One of the downfalls of running a tea shop is that it’s so easy to put on weight; surrounded by cake all day it’s hard to keep on the straight and narrow and healthy eating is always sabotaged by the temptation of cake (trying each and every one is a very important part of my job – or so I told myself!), fish finger sandwiches and bacon butties. Add that to several months of 40th birthday celebrations – both for me and some of my oldest friends – and I saw myself pile on the pounds and then pile on some more!
So I decided to go back to what I knew would work – Slimmeria. I’d been to the Sussex retreat twice before, losing 11lbs in six days both times. The great thing about Slimmeria is that I know it’s possible to continue post-retreat and it’s not a crash diet (as many of my friends have suggested), it’s more of a programme that flicks the switch in your mind, reprogrammes your brain and gives you the wings to fly in much healthier skies.
However, this time I wasn’t to go back to Sussex. Slimmeria has proven to be such a huge success (because it works!) that Galia, the retreats fabulously eccentric owner, has expanded the business and so I was booked into her new retreat in Devon. The new Slimmeria in Devon is slightly different and, in some ways, more challenging, than Sussex. For one, it’s not stuck in the middle of nowhere but on the edge of the beautiful coastal town of Ilfracombe, a three-minute walk from Lidl and not much further to a high street jam packed with tea rooms and fish and chip shops. So this ‘holiday’ would be all about learning to say no. We also got to enjoy a few more calories (although not many more) than Sussex which gave me the extra energy to work that bit harder in the classes.
Our day would start when the bell was rung at 7.30am. After a quick shower (no make-up required on this holiday!) I’d throw on leggings and a t-shirt and head to the dining room for my lemon tonic (a detoxing drink and a great start to the day) and a sliver of apple. I’m not exaggerating when I say sliver either, it couldn’t have been more than 1/16… And then on our empty(ish) stomachs we’d go out for our two-hour hike. If you’re not familiar with north Devon it’s really beautiful but also very hilly. Steep hills. And because it’s on the coast it’s also rather blustery. So the morning walks did have their own challenges, but what a way to start the day! Walking by the sea it becomes easy to see the power in nature, and suddenly my body felt anything but powerful. But given time and a lot of work I knew it could be and as the week progressed, I could feel the metamorphosis begin.
Arriving back from the hike at around 10.15am we were treated to breakfast. Sadly no poached eggs or full English at Slimmeria! Instead we enjoyed a glass of juice (carrot or grapefruit) before changing into our trainers for a fitness class. The daily fitness classes were lead by Sam, who got the balance between pushing us enough to benefit from the class and being kindly conscious of our light-headed, rumbly-tummy weakness (which varied and improved as the week progressed) just right. Some days we’d be lunging and cruching (between pathetic grumbles, mostly from me) and other days it would be kettle bells or boxing. Whatever the activity, it was always fun (no matter how much complaining I’d do!).
After the fitness class Nikki would take over with a pilates/yoga class. Another point of difference between Devon and Sussex where the post-fitness yoga class was more about relaxing and meditation… Nikki, who also happens to be a champion Irish dancer and a Team GB power lifter, put us through our paces before lunch.
Lunch was usually a small salad (no bread roll or salad cream
here I’m afraid!) followed by a fruity or herbal tea. Then came the tricky part, killing an hour and a half before afternoon tea (you guessed it, no scones and clotted cream, only small pieces of fruit albeit beautifully presented) and then distracting myself by walking up to the harbour and back. My walks to the harbour each afternoon were lovely but so full of temptation – my solution was to always leave my purse at home so even if I was tempted I couldn’t ruin my efforts!
At 6.30pm each day we were treated to a really tasty supper. And that’s an important point about the food at Slimmeria, it might be scarce but boy does it taste good! So much red onion, garlic, chilli… there really was no need to complain about the quality of the food there. Quantity? Well that’s why I was there in the first place…
The morning of the final weigh in was nerve-wracking to say the least – I was aware that I’d been consuming more calories than at Sussex, but Galia reassured me that this new programme was seeing some really impressive results. My time came; 3 inches off the waist and bust and 14lbs down. To say I was delighted was a complete understatement, and bear in mind that after six days of around 600 vegan calories the emotions are all over the place!
Having checked out, I headed to the harbour for my first meal of freedom. The gingerbread and banana ice cream was a huge mistake and left me feeling quite unwell (my body just wasn’t used to that amount of food, let alone dairy) but the lobster and crab sandwiches (I got half of each) that I bought to enjoy on my long drive home were HEAVEN! As was the salmon fillet, sweet potato and salad I enjoyed at home that evening. And since I left Slimmeria? I’ve been enjoying much healthier meals and created some beautiful dishes with healthy and tasty ingredients. Watch this space for recipes…