The Body Retreat

The Body Retreat

Women Only Weight Loss & Wellbeing Retreats

What difference could three minutes make to your stress levels?

Do you often feel like you are running to stand still in an increasing fast paced frenetic world? Do you feel weighed down by all the “Stuff” you need to get done? Do you feel stressed out?

Stress, it’s a word on almost everyone’s lips at one time or another. People spend a lot of time thinking of ways to gain control, feel less stressed and combat some of the negative effects that stress can have on the body. But all to often these thoughts are fleeting and hardly ever gain any traction to bring about any tangible change. Its natural to try to think you way out of a problem situation, we are cognitive beings and this is one of our best skills, but in fact what often happens is that this trying to think about changing becomes a viscous cycle of fault finding, doubts and recriminations… which can leave you feeling worse than before.

Is there anything wrong with trying to be better, do better, and feel better? After all we will have heard the sayings “God loves a Try’er” or “if at first you don’t succeed, Try Try Again” “Winners never stop Trying”

Well, yes. You see the thing is there is doubt in trying, its full of “what if’s, maybes, perhaps” there comes a time when after trying to do something for a while and it doesn’t work out, you have to stop an do something different instead.

When it comes to starting to tackle the negative influence stress has taken on your life it may be time to stop trying and start being. There is an alternative to just getting by. Perhaps its time to find a new way of being, rather than just trying a new technique or passing fad or craze? By new way of being what I really mean is a new way of behaving, adopting a new process that you can practice to support you every day and will evolve with you and help when life sets those difficult challenges from time to time.

Through our Re-Set Retreat programme dozens of women have been introduced to a new way through the Mindfulness element of the retreat. Mindfulness is a mind-body approach to reducing the impact of negative thoughts. . Mindfulness can stop negative self attacking thoughts in their tracks before they build momentum into the vicious cycle mentioned earlier. Mindfulness is a very simple concept. Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. This increases awareness, clarity and acceptance of our present-moment reality which in turn brings about a long term change in mood, concentration levels, reactions times and feelings of wellbeing while at the same time improves the brains resistance to stress, anxiety and irritations.

Mindfulness isn’t new, it has been practiced for centuries and its recommended by MIND the mental health charity as effective part of treatment for anxiety and depression but what mindfulness isn’t is a quick fix. It works if you make a commitment to yourself, a commitment not that you will try to find time to practice, but you make time to practice because it is important to you.

So how long does it take? You can make a start from as little as three minutes each day. Can you find three minutes to begin to regain control over stress?

Try this three minute mindful exercise, practice it every day for a week and you will slowly but surely begin to feel subtle difference to how you

Three Minute Mindful Meditation

  1. Sit upright on a chair, bring your back away from the back of the chair so that you are self supporting. Have you feet flat on the floor and allow your hands to rest gently in your lap.
  2. Close your eyes or pick a spot off in the middle distance and just relax your eyes as you look at that spot.
  3. Focus your attention on your breath, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Just notice the difference sensations as you breath in and out.
  4. Just follow the breath in and out. If you mind starts to wander after a while that’s ok, when you notice this happening just gently bring your attention back to you breath. Don’t chastise yourself for your mind wandering, it happens and the practice of bringing your wandering mind back is central to mindfulness.
  5. Just allow yourself to enjoy the sensation of just sitting breathing, nothing more. You may notice that you mind wanders a lot and you need to keep bringing it back or you may find that you mind clears and becomes calm. Whatever happens just allow it to be your experience. Don’t judge it, there is no right or wrong.
  6. After a moment or two of simply being, bring your awareness back to the room around you and give yourself a little stretch.
  7. Congratulate yourself that you have taken your first step towards having a more mindful future.

And that’s it. Can something so seemingly small have any impact on a life that may feel overwhelmed by stress and strain? The answer is yes, it is the first step, once you have made time each day for a week to practice this mindful meditation you will find that you start naturally making other choices that positively impact you. In just three short minutes you will have begun your virtuous cycle and then the only way is up.

The Body Retreat is a leader in Health and Well-being events if you have any questions about the above topic or feel we could help you please contact us today.
0771 800 1036

Success Stories – Paula

Back in January 2013, I was the biggest I had ever been, and probably the most stressed I had ever been.  My size 18 clothes were getting too small for me, I looked 9 months pregnant and I found it difficult to buy nice clothes on the high street.  I decided enough was enough and although I knew it was going to probably be the hardest thing I had ever done, I needed to lose the 5.5 stone I had put on.

In January I spoke to Julie about the different retreats that were available and which one would be the best for me.  She advised me to start with the Detox Retreat in March, followed by a 7 day Weight Loss Retreat in April.  Julie explained if I followed the plan there should be no reason why I shouldn’t lose 2 stone by the end of April (2 months).

The thought of being 2 stone lighter in 2 months felt unachievable at the time, but I thought even if I could lose half a stone it would be well worth it.

The Detox Retreat was a great ‘wake up’ for my body, considering I had not exercised for over 5 years. I also found the nutritional advice was very informative, as well as interesting.  This retreat was life-changing for me, I lost 6lbs by the end of it, and went away with my plan.  The biggest change for me was planning my meals and snacks.  Up until then I had been used to eating ‘on the go’ or grabbing a take away on the way home from work, so that took some getting used to.  I can only say that the key is in the planning!!


Paula – after

Paula before

Paula – before

I started swimming 4 times per week and generally tried to walk more instead of using the car for a 5 minute journey.  I found just by doing this I lost an average of 2.5lbs per week.  By the time I started the Weight Loss Retreat, I had lost 1 stone 13lbs in all.  On this retreat I felt like the walks were easier than before .  I also started running on this retreat, which I have continued since being home.  I could not run for more than 1 minute back in March, (another first for me) I lost 5lbs on the Weight Loss Retreat, putting me over my target by 4lbs.  I got on really well with the whole group and a few of the girls convinced me to enter a 15 mile walk around Exmoor in June and then a 5K run. If someone had said to me in January that I would be doing these events 6 months later, I would have laughed my head off.  I have had a few treats and parties in May, so my progressed slowed down, but I have kept up the exercise and healthy eating and have now lost 3 stone.

I have just bought my first top from the high street in a size 12!! I can’t explain how proud I am of myself; I can honestly say it has been easier than I first thought it would be, and by carrying on my conscious eating/eating at regular times, I have not felt hungry once!!. Although I have worked hard at doing the exercise and at first it was hard, it does get easier.  I would thoroughly encourage anyone who is lacking confidence (like I was) and in need of a change to a healthier life-style, to ‘bite the bullet’ and book a retreat today. DON’T LOOK BACK, JUST LOOK FORWARD TO A HEALTHIER YOU.

Success Stories – Lucy

Having hidden behind trees every time the camera came out during our summer holidays I thought it was time to sort myself out. I was in my late 40s and realised if I didn’t address my weight and sedentary lifestyle soon I would never do it with that came obvious health risks.  I had tried almost every diet plan in the past with limited success and my only regular exercise was walking our two dogs.

So in September I signed up and with Julie’s encouragement and advice I adopted a healthy eating plan that could easily fit in with the family as well as a new exercise regime. The results were instant with staggering weight loss of 4-5 pounds a week from the start.

Lucy - after

Lucy – after

Lucy - before

Lucy – before

Now, 6 months on, having lost 3 ½ stone I am feeling literally a new woman. People comment that I am half the woman I used to be and I feel good- confident, healthy and full of energy. I am now running 2-3 times a week as well as cycling and of course walking the dogs. Since I had my picture taken I have continued to lose those last few pounds too . I could not have done it on my own and Julie’s quiet inspiration, advice and support certainly were the catalyst for my change. Thank you

Success Stories – Wendy

The Body Retreat changed my life, I was 44 and I refused to settle for being a few stone overweight. My weight had crept up slowly over the previous few years and had stuck at around 13st. I thought I was doing everything right. I exercised most days and ate sensibly. But still the weight would not shift and I was at a loss as to why.

For the past 6 years my New Years resolution was to “lose weight and get fitter”. The year would start off OK losing 1 or 2lbs a week for a few weeks but then it would just creep back on. It was very disheartening.

I was about to resign to being this weight and size until I began to research weight loss and fitness holidays. I chose a weight loss retreat as it sounded just what I needed – a combination of exercise, nutrition and behaviour workshops.  During the week I lost 5lbs, I was ecstatic, seeing the result on the scales and tape measure was a massive incentive to carry on.

I loved trying all the different exercises, the workshops and pushing myself to my working heart rate. The food was excellent and I realised that I can survive on much smaller portions than I was used to. The workshops were extremely enlightening and I found out why I was struggling to lose weight – I didn’t have any specific goals, I wasn’t eating as healthy as I thought, nor was I exercising in my “fat burning zone”.

My room mate was fantastic, we supported each other throughout the week, we still keep in contact now, updating each other on our progress.  One of the best things about the week was discovering that I could actually run.  I had never run before in my life, not even at school.

Being back in the real world was daunting at first. I was apprehensive of eating anything other than whole, unprocessed foods. My shopping trolley was virtually empty after my first food shop. But I took on board everything I had learnt and put it in to practice.

Wendy - after

Wendy – after

Wendy - before

Wendy – before

I used a weekly planner to record my 3 meals and snacks per day, so I knew what I would be eating and when. I really enjoyed my food and I certainly was not on a “diet”. I adhered to my exercise regime and generally became more active on a daily basis.

My new regime resulted in a steady weight loss between 0.5-2lb per week. It was absolutely unbelievable I was completely amazed the plan was working. After 6 years of no change it was extremely rewarding and felt almost effortless because I was enjoying my exercise and I wasn’t on a diet.

After a few more weeks people started noticing the difference in my shape and asking what was my secret. I told them all about eating healthy food, portion control, exercising for optimum results and to have a goal.

By November 2009, 8 months later,  I was under 10 stone, which was more than I could ever have hoped for and surpassed all my initial weight loss goals.

18 months later. Sept 2010

I can now eat what I want, and by balancing my level of exercise and food intake, I am confident I am able to continue to maintain this weight.

Attending bootcamp has transformed my life. It is a great way to kick start a new regime and work towards personal goals. Once you see the results of physical activity and sensible eating you will never look back.

Total Weight Loss = 3stone 3lbs

I am still following the principles, exercising and running regularly and really enjoying food. My weight loss has settled and I am now a size 12/10.

I am now the fittest and slimmest I have ever been with a new love of running. Next year I will be entering my first marathon.

* Wendy completed her first marathon in April 2012, 3 years after she attended her first residential retreat *

Success Stories – Ali

I came upon The Body Retreat in a period of desperation.  My relationship had ended because I’d  put on weight  or so I believed then – he’d always said he didn’t “do fat”!!  Neither did I but I couldn’t seem to lose it and I was in a bad place.

I’d taken part in the Brighton Marathon earlier that year, completed in 6 hours, 37 minutes but I hadn’t kept up with the fitness regime.  I’d moved out of his and couldn’t be bothered – or should I say, didn’t have time.

By August 2011, I decided I needed a personal trainer to motivate me so Googled just that. Up came Jules camp and, at the very last minute, I phoned Julie Brealy and asked if I could join the week long camp, taking place in a couple of days time. I needed to get away and take time out. This might do the trick. It might not be restful but it would take me out of myself.  She said yes and I turned up, nervously brave.

I was amazed how much we were all taken care of. Every waking moment seemed to be accommodated. Get up now, drink this, eat that, run now, box here, wipe the sweat off and keep going.   Daily hikes/jogs of between 4 and 10 miles, sometimes wearing a 1 Stone weighted jacket showed us what it was like to carry more weight than we needed.  So heavy to lift and wear and yet so wonderful to take off, it showed me what effect some of this excess weight had on my general life and effort in walking or running for the bus.

There was a nutritionist telling us how to eat and, more importantly why – it all seemed to make sense. We had a hypnotherapist and a behavioural therapist talking about our personalities and lifestyle issues. Every element of our lives seemed to be addressed, emotional, physical, practical – totally holistic. All this and laughter too, it was so much fun, surprisingly.

Ali - after

Ali – after

Ali - before

Ali – before

Julie was very supportive, cheerfully motivating us and totally caring. I don’t know how she did it. We were all individuals and not just numbers. I felt I’d made friends for life during that week. There was a common bond between us. No-one was more glamorous, thinner, lovelier – we were all the same – all needing something and all receiving it.

The meals were amazing, small but enough. Given all the exercise, sometimes 10 hour’s worth a day, it seemed to me, I was never hungry. How did that work? The mantra was – Eat slow, smell it, enjoy it, stop when you’re satisfied and leave something on the plate. It worked for me. I ate everything put in front of me and in spite of the fact that I am rather food phobic and frightened of certain things, it was a revelation that actually, all those “horrid” things like olives, capers, tomatoes etc were actually really lovely.

By the end of the week, blisters aside, I felt fantastic. The linen casual trousers I had arrived in were now huge. I triumphantly stuck both arms down the front of them, past the elbows and showed off. The grand weigh in revealed I had lost 8 lbs and lots of inches. I felt amazing.  I was suffering from a stress psoriasis when I arrived, yet it had all but healed up totally by the time I left.  This busy, physically demanding week was totally stress free and better than a holiday. Actually it was a holiday. My friends were bored of me constantly going on about it – pleased bored, but bored…

I left and was so happy. I visited a supermarket and bought different foods, determined to start again and keep up the good work.

I’ve now taken part in 3 other retreats and I love them. I’m a real advocate because its worked for me. The good eating habits continued (yes the fitness needs working on) and I have just reached a total loss of 2 stone. I’m lighter and more compact than I’ve been in 10 years.  I’ve reached a size 12 bottom half and size 14 top half – from sizes 16/18.  Its cost me a small fortune to buy a new wardrobe, but I’m so happy. I feel invigorated and my friends and family think I look good and so smiley. I really should ask Julie for a 2 stone weighted jacket and then I’d see where I’d come from.

The troubled start of the year has done me a huge favour – it motivated me to look at myself and do something about those things I didn’t like. Julie Brealy and her camp has enabled me to find myself again – so important because I was well and truly lost before I met her.