This September (15 to 17, to be exact), the Four Seasons Resort Whistler is teaming up with health and wellness coach and creator of The Life Delicious Catherine Roscoe Barr for a wellness retreat that aims to teach participants how to make healthy habits stick for good—in a beautiful alpine setting, to boot. Sign up for this special retreat here, and get some pre-event fall wellness insights and tips (hint: forest bathing!) from Catherine in our Q&A, below! —Noa Nichol
Tell us a bit about yourself and your work:
I’m a certified life coach, personal trainer and fitness instructor, with a BSc in neuroscience. I teach people to think better, move better, eat better, sleep better and connect more deeply, simply by making incremental changes, using the power of neuroplasticity to make those healthy habits stick. I created The Life Delicious curriculum after nearly 10 years working in the fitness industry, when I became frustrated that I was only teaching—and practising—one small piece of the wellness puzzle: exercise. Incorporating the five pillars of Mindset, Movement, Nutrition, Sleep and Connection, The Life Delicious curriculum offers powerful practices to shift your mindset, upgrade your habits, rewire your brain and transform your life.
I share The Life Delicious curriculum through group retreats, private coaching, keynote speeches and corporate workshops. There’s no divide between my life and work! I’m fascinated by everything related to personal mastery and am lucky to have an incredible husband and network of friends who share my enthusiasm for exploring holistic success—whether that’s trying a new fitness class, creating amazing meals, hiking somewhere spectacular, reading by the beach or debating the benefits of new trends.
Give us an overview of The Delicious Life curriculum:
The Life Delicious curriculum is based on five pillars: Mindset, Movement, Nutrition, Sleep and Connection, with three modules per pillar (for example, presence, positivity and productivity under Mindset). It’s a simple and efficient template based on neuroscience and mindfulness to help you hardwire habits that best serve your life (in fact, I just launched a free download series with an overview of each pillar that readers can sign up for here).
What is the No. 1 "blockage" people experience when it comes to this "disconnect" between knowing we should think better, move better or eat better, and actually taking action?
LOVE this question! I actually just wrote about this in a blog post: “When we can learn to recognize how resistance feels in our body and in our mind, we can identify that feeling and choose to move through it, rather than shrink away from it and stay stuck in our unhelpful patterns. Human nature is to move toward pleasure and away from pain. Thinking better, eating better, moving better, sleeping better, and using time better can feel painful because changing our behaviour is uncomfortable. If we’re not mindful of how we’re feeling, we can unconsciously label all feelings of discomfort as pain, and fail to grow by failing to take action. Often, what lies on the other side of discomfort (getting out of bed to exercise, choosing our words more carefully, making a healthier nutrition decision) is great pleasure (feeling fantastic in our body, acting with compassion, having wellsprings of energy). If we can learn to question discomfort, get curious about it, and recognize when it’s in our best interest to push through it, we can grow, expand, transform, and achieve our dreams!”
How does neuroscience play a role in all of this?
Neuroscience plays one of the most exciting, powerful and foundational roles in The Life Delicious curriculum! Neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to rewire itself and change throughout our lifetime, means that we are in control of shaping our brains—through our thoughts, words and actions—and therefore in shaping our lives! Through mindful, conscious practice we can hardwire healthy habits that truly serve us, and live with greater ease, joy, success and vitality.
Now that summer is starting to wind down, what are your top tips for hitting the reset button on healthy habits?
Here are a few simple tips that people can practice for a fall reset!
> Mindset—cultivate a state of gratitude. Thinking about what you’re grateful for trains your brain to scan the world for positives. This not only makes you feel better, but research shows that rewiring your brain in this way can make you 30 per cent more productive! On three or more days each week, write down three or more things you’re grateful for. Don’t like writing? Tell a friend of family member what you’re grateful for—around the dinner table, via text or over email.
> Movement—be mindful of your posture. Posture affects so much more than the way you look. It influences your digestion, respiration, hormone balance, self-perception, cognition and personal power. Strike what Amy Cuddy calls a Power Pose (standing with feet hip distance apart, hands on hips, chest proud) for just two minutes to raise your testosterone (to feel more confident) and decrease your cortisol (to feel more calm).
> Nutrition—eat from a place of receptivity. When you eat on the run, use food to fill an emotional void, wake up ravenous thanks to a bad sleep or forget to eat and get hangry, you’re not as receptive to the nutrition you’re consuming and don’t get the full benefit from your food. Such a waste if you’re making an effort to eat healthy! Take a few mindful breaths before meals and snacks, and sit down to focus on eating—not work, TV or driving. By mindfully breathing and slowing down, you’ll activate your “rest and digest” parasympathetic nervous system so it can function to help you get maximum nutrition from your food.
> Sleep—create PM rituals. While we should be winding down as the sun sets, that’s probably not the case for most people, and being wound up doesn’t help you sleep. By practising a few simple PM rituals you can help mind and body prepare to sleep so that when your head hits the pillow you can fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up feeling refreshed. Help your hormones by addressing mental, nutritional, physical and electromagnetic stress. Stress increases cortisol, which is inversely proportional to the sleep hormone melatonin—i.e., cortisol must be low for melatonin to be high, so you can get a good sleep. Reduce mental stress by saving difficult conversations for earlier in the day and bringing back business hours. Reduce nutritional stress by cutting down on caffeine and sugar six to 12 hours before bed and going to sleep on a relatively empty stomach so your brain and body can focus on repair and regeneration, rather than digestion. Reduce physical stress by only engaging in gentle physical activity in the evening. Reduce electromagnetic stress by stopping screen time at least a couple of hours before bed. That means putting down your phone, walking away from the computer and choosing a book illuminated by soft light over TV.
> Connection—practise forest bathing. Forest bathing, or what the Japanese call shinrin yoku, is a buzzy term for taking in nature with all your senses. The power of nature to benefit mind, body and spirit has been receiving a lot of attention in the scientific community, and research shows that significant mental and physical benefits can be gained from spending time in nature. Get outside as much as you can! Exercise outdoors, go for a walk in a park on your lunch break, discover new walking and hiking trails, get outside to enjoy sunrises and sunsets, roll out your yoga mat on the beach, go for a walk or run in the forest. Sit in solitude and take in nature’s beauty, scent, sounds and fresh air.
Why is Whistler the perfect place to host your upcoming Get Delicious wellness retreat?
The spectacular natural environment is the most invigorating yet serene backdrop and the Four Seasons Resort Whistler is the most luxurious alpine getaway to hold us and elevate our experience. A lot of time is spent in our minds as we learn The Life Delicious curriculum, so it’s the perfect balance to incorporate mindful movement, outside as much as possible, as we integrate what we’re learning by moving our bodies—whether that’s biking or running Whistler’s incredible network of trails, swimming in the Four Seasons outdoor pool, exercising in their fitness centre, or practising yoga in an inspiring space. The Four Seasons Resort Whistler is known for their incredible food, gorgeous guest suites and award-winning spa, so guests will be nourished and pampered to the highest degree as they work toward transforming their lives.