Huatulco Health and Productivity Intensive Retreat

by | Health, Productivity, Travel

Todd and Marcey at Secrets

January 31 – February 14, I spent two glorious weeks on a working vacation as a client intensive retreat in Huatulco, Mexico. Some people may think that is an oxymoron, but it worked well for me, my business didn’t suffer, I made money and had a ton of time for playing. I was at the Secrets Resort, which is gorgeous. The town is only 10,000 people so it isn’t touristy yet and is safe to visit and walk around.

My job was part of the Entertainment Team, where I taught one class per day and participated in various activities. The first week was with my brother, who is a small business owner. I spent most of the working part of that week on my laptop, giving him just a few hacks if he asked for it. Little did I know it was enough to be a game-changer for him and lit him on fire to make improvements in his company.



The second week my client S.S. flew in and we spent time working together on productivity and health solutions now that she has a new job traveling once a month for 1.5 weeks. We spent about 1/3 time working and 2/3 times playing. The play part was sometimes mixed in with health and productivity tips as well. It crossed over as we would talk and work out solutions.


Here is how I was able to mix the two so I could Work Well and Play More!®


  1. Before I left, I scheduled as few meetings as possible while I was gone, only having about five total. I made sure to stock my VA with things to do, and put her in charge of deleting the emails that I didn’t need to see – promotions, events happening while I’m away…that kind of stuff. I was very strict with my time. Even when people requested meetings, if they didn’t make that first five cut-off, I put them off until I got back. I did add in one, only because there was a bottleneck that I needed to get rid of and I limited it to 30 minutes.
  2. I processed email once per day instead of twice and had no issues. The emails that weren’t urgent were answered and often snoozed for when I got back so that the conversation wouldn’t continue while I was away. This is important. Once you start the conversation via email or text, it opens the door. Processing once a day and delaying the send was key.
  3. I worked on the balcony with the ocean breeze blowing in or in a quiet little café, which seemed like such a treat. I didn’t mind it at all.
  4. I briefly checked social media 5-10 minutes three times each week, and only for responses to anything that was scheduled to be posted. One thing I learned, because I’m not a fan of too much social media, is that this is a task that can be delegated to my assistant. If someone responds to a post, she can let me know I need to go into Facebook/G+ or Twitter. Otherwise, there isn’t any reason for me to even log on. LinkedIn will still be checked by me because that’s my most important business social media platform. Unfortunately, they thought my account had been hacked and no matter what I did, I couldn’t log in from Mexico.
  5. Even more than normal, I asked myself WAIDT (Why Am I Doing This?) to determine if it could wait until I got back or “Can Rea do this?” (my VA).
  6. My only consistent communication was with Rea and Gregory Florez, of V2 Performance, where I am performing the role of VP of Operations. I still wanted to communicate with them, even if it was only via a Google Chat, email or Asana, but I still had limits. I also chatted with my hubby throughout the day.
  7. Google Hangouts or Google Chat is free with WiFi. I didn’t have my phone on at all the entire trip except in WiFi-only mode. I used Google Hangouts to do my phone calls and text. Works like a charm and cost me nothing. It was always on Do Not Disturb so I could choose when I saw notifications. Most of the time I kept my phone in my room so I wouldn’t be distracted. I also alerted my family and friends that I was working and playing and not to expect emailing and texting from me. Setting the boundaries ahead of time takes the pressure off of expectations.
  8. The only person I called was my husband. Thankfully, we are lenient on times and how we communicate so there isn’t pressure to talk at a certain time in case something comes up, like a Karaoke or snorkel event. Texting saves us that way.
  9. I always set my out of office for one day after I get back. I don’t schedule any meetings the first day I am ‘in the office’ so that I can catch up and GSD. It is a relief not to walk into a day full of distraction and interruption. This ended up saving me when my flight was canceled and it took 26 hours to get back. I lost my catch-up day but didn't have to reschedule meetings or have expectations from people that I would be working.
  10. I took my favorite travel accessory, my portable StandStand desk, weighing a mere 1.6 pounds. This baby saved me from having to sit on the bed or the hotel desk for two weeks.




    1. I took my own food on the plane for breakfast and lunch. Breakfast was Vega protein powder, strawberries, hemp hearts, and almonds. I poured hot water in from the Starbucks and made a pudding. Lunch was a Minsley quinoa bowl and Tasty Bite Kashmir Spinach. I did 40 lunges three times during our 2.5-hour layover in Houston and chose a high table so I could work and hang out with a standing desk. I broke one rule of travel and drank an iced nonfat latte from Starbucks. Caffeine + air travel = dehydration, but my 3:30 am alarm that day was too much for me and I needed the counterfeit liquid energy.
    2. Upon arrival and check-in, we wandered around the resort and, unfortunately, got there during an off time for meals. I found a smoothie bar and had a smoothie to carry me over for dinner. I had let myself get hangry and started becoming ‘the other woman’. Hangry + sleep-deprived = whine and moan, which I spent two days apologizing for. Yes, even I have my hangry moments. No one is perfect!



  1. It was only a one-hour time zone change so was easy to adjust. I woke up every morning between 5:00 – 7:00 to do my own workout and participated in other fitness activities throughout the week. A beach walk happened at least once daily. I’m not the type of person to ‘wake and bake’ by the sand or pool and prefer to be moving on my vacays.
  2. To handle the endless amounts of food, I stuck to my rule of no sweets during the week, even on vacation. Taking the decision away from myself makes it easy and doesn’t cause me any stress on whether or not to have it. The answer is ‘No’ Monday – Thursday. Yes, I am on vacay, but when it’s two weeks, it can pack on the pounds. More importantly, it can cause such a behavioral shift it would be too hard to get back on the horse. I didn’t miss it and it made the treats on the weekends that much better.
  3. I kept all my portions small and tried things I couldn’t get back home, like an omelet with crickets. I filled my plate at breakfast, lunch and dinner with a rainbow of vegetables and fruits and then added small amounts of meat. The only grains I ate was about 1 cup of rice per week total. I substituted veggies instead.
  4. Maintained my morning meditation routine.


    1. I packed one bikini top and two bikini bottoms. Most of the trip, I worked out, swam and got in the ocean in sports bras and shorts. Don’t feel like you have to pack a suit for time in the water. Double up and do what triathletes do….swim in your workout clothes!
    2. Take shorts with pockets to fit your hotel card or a wrist wallet that wicks and dries fast. I never had to worry about my hotel key even during an impromptu jump in the ocean. Not something you can do in a bikini.
    3. I didn’t wear one stitch of makeup the entire trip except for a swipe of lipstick some nights. These photos aren’t just un-retouched, they are sans artificial color. You are truly seeing my no-makeup face!
    4. Hats. One baseball cap that smashes well and one floppy hat to keep the sun completely off your face. Coming back with a tan on my face means I failed to wear enough sunblock. Yeah, it looks good now, but later I’ll look like a dried plum.


My client S.S. wanted to focus more on health than productivity since we’ve spent almost a year productivity training. She had some serious aha moments that can carry over to home. A few she agreed to share:

    1. She lost 2.2 pounds during an all-inclusive vacation. Even though she was surrounded by endless amounts of delicious food and alcohol, she moved more and created her own food rules, which we worked out throughout the week.
    2. She liked the ‘sweets on the weekends’ rule and realized by the time Friday rolled around, she was really excited about what she was going to have, planned it and treated it as an event. It was a sharp contrast to people we saw mindlessly eat whatever sweets were out just because they were there.
    3. The entire trip we used small side plates only. We sometimes made three trips, but having to choose on the buffets what was ‘plate worthy’ kept us from eating anything ‘meh’.

2016-02-13 09.05.07

  1. She limited her alcohol and kept it to one drink per night and only on a few nights. With endless alcohol available, this could be a challenge for some people. Working on the behavior or tricking oneself can work in this case. Just like with small plates, using a small glass, like a champagne flute, rather than a wine goblet the size of a bowl, can allow you to have two drinks instead of one. Trickery works even when we do it to ourselves.

For a slideshow of the photos, visit here and here .

The trip worked out so well I have already booked three weeks at Secrets Huatulco February 11-March 6, 2017. Two weeks for clients and one week for vacation with my husband. Interested in your own luxury intensive? Send me an email to and let’s chat! I have two slots open for February 2017 and am looking at dates for Fall 2016 at a different location.

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