On game day I always ensure I have a healthy breakfast and lunch with loads of carbs and protein to get me through a game of footy. I usually have eggs on toast with avocado for breakfast. Lunch is something like chicken or salmon (white meat) with loads of veg. And probably a big smoothie.
- Sleep! It’s so important to ensure you get 7-8 hours sleep each night to allow your body to repair and rest before the next big training day or event. I am a big believer in breathing techniques for those nights when I find it a bit tricky to get to sleep. And there is a great app called Mindfulness I like to use every now and then.
- FUN! This one is huge. Make sure you enjoy what you are doing. Otherwise there is no point putting your body and mind through the pain and stress of training if you are not enjoying it!
- Support. Surround yourself with people who will inspire you and keep pushing you. I am lucky in my team environment to have such an amazing support network. We all know each other so well and can feel when one of the boys is a bit off. We rally together to get them back on track. So having training buddies, family, husbands, wives to keep you on check is a great idea! You will always have those down days, so don’t worry.
Rachel is Good magazine’s wellness columnist. She teaches yoga-for-runners and blogs on website inspiredhealth.co.nz. You can also follow her on
Meanwhile, here are some pictures from the Crossfit workout
I think I was a frog in a pervious life chuckle..
Plate lifting is good for the arms…
Still standing at the end. Or is Roger just propping me up?
Follow the rest of my blogs in this series via Good Magazine.