The Body Retreat

The Body Retreat

Women Only Weight Loss & Wellbeing Retreats

Courgette, Leek & Spinach Soup

Courgettes are in season in summer and my home-grown ones are abundant right now. If I don’t check them regularly they become huge & turn into marrows!  This soup is delicious, creamy & satisfying. It’s perfect for a hearty lunch. I added the cannellini beans after blitzing the rest of the soup to keep something to chew so you can eat it rather than drink it

Ingredients – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp Rapeseed oil
  • 450g Courgettes diced
  • 400g Leeks sliced
  • 400g Spinach
  • 2 tsp Vegetable Bouillon
  • 750ml Boiling Water 
  • 75g Cream Cheese (half fat)
  • 25g Fresh Basil
  • 400g Cannellini Beans drained & rinsed

Method for making soup

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan & add the sliced leeks & fry for 3 min
  2. Add diced courgette cover & cook for 5 min
  3. Add the vegetable stock (vegetable bouillon & boiling water) cover & cook for 7 min
  4. Add the spinach & cook for a further 5 min 
  5. Blitz with hand held blender or liquidiser. Add the cream cheese & basil & blitz again
  6. Return to the pan & add the cannellini beans & reheat

Serve & enjoy

Courgette, Leek & Spinach Soup

Women are bearing the brunt of the Covid Stress.

I’m going to tell you something you already know!!

Women are bearing the brunt of the Covid Stress.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic recession have negatively affected many people’s mental health 

Recent reports show that COVID-19 has socially, psychologically and economically affected women because of their primary caregiving roles as parents and family caregivers.

Many reports globally reporting women are 10% more likely to report symptoms of worry , stress, anxiety and depression

These reports show us that women are at increased risk for stress, burnout, and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic. These negative outcomes are triggered by individual factors such as lack of social support; family status; organisational factors such high workload; and systems-level factors such as prevalence of COVID-19, rapidly changing public health guidelines, and a lack of recognition of the increased stressors. 

The Signs of Stress

Difficulty sleeping

Poor food choices 

Increased alcohol or substance use

Chromic anxiety and depression

Me and Covid Stress

Writing today’s blog is a very personal one ….because I am writing about me!

Me, Juls, the Women’s Wellness Coach, the therapist, the stress and sleep “expert”…. I am currently working my way back to health after recognising that I wasn’t coping.

When we closed The Body Retreat back in March after a weekend of tears and tantrums I came back to meet with Julie with a fighting spirit as we planned how The Body Retreat could survive this pandemic.

I have probably never worked as hard in my life those next couple of months as I designed, tested and delivered the Retreat@Home programme.  It felt like I was doing something positive, taking control of a very shitty situation.  We briefly reinstated the Healthy Hampers as a way of gaining some cash flow.  Next we worked hard on planning how we would reopen retreats post lockdown.  I was a very busy and productive woman.

Then, just after we reopened our residential retreats the wheels fell off. 

I won’t bore you with all the details but suffice to say that my sleep started to become disturbed then disappear altogether, I started to obsessively watch the news, I could feel myself getting a few palpitations from time to time, I found it difficult to concentrate for any real length of time, my mood was deteriorating, I started to speak to friends less and less.  

One morning I spent a long time looking at a bottle of vodka thinking how a couple of Vodka and orange would make me feel better… I pulled back from that but put the kettle on and had a chocolate bar and tea instead. I then went on to have chocolate and tea every day…so I put on almost a stone in weight.

The whole thing became a ghastly nightmare.  It was a dark and scary time.

Fortunately for me I reached a point where I knew that I needed help.

I am now taking it one day at a time and I can feel myself regaining my strength.

How to cope with Covid Stress 

Trust How You Feel

Pay attention to what you feel you need. If someone is telling you you’re wrong or trying to shame you by saying you’re not right that you “should” be doing more of this or less of that try to back off from that and take care of yourself.

You know yourself better than anyone, you know when things don’t feel right, when changes are going on too long.  Be honest with yourself.

Stay Well Informed

It is important to understand what is going on in the world right now,  ostrich behaviour will only prolong anxiety symptoms.  However be choosey and balanced about your sources…. 24 hour news is not your friend.

Ask questions from professionals, trusted colleagues to keep as informed as possible, and look at valid and reliable websites, so you’re not ramping up your stress level due to false or misleading information.

Back of Social Media

Don’t get me wrong I do love social media but there is a real danger that you can fall into the comparison trap very quickly.  As everyone presents their “best self” on their posts it can feel that you are the only one who isn’t coping.  It’s a fallacy, if scrolling is starting to make you feel bad take a break.


A favourite breathing exercise that I share with clients is inhaling through the nose for a count of four, and then exhaling through the mouth for a count of six,…If counting is not your thing, that is okay. You just breath in to fully expand your tummy and then exhale longer than the inhale.

This exercise can help calm the nervous system, so you can relax and move on to the next task of the day

Don’t be ashamed to Get Help

There really is no shame in seeking help.  

It might that you need help to understand how “the new normal” is going to affect your life, your finance, your career.  It might be that you need to speak with your GP about exploring medication or therapy.  It may be that you need to prioritise your physical health and join a gym or fitness class.

Remember …you know you better than anyone.  SO back to point one… listen to how you feel and what you need and then trust yourself to act upon that in whatever way feels right for you.

How we might be able to Help

Stress doesn’t only impact your mental health …it has many implications for your physical health too.  Very soon, as they all start to merge together it can be hard to differentiate.  

I’m one of the lucky ones, I recognised what was happening and was able to get the support I needed.  I can feel myself slowly regaining that sense of balance, my sleep is returning and so is my waistline.  

What’s so Super about Superfoods?

We’re always hearing about Superfoods, but what exactly are they? 

Nutritionally speaking, there is no such thing as a Superfood. The term was  actually coined for marketing purposes to influence food trends and sell products.

The word  is usually used to describe a food, or indeed drink, that is nutritiously dense….. from kale, beetroot and berries to nuts, green tea and salmon – although there’s no set legal definition.

Many experts say that with no legal definition of the term Superfoods, the term is arbitrary and may mislead people into believing that a few foods will counteract an otherwise bad diet.

Some scientists are also concerned that the nutritional benefits may be over-sold, making people believe that eating Superfoods will somehow miraculously improve your health and wellbeing.

Superfoods do contain lots of vitamins and minerals, and also natural molecules which have powerful antioxidant or anti-inflammatory properties… but don’t be fooled by the marketing hype.

If you want to start to increase your consumption of Superfoods then check out our Superfood Shopping List below.

At The Body Retreat our menus are chock full of Superfoods, every meal, every day, every week we are looking to maximise our nutritional intake with every forkful. 

Our philosophy is Real Food, For Real Women who want Real Results.

So many women who join us have become so disconnected from real food,  they have spent years if not decades becoming disconnected from real food, some are even scared of food.

It’s not surprising really when you consider the plethora of conflicting information that bombards us about what we “should or shouldn’t’ eat.

You don’t have to join us on a residential retreat to reconnect to a daily diet filled with superfoods…

Start with small changes and choices from our Superfood Shopping list and build up slowly. Bring the superfoods into your daily diet and you will soon start to feel the cumulative benefits.

5 Superfoods for your shopping list

There may be no such thing as a miracle food, but these foods can still make a valuable contribution to a healthy, balanced diet

1. Berries
 A few commonly identified superfood berries include acai berries, blueberries, raspberries, tart cherries, cranberries, and goji berries are all a nutritional powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidant

2. Tea
Green and White Tea both contain potent antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds which have strong anti-inflammatory effects

3. Dark Leafy Greens
Kale, spinach, chard are an excellent source of nutrients including folate, zinc, calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C and fibre.

4. Eggs

Whole eggs are rich in many nutrients including B vitamins, choline, selenium, vitamin A, iron and phosphorus.They’re also loaded with high-quality protein.

5. Dark Chocolate
Research found that dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, but it needs to be organic and very dark to gain the antioxidant benefits.

Tackling Obesity: A call to action?

Tackling Obesity : A Call to Action

This week our PM has delivered a new initiative, Tackling Obesity: Empowering Adults and Children to Live Healthier Lives.

You might image that here at The Body Retreat with our women only weight loss retreat this would be music to our ears, maybe we have already begun preparing a marketing campaign to sell more retreat places.  Jump on the inevitable weight loss providers bandwagon.  It wont be long before you start to see these messages filter into marketing cmapagins.

The fact is that for us here at The Body Retreat we have both been left frustrated by this initiative, for many reasons.

We have all heard on the news that certain members of our population or individuals with certain conditions seem to be more at risk of catching or having complications associated covid.  You may already have heard that being overweight is just one such condition.

Now it’s not really news to anyone that excess weight can negatively impact your health, but it’s big news now that being over weight increase your covid risk.

You might be wondering why we are not happy that this is getting the attention it deserves….

Well…. There is a dangerous possibility that this news and the initiative with its call to action may actually become just another stick to beat overweight people with.

The initiative seem rushed and rather like it has been cobbled together, there are many question left unanswered but the bottom line seems to be that the country need to be better educated to “empower” (the initiative’s word not mine) people to Eat Less and Move More!!

There is talk about understanding calories, there are vouchers to get on your bike, there are also proposed bans on advertising and product placement of high calorie foods.  Please don’t get me started on the traffic light food labels…

For the avoidance of doubt, if eating less and moving more worked then there would be no weight crisis!! 

There is no one size fits all.  Why people eat what they eat when they eat it is a complex and very personal equation.  Why is it that despite knowing that daily pizza is bad and daily salad is good, people still make choices that undermine their health and wellbeing time and time again.  Do you need to be clearer on the number of calories in the pizza or know that you need to cycle for about 6 hours to burn of the equivalent …does that help you make a better choice?

No….all it does is heap on the guilt when you do eat the pizza, which in turn can lead you down into a spiral of guilt, shame and recriminations.  Making you feel so bad that you may console yourself with more food.

Shame rarely produces a positive outcome.

What the initiative gets right is that it speaks about the need to create an environment that is Pro Health… but that is not a society that is obsessed with calories and grams of carbohydrates, it is not a nation who are all “on their bikes” spinning their wheels like hamster in a cage trying to burn off the pounds and inches.

For all the faults in the initiatives proposals it is the very name of the initiative that gives us most concern.  While the word empower is used through the document the whole premise of the initiative is that overweight people are a risk, to themselves, to the NHS, to their communities, to our nation.  

The title is Tackling Obesity… this doesn’t sound empowering to us, this sounds aggressive and forceful. 

Obesity and so by default the obese are now a threat…a threat to be tackled.

Feeling empowered by that message?

What does Healthy Look like?

What does Healthy Look like?

Have you ever thought, “what does healthy look like”?  

Maybe you have never asked yourself this question ,because you instinctively know what healthy looks like.

Scroll through your social media feed, open a glossy magazine or watch your favourite telly shows and you will be bombarded by images of what a healthy woman looks like…. Or “should” look like.

Those images will probably be young and slim women, in figure hugging leggings and bra top, running though the park, doing downward dog by the sea or posing in her kitchen with her greens juice.

But you know what they say, you can’t judge a book by its cover. 

You don’t need to be young or slim to have a positive and healthy relationship with your body and just because someone is overweight doesn’t mean their health is at risk.

Healthy can exist within a diverse spectrum of shapes and sizes. I know that it is possible to look ‘healthy’ while leading an unhealthy lifestyle, and vice versa. 

Ultimately, I know that visual assessments of what health looks like are both inaccurate and unhelpful.  I know its human nature to make initial judgements of people but you really cannot judge a person’s health by how they look.

So how do you measure health?

Is it the number on the scale?

We hear so much about being a Healthy Weight.  There are charts that show you how you measure up.  We are constantly told through media, news outlets and even the posters on our GP’s waiting room walls…. Being a healthy weight is important to help us avoid a whole host of conditions and disease.  

Well actually the number on the scale may be a poor predictor of health as it fails to consider cardiovascular fitness, physical activity and diet and other lifestyle factors.

Health isn’t one single number.

A Healthy Weight isn’t…

  • A number on a scale
  • A category in the Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • A specific shape
  • Fitting into specific sizes of clothes

There is no one healthy magic number.

The quality of food that you eat, how you move your body and the exercise you take, not to mention your sleep habits, how stressed you are all have more impact on health than just weight.

Health is about happiness 

Health is a feeling,  

Health is about an inner glow

Health is about balance.

So what does Healthy Look like?

In truth, good health looks different for each person. 

It is personal and unique to everyone. Mostly what healthy promises is that you will FEEL like the best version of yourself. 

On the last day of our Weight Loss Retreats, after everyone has been weighed in, after they have had their inch loss confirmed, we sit down to close out the Retreat.  One thing that I always say to our happy Retreaters is that it “isn’t what you lose…it’s what you gain”.  

Everyone who joins us on our retreats loses weight… the clue is in the name LOL…for ten years now we have been showing our Retreaters not just how to shed the weight that is unnecessary for them, but more importantly, we show them how to create a lifestyle that makes them feel healthy.

What do you think?

What does Healthy Look or feel like for you?

I’d love to hear from you…so please take a moment to leave me a comment below xx