Our weekly wellness columnist Rachel Grunwell, an award-winning journalist, coach and yoga teacher, has just released her first book, Balance, which she has created to help uplift people's health and happiness levels.

The book is not only full of amazing recipes and nutrition advice, it is also packed with the incredible knowledge of 30 global wellness experts who share their tools, advice, stories and skills.

"I've packed all these experts from throughout the globe into one book including psychologists, neuroscientists, nutrition experts, professors, a happiness researcher, a decluttering expert, and more. It has some inspiring stories from change-makers that melted my heart and made me look at the world differently and more beautifully, or in a more inspired way," Rachel says.

She wanted to create a science-backed wellness book that can genuinely help both men and women.

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Balance is a book for everyone, and isolates no one. She says she hopes it helps readers learn how to eat well, move well, feel well, think well and live well.

We live in an era where everyone craves to be healthier, fitter, happier. But many people feel overwhelmed, stressed out, busy enough already, and just don't know where to start.

A lot of people are confused about food, health and happiness.

Rachel says self-loathing is more toxic than any kind of sugar, and she hates perfectionism. She wants people to focus on progression instead.

Rachel Grunwell with her new book, Balance. Photo/ Sophie Andreassend
Rachel Grunwell with her new book, Balance. Photo/ Sophie Andreassend

"So many people abandon health, fitness or wellness ideas because they can't do them perfect! Small steps get you on a pathway to success. It's important to enjoy all foods and not feel guilty about eating. Our eating culture is so messed up. Let's strip it back to simplicity and mostly eat real food that helps us feel full and function well, but let's not be afraid of eating the occasional doughnut," she says.

When rates of depression, anxiety, and health-related issues are skyrocketing, Rachel thinks a book such as this is needed in the world more than ever. She tells readers not to worry, as it isn't a heavy read. Rachel has applied the teachings from the book into her own life and says it has uplifted her health and emotional intelligence and happiness levels.

"Readers won't have to tell people they've changed through what they've read. They'll show them by living a life in a more inspired and beautiful state. It is a change I often notice with the clients I coach, too."

Rachel writes, but also runs the Mindful Moments retreats at the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua where Kiwis can access her wellness teachings and the wisdom she has gleaned over the years.

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"I'm just an average kid from Rotorua who wasn't afraid to work darn hard for decades at my writing craft and dream big. I've always wanted to be an author. But my dream changed seven years ago, when I started down that road of becoming a wellness expert, coach and yoga teacher," she explains.

According to Rachel, we live in a world that focuses too much on intelligence and competition. This book helps with emotional intelligence, kindness and collaboration, which is a big part of people staying well, connected and happy.

"I dream that one day we have a society that equips people better with skills to rise through depression and anxiety, fear and unhappiness so much better. This book contains so many wonderful tools and is a contribution towards this growing issue."

She believes that as a society, we need to drive bigger change in the area of health and wellness. New Zealand's health and suicide statistics are heart-breaking, and the wellness initiatives in many workplaces too are woeful.

Rachel also hopes that Balance inspires her three young sons, as it shows them that if their mum, who was once an average kid, can become an award-winning journalist and an author, they can dream big too. She hopes it inspires them to chase their goals and dreams, and to give things a go.

"Actually, I love that phrase 'give it a go'. Parents often tell their kids that, but they hold back from doing this themselves as adults," she says.

Top tips from Rachel Grunwell
How to unwind after a stressful day
Diaphragmatic breathing, yoga and mindfulness techniques are the three best de-stress strategies hands down. I teach these techniques at the Mindful Moments retreats at Rotorua's Polynesian Spa. A lot of corporates to mums, and couples, and friends seeking a weekend away, access these restorative retreats where I teach these wellness strategies. There have been some amazing success stories from people attending. It can help reset your body, mind and soul.

How to make exercise a priority
I tell my coaching clients to "just show up". If you show up to a fitness activity often enough, you get better at it. Fitter, healthier, and over time it will become part of your lifestyle, and a eventually a ritual to staying well. Your health should be your priority, so I call people on their BS when they tell me they are too busy to exercise. I tell them they need to care about being well not just for their own sake but also for their family, friends and the people they love. Movement is a key to staying well.

How to stay focused on good nutrition
Just eat real, whole food and cut the processed stuff in packets as much as you can. Eat like your grandparents used to. By the way, please don't re-mortgage your house to eat avocados when they are not in season or use it in one of my recipes. Just swap the ingredients out, play, have fun, experiment. That smoothie doesn't have to be darn perfect. The ingredients are a guide. Feel free to change things up, and enjoy food!

About sustaining a healthy balance
I believe in living life in balance with all things. I eat chocolate, drink wine, and love icecream too. I just have these things sometimes and in balance — not all the time. Life is too short to eat salad alone. Don't feel bad about eating treats sometimes. Just keep the good things in your tummy mostly. Make prepping food a priority. The food you eat fuels your body and mind to perform at its best. If I'm on-the-run, I'll snack on easy things like nuts, blueberries and full-fat yoghurt.

Small things that can improve our wellbeing
Find a way to move your body that you enjoy. That way, you'll do it more. There are so many cool fitness ideas out there. Try one until you find something you enjoy. Also take time out to do things that help you to de-stress, smile and have fun. Never, ever feel guilty about taking time for yourself for wellness.

the details
Balance is available in book stores now, RRP $40. If it's not stocked in your local book shop you can order it online via www.beatnikshop.com
Rachel will be holding a series of wellness talks in workplaces and at a string of events. If you want her to share wellness wisdom at an event or at your workplace than get in touch via inspiredhealth.co.nz or Facebook (InspiredHealthNZ) or Instagram (rachelgrunwell)