Ex War Vet Fundraises via the Rotorua Marathon a Tough Way – for a Heart-Connected Cause

Blog by Rachel Grunwell

Ex war vet, Tracey Dender, will be running the Rotorua Marathon in May – and doing it tougher than most. She’s running 42km in a weighted vest. So those hills around the back of Lake Rotorua are going to be haaaaard, long and slow. (I know this for a fact, as I’ve done this marathon without a weighted vest and it was haaaaaard, long and slow enough. By the way, that weighted vest weighs 6kg. Can you imagine carrying around a sack of 6kg potatoes around 42km?

Tracey is also making her run miles count with a passionate purpose. She’s raising money for a Veterans support charity, called No Duff Chartitable Trust.

Why? This 37-year-old – now Rotorua-based baker – is a veteran herself. She did 11 years in the NZ Army including a tour to East Timor and one to Afghanistan.

But here’s her big WHY behind why she is making her run miles count with a true mission:

She tells this best in her own words:

“I have struggled with depression and anxiety, during my time in the Army and since leaving the Army. I am living life as best I can nowadays but some of my friends and colleagues weren’t so lucky. Some days are still tough. “Running definitely helps with the mindset and wellbeing. No Duff was set up and is run by veterans out of necessity and gaps in the support network for veterans.

“I’m passionate because there are so many veterans suffering and who need help.

“No Duff has had its funding decreased and so this is my way of helping a bit.”

This will be marathon number 3 for Tracey.

How does she think she’ll get on?

“I think I’ll go ok with the vest. It’s going be painful, but I am stubborn and have a good training group to run with (Jogging the Powerpoles, in Rotorua).”

Meanwhile, here’s a pic of Tracey after receiving a medal on Anzac Day in East Timor. This was to acknowledge working with the UN in 2002.

So far Tracey has raised $720. Please help her to make a difference for a deserving bunch of Kiwi legends by donating on her Givealittle page HERE And share this blog with anyone you know who may like to back this amazing runner. Her mission is the definition of inspiring.

Meanwhile, you can join Tracey and thousands of others chasing their own goals at the Rotorua Marathon too. You can check out the event by clicking HERE

If you’d like to know more about the charity Tracey is supporting click HERE.

Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Rotorua Marathon ambassador and passionate multi-marathoner (25 marathons at the last count including 4X the Rotorua Marathon full course). Qualified coach. Yoga teacher. Wellness expert. Freelance journalist. Author of the book Balance, which includes 30 global experts sharing science-backed hacks on how to be healthier and happier.

7 New Lifestyle Books

By Rachel Grunwell

A version of this column ran as my weekly wellness column in Feb 2020 for Indulge magazine.

I never put my nose in other people’s business. I keep it instead in good books.

I love to expand my mind and challenge my thinking. Books transport me to different worlds. I have hundreds of books in my office. I re-read lots of them. Here are some new lifestyle books that are pretty rad. They’re all really different, but offer a great read in their niche:

So You’re Having a Teenager. An A-Z of Adolescence by Sarah MacDonald and Cathy Wilcox

Help! I will soon have two teenagers in my house. And I know how embarrassing I am already for only existing chuckle! I laughed lots through this book (so loud that I sometimes snorted). It’s a real view ie the authors tell readers that when it comes to teenagers, “your approval counts. A bit. A tiny bit.” I love ‘M’ which stands for:

Mumble, monosyllabic, moodiness, meltdowns, memes, masturbation, marks, money, mirror, mental illness. If you have a teen, get this.

Human Kindness – Renee Hollis (ED)

This features positive stories about human kindness. It’s stories from people all aged over 60-years including six Kiwis.

The Art of Rest by Claudia Hammond

Perfect life balance is a personal thing. This book is helpful for those who wish to slow down – and want ideas on how to be happier. It’s for those who can handle sitting alone with their own thoughts.

Lab Rats by Dan Lyons

This book entertains around how the working world has changed – for the worse. ie from management fads to enforced fun to unpaid internships. Dan gives advice on surviving (with your sanity).

Michael Rosen’s Book of Play

101 ideas on how to play. This is helpful for parents wanting to get their kids off computer screens. I’ve earmarked the page on how to make a garden in a bottle to do soon with the kids…

Create Your Own Midlife Crisis by Marie Phillips

This book is for those contemplating a tattoo, divorce, affair or fast car… This book had me laughing so much it hurt. You flick through to the page depending on what way your life might turn. You can glimpse into an imagined future on how things might turn out in a very real kind of way. I like this book’s fun take on a serious subject. Midlife crisis points are times to either laugh or cry. This book will help you laugh more.

Fucking Good Manners by Simon Griffin

Don’t buy this book if you hate swearing. But if you don’t mind the word that rhymes with “duck”, then you will dig this. It’s hilarious. It’s a how-to-guide on how to behave at the cinemas, while driving, to having basic manners full stop.

 Find out more about Rachel’s coaching and wellness workshops services, public speaking engagements and her book Balance: Food, Health and Happiness via inspiredhealth.co.nz  Instagram @rachelgrunwell

Hangover Cures that Actually Work…

By Rachel Grunwell

A shorter version of this column appeared in Indulge magazine. Rachel is a weekly wellness columnist for Indulge. She is a freelance health journalist for several of NZ’s top lifestyle publications. She’s the author of the book Balance, which features 30 global experts sharing science-backed wisdom on living healthier and happier. Follow Rachel on Instagram & Facebook.

So, everyone has had the hangover from hell. Come on. We’ve all experienced it at some point. Let’s be honest. Me included. We all know how easy it can be to be carried away at a social event. One friend even put me to bed after her party once as the party was ending. I was the last one dancing due to a few drinks that got me “happy”.

I had too much of a good night. I felt mortified the next morning of course over my unintended sleep over. That is, until I heard another guest slept outside their posh place under some bushes. So my night ending was (slightly) less dishevelled. The party story that won out was about the bush-sleep, rather than sleeping beauty if you get my drift. Chuckle.

As I get older, I’m less eager to return to that hangover state. Maybe it’s because I’m older and wiser (and like sleeping in my own bed..). But really I think it’s that I’ve got to a stage in my life where I’m more excited about training hard at the gym or running because I’m so goal-driven these days. And I usually have to take one of my kids to a swimming lesson or birthday party in the weekend and the suffering can be absolutely punishing then, right! So I’m a glass or two to celebrate these days kinda girl…

You know that feeling you want to try and avoid….the pounding headache, fuzzy brain, nausea, low energy, and a mouth that’s desert-like dry…

I interviewed nutritionist Catherine Saxelby about her new updated book, Nutrition for Life, which is full of lots of great info on how to fuel your body well. Her expertise is epic. She has been an authroity on diet and healthy eating for three decades. I skipped immediate to the section on how to handle hangovers. I dig her real-world approach and that she included this. Rather than trying to be virtuous – like some nutritionists kinda do. She knows in the real world people generally enjoy wine or beer and her nutrition bible helps with everything… so why not include hangover cures. I loved it. I also coach clients around how to balance some drinks in their week if they ask for advice around this…

Saxelby and I end up spending an hour on Skype. She’s so cool. And I love her lowdown on alcohol from our chat and some bits from her book… So here goes… this stuff is good!

She says 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. 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).

However, you won’t escape a hangover if you drink lots of other things too like beer, white wine, whiskey, gin, and rum too…

However Saxelby says the least effect around hangovers is caused by vodka. I bet a whole lot of you are vowing to celebrate now with that drink on the next celebratory occasion!

Meanwhile, champagne can get you intoxicated quickly as the bubbles push the alcohol into the body more quickly, the nutritionist says.

Speaking from Australia via skype Saxelby quips there’s only one sure way to avoid a hangover: “Don’t drink too much in the first place!”

But if you do over indulge, here are her top tips to avoiding a hangover – because you can’t always count on a bush-sleeping guest to outdo your party girl/Goldilocks-style-behaviour the next time…

1.   Drink non-alcoholic drinks in-between to slow down how much you drink ie water, fruit juice etc

2.   Have lots of water to counteract the dehydration.

3.   Have something like milk, or cheese, before you drink. So our mothers telling us to “line the stomach with food” wasn’t just nonsense!

4.   Foods like toast, fruit (fresh or canned), flat lemonade, weak black tea with sugar, boiled rice, and eggs, can be kinder on the stomach too.

5.   Sleep it off. You should feel better by 24 hours later.

6.   Don’t bother with the effervescent hangover remedies. “I think you just produce expensive urine,” says the author.

 Meanwhile, another nutritionist I met last year, also Australian- based and also super lovely and knowledgeable, Michele Chevalley Hedge, says “fish oils at bed are key to avoiding a hangover”.

Meanwhile, when I coach clients on how to move, eat and live healthier and happier, I’m guided by the national guidelines when it comes to alcohol. Firstly, 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.

Importantly, the guidelines are to limit alcohol intake to one or two standard drinks a day at the most. These guidelines warn that a daily alcohol intake in excess of four standard drinks for men and two for women could lead to serious health problems. Alcohol impacts people differently too. For example, I’m a bit of a light weight with it. So I’m really considered about what and how much I drink these days. Except for that night of the party with the unintended sleep over…. chuckle. We can all got a bit wild sometimes, right!

Also, it’s important to note that the national guidelines idea of a standard drink could be different to what you may think. For example a standard stubbie of beer contains 1.3 and 1.5 standard drinks. Watch the percentage of alcohol amount too on the beverage. Some can be quite high.

ps remember all things in life in “balance” can be okay. Just make informed choices about how you fuel your body.

Find out more about Rachel’s real-approach coaching and wellness workshops services, public speaking engagements and her book Balance: Food, Health and Happiness via inspiredhealth.co.nz  Instagram @RachelGrunwell or click here for her business Facebook

Strong Girls Are Trending – Rachel’s A-Z Guide on how to Goal-Crush in 2020

It’s time to goal-crush for 2020. Rachel Grunwell shares an A-Z guide to being a ‘Strong Girl Boss in 2020′.

Picture by Jack Neale from Indulge magazine.

It’s 2020 and strong girls are trending.

Stop standing back or holding yourself back. Step up, stand strong, be brave and work hard to get what your God damn heart dreams.

Stop living a beige life. Instead, live the s*** out of this life and get your best life. Choose to be a Girl Boss.

Crush goals in the arena you want to fight for most. Is it work, finances, relationships, life, sport or more play?

Here’s my “how to” Strong Girl Boss Guide”. Join this strong girl march and follow singer Stevie Nicks’ lyrics: “Don’t be a lady, be a legend”. Tune into researcher Brene Brown’s teachings too. She preaches: “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

A- Awareness. Have the courage and confidence to know who you are and what you want – and then chase it down. You lead your own orchestra. You can change the song any time you darn well please.

B- Boundaries. Set them and be unapologetic about not breaking them. Protect your space to be able to focus and flourish. That doesn’t mean becoming bossy though; Keep those soft, vulnerable and kind layers. 

C- Courage.Have the courage to be the real, true , authentic you. After all, it’s your quirks that set you apart from the rest. Own who you are and don’t shift your views or values for anyone. And, remember no one likes a chameleon – those species that change to fit in. 

D- Darkness. Acknowledge the darkness you’ve experienced but don’t let it pull you down into the trenches. Choose instead to fall up. Let the richness of your experiences propel you forwards with a new sense of inner strength and empathy for others.

E- Eudaimonia. I first came across this word while interviewing neuroscientist Dr Kerry Spackman. He was sharing tips on how to live your best life for my book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness. This word is Greek for happiness or welfare, human flourishing or prosperity. It’s all about striving for genuine happiness and contentment, not Hollywood-style happiness. The latter is fleeting. Us strong women are smart. We know that our own kick-ass success beats any bauble some bloke can gift. 

F- Fear less. The only thing holding you back from living your best life is you. Fear of failure is a handbrake. Instead get out of your own way honey. But remember not to be reckless.

G- Goals. You need strong, solid well thought out goals to know how to take those powerful small steps towards your dreams. Otherwise you’ll remain “stuck”.

H- Healthy high. Your health is the foundation of your wellbeing. Build a healthy, strong, resilient body – and mind – and chase those healthy highs. Raise your standards and look after your body. Fitness boosts your mood, energy levels, focus and brain power. Fitness fuels more creativity and productivity. So strong girls are smarter. Please remember that fitness ain’t about the aesthetics; It drives how you think and feel.

I- Inner voice. Recognise that mean-girl voice inside your head. This can make you doubt yourself and feel unworthy. Speak to yourself like you are your own best friend. Self-love is crucial to success.

J- Judgment. Don’t judge yourself – or others. It’s ugly. Use your energy to focus on positive thoughts, feelings and actions. Don’t waste or energy on stuff that doesn’t serve you – or others – well.

K- Kindness. It’s a boomerang. Throw it out and I promise more kindness will return.

L- Love. To love others and to feel loved is the meaning of life.

M- Mental Health. Do what makes you feel well, healthy and happy and guard that like a fierce boss bish. Looking after yourself also means you can help others more.

N- Nourish your body with real foods that grow in the ground, on trees or move (ie meat if you are not a planteater, that is). It fuels your energy levels and smart-girl thinking power.

O- Open Up your heart wide to friends and have more courageous conversations about your real feelings. Letting others in on your failures, fears, and joyful moments deepens connections. 

P- Purpose. Live life with a powerful purpose, not just for a pay-cheque. If money drives everything then you will hit a mid-life crisis – it’s just a moment of “when”.

Q-Questions. Get curious and ask questions. Knowledge sparks an understanding of fresh perspectives to evolve to a deeper level.

R- Re-set your body, mind and soul when you need to with play that sparks an inner-joy. Is it surfing, reading, running or gardening? Do what lights up your soul. It keeps you centred.

S- Stand tall, lift your sternum and behave like the goddess you are. You deserve to be seen, heard and loved. Everyone does.

T- Thief of Joy. “Comparison is the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt. Never compare who you are to anyone else. You are beautifully imperfect. We all make mistakes, stuff up and fail. No one is the sum total of their Facebook highlights reel.

U- Unite with other soul sisters to help each other.Adjust another queen’s crown when it falls off. There’s stronger power in the collective.

V- Values. Know what is most important to you and live your life by these.

W- Worth. Know your worth and never settle for second best: Ever.

X- X-Factor. What is your super-power that sets you apart from the rest? Share it more with the world. We all have something special to share.

Y- Yes. Say this word more to connect more and experience more. Because isolation can fuel depression.

Z – Zip it with the B.S. The truth is the opposite to what you’re likely telling yourself. Know what are thoughts, and what are facts.

• Find out more about Rachel’s coaching and wellness workshops services, public speaking engagements and her book Balance: Food, Health and Happiness via inspiredhealth.co.nz

Instagram @rachelgrunwell

Get the lowdown on Rachel’s Mindful Moments retreats at the Polynesian Spa polynesianspa.co.nz

This feature was published in Indulge magazine. Rachel is the weekly wellness columnist for this weekly magazine.

The Number 1 De-Stress Tool I Share with Corporates

Rachel Grunwell plank yoga pose

By Rachel Grunwell

Feeling stressed, anxious, or sad? Firstly, I want to assure you that you are not alone. Life is a roller coaster – for everyone. It is full of ups and downs. We all have tough days. It’s part of being human.

I share lots of de-stress strategies in workshops with corporates. What’s my number 1 tool that I always share that’s science-proven? It’s called diaphragmatic breathing (or in simple terms, it is just plain belly breathing. This can powerfully help you to calm your nervous system in a matter of moments.

What do you do? Essentially… just sit, soften your shoulders, and take three, slow calming breaths into the belly area.

For example, you can count to four on the in-breath. Pause. Then, count to four on the out breath. Pause. Repeat this 2-3 times.

I hope this helps to re-set your body, mind and soul.  

Ps remember to reach out and talk to loved ones, friends, colleagues, anyone. Connection helps to uplift you too.

And keep believing in the power of love and kindness. Always.

For more wellness tips follow Rachel on Instagram and Facebook. Rachel is the author of Balance: Food, Health + Happiness. She’s an award-winning journalist. Wellness expert. Coach. Qualified yoga a + meditation teacher. Rachel is also a key note wellness speaker and runs wellness workshops for corporates.

Rachel Grunwell personal coaching

Rotorua: Five Experiences that are WOW

By Rachel Grunwell

You can visit Rotorua many times and always experience a fresh, fun and exciting side to this city that wows.

I visit for 48 hours and experience the geothermal earth forces. I do stand-up paddleboarding on one of the 18 lakes. Luckily, there were thrills with no spills. This fussy Auckland chick also got to savour some epic kai. I left wishing only
I had more time in this place that’s home to the world’s best mountain biking trails.

  1. Water, glowworms and wonder: Walking on water with Paddle Board Rotorua sets my heart soaring. I’m on Lake Okareka, a 15-minute drive from the city centre. Deep blue waters are below. Blue skies stretch overhead. Sunshine warms my back. I breath in fresh air. There’s a vista of green soothing hills in every direction. There are coves to duck in and out of, which light up with glowworms at night (the twilight tour is the most popular). We glimpse rare birds. This. Is. Bliss. Every parent needs to take their kids to do this. www.paddleboardrotorua.com

2. Waimangu Volcanic Valley: If, like me, you are a Game of Thrones fan then you will understand this likeness . . .

The Inferno Crater Lake at Waimangu Volcanic Valley has the same ice-blue as the eyes of the White Walkers. It’s that darn beautiful it will leave you in absolute wonder.

This is Rotorua’s premier tourist attraction for good reason.

The valley formed in 1886 when Mt Tarawera erupted. There are unique geothermal features on the self-guided eco-walks of varying lengths. This protected scenic reserve is a 20-minute drive south of Rotorua. You can also do
a boat cruise on Lake Rotomahana. This gives visitors a view of the reserve’s volcanic displays from a cool perspective. www.waimangu.co.nz

3. Jetboat Thrills: Okay, I was a bit of a wuss about doing this at first with the New Zealand River Jet Crew. I was a bit wobbly, worrying about going fast and flying on water and doing 360-degree turns. But I ended up loving this thrilling jetboating trip. It winds through the spectacular Tutukau Gorge. The canyon walls rise up to 50m. The tour guide shared history of the area (and lots of laughs) along the way. He helped us spot rare birds too. I loved the stop off at the world-renowned Orakei Korako thermal attraction. The bright yellow and pinks of the boiling mud, geysers and silica terraces are so memorable. Then there’s the option to go through The Squeeze. You wade through knee-deep warm water towards a narrow gap in the cliff face, then squeeze through crevasses top end up resting in the waist- deep thermal waters for a soak. www.riverjet.co.nz

4. Terrace Kitchen: Food resembles art here, and tastes so darn good I almost licked the plates. The chefs make fresh, seasonal, sustainable food, showcasing local ingredients at their best. You know what’s epic about this place though? The super-friendly staff.

So, here’s what I ate: My starter is a vegan warm salad (turmeric tahini emulsion, slow-roasted aubergine, truffle butter, and oyster mushrooms); my main is fish with turmeric and lemon marma- lade, asparagus, fish and herb beurre, and with buttered kamokamo and pan- roasted carrot; dessert is a berry parfait (it has coconut, biscuit, berry sago, cider coulis and edible flowers). The food, staff and this modern, friendly place lived up to my fussy Auckland-girl-expectations. terrace.kitchen

5. Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua: The city’s largest hotel is nestled on the edge of Lake Rotorua. A short walk to the city centre, it’s close to lots of attractions. They have Ma ̄ori bread at the buffet breakfast. I scoffed four pieces. I couldn’t stop, it’s that good. The coolest thing here though is the kids’ area at the entrance. It’s so inviting with colourful beanbags, a giant ‘connect four’ game and TV screens to amuse. Adults like this hang out as much as the knee-high-folkwww.sudimarotorua.co.nz

The kids area at Sudim Hotel Lake Rotorua is epic…

●  To find out about more amazing experiences in Rotorua check out rotoruanz.com

●  Rachel Grunwell was kindly hosted by Destination Rotorua

This feature was published by NZME including the Bay of Plenty Times and on the Herald on-line.

Rachel Grunwell is an award-winning journalist, columnist for Good magazine and Indulge magazines + the Herald online. She’s a wellness expert and author of the book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness (which boasts 30 global experts on how to live healthier and happier). Find Rachel at inspiredhealth.co.nz, Instagram @rachelgrunwell, and Facebook InspiredHealthNZ

Yoga Hero Pose – beginner to advanced

Quad goals… This pose stretches your quads (front of your thighs) and ankles. The first pic is the beginner version of the pose. Note: Not everyone can tolerate the internal rotation and so if you feel any strain… just come out of the pose. The advanced version is for those who have done yoga for a while, and have the flexibility. This can take time to ease into… For this pose, hold it for 30 seconds – two mins (depending on how long you have to stretch). Breathe through it. Remember to smile 🙂

beginner…
advanced hero pose

For more health and fitness inspo connect with Rachel via Instagram or the InspiredHealthNZ facebook page

Dad & son run Rotorua Marathon event in memory of 3 loved men lost

Joe Kurukaanga and his son Pokaiaua Kurukaanga will run the 10km distance at the Rotorua Marathon event together in memory of 3 loved ones lost.

Joe Kurukaanga shed a tear when he won the Rotorua Marathon $1000 ultimate fitness kick-starter/pamper pack for two people.

It’s a prize that will boost his own health journey. But training for the event will also be a balm to soothe the grief in losing three beautiful young men this year – all in heart-breaking circumstances.

“I shed a tear with my wife when I found out I won. I thought ‘this is meant to be’. It will be a journey that’s good for my physical health, and mental health too. It has been a taxing six months….,” says Joe, who is from Birkenhead, Auckland.

Joe was among 500 entries across InspiredHealthNZ Facebook and the marathon ambassador Rach’s Instagram in a collaboration with the Rotorua Marathon event. The prize includes. 2 x entries in the Rotorua Marathon event, 2X 60 minute massages at the Polynesian Spa, 2 sets of Asics shoes, 2 X Balance: Food, Health + Happiness books by Rachel Grunwell, 2 run caps and 2 event medals.

Joe says he immediately rang his son and told him he wanted to share the prize with him. His son Pokaiaua, a member of the NZ open men’s touch team, is elated.

“He told me ‘enjoy Xmas day dad… cause we start training on the 26th’!” quips Joe.

Joe is looking forward to kick-starting his health journey and losing some kilos with this prize. He and his son will run the 10km distance over the sulphur flats at Rotorua. Pokaiaua’s partner Jess and another friend Kris, have vowed to join them on race day at the event on May 2. So they are already a strong team of four.

They will all use the run to remember three loved men lost. Zae lost his life due to complications from pneumonia. While, Manning and Josh died suddenly where there were no suspicious circumstances. Joe says they almost lost another boy recently he knows too, but thank goodness he will be okay. It has been a time of “struggle” through the grief, he says, but he has tried to stay strong for the other young men in his life that he is close with in his role as a sports coach, mentor and friend.

Joe says he is still overwhelmed at the win. He’s still working out what they will do to raise awareness through their miles. But he already knows it will be around telling young people “it’s okay to feel not okay” – and to talk to someone if they feel not okay…

Meanwhile, thank you to everyone who entered the competition. There were so many deserving entries. So many were heart-felt.

Find out more about the Rotorua Marathon event HERE

Blog by Rachel Grunwell. Rotorua Marathon ambassador. Wellness Expert. Coach + Yoga Teacher. Multi-Marathoner. Health journalist and wellness columnist (Good magazine, Indulge magazine + the Herald online). Author of Balance: Food, Health + Happiness, which boasts 30 global experts on how to be healthier and happier + 30 nourishing recipes.

Follow Rotorua Marathon ambassador Rach on Instagram and Facebook for more Rotorua Marathon competition coming up s + health, yoga and run tips.

5 WELLBEING TIPS TO RADICALLY IMPROVE YOUR RUN GAME

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

Base

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.