Still looking for that magic weight-loss bullet? Check out The Body Retreat. I met trainer Julie Brealy years back, when I did something nasty to my Achilles and my pal Trisha recommended her sports massage. She was working for a local bootcamp in Devon at the time but now runs The Body Retreat alongside hypnotherapist and food guru, Juls Abernethy. Most of their retreats are UK-based but twice a year they ship out to a gorgeous cortijo in Andalucia.
Yes, there’s a lot of exercise – and you know how I love to get my exercise fix. But the interesting part for me was the food. I’ve been doing a lot of juice fasting lately (reporting for Queen of Retreats) and, while you certainly do lose weight on these, it doesn’t stick. It’s a great thing to do if you know you have been really poisoning your body and need a clear-out, but if you want to lose weight and keep it off, I’d go for something that combines sensible diet and exercise.
The Body Retreat programme is precisely calibrated to optimise sustainable weight-loss and the aim is to instil sensible eating and exercise habits you can continue at home. It’s not endless salad either – we ate great paella, tortilla and even got to make our own (healthy) pizzas. Can you make healthy and delicious pizza? Yes you can!
You get three meals a day at the BR plus three snacks, so you’re never hungry, but the portion sizes come as a shock. I eat pretty healthy stuff at home but I swiftly realised that I’m simply eating way too much. And yes, you can put on weight with too much healthy stuff.
Seriously. If you want to shift pounds, you really do need to think about portioning down. Don’t be tempted to skip meals – that will only play around with your blood sugar levels and hormone levels – in the long run, eating too little can actually cause you to pile on pounds as your body panics itself into holding onto fat.
So, three balanced meals plus three small snacks in between is the optimum – it keeps everything nicely ticking over and it means you don’t get hungry and then blow it all with a vast pig-out.
How small? Take a look at the meals we ate and bear in mind these are small plates – a 9 inch side plate, rather than a dinner plate. A couple of inches of smoothie, rather than a tall glass-full. A small handful of nuts, not a bag of peanuts. The other thing Juls insists on is paying serious attention to how you eat. Her golden rules:
- Always sit down to eat in a mindful manner (rather than grabbing something on the run or eating at your desk).
- Take a ‘posture reset’ – before you eat, sit up straight and take three long, deep breaths.
- Smell your food. Lift the plate up and sniff it.
- Really taste your food – sense each mouthful – notice how it feels in your mouth, its texture, its temperature, as well as its taste.
- Chew really well. Digestion begins in the mouth.
- Put your cutlery down while you eat. Wait until every last morsel has been swallowed before picking up your knife and fork again.
- Keep checking in with yourself. Are you full? Are you satisfied? When you feel satisfied, stop eating.
- Regardless of whether you’re full or not by the end of your meal, always leave something on your plate.
- Oh, and don’t drink water with your food – it dilutes the digestive enzymes. The odd glass of wine is okay, curiously enough, but just bear in mind it packs a heavy calorific punch.
Does it work? Yes. I shed nine pounds in a week. And the lovely Wendy, who gamely volunteered to be pictured with me in the shots we took for the Daily Mail, has lost over six stone with these guys. She keeps coming back (this was her eighth retreat), not because she needs to lose more but because it’s become her favourite type of holiday. ‘It’s addictive,’ she says. ‘No normal holiday makes me feel so good. It’s not just about losing weight and feeling fit either; it’s about self-belief. Everyone’s so supportive and I’ve made really great friends.’
She’s right. Yes, it’s hard work but there’s also plenty of down time by the pool and everyone was just so damn nice. Seriously, just lovely, lovely people.
for a full list of breaks and holidays.
for a full list of breaks and holidays.
Big thanks to easyjet who flew me to Malaga. www.easyjet.com
You can see my report for the Mail here:
And check out the full photo album on my Facebook page.