Do you ever have one of those days when you want to pull the duvet over your head and want to tell the world to just leave you alone? Well back in June I was feeling like that most days
I was in the middle of the menopause, had some on-going problems with my back which was painful and felt irritable, tired and generally yuck. Plus I was putting on weight and couldn’t seem to do anything about it and had developed this roll of fat around my middle which I’d never had before. Certain items in my wardrobe became ‘off limits’ as I just knew they’d be too tight. I became detached from my own body, not wanting to look at it, just blaming it for letting me down. Nothing seemed to make me feel better and I knew things were bad when I lost interest in buying new clothes.
I’m a Style Coach and my whole mission in life is to help grown-up women feel great about themselves and I’m very good at it, so how come I couldn’t help myself? It was positively embarrassing and very frustrating, which of course just made me feel even worse. I felt like I’d slid into a pit and couldn’t find a way of hoisting myself out again.
Eventually in sheer desperation, my husband asked me what it would take to make me feel better. I realised that I had to do something drastic – that’s the sort of person I am, things get so bad and then I take dramatic action. Not for everyone, but that’s me. I decided that what I needed was a complete change, to go away for an extended break for reflection and a kick-start in getting my body and mind feeling well with healthy eating and lots of yoga. Encouraged by my husband (who really didn’t know how to handle this very irritable, unpredictable version of his wife) and after many hours on google, I finally settled on a retreat on a little island in Thailand.
Run by Amity Wellness – 3 weeks of hardcore detox, rest, yoga, meditation, massages and trying all sorts of what my husband calls ‘woo hoo’ alternative stuff. He’s an accountant and even NLP is woo hoo in his book! By mid-July I was on a plane to Thailand starting my adventure – no husband, no friends – just me.
After a very long journey I finally arrived at the ‘harbour’ where I was to get on the ‘ferry’ to the island. More like a few planks of wood nailed together with a lawn mower engine tied to the back than a ferry. This photo was taken later in the holiday when the sea was very calm, when I arrived it was incredibly rough with waves crashing over the harbour wall and the boat all over the place. Not great when you’ve been travelling for 24 hours and have severe jet-lag! I kept telling myself it was all part of the adventure!
It was all worth it when I arrived at the retreat –a warm welcome and a short walk on the beautiful beach. The next morning I saw one of the consultants to go over my medical history and what my objectives were for my stay. You are given advice on the best programme for you and I decided on a mixture of raw food, juicing and full fasting.
There are all sorts of activities on offer and I did yoga every day with meditation and group workshops on nutrition, stress and health. People come to the retreat for all sorts of reasons – to de-stress, to help with diabetes, eczema, allergies and other disorders, to learn how to eat more healthily, to lose weight, to work through some emotional problems. I met some lovely people from all over the world and it’s totally up to you how much you do or don’t mix with anyone else – a lot of people come to have some time alone.
Every morning we were given a schedule for the day with your choice of daily massage, appointments with NLP/EFT coaches and times for your twice daily colemas (a cross between an enema and a colonic – well I did say this was hardcore detoxing!), together with your list of drinks and supplements for the day which are all provided.
There is plenty of time for just relaxing which is all part of it of course – swimming in the beautiful pool or the sea which is like a warm bath or walking along the deserted beach – miles in either direction with no other hotels, bars or people. One component of most holidays which isn’t on offer of course is eating and drinking – not unless you count coconut water and nutritional supplements!
People ask me how you could survive without any food but actually it surprised me how quickly my body adjusted to not having any food to digest. Naturally I suffered from hunger pangs for a couple of days but after that it didn’t really bother me too much – yes I thought about food sometimes but I didn’t obsess about it. They make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need and take your blood pressure every day to keep an eye on you – if it gets too low they give you juices for extra energy. One thing I definitely learnt – we all eat far more than we need!
The main aim of the retreat was to educate you in how to lead a healthier lifestyle in terms of diet, exercise and mental health. We had several talks on how the digestion works, why some foods are bad for the body and why others are good, the benefits of eating more raw food, how to build exercise into your routine and how to deal with stress. There were also all sorts of videos on the food industry which were enough to put you off processed food for life!
The raw food that they provided was absolutely delicious – I had no idea that you could produce so much variety with no cooking! They even gave demonstrations of how to make some of the recipes they used and when you leave you get a memory stick full of information including all the recipes. They do everything they can to help you adjust back to your normal life and maintain healthy eating habits. Of course it’s a whole lot easier when you’re on a tropical island with no temptation and your raw food prepared for you – the real test is when you’re back home and going it alone!
I know that a lot of you will be interested in how much weight you lose – everyone is different of course, it depends on your starting point. I lost one stone while I was there (some people lost a lot more), but more importantly to me, my body seemed to have been sucked in from the inside. I really didn’t want to share before and after photos of me in a bikini, but there are so many fake ones out there. I wanted to show real, un-posed, un-airbrushed ones to show what can realistically be achieved.
|Judith at start of retreat||Judith at end of retreat|
As you’ll see from the before and after shots, I got my defined waist back! Best of all I felt wonderful, my black cloud had lifted after a few amazing sessions with Scott the NLP/EFT guy and Grace a wonderful intuitive healer. Before this retreat I had become one of those women who keep their sarong tied tightly round them while at the pool or beach and then carefully time when they rush in the water to avoid anyone seeing them – not anymore! I’m 53 and my body is always going to be a million miles from being swimsuit model material but now I just don’t care – by the end I was happily throwing off my sarong and walking along the beach with the others in just my bikini – now that’s priceless!
Unfortunately, Amity Wellness Retreat in Thailand is now closed, but the good news is that they are relocating to the Seychelles (they do know how to pick fabulous locations) and if you’re interested, I’ll be announcing when they open for business in my newsletter (it’s free and you can sign-up via my website, see link below).
Best of all, it’s now over 2 months since I got back and I have kept the weight off – in fact I am getting deeper into raw eating and losing some more – but primarily I’m doing it because it makes me feel better – I still have off days but then don’t we all? I do yoga and pilates regularly and have regained my passion for clothes and shopping!
The hardest part is keeping that little bit of the East inside and not letting yourself get caught up again in the hectic rush that is life for most people these days. Someone summed it up nicely by saying that we’ve become human doings instead of human beings – I’m trying hard to make sure that I spend some time every day just being.
If you are fed up with feeling yuck all the time, I do hope that my story has inspired you to investigate what might work for you. I’m well aware how extremely lucky I was being able to go off for 3 weeks, but there are several detox retreats in the UK, with short stays. There are also loads of on-line detox courses and information about how to do it yourself and also about increasing the raw food in your diet.
It may be something completely different that works for you. If I can help with some moral support then please get in touch – I really do know how you feel and I remember that I started feeling a little bit better as soon as I made the decision to do something about it.
By the way, my husband met me at Heathrow and greeted me with “Wow, you look amazing!” – not bad from an undemonstrative, English accountant!