What Our Wellness Retreat is Really Like | Week 1 at Green Mountain

If you’ve never been to Green Mountain or another women-only wellness retreat, you’ve probably wondered what it’s really like to be there. What’ll you learn? Will you like the people? How’s the food?! Blogger and author Shauna Reid is here to tell you. After decades of binge eating and weight cycling, Shauna was eager to explore a non-diet approach and came to Green Mountain for three weeks—all the way from Scotland! Here, she shares the details of her first week.

Getting Out of My Comfort Zone

The long voyage to Vermont from Scotland gave me plenty of time to cook up some nerves. There were the big fears: what if I mess this up? What if I’m somehow beyond help? What if I take all this time away from my home and my life and nothing shifts for me? I knew these fears had nothing to do with where I was going and everything to do with my wobbly faith in myself after decades of yo-yo dieting.

Then there were also practical fears like: Will I feel hungry? Will I be able to do the exercise classes? Have I packed warm enough clothes?

But these fears melted quickly. I arrived in the middle of a spring snowstorm. Even the building looked welcoming, nestled at the foot of a ski hill in the snow. After a warm welcome, I met some of the fellow participants, got a nutritious yet comforting meal in my belly, then had an orientation. I was off and running!

From Fear to Excitement

Getting the weekly schedule of classes was the moment my fear really shifted into excitement. That piece of paper was a joy on two levels: First, it was so reassuring in that nerdy, back-to-school way. I love a good schedule! On a deeper level, those little boxes marked with times and activities were so reassuring: There was a master plan!

Some really smart people had mapped out the week for us. All I had to do was go with the flow. There was structure, yet plenty of freedom and choice. As the week progressed, the lessons unfolded in its thoughtful way, each day building upon the last. I felt very privileged to be taking a timeout from everyday life to dive deep into the stuff that I’ve struggled with for so long.

As for the warm clothing? Thanks to my Canadian friend Jilanna, I’ve discovered the sartorial wonder that is fleece-lined leggings. I was toasty warm, indoors and out!

The First Night

I was a little giddy as I unpacked my belongings, like it was the first day of camp. It was comforting knowing this was my room for three whole weeks, and I slept like a log that first night under a soft, fluffy blanket thinking about the moments of laughter and great conversation I’d already had with some of my fellow participants. I knew I was in the right place.

So Much In Common

I’d imagined that I would spend my evenings at the wellness retreat happily introverting in my room with a cup of tea and a book. I did that a couple of nights, but most often I found myself drawn to the living room for conversation on the couches with the other participants. It’s so powerful and comforting to talk to people who share your struggles and quirks. We came from a wide range of locations, ages, and experiences and were at all different stages of the process.

But there were so many common threads. Wellness Retreat in Southern Vermont

One of the wise women there said to me, “I’ve learned there’s such a fine line between tears and laughter.” So true. I’ve never cried and laughed so much in a week! There were so many delicious moments of bonding, even that first week.

Green Mountain felt like a safe place to share and I loved hearing other people’s stories. For so long my bingeing has been a source of shame—my worst-kept secret. But then a random conversation would reveal a common experience of childhood midnight freezer raids, or a shared appreciation for those tiny sandwiches at funerals (why are they always so good?). Tears of shame turn into belly laughs.

My Top 5 Moments during Week 1

In no particular order…

  1. A nighttime snowshoeing adventure in the woods with my new pals
  2. Candle Light Yoga with Lori…an hour of gentle flows and restorative poses followed by the best savasana ever (cozy blankets! lavender eye pillows!)
  3. Our classes – from mindfulness, self-compassion to the inner workings of our brains, I was seriously nerding out on this stuff and could barely keep up with the aha moments
  4. The Pathway binge and emotional eating program (more on this in later posts). The group and individual sessions were so insightful, all with the calming presence of Kuma the Wonderdog.
  5. The carrot ginger salad dressing. I think I dreamed about it one night!

Next week, Shauna will be back with more memories of her stay at Green Mountain. Week 2 here.

If you like the idea of getting off the diet roller coaster and starting a journey to living free of weight worries, we invite you to experience the Green Mountain at Fox Run program. Our time-tested approach to better health has helped women make sustainable change for over 45 years.

Learn More About Women's Health Programs


Shauna Reid is an Aussie freelance writer, author and blogger living in Scotland. She writes about her life, travels and wellness journey at shaunareid.com. As well as writing about her Green Mountain experience here, she shared everyday updates on her blog, Instagram, and Facebook.

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