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The Cup of Tea that Reduces Your Stress Levels

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We Brits love our tea.  Its estimated that in the UK we get through a staggering 165 million cups a day!

A cup of tea can be restorative, it can pick you up after a shock, it can soothe a troubled day.  Research has discovered a plethora of health benefits of drinking tea, from its antioxidant properties to its ability to hydrate.  Its little wonder it has become part of our cultural identity.

In the 1930’s there was even a famous song “Everything Stops for Tea”

“Every nation in creation has its favourite drink

France is famous for its wine, it’s beer in Germany

Turkey has its coffee and they serve it blacker than ink

Russians go for vodka and England loves its tea”

But beyond its role as a national streiotype what if I told you that taking one cup of tea each day could reduce your stress levels, make you feel less emotional and more in control, improve your working memory and give you more mental clarity.  I’m not about to expose some newly discovered berry or leaf from far off lands with super powers.  In fact it can be any cuppa of your choice and still have the same amazing effect.

I’m talking about having a Mindful Cup of Tea.

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

I’m sure you will all be aware of Mindfulness, it has become a very popular topic in recent years selling millions of books, CD’s and Apps each year.  But Mindfulness is no fad.  Derived from ancient Buddhist meditation, in the 1970’s a scientist called Jon Kabit-Zin developed Mindful Based Stress Reduction technique based on the principle of being in the present moment, not worrying about the past or the future, but consciously connecting with the present moment.

Too often in today’s modern life the constant pressures seem to force us into an auto pilot mode.  There is so much to do, so many demands on our time, we have become quite adept at multi tasking.  Even reading this blog post you may be keeping one eye on your email inbox, compiling your shopping list, thinking about a task you need to complete later today.  We are constantly “ON”.  Over time this takes its toll on our health and wellbeing, both mentally, physically and emotionally.

Mindfulness is the perfect antidote to the pressure of modern life, it is a way of pressing the STOP button, of resetting the relaxation response. Repeated studies have shown that Mindfulness can rewire how the brian responds to stress.

Mindfulness In Practice

At The Body Retreat we have Mindfulness Based Practice built into every one of our retreats, from our Conscious Eating on our Weight Loss Retreat, Mindful Daily Routines on our Health & Fitness Holiday to daily Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction techniques on our Stress Re-Set Retreat.  Even on our Detox Retreat we have Mindful Moments every afternoon amongst other mind detox activites.

One of the great things about Mindfulness is how accessible and easy it is to practice.  You don’t need special clothing, a special room, there are no special magic words or incantations.  What you do need is an open mind, a desire to change your current coping strategies and the commitment to practice.  Because heres the thing, Mindfulness is both astonishingly simple and, for most of us who live in our heads, very difficult.  At first Mindfulness can seem elusive and down right tricksy, we are creatures driven by the desire to succeed and get stuff right.  Mindfulness isn’t a tangible and specific skill like driving a car or learning an instrument.  Rather its personal and only you can be the judge of how effective your practice is.

Mindfulness practice is immensely rewarding, as plenty of people are discovering.  I would argue that it is probably the most important life skill that any of us can learn to help us to cope with the stresses of modern living.

To help gain the Mindfulness Stress Reduction benefits it helps to have some practical techniques to help you to incorporate it into everyday life, that way you can quickly and easily see and feel the benefits.  Then you can build out from one practice to bigger and more powerful techniques.

One of the Daily Mindful Practices we adopt at The Body Retreat is The Mindful Cup of Tea.  Almost everyone takes a hot drink of some kind during their day.  This simple technique takes something mundane and transforms it to become something truly restorative and relaxing.

Mindfulness Tea for Stress Reduction

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This exercise takes something that is generally done on autopilot and brings it firmly into the present moment.  Such a simple exercise but it bring benefits fast.

 

  1. Sit down with your tea, do not drink it on the run, standing at the kitchen counter or in the car.  You want to give your whole attention now.
  2. Take three long slow deep breaths and relax.
  3. Before you pick up the cup and rink it, really look at it. Notice the glass, cup or mug.  Notice how the light reflects off it.  Notice if there is steam rising, or ripples form having just stirred the tea.  Notice the colour, the individual tones.
  4. Now, pick up the cup and notice the tactile feel of the cup in your hands. Does it feel warm or cool to the touch, how heavy is it.  Is the cup textures or smooth.
  5. Next smell your drink.  Spend a moment allowing the smell to fill your awareness.
  6. As you now start to drink, take small sips of your tea.  Allow yourself to really taste it.  Experience the sensation on your tongue and taste buds, as you gently swallow hear the sound.
  7. As you continue to drink you tea, be fully present with your tea.  If you mind wanders off before the drink is finished, simply acknowledge that your mind has wandered, and just bring it back to the feeling, smells, tastes and sensations of drinking this cup of tea.

Once you have got used to Mindful Tea Drinking any cup of tea that you have becomes an automatic unconscious anchor to help you to remember to be mindful, to relax and be calm.

If you would like to learn more about Mindfulness and gain practical techniques to incorporate it into your everyday life to improve your health and well-being then join us on our next Stress Re-Set Retreat.

If you have found this article useful I’d really love to have your comments or questions.  You will find the comments box all the way down at the bottom of the page, look forward to hearing from you.  Please feel free to share on any of your chosen social media by using the buttons on the right.

Are Toxins Making You Fat?

“A Toxic Body Will Cause You To Gain Fat, While a Cleansed Balanced Body is Slim & Healthy”

Healthy Body

We don’t often use the F word at The Body Retreat Too often Fat is used as a derogatory term.  It’s a label used to put you in your place.  Fat… its not who you are, it’s what you have.  We all have fat, we are meant to, it is part of the body’s natural defence and survival system.  Problems only start to arise when we have too much fat and it begins to negatively impact our health.

Recently we attended a course with one of the countries most eminent sports coaches, Phil Richards is a world renowned sports coach at the very top of his game, training professional athletes like Amir Khan and Stuart Stokes as well as professional sports teams like  London Harlequins and Leicester Tigers amongst others.  A specialist in strength and conditioning Phil has trained some of the world’s strongest men and women.

On the face of it Phil might seem like an unlikely training partner for The Body Retreat and to be honest when we arrived at the training centre at least one of us felt a fish out of water.  In a room filled with muscular men, buff boys and a smattering of gym bunnies I was a tracksuit and supplement shake bottle short of the dress code not to mention a dress size (or 2) in the opposite direction.

But, at The Body Retreat we pride ourselves with not only working with the best but learning from the best.  Phil is a passionate advocate of detoxification and places this at the heart of all his training and weight loss programmes.  Intrigued to learn why this world class sport coach placed so much emphasis on this natural function we attended his certified course to learn more.

Detoxification, it’s A Natural Process, Right?

We all know that we live in a toxic world, toxins are everywhere, in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink.  They are in the clothes we wear, the products we wash in even the pans we cook with.  There is no escaping them.  The body has a perfect inbuilt system to cope with toxins and the main organ responsible for ridding the body of the toxins is our liver.

However, over the past 60 years the amount of man-made chemicals introduced to our food and drink has significantly increased and a recent survey by The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that adults carry around 700 toxic substances in the body that the liver cannot effectively cope with.

A Toxic Body Will Make You Gain Fat

When the liver cannot process these toxins fast enough it becomes overloaded and this can lead to your feeling sluggish, struggling with skin problems, aches and pains, or digestive problems.  But did you know that when the body cannot cope with toxic overload these toxins are stored in the body to be dealt with later… and you’ll never guess where the body stores these toxins….In Your Fat!!

In particular in belly fat.  That’s because the body’s self preservation mechanism kick in to protect you from the harm that storing these toxins may have, so they need to be stored somewhere safe.

Toxic Belly Fat

How the Body Gets Rid of Toxins

Detoxification is a natural process, it is happening all the time through:

Respiration– Your lungs not only filter the air you breath but provide the essential oxygen that every cell in your body needs.

Perspiration – Your skin is your single largest organ of elimination

Defecation– One or two well-formed bowel movements every day is one of the best ways to get toxins out of your body.

Urination– The kidneys are responsible for flushing waste from the blood.

Boost Your Body’s Detoxification Ability Right Now

Practiced for centuries by cultures all around the world — including Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine systems.  Detoxification is about resting, cleaning and nourishing the body from the inside out. By removing and eliminating toxins, detoxifying can help protect you from disease and renew your ability to achieve and maintain optimum health and help you to lose that toxic fat.

4 Tips to Help to Detoxify

Respiration – Breathing techniques increases your lungs effectiveness to provide more oxygen for our bodies resulting in increased energy levels and a clear state of mind.

Try the 7/11 Breathing Technique.  Sit comfortably with your feet flat on the floor and allow your hands to rest gently in your lap.  Now take a deep breath in for the count of 7, hold it for a moment at 7 and then release the breath counting out to 11.  Now, the first couple of times you do this it may seem impossible to breath out to 11, but that is only a result of habitual shallow breathing and in an indicator that you need to practice this technique daily to increase your lung effectiveness.

Perspiration – Using saunas and steam rooms can help eliminate toxins through perspiration and can help your kidneys to increase their ability to clear the toxic material they have removed form your blood. In an ideal world you would take a sauna daily as part of your detox programme.

Defecation – Fibre helps move waste through the colon because it is indigestible by the human body. In other words, fibre adds ‘bulk’ to the stool. If your bowel movements are too loose, fibre can make them firmer; on the other hand, if your stools are too hard, fibre can make them softer.

Don’t think fibre is only found in cereals, it is in all types of plant-based foods, including fruit and vegetables. So increase the amount of fruit and veg and if I may be indelicate here keep an eye on your poo.. it will tell you when you have the balance right.

Urination – One way to ensure that the kidneys are functioning to their maximum level is to drink around 8-10 glasses of clean, filtered water daily. Its really important that the water is filtered as most water sources contain toxins which can lead to impaired thyroid function which in turn increases weight gain.

Its Hard to lose Toxic Fat

There are lots of other things you can do to help this detoxification process that will not only help you to safely lose toxic body fat, increase your energy levels and solve digestive issues and that is why we created our Detox Retreat.  With an intelligent focus on behaviour, exercise and nutrition as well as some good old fashioned R&R, you’ll emerge cleansed, balanced and an average of 6lbs lighter as an extra confidence boost!

If you would like to discover for yourself how to safely detoxify your system, kick start your metabolism and lose fat join us on our Summer Detox Retreat.

Right now we are offering 25% off Shared Rooms at our next Detox Retreat starting 7th July 2014.  

Contact us now on 0203 7011603 or by email here to secure your place

 

5 surprising reasons why Photography is a lot like Weight Loss

The Body Retreat Camera

Last Monday before setting off for our Spring Clean Detox retreat at Dorset I attended a photography workshop run by KerryJPhotography. If you have been on our website or our Facebook page you will have seen the gorgeous pictures that Kerry took for us of real Body Retreat clients on real retreats. When we heard that Kerry was running a photography course for small business “Your camera means business” we were super keen to dust off the old SLR that dutifully comes on every retreat with us…but never quite makes it out of the camera bag. This workshop was specifically designed to help business just like ours, for whom capturing images of what we do, where we do it and who we do it with is an important part of our marketing message..

I arrived at the training day armed with my trusty camera and my desire to create images what would make David Bailey sigh with amazement. Despite having owned the camera for years now I had (of course) never read the manual and so had never turned the dial past Auto. I was very much a point & shoot kind of photographer, but I was also a very frustrated photographer at my inability to take a decent photograph, after all it looks so simple. You point the lens at the thing you want a photo of and you press the button …right? Well it never seemed to work for me. That was all about to change.

Over the course of a fun, practical but very informative day Kerry explained the hows and whys of our cameras, how they see light, how to compose a picture, not only how to take a picture but how to take a picture that means something. At the end of the day my head was buzzing with all the new “stuff” I had just learned. Before we left Kerry gave us a goody bag which had amongst its delights a workbook of the days notes, a small laminated crib card to remind you how to set up the picture and an ideas book to encourage us to put into practice all that we had learnt.

I went off into the day a novice photographer and straight into Spring Clean Detox Retreat and the perfect opportunity to try out my new skills. So, I made a conscious decision that I would take at least one picture every day while on retreat… and I mean a proper picture, using my new flegdling skills. Morning one and we have Ruby Red Juice for breakfast, my first test subject. I served the ladies then snuck a couple of extra juices to the spa area to compose my shot. Instinct was telling me to just put the glasses down, take the picture and get on with my day, it had been less than 24 hours since I finished training but I couldn’t quite remember what the steps were. I fiddled with the glasses, moved the fruit props, twiddled the dials on the camera… but all the pictures didn’t look right. I was frustrated and it crossed my mind that it was time to give up …or maybe it was time to get the goody bag out, take out the workbook and crib sheet and go through the steps I had been taught! And guess what…RESULT!!

Ruby Red Detox Juice

Spurred on by this success there was no stopping me and my camera, piles of veggies…snap, cups of tea…snap, bowls of soup..snap. Then after a couple of days I decided it was time to venture outside. So armed with my invaluable crib card and camera I set of with Bella for a walk around the farm to be inspired.

It was while I was lying on my belly on the ground in a field taking a picture of some daffodils that it struck me that photography is a lot like weight loss. Bear with me here 😉

We get ladies who join us on Weight Loss Retreat who come armed with a history of dieting and the desire to finally make it work. They have been trying to figure out how to make it happen for ages… perhaps even years. They may even have read a couple of manuals and there may even have been times when they hit the jackpot and one of the diets paid off (in the short term) but they are not able to replicate that success. In the same way that I thought photography was “point & shoot” these ladies think that loosing weight is “eat less & move more”, thats what they want it to be. Because that sounds simple. But the trouble with these simple solutions is that they don’t provide consistent results, results that make you happy and so you become a frustrated dieter.

On Weight Loss Retreat, there is an opportunity to learn a little bit about the hows and whys of weight management for women. To learn some new steps and behaviours to support a better outcome, to practice these new steps in a safe, fun and supportive environment and then just like me at the end of my photography day there is a tangible result, I took a couple of pictures I was really happy with (guided by Kerry of course), for the ladies on the weight loss retreat its pounds and inches shed that is the result.

Then the retreat ends and the ladies return home with a goody bag with new recipes and a crib card for on the go nutrition amongst other goodies. But just like my first photography shoot after the course, the first couple of days back in the real world and their instincts are telling them that its too difficult, its too time consuming… just get on with your day.

This was what struck me as I lay in that field and I am by no means a lie on ground type of woman, Im not the most patient of women either. But here I was enjoying putting my new skills into practice and I was enjoying the results these moments of putting myself outside my normal comfort zone gave me. But just a couple of days before, when I took my first photographs, it was almost back to “Point & Shoot”. I had almost wasted the new skills I had learnt, but something inside me stopped me and I made myself take a little extra time, get the tools I had been given to support me, practice taking pictures and not expect that the first picture taken is going to the the winning shot.

So you see photography is a lot like weight loss

1. “If you do what you always did, you get what you always got”, it may be time to acknowledge that you need to change your old behaviours.

2. You need a little bit of knowledge upon which to base your new behaviours, when you know why you are doing something it makes it much easier to keep going.

3. You need to use the tools and resources you are given.

4. You are going to need to practice your new skills at home, and through practices soon it becomes easier and easier until it becomes just the way you do things.

5. You need to relax. Stress makes you take bad pictures, some how the camera seems to know you are tense and frustrated, when you are relaxed and enjoying it, result! Likewise when you are stressed your body will hold onto that extra weight.

At The Body Retreat we make sure that our ladies leave all our retreats armed with the best possible skills and resources so that when that “its too difficult” voice raises its head they have the skills, the strength and the patience to keep going.

Im certainly keen to keep up the photography practice, hoping to make it from veggies and flowers and maybe on the next retreat, when I’ve practiced more I might even take a picture of retreater 🙂

If you have enjoyed this blog post then please share the inspiration using the social media buttons at the side.

We would love to hear from you so please leave us a comment below letting us know what you think about this story.

P.s all the lying on the ground in the daffodils was so worth it when I was photo bombed by Bella 😉

Bella

5 Ways to Detox your Mind

The connection between mind and body has been acknowledged for a long time, but we can often forget that how we think can affect how we feel just as much as how we feel impacts our thoughts. Thoughts become Actions, Actions become Behaviours and Behaviours become Habits.

At The Body Retreat all our programmes have behavioural change programmes at their heart, this is because we are committed to supporting women achieve long lasting results, whether that be weight loss, improved fitness, reduce stress or detox body and mind from harmful toxins.

The mind can store harmful toxins in much the same way as the body, negative thoughts , self sabotaging thoughts, critical inner voice can all impact your overall health and wellbeing and so it can be helpful from time to time to make a concious effort to detox the mind.

Try these 5 Mind Detox Techniques 

Detox News Time

Yes there is a lot going on in the world right now, but ask yourself the question is it helpful to you right now to spend hours watching or reading the news?
Here’s the problem with consuming too much news. It causes our mind to think further and deeper about the topic that we read or hear about. Normally that’s not a bad thing but sometimes it can send your mind to a worrisome place after hearing of all the uncertainty in the world. So this week, ditch the news until the weekend and see for yourself the difference that can make to how you feel.

Detox the Overthinking

Are you a ruminator? Do ideas and thoughts go round and round in your head, distracting you from the job at hand or preventing you form getting to sleep at night? If yes then perhaps its time to stop overthinking? Instead make time every day this week to be mindful, being mindful helps to training your brain to be present in just that moment and can help to turn off the overthinking switch.

Detox those Self-Sabotaging Behaviours

Are you seeing the same destructive patterns again and again? Do you find yourself behaving in a way that is not congruent with the goals that you want, or even with the person that you want to be? It can be hard to shift from self sabotaging behaviours, but the first step is to recognise the behaviour for what it is, it is just behaviour, it doesn’t have to define you… unless you let it. So spend a little time to get clear about what the behaviour actual is, that in turn can lead to what is driving the behaviour. It really helps to write your thoughts down as you go through this process.

Detox your Calendar

Do you control your calendar or has it begun to control you? Do you find yourself saying yes to every event, every meeting? Even those meetings that may not be of benefit to you? If this is you then this week make a commitment to yourself to block out at least three 15 minute “Time for Me” slots. Then use that time to do something for yourself, it might be read a magazine, indulge in some online shopping or maybe even just sit in the garden and enjoy a cup of tea and a biscuit. Reclaiming even a small amount of time for yourself sends a signal to yourself and others that you are worthy of your own time.

Detox your Bank Balance

Are you buying happiness? Do you often treat yourself to expensive little things? Are you spending money trying to make yourself happy? Take a look back through last months bank or credit card statement and see what you spent your money on, beyond the necessary household expenses and bills etc Are there items on there that would fall into this category? It’s a cliché but its true the best things in life are free, hugs form your children, a compliment from your partner, having a laugh with friends. Is it time to spend more in these areas?

Would you like to understand more about how you can detox your mind from self- sabotaging behaviours, negative chatter or limiting beliefs?

Why not join us on our Detox Retreat and see for yourself how you can adopt new healthy behaviours to support you achieve your goals.

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Helpful Snacking beats the Afternoon Slump

Believe it or not we often have women who join us at The Body Retreat who tell us that we feed them too much!!!

Yes, you did just read the right.

Of course we don’t over feed our guests, but we do feed our guests frequently.  When it comes to not only weight loss but achieving health we believe that blood sugar stabilisation plays a major part.  Not only does this help to balance hormones, reduce cravings but it also makes sure that you have the right amount of energy to do what you want to do.

If you find yourself looking and feeling like our poster girl above then it may be that your blood sugar is out of balance and you have literally run out of energy for your body to get through the next few hours until supper time.  Your brian, thinking that you have slipped into some survival situation will send out very strong message urging you to eat quickly and to eat something that can be quickly converted into energy…so it sends you to the vending machine for some chocolate or to the cafe for a coffee and a muffin.  And guess what you will feel great…for about half an hour, then …whoosh you are right back where you started, feeling drained and tired.

This can seem like such a hard cycle to break but choosing the right foods will make a huge difference to help blood sugar stabilisation.

If you find yourself crashing in the afternoons rethink lunch, ditch the processed carbs at lunch, so forgot the sandwich in favour of a soup or salad.  Pack the  protein into your lunch choice,  this will give you a slower release of energy to keep you going for longer.

Plan to have a mid afternoon snack, lets be honest if you have lunch at 1.00pm and then supper at about 7.00pm thats a long time to go without fuel.  So plan to have a great snack to keep your energy levels stable.  Some of our favourites are listed below.

  • 2 oatcakes with nut butter
  • Bounce Bar ( have you discovered Bounce yet?)
  • Apple with 3 large brazil nuts
  • Celery Stick with a tablespoon of cottage cheese
  • Home made flapjack (not the huge sugar laden ones from the coffee shop!!)
  • 2 tablespoons natural yoghurt with 2 walnuts (chopped and sprinkled on top)  and a squeeze of honey

On all our retreats, whether that be Weight Loss, Fitness Holiday, Detox Retreat or our Stress Reset Retreat achieving balance for both body and mind though good nutrition is a the heart of what we do.

So don’t be too surprised if you join us on retreat of our love of snacks 🙂