So here in the UK, last week was our half-term break. Half-term break is a genius invention, a time when teachers and children alike get to down tools and relax ahead of the challenges up ahead. Except for those poor souls mugging up for exams, of course – my thoughts are with you guys. Been there, done that!
Most half-terms I spend on holiday or visiting, or just hanging out at home reading and hanging out and meeting up with people. This half-term, I decided to do something a little different. I went away to a place unlike any place I’ve ever visited before. Depending on your outlook, it could variously be labelled a….
* detox destination
* weight loss retreat
….and many other things besides.
The retreat first came to my attention via a Groupon offer, and after vsiting the website, I had decided I quite liked the idea of going away for a week in the countryside, eating sensibly, working out lots, relaxing and unplugging from busy life here in London. I was also aware that after a strong start my weight loss had stalled and I needed to get a fresh take on food and exercise. It’s always goof to reboot.
So on Sunday I headed down for a seven day stay (which I cut to five, for more or less one reason only!). And here, in bullet points, is what I thought of ‘The place with a name so tacky I can’t type it’ (such a tacky name for a genuinely beautiful place!).
The situation is perfect. A converted Georgian house in an idyllic little village surrounded by rolling hills.
The trainer, Lisa, was a gem. She knew exactly when to be a cheerleader and when to be bossy. I have a newfound love of squats, and a grudging tolerance of both lunges and (gulp) the plank.
The showers, and the steam bath. I genuinely feel like I glow!
The opportunity to relax. With no internet and being removed from London, chilling was top of the menu.
The fresh air and exercise. I have a tan and freckles for the first time in years!
The visiting teachers…both the Zumba and the swing teachers were fantastic.
The long nights of sleep. I was having nine hours a night. Gorgeous.
Trying new things. After 5 yoga classes, I’m a convert and am looking forward to taking classes here in London too.
The results. I lost 9 pounds in 5 days. I remain unconvinced as to the healthiness of this, and will work hard to keep it off, but the bottom line is still quite exciting.
The disparity in the quality of the rooms. For a place billed as luxury, I found my room more than a little lacking. Less boutique hotel, more grandma’s spare room (with all due respect to grandma). Lovely, but not particularly well finished or thought out. To avoid the single supplement I’d gone for the shared bathroom option, and the bathroom was lovely. The room was below par though.
The joke of a ‘nutrionist’ they had visit us. Utter codswallop being offered as fact.
The towels. Threadbare white towels at a ‘luxury’ destination? For shame.
If the boss *and* her PA are both due to be away, surely you make some contigency plans? Lisa and the spa ladies and the cook all worked hard to fill in the gaps, but there was ‘something’ (or rather, someone) missing throughout.
The food. Now, the website says it’s a weight loss retreat, so I was expecting skimpier portions. I’d imagined somewhere around the 800 – 1200 calorie range, maybe. But no. We were actually closer to 400 calories a day. That. Is. Insane. Now, luckily there were two doctors on the retreat who quickly reassured us all that the body was fine with this amount of food for a small portion of time, but friends….this was still way too little for a Claire. Juice for breakfast…cabbage salad for lunch….half a kiwi, a strawberry and three blueberries for afternoon tea….cabbage soup for dinner. Oh my goodness. This is why I cut down to 5 days…the lack of protein was getting to me so much I couldn’t function! Now yes, this extreme diet helped the pounds come off, but I still think a little more food along with a little more exercise could have done the same in a more healthy way (just my opinion, YMMV!). I’m not a fan of fad diets, much prefering the eat-lots-of-real-foods-and-step-away-from-the-junk plan, so this was a major shock to the system!
The other guests. I met some really wonderful women on this jaunt, and I really hope we keep in touch. Because of the challenges and the lack of food, we really saw one another at our highest and our lowest. The support, camaraderie and hilarity was top notch! I’m so grateful I ‘lucked out’ with such a great group, and hope we can all build on our achievements going forward.
So that was my week….more positives than negatives, for sure, and a definite change of scene.
And now….back to school!