You guys! I am so pumped to share my experience from this past weekend’s Yoga of Eating women’s wellness retreat with you. I got home Sunday night feeling so ridiculously grateful to have been part of such a powerful workshop. I hope my experience can help you all find a way to take some downtime for yourselves and a little balance and clarity.
My good friend Sue Van Raes, of Boulder Nutrition, is a fellow nutritionist, as well as a yoga instructor and author. She has created the Yoga of Eating program from the ground up, combining all of her wisdom and passion into one incredibly insightful experience. I was thrilled to go help out with the meals and support our Boulder Nutrition team for the weekend in beautiful Crestone, Colorado.
We stayed in some super cute yurts at the Joyful Journey Hot Springs and soaked in between classes and meals. Fall came into full view right on time. As we started the retreat on the equinox the aspens began turning gold, the weather cooled down, and we even saw some snow up on the peaks of the Sangre de Cristo mountains.
This was actually the first retreat I’ve been on. I love yoga and I love nutrition, so obviously I was super excited to lend a hand. We had 11 women come from all over the country, varying in age by about 40 years. Everyone had unique reasons for coming, but despite all our different backgrounds and current life affairs, we all had some a similar goal. We all wanted to find a way to relax and find balance in our relationship with food and our bodies, by allowing ourselves this time away from everything else.
It’s sad to recognize that most of us feel pretty inadequate much of the time. There are so many demands that just pile up and up and up….it’s quite easy to feel overwhelmed and a bit lost. The thing that really hit me during our talks was that we are all dealing with this same, deep burden in different ways. For some of us it’s eating disorders, for others, it’s over-working to the point of depression and exhaustion. Some of us might be able to function in the day-to-day just fine, but there is a lingering feeling that something is missing.
Taking a deeper look at these feelings and how they relate to our eating patterns is totally eye-opening. We might choose to stuff ourselves with food due to a struggle with communication, by using our mouths to push everything down, instead of getting feelings out. We may use food as a shield, to hide from the world under extra weight. We may crave certain types of foods for comfort or as a distraction because we don’t know how to sit with an uncomfortable emotion.
The great news is that acknowledging these unhealthy habits is the first step towards turning them around. Being in a group of women sharing their hearts like this really makes you realize you’re not alone – we all have our shit. We all have issues. It’s how you decide to handle them that matters and nothing is set in stone.
At one point during the weekend Sue brought up the idea of flavors and how they relate to feelings or emotions. For example, spicy foods can evoke warmth and passion, and we often turn to sweet foods for comfort and love. This hit me like a lightning bolt. I realized that some days I feel like I’m giving the world 110%, I’m trying my very best to be loving and kind, but I don’t feel like the world is giving that back to me. Days like this really stress me out and get me down, and I find myself looking for comfort in sweets.
Don’t get me wrong, I have a sweet tooth in general and I don’t need to feel a bit blue to get a hankering. But, after really thinking about this concept for a while it makes sense that those cravings become much stronger on the days I’m in need of a little extra comfort.
Food affects our emotions, and our emotions affect what we eat. It’s a cycle that can really make or break your overall health.
Okay, okay, I know that if you’re like me, you’re wondering what kind of delectable food we mowed down on over the weekend. A few of the trips foodie highlights were Sue’s Balinese Chicken Stew, a White Bean Pesto and Arugula Salad, Slow- Cooker Shredded Chicken Tacos with Spicy Sweet Potatoes, and a gorgeous Heart Beet Smoothie (check out that recipe below!). Can’t forget the Dark Chocolate Maca Truffles that ended the final day of the workshop – sooooo good.
While I expected to have a great time I definitely came back with more than I thought I would. I found a sense of calm I’ve missed for quite a while, I had a whole weekend away from the computer, I realized it can be really nice to slow down my yoga practice, I had some AHA moments to my own relationship to food, and to top it all off I found a deeper connection to women in general, since I got such a powerful snapshot of the projects we’re all working on in our own heads and how at the end of the day it’s all very relatable. All that from one weekend!
Now, please don’t think that I’m sitting here thinking I’m Miss Enlightened from my one retreat. I totally know I’m not, and there’s no way to ever fully be, but the practice of slowing down and focusing on overall wellness is really rejuvenating, and that’s what I’m trying to say. It’s just nice to be reminded that each of us deserves to take that time to care for ourselves – it’s okay, it doesn’t make you a bad mom, wife, employee, whatever, it makes you a better you to take on life feeling a little more grounded.
If you are reading this and feeling intrigued, I highly recommend you check out Sue’s other upcoming retreats. I’ll be tagging along with her to Costa Rica this November for a full week and we’ve still got a few spots left (hint, hint)! We’ll be doing daily yoga, having free time for laying on the beach or strolling through the jungle, and playing in the kitchen with experiential cooking – which means you get to learn healthy cooking tricks of nutritionists and chefs to take home to your very own kitchen. We’ll also hit the town one night to get some authentic Costa Rican fare.
Thanks for reading about my experience, it was fun to share! Check out Sue’s recipe for the Heart Beet Smoothie below, it’s incredibly energizing and really, really yummy. If you’re not a fan of beets this will make you one! The fruit and coconut water really helps mellow out the earthy taste of the beets. Enjoy!
Heart Beet Smoothie
Yield 1 Smoothie
This gorgouse smoothie is loaded with plant-based protein, iron, fiber, and antioxidants. You'll be amazed how energized you feel and how delicious this combination of ingredients really is.
- 1/2 medium sized beet, washed and peeled
- 1/2 cup strawberries
- 1/2 banana
- 8 oz coconut water
- 1/2 cup water, plus more as needed
- 1 scoop unsweetened vanilla protein powder
- 2 large kale leaves
- 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
- 1/2 cup plain coconut yogurt
- juice from 1/2 lime
- Put all ingredients in blender and blend on high until smooth and creamy, adding a little extra water as needed.