Posts belonging to Category 'Reviews'

Perth Wellness Retreat: Nature's Paradise, Mundaring.

Every now and then, I have what I like to call “ahh” moments. Something will cause me to pull my focus out of the hustle and bustle of everyday life, to sit back and appreciate the beauty of what is in front of me. I had one of these “ahh” moments as I arrived at Nature’s Paradise Wellness Retreat. Situated in Mundaring, about 45 minutes drive from central Perth, it feels a million miles from the daily grind, without actually being that far away at all.

Nature’s Paradise opened at Easter just this year, and owners Neil and Jenny have worked wonders to create such a beautiful space. The forest provides a breathtaking backdrop, and the retreat itself is a grand beauty. Neil welcomed me as I arrived, and gave me a tour of the retreat, which features 3 suites, each with access to the wrap-around balcony, plus a library, a guest retreat area and communal dining and sitting areas. The guest retreat area comes complete with an outdoor, claw-foot bath, hammocks, a massage room and infra-red sauna – just what this city girl’s aching muscles called for!

♥ The view from the Library

♥ The guest retreat area, with hammock seats and bath

♥ The outdoor bath

After showing me the house, we moved on to the gardens. Neil has worked incredibly hard to bring Nature’s Paradise to life, and his passion for the retreat is infectious. We toured the veggie garden, which provides an increasing amount of the produce used in the kitchen, and the various rock paths Neil has created to cater for guests who want to get some fresh air without straying too far from the comforts of their room. I wanted to see more of the forest, and Neil was more than happy to oblige- we walked for about an hour through the trees, stopping to take in some beautiful views of Mundaring Weir and the dam, as well as dropping by the Learning Centre, before coming home for a relaxing herbal tea and a chat with Jenny. On our wanders we spotted an echidna, wandering very lazily over the trail, which shows just how close to nature this retreat really is!

♥ The veggie patch

♥ Mr Echidna

♥ The views of Mundaring Weir

♥ The beautiful forest surrounding Natures Paradise

I have to be honest, at this point I didn’t think my visit could get much better, but it did! At Nature’s Paradise, all food is catered for- guests have access to fresh fruit and vegetables, tea and coffee, plus delicious treats made by Jenny throughout the day, and meals are served in the dining room which showcases the stunning forest scenery.

All food is vegetarian, organic, made in-house and mostly prepared according to raw food principles, but meat-eaters do not despair, you won’t feel like you’re missing out at all!

Dinner began with a pumpkin soup- warm, hearty and delicious, served with spelt bread, butter and olive oil with balsamic.

Next was Nature’s Paradise’s specialty- pizza! This pizza was no Domino’s variety though- made in a dehydrator with a buckwheat base full of herbs, and topped with avocado, olives, mushrooms, onion, capsicum and a cashew ‘cheese’, it tasted amazing and was as good for my body as it was for my taste buds! The recipe is a well-guarded secret, but Neil did share some tips with me which I am keen to try in my own kitchen!

The meal would not have been complete without sampling some of the home made ‘fruit & nut’ chocolates, which were absolutely divine!

Earlier during my tour of the property, I had gushed over the beautiful claw-foot bath on the deck in the outdoor guest retreat area. Jenny was kind enough to run me a macrobiotic sea salt bath after dinner, and as I lay in the bubbling water, looking up at the trees in the night sky, the cool air above me, I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt so relaxed. It was truly something special.

After my bath, I returned to my very spacious room, with its luxurious king-size bed and spa bath ensuite, and fell straight asleep (no prizes for guessing that I slept like a baby!).

♥ My very spacious Grande Deluxe room

Unfortunately I had to get up well before the sun in order to get back to my day-to-day responsibilities, but even then, Jenny made sure that a beautiful continental breakfast was laid out for me. Had I stayed, I was told that I could have expected a beautiful cooked breakfast, including eggs, buckwheat pancakes, fresh fruit and juices, plus tea, coffee and almost anything else my heart desired!

Nature’s Paradise is perfectly named- it is exactly that! Neil and Jenny are fabulous hosts- so welcoming, generous and knowledgeable- and they have created a place that truly caters for every interest. Whether you want to relax in the gardens, soak in the bath, challenge yourself with a personal training session, meditate or hike in the forest or ride trails through the trees, they have thought of it all! I have been reading lots of articles lately about the benefits of spending time with nature, and I absolutely agree. I left Nature’s Paradise feeling so well-rested, renewed and reinvigorated and would recommend it to anyone looking for a retreat to truly nourish mind, body and soul.

You can visit or telephone Neil 0412 977 487 or Jenny 0403 718 050 for more information.

What do you enjoy doing to “retreat”? What makes you feel rested and renewed? Let me know in the comments below!

Article by Katie, a wellness-focused career girl with a newfound appreciation for the power of nature.

Be well,



Five Favourite Workouts at Fitness First!

Having been a member of Fitness First gym since 2008, I’ve had ample time to try out the various classes and workout options available, and have found some winners over the past few years.

I first joined the gym for the great range of Les Mills classes on offer, mostly because I had no idea what I was doing but they were a lot of fun and the instructor managed to keep me motivated for an entire hour! Since then, there are a few classes I’ve continued to go back to.

Body Pump

A favourite of mine because it allows you to build muscle strength and tone while also working on your general fitness. A pump class works your entire body using weighted barbells, focusing on a different muscle group with each track. If you’re thinking of trying pump for the first time I would suggest sticking with light weights for the entire session because you’ll definitely feel it for the next couple of days, but stick with it and you won’t regret it! I recommend exercising with weights at least 2-3 times a week to see noticeable results.

Body Attack

Another class I’m a regular at, Body Attack, provides an intense cardio work out – and trust me when I say your heart will be racing for the entire hour! I find this class to be a great complement to my running because it combines aerobic, agility, interval and strength training in the one class. This class works you damn hard but is highly addictive!

Body Balance

When I want to turn down the pace and have a more mindful workout I like to go to Body Balance, which combines techniques from tai chi, yoga and pilates and ends with a meditation. Bliss!

Goin' Solo

I also like to work out individually when I’m not going to a class. Fitness First have a great selection of equipment and my local even has a women’s workout room if you prefer a bit of privacy. I like to alternate between working my upper body and my lower body, with a bit of cardio in between.

An example of an upper body workout I would do includes back exercises using the lat pulldown machine, the seated row machine and barbells for dead lifts; then working my biceps and triceps using the barbells and cable machine.

For a lower body workout I would start with squats and lunges using the squat rack and dumbbells, followed by the leg press machine and dead lifts, and finishing with abdominal work.

Before each workout I warm up with a bit of cardio – I love the cross trainer for this; and I like to end my upper body workout with a good run on the treadmill.

♥ Liz is one of the lovely PT's at Fitness First in Subiaco

There are always personal trainers around to answer questions, help with equipment and give you training tips (you can even ask them about the exercises or machines I’ve mentioned if any of it sounds like jibberish!). You can also arrange a one-on-one session with a personal trainer for more inspiration. Winter is the perfect time of year to get into a healthy routine, and going to a class or personal training session is great motivation.

Do you have a favourite work out you enjoy? We would love to hear about it in the comments below!

Written by Alice – fitness lover who is already getting excited for the return of summer!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, Alice is a paying member of Fitness First & all experiences are her true thoughts! :)

Be well,



Alternative Therapy Review: Somato Respiratory Integration (SRI) at Evolve Wellness Coaching.

Body language is a familiar concept to most, and the impact it has in our interactions with others is huge. But what about the 'conversation' our own body has with ourselves? It feels increasingly difficult these days to tune in to our bodies and the messages they send our way. Whether it be a job that keeps us constantly in our minds, endless technology distractions or the demands of looking after others, there can be precious little time in modern life to really connect with ourselves.

Meditation and yoga can be very helpful in this respect. There are also powerful approaches such as Somato Respiratory Integration (SRI) which I started working with about 18 months ago. SRI is a series of twelve simple exercises using breath, movement and touch designed to increase levels of perception in your body. Each of the exercises relates to a state of consciousness, such as feeling stuck, disconnected or conflicted in life. The approach was developed by Donald Epstein, the creator of network chiropractic. You can read about my experiences of Network Spinal Analysis here!

Although simple, SRI is extremely profound. I recently worked with Ginette Hillman of Evolve Wellness Coaching , an experienced SRI facilitator who operates from the Fremantle area. The session starts with a conversation so that Ginette can ascertain which of the twelve exercises would be of most benefit to you. You then move onto a comfortable massage table and Ginette gently guides you through the relevant exercises, which involves placing your hands in various positions on and around your body, focused breathing and using specific phrases to express the state of consciousness you are working with.

In the weeks leading up to the session I'd been feeling pretty out of sorts – anxious, overwhelmed. As I worked through the SRI process I felt a strong emotional release and also some 'tingles' and coughing, as trapped energy was freed up. After the session I felt an incredible sense of lightness and the underlying anxiety that's plagued me for weeks has magically transformed into a deep peace. I'm sleeping better too.

Ginette is wonderful to work with. She is extremely caring and understanding, which enabled me to feel safe and relax into the process. She has an intuitive gift to sense how you are feeling, including where you may be 'stuck' or disconnected, and to gently coach you into greater awareness and openness. Once you've had a series of SRI sessions with Ginette to learn and refine the technique you can also self-practice, making it a very empowering healing tool. In addition to SRI Ginette offers wellness coaching – see for more details.

Introductory Course 6 weeks

1 hour introduction to SRI plus 5 x 30 minutes sessions $297

An Introduction to the Discover Stages of Healing; stages 1,2,3

♥ Reduce stress and fearfulness
♥ Connect with your bodies messages and feedback

SRI Ongoing Sessions 30 minute sessions $47

How do you check in with your body? What do you find most helpful?

Article by a very 'zen' feeling Karen, holistic health coach and owner of Conscious Cravings whose mission is to inspire people be more nourished with food, life and love. Find her on Facebook!

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Be well,



Beauty Product Review: Philips Lumea Precision Plus AKA At Home IPL!

Having done IPL before (bikini line), I had a sense of what to expect with the Philips Lumea Precision Plus system (RRP $1,299.95). I assumed it’d be a gentler process purely because the people using it don’t need a course and a qualification to use it.

The set consists of the handset, two interchangeable heads of differing sizes, a charger and a bag. The head is much heavier than the handle and some care needs to be taken since your hand is sitting very close to the power button. Because I was always using the Lumea after a shower, I’d be lightly steaming, which didn’t help. I ended up wiping off the handset after every second pass or so to make sure I didn’t slip around and accidently switch it off.

The light is a very bright red, as opposed to the white light of the salon IPL systems. While the flash is bright, it also doesn’t “imprint” on your field of vision. My cat scuttled out of the room two flashes in.

While the interchangeable nozzles attach to the handset securely, you’re also required to press it firmly into the skin to attain the “airlock” that allows you to pull the trigger safely, and if you’re careless and inadvertently drag it along the skin at that kind of pressure you’ll probably knock the nozzle off. This will result in hot glass-skin contact which is unadvisable.

After the first application, the most noticeable difference was a longer growback period, and many of the hairs when they came through came through a bit stunted – either doubled over, or oddly curled. I have strong, straight leg hair, so this was very noticeable on me.

The regrowth slowdown and cessation seems to happen on an individual hair by hair basis – some follicles immediately shut down, some grow oddly, some are determinedly still growing as they always have. I have big channels on my legs where hair has completely disappeared next to unconcerned normal growth. But as each application comes around, the normal hairs are shriveling up and eventually give up and don’t grow at all. There’s a perverse kind of enjoyment in this.

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Meanwhile on my belly it only took two zaps for this finer hair to disappear, and in my underarms there seems to be the same amount of hair, but the hairs are thinner and finer. But even if I’m still shaving, shaving is a good deal easier and I do not need to do it as often. I’m confident that with repeated applications this lot will slow down and cease as well.

I’ve used this machine six times and the results have varied depending on where I’m applying. Stomach has been perfect, underarms have been encouraging and a lot more manageable, my legs have been patchy but steadily progressing. I should stress again that my leg hair is monstrous and will almost certainly put up more of a fight than yours.
I’ve done full, 12-session courses of salon IPL, which cost me far more than I’m willing to think about.

The Lumea system is admittedly expensive, but less so than doing it through a salon and it gives you the option of topping up your applications on a whim. All up, you will likely need to use the Lumea more often to get the results of the salon IPL, but salon IPL is also something of a trauma for your skin – it’s a good deal more powerful and the tradeoff is tender, red skin for a while afterwards. The Lumea did not irritate me at all. There wasn’t even any pinkness. I could slather on moisturizer directly afterwards and nothing bad happened. I’m really impressed by this system – would recommend it for those considering IPL through the more traditional means.

Find out more about it on the Philips website!

Product supplied for consideration.

Have you tried IPL in salon or at home before? Leave a comment below with your experiences!

Review by Suzanne, who also blogs over at Don’t They Know Who I Am?

Be well,