Q&A with Resolution Retreats’ Joelene Ranby

Resolution Retreats is the largest health retreat in Australasia catering exclusively for women. Their world-class luxury health retreats range from three-day fresh start retreats to their three-week life-changer retreats.

The ultimate in a luxury, healthy holiday, women are encouraged to fully immerse themselves in the 35-ha five-star Lake Karapiro resort. A dedicated, sought-after team of health professionals deliver a holistic health programme which includes daily Yoga, group fitness sessions, and a variety of women’s wellness workshops ranging from nutrition, hormone-health and healthy habit advice, to life coaching, personal styling and make up sessions. World class facilities include private chalet accommodation, a luxury in-house spa and wellness centre, an indoor heated swimming pool, weights room, infrared saunas, jacuzzi spas and tennis courts that overlook Sanctuary Mountain.

We sat down with Joelene Ranby, founder and retreat facilitator to find out more about New Zealand’s best kept health secret.

Overcoming your own health struggles and losing 20kg inspired you to leave your corporate career and run luxury health retreats for women full time. Women from all over the world and from all walks of life come to Resolution Retreats to refresh and reset their health. Why is trying to overcome health obstacles in our day to day environment so hard?

With so many health ‘trends’ coming and going, and so much information and opinions out there on health, it can be confusing and overwhelming to know where to start. Sometimes, getting away from the day to day grind to get back to basics, focus and prioritise the most important and realistic changes that you can make to improve your health can help you to become clear on the best path forward for your particular health challenges.

Our ‘to do’ lists can get so long; it can be a big ask to add a heap of daily expectations to improve our health on top of everything else. Most of us have the impression that to be ‘healthy’ we need to be perfect. As a result, we set the bar too high, have unrealistic expectations of ourselves, maybe fall short, then feel let down, not good enough, lose motivation and give up because it all gets too hard. We would prefer you focus on progress, not perfection (one of our mantras on retreat). You don’t have to be perfect to be healthier than you were yesterday, last month or last year. Think of ‘health’ as a doing word, rather than a destination, and do some health every day.

Many women associate health retreats, in particular weight loss retreats with strenuous, unenjoyable boot camps and very strict meal plans. What makes Resolution Retreats so different?

We want to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem. It is our role on the retreats to give guests a toolbox full of realistic and pragmatic strategies they can use to improve their health, not only while they’re on the retreat, but when they return home as well. In order for those tools to be realistic, we avoid ‘extreme’ and focus on ‘sustainable’. That is why the women who attend our retreats leave feeling like they have a clear picture of how they will continue what they have learned on retreat, at home.

Your retreats have a strong focus on working out why we do what we do when we know what we know, understanding habits and helping women redefine their habits. What are your three top tips for establishing and maintaining healthier habits?

Know, understand, and accept that you cannot be perfect all of the time. Maintaining habits takes willpower and willpower is not an infinite resource. There will be times when you’re tired, stressed, under pressure, or struggling emotionally, when willpower will be at its lowest. Its at these times when you’re most at risk of letting go of healthy habits. It will happen to everyone at some stage. Its whether you let it get the better of you and give up (on retreat we call this the ‘stuff it effect’), or whether you see it as a ‘blip’ and get back into it.

Don’t take on too much all at once. Willpower is not an infinite resource. Try putting your energy and willpower into changing or establishing one habit at a time. Avoid overwhelm. Don’t try to implement a full health overhaul all at once. Time and time again we have seen ladies succeed when they break down what can be an overwhelming number of changes into step by step priorities and a set of clear daily healthy habits to work on.

Work out what motivates you. Are you someone who is motivated by accountability, competition or being part of a group? Does scheduling, writing lists, being organised and planning motivate you or make you feel like you are being boxed in? Some people will stick to something because they are told to, some need to do more research and make up their own mind first. Different people respond to different habit strategies.

Stress can play a large part in our health struggles. How can a wellness retreat help us reset and cope better with stress?

Expectations that we, as women, place on ourselves are often unrealistic. Unfortunately this is something that tends to get worse, not better, as we get older. Women’s stresses usually affect their health in some way so during our retreats, ladies get to step out of the day to day and take some ‘time out’ to reflect on what is important, and our inspirational workshops offer pragmatic strategies which help show their priorities in a different light.

We find guests feel even more relieved, understood and supported because they are surrounded by women who are facing or who have faced similar challenges to their own, and they are in an environment where they can open up and discuss those challenges if they wish without judgement.

You are launching your very first recipe book “Retreat Yourself” this year, inspired by the beautiful food you and your team create on retreat. It also includes some great tips and tricks. Why is nutritional education and being organsied such an important part of making and enjoying healthy food?

For most of us, food will be the single biggest change that we can make towards a healthier lifestyle. Rigging yourself to win, knowing the basics of what makes a meal or snack a ‘healthier’ option, being prepared, implementing tips and tricks and useful tools such as My Food Bag Fresh Start is all about making eating better easier on yourself. The easier something is, the more likely you are to stick to it.

Post retreat, you continue to offer guests ongoing encouragement and support. Why is this so important?

For the majority of us, accountability is a key motivator to continue a healthy habit. And for our guests, knowing we’re going to be following up with them after the retreat and keeping in contact helps to keep them motivated to continue what is learned on retreat. Its great to have someone to call or to lean on when you have a question, you feel like you’ve varied off track, need a pep talk, or a bit of motivation. Look for someone who is going to listen, be empathetic but also someone who you trust is to be really honest with you if you need a bit of ‘real talk’ and motivation!

Find out more about Resolution Retreats here.

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