Hacienda Del Sol: Raw Food and Yoga Retreat

After a challenging twenty-seventh year, I wanted to kick off twenty-eight doing something completely for myself. The three things in my life that make me feel most grounded are yoga, raw food, and alone time, so my goal was to plan a trip that would incorporate all three.

For several weeks I Googled around, researched my options, and created a budget. There were times when I felt overwhelmed and thought maybe I would call  the whole thing off, but I had a couple of good friends checking in on my plans and encouraging me to book something without over thinking it.

I finally came across Hacienda Del Sol in San Juanillo, Costa Rica. The moment I saw “Raw Food and Yoga Retreat” and caught a glimpse of the menu, I was sold. 

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I stayed at Hacienda Del Sol from August 3rd to August 10th. While I was there, I tried to remain mindful of how I was spending my time, being sure I was doing exactly what I wanted. My days were filled with reading, journaling, yoga practice, lounging, napping, hiking, eating/drinking juice, chatting with new friends, listening to podcasts, and I even treated myself to a Thai oil massage. 

I did a lot of growing over the past year, and being able to step back for a few days gave me a chance to reflect on some of the important lessons I have learned. I could write a blog about what I did for the 7 days I spent in San Juanillo, but I would prefer to keep the details of the experience as my own, and instead share some of the things I meditated on while I was there.

  1. Remove negativity from your life. When something is no longer serving you, let it go. It doesn’t mean the thing you’re leaving behind is necessarily “bad”, it just means it’s not meant for you.
  2. Be genuine. I learned the hard way that if I am not being my authentic self, my entire life becomes unbalanced. Being genuine may sometimes mean you have to say or do things that upset other people, but that doesn’t make you rude or selfish. It’s okay to put your needs first.
  3. Mental health should always be a top priority. Find a good therapist that you connect with (it may take time), and work through your shit.
  4. Own your pain. Admitting you are hurt does not make you any less strong. When you are going through a hard time, people will often say,“But you’re so strong- you will get through this”. While that is true, it’s also okay to say, “Yes, but I’m hurting right now.” Your darkness is as much a part of you as your light, and it is not something to fear, shame, or dismiss.
  5. Balance. Your relationships, your work, your hobbies, your life. It is never fair to rely heavily on one person or one area of your life, but more importantly, it’s not fair to yourself.

Would I recommend Hacienda Del Sol? Absolutely. But more than that, I would recommend finding a retreat, vacation, or activity that is fitting for YOU. My retreat was the best birthday gift, because it was made up of all the things I love the most, and because I got it for myself. 

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I have been obsessed with filming and editing videos since I was a kid recording pretend “talk shows” in my living room. I went to Costa Rica without a camera on purpose so I wouldn’t feel obligated to capture anything and so I could try to fully embrace each moment. While I was there, I was reminded that being creative is a part of me, and documenting things from my perspective is my favorite way of expressing myself. I was only able to capture a few clips on my iPhone, so I created a short montage to remember my time at Hacienda Del Sol.

NYC Vegan & Gluten Free Recommendations (Part 1)

When my day job asked me to go to NYC for work, my immediate thought was “YES, vegan food!” By the time I booked my flight, I already had a list of restaurants within a mile radius from the Bryant Park office prioritized from “most desirable” to “still pretty desirable” (I take organization as seriously as I take eating).

I’m calling this list “Part 1” because there were too many delicious options for just one visit.

Pure Thai Cookhouse

While living in Thailand, I naturally developed an obsession with Thai food. Whenever I’m in a new city, I always try to go to at least one Thai place. Not only do I have a good sense of what’s going to be vegan & gluten free, but the food is rarely anything less than delicious.

I stumbled upon Pure Thai Cookhouse with some colleagues. The best part? The menu had labels for items that were 100% vegan. I decided on the Wok Vegetable Medley With Tofu, and although I was too hungry to snap a pic, the meal did not disappoint.

Green Symphony

Green Symphony was only a mile from my office, so it was the perfect lunch time cafe. When I first arrived, I was a little bit confused by the set up- Fresh hot food, salads, smoothies/juice bar, and a health food store all in a tiny space? But that small space held so much greatness. I decided on a “build your own”  salad with miso ginger dressing. Green Symphony was the perfect find for a quick, healthy bite. Green_Symphony

By Chloe

Before leaving for NYC, I did an Instagram scan of #NYCvegan. I was drooling over pictures of meals from By Chloe, so it was one of the top places on my list. I ate the Quinoa Taco Salad (gluten free), and it left me speechless. I devoured the entire thing in about 10 minutes, and would have gone back for more if I had the time.

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Quintessence

I came across Quintessence in a Yelp search for raw vegan NYC cafes. It was a bit of a trip from where I was staying, so I decided to treat myself to a solo afternoon adventure. Everything about this place jived with me. After a lengthy internal debate over what to order and a consultation with the super friendly staff, I picked the Q Club Sandwich. This turned out to be my dream cafe and my dream meal. It was my favorite meal in NYC (but remember, I’m hoping this is only Part 1).

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What’s next?

My list of vegan restaurants was much longer than the amount of meals I was in NYC for, so I still have quite a few options for next time including:

If you have a favorite, I would love to hear about it!

 

Questival Austin 2017 (Vegan + GF Style)

A couple of friends and I recently competed in Questival Austin 2017, a 24 hour adventure race sponsored by Cotopaxi. From 7pm on February 17th to 7pm on February 18th, we were racing around Austin to complete various challenges ranging anywhere from climbing the stairs at Mount Bonnell to performing a song “Carpool Karaoke” style.

As someone with dietary restrictions, events like this can be a little extra challenging. Here’s a look at how I survived Questival as vegan and gluten free eater!

Dinner around the campfire

One of the challenges we completed was “share a campsite with another team”. Our campsite friends brought corn, veggies, and skewers, which went perfectly with the sweet potatoes we brought.

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Breakfast on the go

After just 2.5 hours of sleep, we were up and out of the campsite. Luckily, I brought some organic bananas and Bearded Bros bars for the road. High Brew Coffee sponsored the race and handed out coffees at the kick off event, so we were able to stay caffeinated (and at times maybe too caffeinated) throughout the race.

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Lunch Break at Kebabalicious

By lunchtime, we were all feeling sluggish, so we popped into Kebabalicious for a quick pick-me-up. I had a Turk Salad with hummus.

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Snacks, snacks, and more snacks

I don’t think I’ve ever eaten more snacks in a day than I did during Questival. My favorite new finds were Bobo’s Bites (vegan, gluten free, and non-GMO). Bobo’s was handing out these delicious treats at various checkpoints, and I kept going back for more.

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My team ended up in 86th place out of 522 teams. Although we didn’t win, Questival was a lot of fun and a great way to get out and explore Austin.

If you’re interested in seeing more, check out this video I made with highlights from my experience!