Every year, my soul's sole purpose is to host an adventurous women's wellness retreat. While I spend my days throughout the year focusing on my Trainer In Your Back Pocket program, personal training clients at the gym, teaching bootcamps out at the park, and helping others to heal through nutrition, the one program that lights my soul each year is the annual Well-Weekend retreat. I began hosting these retreats in 2010, out of my soul's calling to travel more and to share the experiences with other women.
I just returned home from the 8th annual Women's Well-Weekend Retreat, which was the first time we adventured to Moab, UT to explore the Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. I embarked on this journey with 8 other women of all ages, shapes, and sizes, and I wanted to share with you a few lessons that I learned along the way.
#1: It takes a lot of planning to create the perfect Well-Weekend. In fact, it took me an entire year of planning to create this well-weekend. No matter how much planning I did, however, I must still be willing to go with the FLOW, modify as needed, and adapt.
Back story: Last year I spent months creating the most perfect itinerary for our Lake Tahoe Well-Weekend. I had it planned out to the T. I knew what hikes we would do, when we would have time to paddleboard, when we would arrive places to ensure parking space availability, what we would eat, etc. I was confident that my plan would work like a charm, because, according to me, it was perfect, and I had factored in everything I could. Then, when it didn't go according to plan, (having a group of 12 ladies doesn't always go according to plan), I was lost. I got flustered, and I had a hard time recovering. While no one in the retreat even knew that things weren't going according to plan, or that I was flustered, I felt that if it didn't go as I had planned on the itinerary, that things would not be "perfect" for everyone attending. This bothered me for many months, until I simply had to let go, and focus on the word FLOW. So, that's what I did heading into this most recent Utah Well-Weekend. While I had the perfect itinerary planned, and even though things went exactly as planned this year, I was more open and available to FLOW. If we needed to spend more time in one park, we would. If we were tired and didn't want to do another hike, we didn't. I felt like I finally made up for my past mistakes of trying to control the flow. Just like a river, you can't control the flow. You just have to go along with it, or else you're paddling upstream and getting no where fast.
#2: You're never too old to have an adventure! It was awesome to see women ages 30-65 "bunking" together (in luxury resort cabins, nonetheless). Everyone did what they could with the activities, and we all gathered together to share our adventures afterward. While it's important to maintain a high fitness level throughout every age of life, it's just important to continue putting yourself out there and trying new things. Do this, and I believe you'll never get "old." Don't ever feel like you're holding someone else back because you are older, or maybe can't go as fast. The most important thing is that you get to share the experience together, no matter what speed you hike, bike, walk, or run at. Just start where you are, so that you can get where you want to go. Never give up, or feel like you're too old to dream! If you don't start, you'll never get there!
#3: I need more TRAVEL in my life! This is pretty self explanatory. I love travel. I love sharing my travel adventures with other women. I can't wait for next year's Well-Weekend adventure! Time/Place TBD! If you haven't joined me for a Well-Weekend over these past 8 years, what are you waiting for?!
#4: So many women have blood sugar handling issues!
Back story: For the past 4 months, I have been trying to get my blood sugar under control. I'm not diabetic. I have healthy blood sugar, according to blood tests. However, I answered yes to many of the questions on this quiz, and definitely had symptoms of blood sugar addiction. Can anyone say HANGRY? So, in December 2016, I did my first blood sugar support program through Standard Process, and I felt like a million bucks after just 10 days. This program involves daily supplements to help with blood sugar handling, in addition to a low carb, (high veggie), moderate meat diet. This is when it clicked for me. For the first time ever, I understood "intermittent fasting," simply because I didn't need to eat all the time. I didn't need to eat between meals, or have snacks in my bag at all times of the day. I could feel satisfied after a normal sized portion of food. This was the first time in my LIFE that I experienced this. Up until then, I thought that it was normal to be hungry all the time (well, not normal, but normal for me). Then, starting in February, I embarked on a self-experiment to try a ketogenic diet after reading the book, Keto Clarity. (high fat, low carb, moderate protein). And yes, everything continued to improve. Some days I could go 24 hours without food, simply because I wasn't hungry! It was almost like the shackles were taken off, and I was free from food. My workouts suddenly became more intense because I had the energy for them. I didn't need a nap after each workout. I could recover faster. And meal prep was a breeze (cooking 1 meal a day is way easier than 3!)
So, how does this relate to the Well-Weekend? Well, for our trip, I packed snacks for everyone. I brought Chomps jerky sticks, Trader Joe's trail mix packets. I brought avocados and tuna, greek yogurt and cottage cheese with nuts and berries, green and herbal teas, and 90% dark chocolate (this is a women's retreat, so chocolate is a necessity.) What happened? I came home with most of those foods that I brought for everyone. Here's why: everyone brought their own carb & sugar-laden snacks like milk chocolate easter eggs, chex mix, pringles, popcorn, muffins, honeybutter, chocolate chip cookies and granola bars, etc. When all of the foods were laid out for breakfast, everyone chose the muffins and granola over the greek yogurt or cottage cheese and nuts. When needing a snack, everyone chose crackers or chips over meat and cheese. I noticed folks become cranky if they didn't eat every few hours after that, or rather, they were always looking for food, to the point of obsession. Now, don't get me wrong, I used to be like this! This was the first time, however, I noticed it from an outside perspective. This is the first time I didn't need to eat all the time. I simply wasn't hungry between meals. I didn't have to have a meal, then a snack, then another snack, and then a meal. I totally get that everyone was "on vacation," and many times, on vacation, healthy eating goes out the window. That's not the point. The point is that it was so obvious to me, how eating carb rich foods (especially first thing in the morning) led to the chain reaction of needing to eat every few hours, being hungry (sometimes hangry), and being obsessed with food all day. (Having to bring 10 different snacks on a 5 hour trip is a little obsessive in my opinion).
So, what does all of this mean? It means that I'm going on a mission this year to help 100 women conquer and control their blood sugar! I hope to mentor 100 women through the Standard Process 10 Day Blood Sugar program this May. If you feel like you're always hungry, or get tired a few hours after eating, or have a mid-day slump, or get HANGRY, please join me in my 100 women quest to curb our blood sugar handling problems! It's just 10 days, but it can change the way you look, see, and feel. Read more about the program here, and enter your information below to stay tuned & join me in a kickoff party where we will do the 10 day program together!
Those are just 4 simple lessons that I learned from, what I would consider, the most epic, amazing, and awesome Well-Weekend that I have ever hosted! See more photos over on our Live For It All Facebook Page, and connect with me on Instagram @trainerinyourbackpocket.
Abby Malmstrom M.S. is an exercise physiologist, certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, wellness coach, and "real food" nutritionist. Her life as an active duty military spouse takes her all over the world, allowing her to influence, teach, and connect with folks in communities she never even dreamed of reaching. Life's an adventure, so stay tuned for the ride! It's time to "Eat Well, Move Well, Think Well, Be Well."