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My Top Takeaways From My Health Retreat

Posted by on Oct 23, 2017 in All Food + Nutrition, Featured, Nutrition | 1 comment

Elizabeth Finch

I just recently returned home from my first ever health retreat at the beautiful Sanoviv Medical Institute in Rosarito, Mexico on the Baja coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

I spent 5 days at this magical location with the most incredible group of people. We laughed, we cried, we bonded, we detoxed, we drank green juice, we enjoyed delicious organic meals together and we enjoyed what we all agreed were some of the best spa treatments we’ve ever had, at home or in our travels.

Sanoviv is a state-of-the-art, fully-licensed hospital and health resort that offers a unique blend of conventional, alternative, and integrative programs to people maintain good health, and to treat a wide range of diseases.

Some people go there to do just what our group was there for — a health and education retreat to learn more about how to live a healthier, more preventative lifestyle.

Others go there for intensive treatments for cancer, autoimmune diseases, lyme disease or even for testing because their doctors at home haven’t been able to figure out yet what’s causing their health problems.

Sanoviv has an integrated team of medical doctors, dentists, psychologists, chiropractors, nutritionists, fitness experts and spa therapists that assess and treat the health issues of their patients and guests. The facility is completely toxin free, the meals are all organic, every luxury room has an ocean view, and the relaxing and quiet environment was designed to aid in building better health up from the cellular level.

It’s truly the most amazing, healing place that I’ve ever experienced.

At Sanoviv, you have loads of quiet alone time. I see now how necessary it is for me, for all of us, to make time for quiet stillness, alone, every single day.

Like so many of you, I have two kids and other responsibilities, like running my business, coaching clients and mentoring my team of health and wellness entrepreneurs. And yes, some days it’s hard to get that 10 minutes of quiet stillness. More on that below.

One of the reasons that I am so focused on learning and growth myself is so that I can share and teach what I’ve learned from all the people I’ve been blessed to be mentored by and study under so far on my life’s journey. I consider the health and wellness professionals at Sanoviv to be some of the most educated and experienced in their fields, and I learned so much from them when I was there.

And I’m excited to share some of that with you all.

Here are some of my top takeaways (and what I’m implementing now!) from my Sanoviv health retreat:

1. Find a little bit of time each day for complete quiet and stillness.

Daily quiet time helps to calm our central nervous system and gives our brains a few moments to just stop thinking. It also helps us to focus on keeping our hearts open and loving, regardless of the way our day’s interactions with others have gone.

Just think — we’re bombarded daily with constant, overwhelming stimuli. Most of us in any given moment are looking at our phones (visual stimulation). Many of us work in a busy office or have kids at home, not to mention the constant ringing and dinging of the phones in our hands (auditory stimulation). If we are stressed or tired (anyone?), then our central nervous systems can become greatly overloaded, resulting in hypersensitivity from any additional noise, emotion or even touch on our skin (sensory overload).

Not to mention the fact that most of us are over-caffeinated, which adds even more stimulation to the mix. This is how some people wind up with adrenal fatigue.

I am learning that for me, finding just a few moments to step away from my phone and my laptop, to focus on my breathing, and to find either complete silence or the sounds of nature, brings me back to a centered place and allows me to move through the rest of the day in a more calm and peaceful way. I’m better for it — I’m a better mom, a better wife, a better health coach, a better mentor to my team, and I’m a more positive, loving me.

It can be hard to find it some days, and that’s why we have to prioritize finding it. We have to prioritize ourselves and prioritize our health.

I personally try for twenty minutes of quiet each day, but if five is all I get, then that’s better than none.

Some ideas: leaving my phone inside and going into the back yard to listen to the birds and put my bare feet in the grass to connect to the Earth and breathe…Putting my phone on airplane mode and sitting quietly in my favorite meditation spot (I work from home) while I focus on my breathing and talk to God…Even just sitting in silence in my car, no radio and airplane mode, while focusing on my breath as I wait for my girls to come out of school in the afternoon or while stopped at a traffic light for a few minutes.

I have a friend whose husband finds reprieve from his loud, hectic office environment by going into one of the stalls in the toilet to just sit there and breathe for a few moments (this is a true story, and he swears that he leaves his toilet breathing sessions much more calm and ready to take on his highly stressful job).

2. Every person should have their own diet. There is no one way of eating that works for all people.

This concept is known as bioindividuality or biochemical individuality, and it means that each of us has unique biochemical factors which influence the way our bodies process food and nutrients.

I actually first learned of this concept back in 2011 when I was studying for my health coach training program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, but it was nice to be reminded of it again at Sanoviv and learn that their nutrition team and head chef subscribes to the same thinking.

Foods that work well for some may harm others. Eating styles that are touted as optimal, may promote poor health in certain people. There is no one who can determine your ideal diet; not a nutritionist, doctor, media guru, book or internet article. It is up to each of us to learn to listen to the signals our bodies will give us if certain foods aren’t serving us, and it’s up to us to find the diet style and the foods that make us feel our best and optimally healthy.

And that means there is no easy way of doing this. It’s simply trial and error and tuning into our bodies’ signals.

If you have digestive symptoms, that’s a good sign that something you’re eating isn’t working for your body. If you are tired or often sick, that’s a good sign that something you’re eating or doing isn’t working for your body. If your skin is broken out in some way, or you have inflammation and pain in your joints, that’s a good sign that something you’re eating or doing isn’t working for your body.

Those are all different signs that your body is giving you. It’s up to you to listen and make the necessary changes.

3. Mindful eating (and mindful living!) is so, so important.

As I mentioned above, we have to slow down, be quiet, and listen. There are no shortcuts when it comes to learning more about our body.

Tuning in and listening is the way we learn our body’s cues and signals. It’s the way we identify which foods make us feel good. It’s the way we learn when something is “off”.

Mindful eating is important for our health, too. I gained awareness while at Sanoviv that I eat too quickly, which means I wasn’t really listening to my body’s satiety and fullness cues.

This often leads to me eating too much food, which can lead to me leaving the table feeling uncomfortably full. It’s harder on our digestion when we overload our stomachs, and it’s not good for maintaining a healthy weight, either.

What I learned about how to pay more attention in this area:

  • Don’t look at the phone while eating. Better yet, don’t even take it to the table. I really only do this when I’m eating alone, like at lunch. But I know it contributes to me eating past my satiety point. Putting the phone away allows us to put our focus on the food.
  • Chew more slowly. The nutritionist at Sanoviv recommends chewing each bite of food at least 30 times before swallowing. Ever tried it? It’s a great way to slow ourselves down at meals, and proper chewing is one of the easiest ways to improve digestion.
  • Pause for a brief moment of gratitude before beginning to eat. Focus on the nourishment your body is receiving and the information (signals) the food will send to your cells. Food is information for the body and the cells.

4. Start each day with warm lemon water.

This is one I’ve talked about in the past, but I had gotten out of the habit. I’ve picked it back up again since being at Sanoviv, and I’m loving it.

Water with the juice of half a lemon, first thing in the morning (before coffee), is a great way to rehydrate the body after sleep and it provides a natural flush of the liver and digestive system. Some research even shows that it can help with weight management.

I’ve also been adding a pinch of cayenne pepper to my morning water, which has added benefits. Cayenne helps wake up circulation and metabolism.

5. Try a liquid only day to give your digestive system a break.

Sanoviv actually practices a liquid only day once a week. I haven’t implemented doing it weekly yet, but I just got home from travel (we were at Disney World, where there weren’t a lot of great healthy food options!). Let’s just say I had my fair share of gluten, sugar, dairy, and even some fried foods. My digestion was completely out of whack and I felt really inflamed. So I did a liquid only day yesterday and my digestive system feels so much better.

According to Sanoviv, liquid only days give the digestive system a rest. Think a variety of smoothies, green juices, hot or cold teas, bone broths, blended soups, and plenty of water.

For example: yesterday for my post-Disney liquid only day, I had a USANA Nutrimeal shake mixed with water on my flight around 11:00am (we had a late dinner the night before). The rest of the afternoon I drank green juices, a cup of golden milk, homemade bone broth, and hot tea. Then, for dinner I made a detoxifying puréed green soup (I’ll share this recipe with you all soon!), followed by some coconut water for an after-dinner treat.

This is definitely lighter than I eat most days, but I needed to let my body come back into balance after loading my system with toxins and inflammatory foods. And the liquid only day did the trick for me. I’m planning to utilize this more in the future and possibly start working it into my weekly routine.

6. There’s an easy formula to know exactly how much water YOUR body needs on a daily basis.

According to the head nutritionist at Sanoviv, the best way to figure how much water you need each day is:

  • Take your body weight and divide it in half
  • That number is the number of ounces of water you should be drinking every day
  • If you have weight to lose, divide your ideal weight in half and aim for that number in ounces of water each day

And more, there’s really no reason to drink more than that, unless you have a very strenuous or sweaty workout, in which case you’d need a little bit more.

I actually was told at Sanoviv that I’ve been drinking too much water, so there’s such a thing as that, too. And it can actually do more harm than good.

It’s better to drink smaller amounts of water throughout the day, rather than downing a whole bottle all at once. So fill up your water bottle and take small sips throughout the day, rather than chugging.

7. My stevia habit was creating more sugar cravings for me.

This was quite possibly my biggest revelation from my health retreat — I’ve been leaning too much on stevia to sweeten my foods and drinks, and it was causing more sweet cravings for me.

Stevia is natural, so I honestly thought there was no harm in using it. It comes from a plant, and it doesn’t spike the blood sugar like sugar or honey, right?

But it turns out that it’s actually the sweet flavor that we start to crave when we use too many sweet flavored foods. It doesn’t matter that it’s not spiking our blood sugar — we train ourselves to crave the sweetness and then we want more.

While I was at Sanoviv, I used no sweeteners — no stevia, no honey, no sugar and no maple syrup. The only sweet foods I ate were the occasional berries or sweet potatoes, and those foods eventually began to taste really sweet to me. The way nature intended for them to taste. Even almond milk with a sprinkle of cinnamon began to taste sweet to me!

Even though a few sugary foods crept into my life on my Disney trip, I’m committed to getting sweetened foods out of my daily life for the most part going forward. I’m still not sweetening my coffee or tea. I do enjoy a little bit of 70% dark chocolate a few nights a week after dinner, but I’ve also found that coconut water, golden milk, and cacao milk are all delicious, healthy after dinner treat options that are only mildly sweet.

All in all, I’d say my cravings for sweet no longer have such a strong hold on me since I’ve decreased my stevia use.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t have a bite or two of a decadent dessert on my upcoming birthday…because, balance!

I hope these tips help you in some way.



Are you interested in joining me on my next Sanoviv retreat?

I’m firming up the dates for my 2018 retreat.

If you want to be the first to know and have dibs on my available spots, sign up here!


One Comment

  1. Enjoyed reading about the retreat and I love your recipes! Thank you. Look forward to any green juice recipes.

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