If you’re thinking about losing weight or just eating more healthily with the onset of Spring, I would recommend kick-starting your new regime with a stay at OnTrack Retreat.
I recently spent a week in a wonderful facility in the Devon countryside with my friend Yvonne. Everyone attending was there for his or her personal journey. Some were making an annual pilgrimage to ‘take stock’ having indulged all year, while others were trying OnTrack to compare it with other retreats.
I signed up, not to lose weight, but to be re-educated on how to have a good relationship with food and fitness. Yvonne’s reason was a long-standing body dysmorphia, stemming from being described as a ‘heavy little thing’ as a small child. She first remembered feeling ‘fat and ugly’ at the age of three.
To look at her, you’d say there was nothing wrong with her body shape or size, but she has done everything in her power to rid herself of her perceived fat…sadly this has included suffering from anorexia and bulimia and even exercising for six hours a day in the past. OnTrack is her latest effort.
Fortunately, Yvonne was not the only person in the group to suffer from body dysmorphia, so she didn’t feel alone. In fact, our group featured a range of body shapes and sizes. Our fantastic mentors, Tory and Ingrid, made us all feel welcome, no matter where we were on the weight-loss journey.
Their fun-loving manner, together with their tremendous knowledge of efficient and effective exercises, healthy food and the mind to body connection, made being at the resort more like a holiday than a weight loss retreat.
Within the group, whose age ranged from early 20s to late 70s, our fitness and capacity for exercise also varied from reasonably fit to very unfit and even those with injuries, including us two: Yvonne had torn a tendon in the shoulder only days before joining the group, while I had a torn hamstring injury.
We were given a selection of physical activities such as: long extended walks, jogging, aqua aerobics, body combat, Tabata circuit training, boxercise and many more. It didn’t matter where on the fitness scale we were, the Ontrack ladies made sure there was an exercise to suit everyone. They were able to adapt the training to suit individual needs, not an easy feat I’m sure.
The camaraderie between our fellow weight loss friends was awe inspiring. In the beginning some were quite embarrassed about their size and poor levels of fitness. However, once we got to know each other we found common ground and became each other’s greatest support. We empathised when one of us felt down and celebrated each other’s victories.
To help us on our journey we were introduced to Tamara, a qualified nutritionist. Tamara is a walking encyclopaedia of food and nutrition. We learnt a range of strategies, of what are the correct amounts to eat, as well as which foods are best, to help lose or maintain weight.
We also learnt about the wonderful world of fermentation, the latest ‘buzz word’. However, this buzz is so amazing it could change your very life or at least the quality of your life.
Fermenting has been a part of civilisation for Millennia. Fermented foods can be found in most cultures, from drinks like Kombucha to Miso soup. Fermented food and drink are known for their health benefits of increased digestion of nutrients, reinforcing the gut’s ‘good’ bacteria and even managing and preventing diseases and conditions including arthritis, IBS and lactose-intolerance.
Sourdough bread (another form of fermented food), is a treat for the taste buds, and you can make chocolate from Kombucha - a party for your mouth.
We found out about the ‘gut brain’ - yes we have a gut brain, which contributes 80 per cent of our serotonin levels AND is responsible for 80 per cent of our immunity. What an awesome thing the gut is!
Thanks to Tamara, we all left with a desire to ferment everything! So much so, Yvonne has already attended a Kombucha making course, and will soon attend a sourdough, kefir and fermenting vegetables course. She’s addicted already!
We were also treated to the wonderful Helen, a psychologist. She made us ponder the reasons for our unhealthy eating patterns and helped us isolate our individual triggers, for they were varied and many.
This required some serious soul searching and willingness to be open and honest within the group. Sometimes it was confrontational and ended up being very emotional for some, but from those emotions, determination was born as was a newfound desire to conquer our demons and finally beat the battle of the bulge.
Each one of us was able to complete the course with all the exercise and restricted food.
I think I can speak for all who attended, we loved every minute of it.
Thank you to the Ontrack team for continuing to stay in touch with us, to ensure we are still ‘on track’.
Written by Yvonne Reid and Andrea Rose
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