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The Wellness Questionnaire with Gabriela Esquivel, Well-Living Developer at Las Catalinas

Discover how this wellness enthusiast prioritizes health and wellbeing in her own life


Gabriela Esquivel is the well-living developer at Las Catalinas, a walkable beach town on Costa Rica’s Guanacaste coast. She was instrumental in initiating the town’s wellness platform, Well-Living by Las Catalinas. Its mission is to create a community of like-minded people with the main intention of living a healthier life in a better environment (think: Blue Zone) by offering its residents and visitors experiences and services that support their wellbeing. The platform focuses on five pillars: movement through sports and recreation; nourishment for the mind, body, and spirit; meaningful connections with others, nature, and ourselves; simplicity through rituals, habits, openness, and availability to all; and beautiful surroundings encouraging sociability and awakening inspiration. Understanding the connection between nature and wellbeing, Esquivel was tasked with curating programs and offerings that would support health and wellness. Here, she shares the role wellness plays in her day-to-day life.

What does wellness mean to you?

Well-being means feeling good in a multidimensional way—being present, finding peace in discomfort, staying open to different life circumstances, and experiencing vitality and joy, all while savoring the simplicity of life.

What are your favorite things to do to maintain your personal wellbeing?

I love waking up early for sunrise beach walks. It aligns me with my circadian rhythm, grounds me, and offers a soothing connection with nature. Cooking at home with nourishing foods is a priority. Also, I’m serious about my sleep hours and downtime. I choose my company wisely and avoid interactions that don’t resonate with me. I also enjoy moments spent in solitude.

Is there a specific fitness activity that you love and why?

I enjoy weightlifting and hiking. The strength gained from weightlifting has numerous benefits, with the most crucial being how it supports my vitality as I age. Hiking, particularly in Las Catalinas, is my preferred way to stay active while connecting with nature. I love the peace that accompanies the breathtaking ocean views, the soothing sound of the waves and animals, and the profound sense of being immersed completely in nature. It feels truly expansive.

What is your favorite healthy food, and do you have a favorite way of preparing it?

I’m a big fan of colorful and nourishing salads. I enjoy combining macro and micronutrients in various colors and shapes. My go-to version usually involves an abundant bed of greens with fruits, such as strawberries or figs, accompanied by goat or feta cheese, healthy fats like avocado or nuts, grilled chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, and a simple dressing. It’s super filling, easy to prepare, and incredibly nourishing.

What is your favorite healthy beverage (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), and do you have any insider tips for preparing it?

I love water, whether still or sparkling, with lemon and pink Himalayan salt. It’s extremely hydrating and delicious. Just mix these three ingredients, add lots of ice, and enjoy.

What is your greatest wellness achievement?

Deciding to take full responsibility for my health and start questioning everything around me was a pivotal moment. This decision changed my life abruptly as I stopped relying on others to make decisions about what was best for me. Instead, I began connecting with myself and my body to truly understand it and make decisions that felt good for me as the unique individual I am. This journey involved years of constant research and education and the realization that nothing is an absolute truth. Trusting myself is probably my greatest achievement. It has empowered me to identify what I need and how to care for myself daily, as well as recognize when something is wrong.

What is the best piece of wellness advice you have ever received and from whom?

One of the most crucial health principles I learned during my Health Coaching program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (INN) is that health is bio individual and multi-dimensional. Simply put, we are all different, and what works for one may not work the same way for another. Each of us has unique needs that may require different approaches. Additionally, health encompasses various aspects of life, and all these facets need attention together. No single aspect is more important than another, highlighting the importance of adopting a multi-dimensional approach to health.

Do you have a secret health or wellness tip you would like to share?

I try to lead my life with these principles in mind: Be present in the now and remain conscious of your mortality. While these two ideas may seem contradictory to some, they have helped me avoid stagnation and overwhelm about things that aren’t truly important in the long run. They guide me to make the best out of the time the universe has granted me on this earth. Life is both beautiful and challenging, but, for the most part, we have the power to simplify and enjoy it as we wish.

What is your favorite self-care routine?

I like to keep it simple, honestly. I do my best to practice breathwork in the morning, get some sunlight, move, and nourish my body with well-sourced foods that energize me.

What is your go-to for de-stressing?

I sit on my outdoor couch overlooking the Guanacaste tree in my garden sipping a warm beverage and simply contemplating my surroundings.

What aspect of your wellbeing do you struggle with the most, or would most like to improve?

I’m sure many people struggle with this one. I still find it challenging to avoid situations that are not 100 percent aligned with my current values, and this can be quite draining. While I strive to live my life authentically, there are still times when I find myself in situations that no longer resonate with me. Managing this involves an ongoing process of setting boundaries without causing hurt or making people feel undervalued. It’s a continuous journey.

What brings you joy?

I’m happy to say that the simplest things bring me the most joy at this point in my life. Spending time with my loved ones, enjoying a nice cup of coffee in bed, contemplating nature, having heartfelt conversations, reading a good book, feeling a fresh breeze on my body during a sunny day, hearing my nephew’s laughter, moving, dancing to my favorite songs, singing out loud while driving, sipping a glass of wine, eating nourishing homemade food, and supporting people in making their lives easier and more joyful.

About The Author

Heather, co-founder of Well Defined and the former editor-in-chief of American Spa, is an award-winning journalist and content strategist, skilled in writing, copyediting, and media relations. She is also a freelance writer and has contributed to Elite Traveler, Islands, Kiwi, Luxury Travel Advisor, Organic Spa, Porthole Cruise, Travel Agent,,,, and, in addition to various custom publications. She is frequently called upon to comment on various spa and wellness trends for various media outlets.