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Tania

I recently returned from Bali. It was so luxurious. So indulgent. I got massages. I didn’t have to make my bed. All my food was cooked for me. I didn’t have to do dishes. I woke early every morning to meditate and do a two-hour yoga practice. I withdrew into silence for 24 hours. I was driven around in golf carts. I stared deep into the jungle. I climbed a volcano. I swam. I surrounded myself with lush greenness.

By the time I got back to New Zealand, aside from feeling a little jet lagged, I felt amazing. All that talk about making sure your cup is full? Well, mine was positively overflowing. 

However, timing meant that my dad went in for his knee reconstruction while I was away. I badly wanted to be here for it, but it wasn’t to be. My brother came out from Australia with his four-year-old to help Mum out. When I arrived back, Dad was still in the hospital. His knee was healing well and he came home the following day. My partner, Stu came north to join us. 

I stayed at my parents’ house for four days. I helped Dad up and down from his bed and chair. I helped mum cook meals. I helped Dad do the exercises from the physio. I helped my nephew build Lego. I reminded Dad to take his medication. I helped my brother with chores around the house. I did my best to make sure Dad didn’t feel like a burden. I made sure that Stu was okay, as he had his own life stress going on. By the end of the four days, I was a wreck. I was exhausted. Said cup was now back to empty. And it was time to return to work. 

By Friday I was starting to return to normal. On Saturday I headed back to my parent’s house and this visit included six hours in ED one night.

By now I was starting to get a really good picture of what self-care meant to me. And also what it meant, and how I felt, without it. 

So I went to a heated yin class. I took a bath. I went for a walk with a good friend. I sat on the couch and did not much. I surrounded myself with lush, green nature. I turned up the music and sang while I drove. I went for brunch with a good friend. I read. I listened to podcasts. 

And after all of this, my cup started to feel full again. I felt like I could show up and be my best self for my partner, for my Dad, for work. I sometimes find the language of self-care doesn’t sit quite right with me. But the last few weeks have shown me that regardless of what I call it, I need to make sure I prioritise time for things that make me feel whole. 

So what do you do for self-care? How do you make sure that your cup is full? Or, if you’ve never thought about it, maybe today’s the day to take five deep breaths, just for you.

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Tania
There’s something about the trees. About standing on the earth, without being separated from it by a layer of concrete. About the freshness in the air. About seeing layers of hills as far as you can see. About the way the sun cuts through the clouds. About looking down on the ocean. 
   
I put it out into the universe that I wanted to create epic events for lululemon. I didn’t know specifics of what I wanted to create, but I knew the brand’s vision aligned with mine about community experiences. Then my friend Alice, who happens to be the social storyteller behind the Instagram handle @lululemonakl, shared with me her idea about what would become the Summit Club. And I was instantly a Hell Yes. 

So I gathered a team, I made plans, I got quotes. We brainstormed, we tweaked, we got approvals. I added another job into my life for a couple of weeks. I sketched whilst driving (not something I would recommend). I haggled, I asked for favours, I put my graphic design skills to the test. And then all of a sudden it was Saturday morning, we were finalising adventure packs and picking up rental vans. 

We started as a group of 24 almost strangers, although there were some threads that wove our lives together. I think the act of doing something together, rather than just meeting as a collective for say a drink, made the bonds build faster and deeper. We sweated together, cooked together, ate together. We slept together in a bunk bed arrangement that reminded me of school camps. We had real meaningful conversations with people we had just met while we trekked. We encouraged each other when the going got tough. We prepared coffee, cooked a meal for 24 and shared chocolate. 

The way back down went a little too quickly for me. I wanted to stop and enjoy the views, the peace, the energy. I didn’t want to get back to the vans, to head back to the city. I wanted to stay surrounded by the trees and rolling hills for just a little bit longer. But all good things must come to an end. And so we changed clothes, showered with baby wipes and slipped on jandals. We shared a final meal in Thames before heading back into the urban jungle. We waved goodbye to our new friends. 

What I’ve seen since then though, is new friendships. People who’s worlds were orbiting close by suddenly came a part of mine. I have been reminded that everyone I walk past on the street is most likely an epic human, I just haven’t had the chance to get to know them yet. I’ve also been reminded of how much I love being surrounded by trees, feet on the earth, breathing in the fresh air. 

Photo credit for all photos: Alice van Schaik
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Tania

The Challenge: Meditate Every Day for Thirty Days As you may be sensing, I’m good at doing something for a short period of time. I like the idea of an end date, to make the focus seem more manageable because you don’t have to do it forever. However, there are some things that I want to build into my life permanently. Meditation is one of those. I know I feel better, clearer, more focused and calmer when I have a regular practice. So I’ve set myself a rather large goal of 365 days of meditation. I’ve made it through the first thirty and wanted to share some of my thoughts with you

1. We make time for that which is important to us. I am so over people saying that they are busy and wearing it like a badge of honour. What does it even mean? That you tried to fit too much into your day and wore yourself out? That you didn’t give your brain anytime to be still and get creative? I can have a packed day and I will find time for a meeting with my boss (or Instagram scrolling). If I can make time for important people (or not so important things), why can’t I make time for myself? For something that is going to help me show up for all of that other stuff as more present, more authentic, more ME.

File_000 (1)2. Making things easy for myself is important. Since I’m not much of a morning person (more to come on that later) I didn’t want to start building a new habit that was going to be a struggle, i.e. no 5.30am meditation alarms. Instead, I decided to make my meditation time late morning. As I started to think about lunch, I would take myself off to our Talanoa Room (Board Room) to sit and meditate for twenty minutes. It fit in well with my schedule, a key component to building a new habit. Don’t make your new habit harder than it has to be.

3. Meditation is not just about those twenty minutes. It spills over into the rest of my life and how I’m showing up. Things that previously would have been an effort are just coming naturally now – like speaking to people that in the past have intimidated me and I would have been lost for words; giving a friend some feedback she didn’t want to hear; having a difficult conversation with someone at work. I feel more like an observer when situations arise so that I’m able to respond rather than react.

In the past, I’ve used the One Giant Mind app and this time around I bought the subscription version of Headspace. I really like both, although they are quite different. If you’re interested in starting a practice, having a look around the app store as there are lots in there. Or go old fashioned and just sit and watch your breath for five, ten or maybe fifteen minutes. I promise that you’ll feel better for it. I know I do.

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Tania
The Challenge: No Alcohol for 30 Days

Drinking is such a common part of Kiwi life that often when I make the decision to stop it for a little while, people think something is wrong with me. Or I’m pregnant. (Full disclosure: I’m not pregnant.) I don’t drink as much as I used to in my younger days so not drinking for 30 days didn’t hold as much challenge as it had in the past. Regardless, I was at the point of having a quiet glass of wine most nights, and more than a few on the weekends. Because life is for enjoying right! But I don’t like being dependent. And some nights it felt like I HAD to have a glass of wine to unwind. Or to celebrate. Wine works wonderfully on both occasions. So I decided to stop. Just for 30 days, to give my body a rest. I didn’t miraculously lose weight, get clear skin or become a millionaire from all those dollars I saved. But I did learn a thing or two which I wanted to share with you.

1. The reaction from some people is interesting. By me not drinking, does that make you feel something about your own drinking? Do you need me by your side, enabling you? I felt really clear about what I was doing. My why was a little more unclear, which is what some people seemed to struggle with. If I couldn’t give them a clear reason, they couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t be drinking. But why does drinking need to be the norm? Why do you need an explanation for not drinking? Why can’t it be the other way around?

2. You may not be going downhill, but maybe you aren’t going uphill as fast as you could be. My head was definitely clearer in the mornings. I wasn’t drinking to hangover levels before I stopped, but I would wake up with perhaps a little ache in my temples. Or just feel a little lethargic. Without the alcohol in my life, my head just felt better. Clearer, stronger, faster and ready to take on the world.

3. Weekend afternoon drinking seems like the perfect treat to enjoy on my days off. But as someone who has two jobs + a side-hustle, a Sunday afternoon could be used to write a blog post, work on our upcoming think.eat.move workshop or a dozen other things. Or even something as simple as a bush walk or a hike up Rangitoto.

My thirty days is up, and I am back drinking again. And I am enjoying it. But I feel like having a drink is more of a decision that I’ve made rather than an automatic reaction. I actually consider whether I want/need another glass of wine. Which means I’m appreciating it more and being more mindful. But more to come on the mindfulness soon. I’m not telling you that you should enjoy a drink, but I would recommend taking a step back and thinking about why you’re drinking and how it is really making you feel. And if you’re not sure of the answers to those questions, maybe take a few days off the alcohol and see how you feel. At least you’ll be approaching the questions with a clearer head.
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Tania

steve-jobs1 We all need a reset sometimes. Life is busy; we slip into comfortable habits. We no longer think about why we’re doing what we’re doing. It’s just habit. This can be great for some parts of our life. Lots of successful people (take Steve Jobs for example) wear the same outfit every day to save them time in the mornings. It helps to give them more brain power to spend on other things. More important things. But in some cases, before you know it, you’re sticking with a habit which seemed like a good idea when you picked it up but that really doesn’t serve you now. Maybe it’s even holding you back from being your most authentic you. And this is where a reset can come in, shake things up, make you reassess things and then build up some new habits that do serve your lifestyle now. At Wellness HQ we definitely slipped into a bad habit trap around food recently. Full-time jobs + side hustles + training + time with friends. Excuses arose and before we knew it, it was the same staples for dinner all the time or the dreaded takeaways. Once you’re in there, in that space of bad habits, it can be really hard to make the shift away. Sometimes you need that extra push; something to help make that mental break so that you can start afresh. There are lots of ways to creating a reset.

– Pledge to do something every day for a month. Hold yourself accountable and let others know so that they can support you in this. Knowing that you’ve only got to get through a month, that your new habit has an end date, can make things seem more much achievable rather than stating that you’ll do something every day for the rest of your life, or never again forever. Most likely once you’ve made it through the month it will have stuck enough that you can keep going.

– Start small and manageable. By achieving small wins you can help motivate yourself to take bigger steps. Want to stop spending so much money on takeaways? Pick a night that you know you have the time + energy to cook and start there. Once you see how easy + fun it is one night a week, look at adding another night.

– Get outside of your comfort zone. Physically removing yourself from the spaces that cause the bad habits can help create that mental shift. Maybe it’s a weekend away so that when you come back to your home you can look at things with fresh eyes. Maybe it’s taking a different path to work so that you’re not tempted by the coffee shop with those delicious brioches.

– Get the support you need. Find out what is holding you back (what is really holding you back) and address that. For me recently it was a lack of inspiration about what to cook. I know that the internet is full of great recipes but that was too much for me to take in. So we started getting My Food Bag to help give me more inspiration around new food to cook (like that delicious looking salad just there). Or perhaps it’s a new Keep Cup to inspire you to make coffee at home.

We all need a fresh start sometimes. Here’s hoping you start building a new, amazing habit today.

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Tania

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAt Wellness HQ we spend a lot of time thinking and talking about what ‘wellness’ means to us. And that’s a really big question. It covers what we put in our mouths, how we move our bodies, the thoughts we think, the work we do, how we treat other people… the list goes on and on. Because this list can be so exhaustive, making you question all sorts of things in your life that you consider normal, it’s easy to shy away from the big questions.

Instead, we justify the decision we make.
“I sit at a desk all day long, because that’s what I’m meant to do.”
“I don’t go to yoga because that’s just for flexible people.”
“I eat fast food because I don’t have time to cook.”

For me, wellness means starting small and manageable. There’s no and then getting unmotivated when it all gets too much.

stu-run-ironman2Just ask Stu. He didn’t wake up and decide he wanted to do an Ironman. He did some short distance triathlons, three 70.3 events (half Ironman races) then decided he wanted to take on the next step. By that stage he’d already built up a routine around his training; he already knew what the six weeks before a race felt like; he knew that he had the basic building blocks in place to take on the next challenge. Small and manageable then builds up to conquer things you didn’t know were possible.
I think that a great place to start is our plates.

The old saying, “you are what you eat” is so true. We use the food we eat to build new cells. So why not give yourself the healthiest building materials? But how do we know what is best? There are so many options out there – vegetarian, paleo, gluten-free, vegan, fasting, cleanses, high-fat-low-carb, no sugar, raw… All purporting to have the science behind nutrition down. They finally made the breakthrough and this time they really have got the understanding as to what to eat. Until the next round of ‘science’ comes out with the newest discovery.
I think just taking a step back, taking a deep breath and being conscious about what we’re eating is the perfect place to start though. Do you ever stop to read labels? To find out what’s actually in your food? To see what a portion size of your favourite snack really is? To see where your meat came from? To listen to your body to see when you’re actually full? For me personally, doing this means that I’m meat free and sometimes vegan. For Stu when he’s training, that means good protein and chocolate milk. Maybe for you, that means something completely different. But stopping to think about what you’re ingesting can only lead to being happier + healthier as you’ll be giving your body what it truly needs.

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Tania
How many times have you vowed to radically change your life? And how often has that been on the 1st of January, in a slightly (or not so slightly) hungover state? Resolutions are fuelled with good intentions and hope, which is why I like them. But so often they are unrealistic, made without a real plan of to achieve them and can leave us feeling depressed and unmotivated the first time we stumble from our path (which is why I don’t like them too much).

I am lucky enough to work at lululemon, who are pretty big on setting goal setting, but they approach it in a slightly different way. You start with a vision of where you see yourself in ten years. This is far enough in the future to take away any self-imposed restraints like budgets, lack of knowledge or timelines. You can dream big and come up with a vision for yourself that gets you really excited. Then you work your goals back from there. See yourself in a big house in your vision? What are the ten, five and one-year steps (or goals) that are going to make that happen? Maybe you see yourself living on a tropical island, owning a dog, working only a couple of hours a day remotely with five or six kids running around. By working out where you want to be, you can then start putting some steps in place to get you there. Maybe you need to start re-gearing your career to make it possible for you to work remotely. Or maybe you need to start having kids if you see that many in your near future! This whole process has helped me to see the larger vision of where I’m going, and then also helped me create steps to get me there. Rather than setting big resolutions for the year that can be too big and scary to even know where to start, or that are too vague to know when I’ve achieved them, I am able to see the journey mapped out in front of me.

I know I want to be fit and healthy in ten years time. So what am I going to do this week to make sure that I am?

This has been a challenging experience for me. I’ve done the visioning exercise a couple of times and not everything is clear just yet. But that’s okay because there are some things that are super clear, and now I can start working towards them. Want to get on board? Jump over to lululemon and have a look at what they are up to. There are heaps of resources and posts about how to get started.
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Tania
It’s just before midnight. It’s cold. I’m still recovering from a cold. I’ve been up since 4.15am. I’ve spent a good portion of my day on my feet or running around. I would love to be in bed right now. But I’m not. I’m leaning over a barrier, reaching for high fives from people I don’t know. I’m clapping and cheering to hopefully give people a last burst of energy to make it down that finishing chute before the clock strikes 12. No, they’re not going to turn into pumpkins if they don’t make it. They just won’t make that exclusive list of Ironman finishers.

stu-run-ironman2I just witnessed my fiancée take the journey from 70.3 to Ironman finisher. In fact, he was standing on the road and I had to give him the final push (my seal of approval) before he committed to making the journey happen. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart. Nor is it something you should attempt without first getting buy-in from your nearest and dearest. Yes, the day is hard slog. But that’s nothing compared to the nine months prior.

There is some real magic in the air in Taupo, and it’s just on steroids for Ironman weekend. The nerves are almost palpable. The day starts with a local group of men emerging from the lake on their waka and doing a haka to pump up the crowd. The mass swim start fills the lake with limbs and water spray. There are intense sights like the guy cycling past holding his seat, not prepared to give up and not able to sit down to let his quads rest. The very vocal Iron Maori supporters. The slight smiles on exhausted faces when you cheer on someone using their name. The guy with the ukulele, sitting in the dark, playing Bob Marley for those still pounding the pavement on their marathon after the sun has set.

But back to the finish line. Setting out to complete something as massive as an Ironman is such an incredible goal. It’s a long journey for everyone taking up the challenge and that journey is filled with many, many hours in the pool, out on the bike and in your running shoes. I am so, so proud of everyone who was brave enough to state it as a goal; to enter the event; to make it to the start line; to keep pushing to make all those cut-off times; to make it to each Transition; to cross that finish line; to be an IRONMAN. You are all such an inspiration to me. Even though I won’t be joining your ranks, you inspire me to set and smash my own goals. And a special thank you to Stu for taking me on this incredible journey with you.
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Stu, Tania

It’s summer, finally. Sort of. Most of us are back at work now, full of food, good intentions and a few too many celebratory wines or beers. This time of year is one of New Year’s Resolutions, which often come with new gym memberships. It’s also the perfect time of year to build new habits and make the most of the beautiful country we live in. Whether you’re city based, in the country or near the ocean, strapping on a pair of running shoes and getting outside is not only a great way to get fit and smash your resolutions, it allows you to see your neighbourhood from a new perspective. Not to mention the wonders that fresh air does for your mind. You can’t get that sweating away in some over air-conditioned gym filled with other New Year’s Resolution makers!

Some tips for running in your area:

1. Get to know your area. Get onto old Google Maps and find your nearest park, put your shoes on and get out there to familiarise yourself with it. Some parks have trails, fitness equipment, hills and great grassy areas where you can do core strength exercises, sprints, run drills. Or just get to know some of the streets in your neighbourhood.

2. Close proximity is key. This can help with motivation and ease of access. Being able to head straight out from the office can help prevent that dip in motivation that occurs when we walk in the door after a long day to spy the couch and the TV remote. It will also help you process everything that happened at work so that you can come home and be more present with your family and friends.

3. Know what works for you. Maybe you run best on your own. Maybe you need a buddy to help keep you motivated. Maybe you need a run group to learn from. There are lots of different types of running groups out the re – big, small, boot camp, technique focused and many more. Get in touch with the coach or organiser and ask for a complimentary trial session. This way you can see if it’s for you or not. And if it isn’t – find another group!

4. Variety is the spice of life: Make sure you try a few different running routes in your area. This is really important to keep your motivation levels up. Running the same route every time can become boring, the brain switches off and injury can creep in. Try running the same route in the opposite direction even. It is amazing what you see from a different angle sometimes.

5. Have a goal. It doesn’t have to be to run up Everest or to run a marathon. Although there’s nothing wrong with those goals, it does help if you can break them down into smaller, more manageable steps. Want to complete a full marathon? Maybe book in a half marathon first. Or even a 5k or 10k race. Make an action plan for the year, that’s realistic for you to stick to, and you’ll be running down that finishing chute in no time.

Summer is definitely the perfect time to build up those good habits for when winter creeps in and can start eating away at your motivation. Go on, get outside, enjoy your local area and get fit!
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Tania
A while ago I decided I wanted to live without plastic. So I had a look around my life and realised just how ubiquitous it really is. It kinda freaked me out! I know that there are people out there that have managed to give it up completely. And I take my hat off to them. But I decided that doing that was just overwhelming me and meaning that I wasn’t even starting to make progress. So instead, I started making small, conscious decisions for each purchase to make sure it was as ethical, natural and plastic-free as possible. That was far less intimidating and has definitely helped me move towards plastic-free. I wanted to share my progress with you which includes some super easy steps that reduced my level of waste in the hope that it might inspire you to start making some small changes!

Tailor Skincare – I’m loving supporting locally made, natural skincare that uses glass bottles instead of plastic! Lots of brownie points for this one. Plus Tailor skincare feels amazing on my skin. I don’t feel like I’m over-stripping my natural oils with the Oil Cleanse but at the same time it takes all my make up off. What more could a girl want? And those days where I feel like I need a bit of an extra deep scrub to really let my light shine through, the Dry Cleanse is an amazing powder that turns into an exfoliant in your hands. This really gets stuck in and gives a deep clean. Bamboo toothbrush – When you stop and think about the number of toothbrushes we go through it’s a little scary. Although they’re not a single use product, they only last three months. Four a year over a lifetime is a lot. Bamboo toothbrushes are great to use, and I’ve even managed to switch Stu on to them. There are a few online stores you can get them from, or Harvest Wholefoods in Grey Lynn.

Sorbet/Ethique St Clements Shampoo – I’ve tried solid shampoo bars before and been left with limp, oily hair in the process. So I was a little reluctant to try again. But the St Clements bar promised to clean my hair properly and to remove any need of conditioner. With two lots of bottles potentially removed from my life, I had to give this one a try. And I haven’t been disappointed! This citrus smelling bar does such a good job of keeping my hair clean without stripping the natural oils out that I have in fact given up conditioner as well. My hair gets knotty all the time, so I didn’t think that conditioner was something I was going to be able to give up. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised! Also, when I had a weekend away I took this away with me and used it as shampoo, conditioner and soap making it really convenient.

Black Chicken Axilla Deodorant Paste – My mum was often trying out different natural deodorant options when I was younger, so I’ve long been aware of the nasties that are in our “conventional” deodorants. But I’d never found one that really worked until now. Yes, it’s in plastic. Yes, it’s a little weird rubbing something into your armpits. But to avoid those chemicals going straight from my skin into my bloodstream? Plus, it actually works! It’s not as strong as some others, so if I had been working hard all day and was heading to a sweaty yoga session later that night, I would reapply just to make sure I didn’t put off anyone practicing next to me. Black Chicken is an Australian brand, but you can buy it through Oh Natural.

Mint Julips from Lush – How to tell if the product you’re using is really super natural? The final step in the process reads “lick off the remaining product.” I’d been feeling like my lips had this kind of extra layer of skin on them. Mint Julips is the perfect scrub to help get rid of any older skin and leave your lips feeling plumped up and gorgeous. Plus the ingredients could have come out of your pantry, so it is totally okay to eat!

While I haven’t got all of the plastic out of my beauty routine, with some small changes I’ve managed to reduce my  footprint on the earth and still keep my beauty routine intact. Do you have a favourite natural / plastic free beauty product that I need to know about? Let me know in the comments.
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