Coffee. It's the one thing I need to kickstart my day. With early starts it is an essential supplement to get me through a morning, my consumption sometimes hitting four cups before 8am. But for three days I will have to give up coffee, and I am in a mild panic.
The opportunity to go on a Resolution Retreat Three-Day Fresh Start taster is too good to pass up. The women-only retreats, originally started in the Bay of Plenty in 2012, have three, seven, 10, 14 and 21-day options. Following a stressful year I am more than ready to clock out from my day-to-day life, but I worry about giving up my morning vice.
Driving down to the purpose-built resort in Karapiro I manage to fit in two large lattes, so feel confident I can navigate the first day at least without breaking down, unlike my travelling companion, who confesses to me she has snuck a box of extra-strength tea bags into her luggage.
Tucked down a long driveway among verdant fields, the Waikato property has 45 luxury guest chalets and a 20m heated indoor pool (with a stunning view), infrared saunas, a steam room and a number of treatment rooms where you can indulge in beauty treatments or have a massage. It's a bit of a mystery to me as to why it was built 10 years ago and has sat unused, yet maintained, until September 2019, when Resolution Retreats started operating here.
On arrival we are warmly welcomed by Casey Mackwell, one of the on-site facilitators who lead the yoga sessions, prepare the tasty meals and snacks, and generally ensure everyone is looked after. I half-hoped she would frisk search us to expose my friend's cunningness, but it is not to be. Casey has an amazing aura about her – I know if I leave after the weekend with an ounce of her energy and calm, it will have been worth the trip.
After settling into a well-appointed chalet, it is off to the first of the daily wellness talks, this one with Resolution Retreats founder Joelene Ranby. I experience a few lightbulb moments when Joelene starts talking about habit loops, especially when it comes to my coffee consumption. But as it is a short retreat we don't share too much with the group as to our particular vices, and, besides, we have our first exercise class to attend.
In the past I would have balked at the idea of a dance fitness class. My co-ordination can, kindly, be described as lacking, but once Ruth hands out her glittery red pompoms I am sold, even if I don't once shake them on the right beat. After a high-energy workout I am more than ready for our nutritious lunch, which is also a great opportunity to get to know the eight other women at the retreat - four of us are from Auckland, one from Napier, one from Kapiti and three from Cambridge.
We are all there for different reasons, but it is clear we all need some time out to recharge. Two of the women are returnees, a good endorsement for what Joelene and her team provide - a no-pressure environment where you are encouraged to take part in activities that suit your needs (… but no coffee, alcohol, or contraband tea).
I start sampling the selection of fruit teas on offer and by the weekend's end I am thoroughly over thems (although the elderflower and apple variety might still pass muster in an emergency).
After some free time it is back to the exercise studio for yoga. I am feeling incredibly virtuous and also very tired, and later end up missing the cooking demonstration, which takes place every night before dinner. I blame the afternoon massage for putting me into a near comatose state.
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When Saturday dawns I anticipate a coffee-withdrawal headache as I head off to the 7am yoga and meditation session. I have experienced this before.
During the wellness talk, and the fitness session in the heated pool I keep waiting for the pain to kick in, but strangely it never comes. I'm not sure if it's because of the copious amounts of fruit tea I've been consuming, or the fact we are having very little refined sugar, but I remain blessedly headache-free.
I drift off during my rejuvenating facial in the afternoon, waking with a start when I almost drop the hot stones the therapist has placed in my hands.
Three of us attempt to have movie night after dinner in the evening but I am fighting a losing battle, and am tucked in bed before 9pm.
It's amazing how quickly you can get into a routine if you enjoy it – I would love to continue with a 7am yoga and meditation class if it wasn't for the fact my normal workday starts at 5am, but yoga is definitely something I want to look into doing regularly in 2020 - that and healthier eating.
It's unrealistic to think I would lose weight over three days of good eating and exercise, but my skin has certainly improved, probably due to the increased water intake, and zero caffeine.
Two weeks on from the retreat and the stress levels are slowly starting to return again, but I start each morning with a few yoga poses learned on the retreat. I also find myself checking my posture while at my desk, my water intake has increased and I have yet to have a cup of coffee because I just haven't felt like having one. The one thing I previously felt I needed in my day was actually just a bad habit, an excuse to get away from my desk … and though it may not be the most life-changing habit to break, it's a start.
Phone 0800 4 RETREATS
1002 Tirau Rd, Karapiro