The Body Retreat

Women Only Weight Loss & Wellbeing Retreats

It’s Time to Stop Eating Less & Moving More!

 Eat Less and Move More!

You’ll have heard it said many times before…if you eat less and move more you will lose weight. It’s simple mathematics.

The old Energy Balance Equation.

Energy In (Calories) – Energy Out (Exercise) = Weight Loss.

Except that it doesn’t work…

Well, let me be very honest… it does work …to a point.

Usually a very short lived point.

That first couple of weeks on your new diet, when you are watching what you eat like a hawk, weighing out tiny portions of food, hitting the gym like a demon or working out in morning bootcamp every damn day… the scales move in the right direction and you think HURRAH!!!

Diets work, I am eating less and moving move…it is working. It was me all along. I was too lazy, too greedy, too relaxed, too slow, too generous.

But then… the weight loss slows down or even stops. You eat a little bit less, you go to an extra class, your Fitbit is sending you messages about how you have climbed Kilimanjaro and Mount Fuji you are walking so many extra steps….still, the scales don’t budge.

You are exhausted … you are hungry… you are off the diet!!

Sound familiar???

We hear this story time and time again on retreat.

Just like you, these are smart, intelligent, educated women who have run companies, raised families, held down important jobs, become experts in their own field… all beating their heads against the diet brick wall.

Why doesn’t it work… it makes sense.

It’s logical.

Calories In minus Calories Out and you lose weight. Everybody knows that!!

“What the hell is wrong with me that it doesn’t work for me!!!!”

They feel that they have failed at something that had such a simple set of instructions, Eat Less and Move More.

But here’s the thing…they didn’t fail the diet ..the diet failed them.


The Real Energy Balance Equation


If we were going to use an equation to lose weight it would look a bit more like this

Energy In

(the real amount of food eaten & the actual calories consumed – the food not absorbed)


Energy Out

(your resting metabolic rate, + the thermic effect of eating + exercise & movement energy use + non exercise thermic energy use)


Many parts of this equation you’d need a week in a lab with men in white coats testing to even come close to your actual numbers.

The reality is that how much weight you lose is determined by your metabolism, your age, your sex, your genetic make up, your stress levels, your water intake, your sleep pattern, your gut microbiome…to name those factors we now understand better.


Eating Better & Moving Smarter

For us here at The Body Retreat we prefer to focus on Eating Better and Moving Smarter.

Yes, you do need to watch not only what you eat, but how and when you eat it…you cant just live on coffee all day and then wolf down a pringle pizza for supper. Likewise, you can’t simply hit the gym and attain your calorie number on the treadmill or your step number on your Fitbit.

It’s a much more subtle ‘equation’ than just eat less and move more. It’s not one size fits all…but then let’s be honest … you have probably already figured out that that isn’t working for you.


Three Top Tips to help you start to make a shift today away from Eat Less and Move More

Eating Better

  1. Focus on good quality Protein at every main meal. Enjoy meat, fish, seafood, eggs, tofu, beans and pulses, nuts and seeds.
  2. Eat the rainbow. When you look at your plate you want to see more than three colours
  3. Eat your main meals sitting down. Even if its only for 5 minutes, this will improve your digestion and absorption.


Moving Smarter

  1. Move your body every day. Even if your day job is sedentary make it a habit to move your body regularly through the day.
  2. Find something you love and commit to doing it every week, it might be swimming, dancing, spinning etc. It doesn’t matter so long as you are having a blast while you do it. This means you are less likely to get bored and just stop.
  3. You are going to have to sweat. If you want to change your body shape and size and improve your fitness then you need to be sweating every exercise session….not just glowing. It doesn’t have to be for long, but you need to be sweaty at the end.


Five Reasons to Start Meal Prep This Weekend

Top 5 Reasons to Meal Prep

If you’re like most of the women who join us here at The Body Retreat, you’re super busy!

There just never seems to be enough time in the day to accomplish everything on your to-do list. Striving to live a healthier lifestyle becomes more of a distant memory, rather than something achievable.

However, by planning and preparing, you’ll be more successful in achieving your health goals. It’s the same principles that you would apply to becoming a successful business professional or entrepreneur.

In order to be successful you have to plan, prepare and practice.

Although you may argue that you try to make it to the gym and that’s enough, it’s not. What you put in your mouth is much more important, you cannot out train a bad diet.

Now don’t get too carried away and cancel your gym membership or cancel your personal trainer; fitness still plays an important roll in your health and wellbeing.

To get started, pick a day (typically Saturday or Sunday) and meal prep for the week.

Doing this will help you reduce stress and overwhelm.


Here are 5 reasons to get you on board with meal prepping.

  1. Ingredient Control. When you purchase packaged foods and or eat out, you expose your body to a host of food additives that are toxic. These additives can disrupt your hormones, and promote inflammation; some have even been deemed as carcinogens. Choosing quality foods and spending time in the kitchen, can help reduce the toxic load in your body.
  2. Peace of Mind. The one thing we all strive for is peace of mind. I’ve never met anyone who jumps for joy because they enjoy chaos and frustration. You have a hectic life as is, take the load off by meal prepping. Just imagine getting home from work and realizing you don’t have to cook from scratch but still enjoy a delicious nutritious meal! Just the thought of one area of your life being organized, brings peace of mind. Why? One less thing to think 
  3. Save Money. Do you know how much money you are spending by purchasing “convenience foods.” If you took the time to add up the cost of purchasing and preparing your own food vs. buying food on the go, you’ll realize that you save a money by home cooking.
  4. Slimmer Waistline.. Prepping your meals gives you the opportunity to control portion sizes, and helps you keep track of what you are putting in your body.
  5. Quality Time. Busy schedules leave you limited time for family, friends, relationships or other personal desires. Not having to think about cooking food from scratch every night when you get home will be a sigh of relief. All you have to do is grab your food, heat it up, and you’re good to go.


If you want to conquer anything in life, it starts with a mindset shift.

Don’t convince yourself that you don’t have time to meal prep. I promise you that once you get into a routine, it’ll become second nature. Start by researching some new healthy recipes, then make a list of ingredients, head to the supermarket and when you return home, put the radio on and enjoy spending some time cooking / prepping. An hour well spent on the weekend brings a week of content.

If you lack inspiration for healthy meals then check out our Conscious Cooking Blog or even check out our Conscious Cooking Book on Amazon. These recipes are simple, quick, easy to make. You’ll spend less time in the kitchen while you lose weight, have more energy, less food cravings and more mental clarity.


Is it time to stop the diet merry-go-round?

Are you ready to stop the diet merry -go-round?

How many times have you “tried” to lose weight?

I can tell you from both personal experience and about 6 years of working here at The Body Retreat that trying to lose weight is pretty much setting yourself up for failure.

I started to put on weight after the death of my mother when I was aged six… I literally ballooned over night. I went from a little string bean of a kid to a round faced cabbage ( to keep the vegetable analogy going LOL)

I went to live with my maternal grandmother who was a one woman feeding machine… and one that never said no. I can only surmise that she felt that having lost my mother I should never be deprived of anything else.

Naturally, children push boundaries, test limits, try their luck and so I wanted to enjoy all the treats, snacks puddings and favourite dishes that I could get.

Over the years I just kept on growing , out as well as up.

All through my teens and into my twenties I was always known as “big girl”…its something of a term of endearment where I’m from in Northern Ireland. “What about you big girl”, “Nice to see you big girl”. You get the picture I’m sure.

Of course, there were others who were less endearing…being the but of a group joke as being a pot bellied bear still stings even now some 30 odd years later.

As a young girl I “tried” my first diet…it was called the F’Plan. I was about 11.

It worked …for about a week and then the lure of the puddings and my grandmothers cooking lured me away from the high fibre bran and back on the bacon and eggs.

I was taken to the GP who told my granny off for being soft with me, so we were left to our own devices trying whatever new diet seemed the rage.

My Personal Diet Merry-Go-Round

The South Beach Plan

The Cabbage Soup Diet

The Beverly Hills Diet

Slim Fast

Weight Watchers


Decades I have spent trying to lose weight, with varying degrees of success.

It wasn’t until about the ripe olde age of 39 that something clicked…

Shift your Mindset to Shift the Weight

Having studied NLP (neuro linguistic programming) I began to realise that all the negative self talk and feelings I had about food, weight, the way I look, how much I weighed were all mixed up with the feelings I had about my mother, my grandmother, who I was as a girl and now a woman.

I was trying to lose weight by any means necessary but at the same time I found food to be a comfort, it felt like love, food made me feel safe. Why would I stop those feelings!

My brain was filled with so many mixed up messages… and these in turn led to self sabotaging behaviours.

I was like a hamster on a wheel…round and round the diet merry go round I went…getting smaller, getting bigger but getting more and more ground down by it all.

I never found the prefect diet…because that doesn’t exist . If it did there would be no obesity crisis, every one would be slim.

What I found was a healthy mindset…one that let me define myself and let me make my own choices.

I lost about four and half stone and give or take a few pounds (ok who am I kidding I put on 7lbs over Christmas…im only human) I never regained the weight.

Mindset is a Key Pillar of Health

That is why Mindset is the first pillar of Women’s Wellness on all our retreats but the one that is so important on our Weight Loss Retreat. Changing your Mindset is the first step to stop the diet merry-go-round.

Mindset is about acknowledging where you are at, you don’t have to like it, but you do need to acknowledge it. Then start to make small changes that all add something positive to your health. Not because you have to …..but because you want to. Because you care about your body and your health.

Trying to lose weight and keeping yourself stuck on the diet merry go round will grind you down.

Perhaps its time to try something new?

Maybe it is time to change your self talk. Shifting from being negative and critical of ourselves being positive and encouraging



Self Talk Exercise


Get yourself some small index cards or note cards.

On each card write one individual negative thought or belief that you currently hold about yourself, your body and your health.

For example:


I am always going to be fat


I hate my body


I cant lose weight


I am not good enough


I can’t exercise


Next over the next couple of weeks take each card in turn and take 5 five minutes to review the statement you have written.

Now under your original statement write down a new positive statement.

So for example if you wrote “I hate my body” you might now right, “I like my face, eyes, ankles, hands etc etc”. You do not have to like everything but there is always some positive to be found if you choose to look for it.

As simple as it sounds…looking for the positive, no matter how small it might seem helps to move your brain from a negative into a positive frame of mind. You shift from thinking it is impossible, to possible and then probable.



The Invisible Damage Sugar Causes

The Real Worry About The Damage Sugar Causes To Health & Wellbeing

One of the most obvious signs that high sugar consumption is causing damage to health is excessive weight gain but the damaging effects of sugar are not always visible,..yes over consumption of sugar can make you gain weight but most of the damage is happening internal, increased inflammation, diabetes, impaired mental function, imbalanced energy or mood.  This is long and growing as we learn more about just how damaging sugar can be.

This is borne out in the women who join us on the Sugar Detox Retreat over half the women who join us are not particularly overweight. They come because their energy levels are unstable and they have been propping themselves up with carbs and coffee and know that cant last.  Or they are concerned about the lack of control they have around certain foods, usually simple sugars or processed carb based foods.  They want to regain control.

The key interest for us here at The Body Retreat about the impact of sugar was firstly as a clinical hypnotherapist and women’s wellness coach I was fascinated by the effect of sugar on the brain, in particular the reward centres of the brain and how this in turn leads to over eating and ill health.

Sugar behaves in the same way as alcohol, drugs even gambling and sex…sugar fires off the reward centre of the brain which we know with repeated reinforcement can become compulsive addictive behaviour.

We are programmed to enjoy sweet foods and to dislike bitter foods…this is an evolutionary protection that meant that when foraging we would be less likely to eat anything poisonous.  So we are born with a sweet tooth…. but when you mix and sweet tooth with reinforced reward at a cellular level in a society when sweet stuff is available 24/7 and for a fraction of the cost of whole foods then its trouble.

What we have found is that it is exactly the addictive nature of sugar that makes it so hard to kick…even if you want to.

Lets say you cut out bread and cakes..they are famously sugar laden…so instead you eat Rye Crackers and Fruit Salad.

Except that its just sugar again in a different form.

Your sweet tooth will find a way to sate itself… but you feel that you are doing something good.

But actually this may prove to be more harmful because now you are over consuming “healthy” invisible sugars… Disaster.

Or even worse you buy the sugar free alternative so you can keep the great sweet taste with no sugar…. so now you are consuming artificial sweeteners, they may be zero calorie but that doesn’t mean they are a good sugar alternative.  Your brans still registers the sweet taste and so your pancreas is tricked into releasing insulin, and the sweet taste also means that you are keeping your sweet tooth artificially heightened…actually making your crave more sugar in the long run ( the hormone leptin is released in response to the sweet tastes, but when the calories don’t come the level is not sufficient to make you switch off eating as you would with whole foods)

What we have found at our Sugar Detox Retreat is that we remove up to 80 of all sugar…so thats fruit, starchy veg, dairy, grains.  The reason is firstly to reset the taste buds.  This means at the end of the week as you start to reintroduce real whole foods with natural sugars …say an will taste off the scale sweet..this happens time and time again.

We are also looking at rebalancing leptin levels by having a diet that is high in good quality proteins, fats and fibre..the fill you up foods.

By the end of just one week appetites are rebalanced and energy levels are stable.

Next up its looking at the brain and finding new ways to manage the reward pathways… nature hates a vacuum if you just remove the reward you will feel depressed, anxious and very likely to relapse. so we look at tangible ways to fill that gap.

Just this week I watched a video of a health professional claiming that sugar is not addictive…it only creates addictive behaviours…I’ll leave you to think about that one.  They suggested that you simply replace the reward with something else that makes you feel good…a hug from a loved one or some breathing exercises!!  Obviously they have never really experienced the pull of sugar addiction when you would sell a kidney to get your hands on some thing to give you that lift.

Sugar is complicated.  It comes in so many forms.  So even when you think you are eating clean you may still be unwittingly creating problems for yourself.

Eat What You Like For A Day…Or For Life?

So tomorrow is National Eat What You Like Day.

Have you heard about this celebration before?

Its a day when we are encouraged to turn our backs on diets and the restrictions they place on us and just “eat what you like”.

You want ice cream for problem, have a foot long subway sandwich for lunch…go for it,  and how about the all you can eat chinese buffet for supper..hell yes!!

Sound good to you?

Eat What You Like Alarm Bells!!

Well it will come as no surprise that this Eat What You Like Day is ringing alarm bells for us here at The Body Retreat.

First things first.. what we do agree with is that dieting is bad.  Restrictive diets leave you feeling physically, mentally and emotionally drained in the long term, and by long term I mean anything longer than a couple of weeks.

Many women spend a lot of time and energy worrying about what they can and cannot eat, bombarded as we are by the media messages of what women should look like.  Recently we have seen a worrying trend for people to take simple and healthy eating principles like Clean Eating and turn them on their head, excluding major food groups all in an attempt to drop pounds. Worrying over eating carbs, gluten, wheat, dairy, meat, fruit…the list goes on and on.  It is easy to see how Eat What You Like Day has grabbed hold of the nation’s interest.

The real trouble with Eat What You Like Day is that it could actually be setting you up for binge eating and reinforcing negative thoughts about food, body image and health. Over indulging in any food is not conducive to your health, but to deliberately over indulge in foods that you are scared of, might be intolerant of, may have negative emotional baggage with… its not such a great idea.

Here at The Body Retreat we encourage all our retreaters to ditch the diets and to embrace Conscious Clean Eating instead.

Conscious Clean Eating

With Conscious Clean Eating no whole food group is off the menu, but you make daily conscious choices every day that respect and protect your body and your health.  80% of the time you make choices to eat clean whole foods, enjoying them consciously, savouring every bite and when you are satisfied…before you are full up, you stop eating.  You don’t need to polish off every portion of food that is presented to you.  Eat what you like and stop when you are satisfied.

A splurge now and again.. not a problem, you plan for a splurge. We encourage our retreaters to splurge every week…its the 20% that makes the long term journey to achieving and maintaining healthy body and mind.  If 80% of the time you consciously choose to eat whole foods, taking time to savour every bite and you stop eating when you are satisfied then  20% of the time you can relax and indulge in a little splurge.

It’s all about balance not depravation, not dieting and not removing whole food groups.  Choose Conscious Clean Eating and you really can eat what you like every day.

Top Tips for A Healthy Splurge on Eat What You Like Day

But if you like the sound of Eat What You Like Day and you’d like to celebrate then here are my top 3 tips to Splurge healthily and sensibly.

Why not celebrate by splurging on a meal at a five star restaurant. Do you love lobster, but rarely order it because of its price tag? Understandable, but Eat What You Like Day is the day to take a break. So call the restaurant that you always wanted to eat at and spend an evening enjoying your favourite delicacies and perhaps washing them down with a nice big glass of your favourite wine.

Or, alternatively, you can recreate a favourite childhood meal in your home. What was your family signature dish?  Nothing beats a good plate of comfort food to make us feel happy, satisfied and nostalgic all at the same time.

Or if there is a food that you would really love to eat wether that be ice cream, chocolate, cheese, cake etc etc. then buy yourself the most expensive version that you can afford.  Even if it is just a morsel, to taste the very best of your chosen indulgence, that is a gorgeous thing.

The key is to eat something that you truly enjoy, so whatever food that is for you, enjoy Eat What You Like Day…just enjoy it consciously 😉

Will you be indulging on Eat What You Like Day?  We would love to hear from you, leave us a comment in the box below and let us know how you would celebrate this day.