Slimmeria; a much needed return to my favourite detox retreat

As many of you who follow my social media will know, I recently spent a week in Sussex at a detox retreat. Slimmeria, dubbed ‘Britain’s poshest fat camp’ by the media, is possibly as misunderstood as the loyal clients who visit it time and again. Ok, so for me my reason for going is clear – I work in a tea room baking cakes all day long. Twelve cupcakes come out of the oven and I really should try one (quality control don’t you know?). We try a new recipe; I need to taste whether it’s worked well. Someone orders a fish finger sandwich… well you get my drift. I simply can’t help myself and I’m surrounded by temptation. As Ado Annie sings in Oklahoma! “I’m just a girl who cain’t say no”. So, when I had the opportunity to escape to the beautiful Sussex countryside for a week of hiking, fitness classes and a diet of around 400 calories a day of raw, vegan food (no caffeine, no carbs, no meat, no dairy, no alcohol – what on earth could be left?!) I jumped at the chance. Another challenge I face is keeping fit. Between running my business that, at that time, saw me tied to my shop for most of the week and living with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome the past year or so had seen my fitness deteriorate into a distant memory. So Galia and the team at Slimmeria were to be my saviours, or at the very least provide the intense support I needed to kick-start my journey back to health again.

When I got to Slimmeria and met the other ‘inmates’ as we affectionally referred to ourselves as, it was clear that there are many different reasons for staying there. One lady wanted to tackle her daily bottle of wine habit, someone else was hoping to embrace a healthier lifestyle after suffering from gout, another just needed peace after a family fallout and one lucky lady was preparing to move to Spain and wanted to feel better in her summer dresses. We all had our own very personal reasons for being there but were ultimately after the same goal; weight loss and increased fitness. Slimmeria doesn’t make any promises but what is clear is that if you follow the plan and do as you’re told wonderful things will happen.

We weren’t a particularly large group – around 10 of us – and we all got our own room. I loved having my own en-suite space. It was pretty and cosy and comfortable, on the top floor of the original part of the house so I got even more exercise in with two flights of stairs!

On arrival we were met by the Slim Reaper herself; Galia has been named this by the media but let me make this clear, the lady we know through the various television programmes (including Four in a Bed, Celebrity Fat Fighters and The Extreme Diet Hotel) is not the lady I know in real life. When you’re welcomed to Slimmeria you are weighed and measured and asked about challenges with food and lifestyle but there’s no judgement, just support in finding a way to a healthier you. Throughout the week Galia proved to be strict but super supportive, knowledgeable and with a sense of humour – which you need when you’re consuming just 400 calories a day! In fact, the whole team really made the stay so much easier than you might imagine.

Each morning we’d start the day with a hot lemon tonic (sadly no gin) and a thin slice of apple followed by a two-hour long and rather muddy hike through the Sussex countryside. I used my Nordic poles for the hiking because of my instability when walking, and with all that mud I’m so glad I did! The walks were tough but the feeling of achievement on returning to the Georgian manor house we were calling home for the week was huge. But there was no time to feel smug; the hike was followed by breakfast (no full English here, at Slimmeria breakfast was a glass of either grapefruit or carrot and apple juice) and then we were straight into our one-hour fitness class. The fitness classes could be anything from box-fit to circuits and for me this was the toughest part of the day. I reminded myself that I have abs! The classes were held in a room at the back of the house with a large mirror along one wall that we desperately looked in each day for signs of weight loss. However, the signs were first noticeable in how we felt rather than how we looked. My first plank of the week lasted for just 25 seconds but by the end of the week I’d managed to increase this to 45 seconds although the one-minute plank is still to be achieved… After the fitness class we enjoyed a yoga class. This was a much-needed hour of stretching, strengthening and relaxation so by the time lunchtime rolled around we were all in a place of calm. Lunch was usually a really tasty (albeit not very large) salad or soup. While portions are small, we were all encouraged to drink a glass of water before each meal, as well as throughout the day, and this really did help to keep hunger at bay for much of the time. Although in that kind of environment it’s only natural that we all talked about food – favourite dishes to eat and make.

After lunch we were treated to some spa treatments; I chose the back massage to rid myself of the post-Christmas stress and then halfway through the week I indulged in a much-needed leg massage. Between 3-4pm we enjoyed afternoon tea. Now this isn’t afternoon tea as you and I know it. No sandwiches, scones and clotted cream in sight at this detox retreat, obviously! Afternoon tea at Slimmeria is more of a light afternoon snack of a few pieces of delicious fresh fruit and a hot fruit or hebal tea. As you might expect, afternoon tea was my favourite Slimmeria meal of the day!

We were also encouraged to take independent walks during the afternoons, and a few of us would work a trip into Battle or to the seafront at Hastings into our timetable. Yes, it was challenging to be faced with fudge shops, fish and chips and the local pubs, but we all stayed strong wanting to stick to Galia’s programme and not risk achieving less than we knew we could. So mostly we were tempted by the antique shops!

After an early dinner at 6.30pm (again, salad or soup with a lot of water, followed by a much-needed hot drink) we would gather together for either a motivational talk, a nutritional talk or dancing. I feel it’s best not to talk too much about our attempt at burlesque dancing to Black Velvet…

With a strict lights-out at 9pm rule which also goes for hot water and WiFi, we were all heavily encouraged to get an early night ahead of the 7.30am bell the following morning. It actually became really comfortable to escape the world of social media, television, news, and the outside world in general and just to do as we were told and I found myself sleeping really well (although my bed was super-comfy too!).

The funny thing was that we could all see a difference in each other before we noticed the difference in ourselves – isn’t it always the way? We were panicking but the compliments were there: “You’re losing it from your face, I can see the difference” and “Wow, your legs are already looking more toned”. So when it came to the weigh in on the Sunday I really didn’t know what to expect. I’d done the programme before so I knew it worked. I’d worked really hard this time, harder than ever, and I’m not sure I could’ve put more into it. My previous losses have ranged from 11-14lbs in the week so while I was pleased with my 9.5lb loss this time there was some disappointment. Until Galia got the tape measure out – five inches off my waist, three inches from my bust and an inch from my hips. I was beyond happy! The difference in photographs from me at the end of my Slimmeria stay and me on my Christmas cruise is obvious, as was the huge grin on my face as I left Slimmeria and headed back to the big wide world!

One of the misconceptions people have about Slimmeria is that it’s a quick fix diet that won’t last. Yes, Slimmeria can help you lose that last half a stone if you have a dress to fit into, but it’s so much more than a quick fix which is why it has such a loyal client base returning time and time again. It helps us re-programme our minds so that we can make healthier choices back in the real world. In the weeks following my stay at Slimmeria I continued to lose weight with the help of Slimming World and I now continue on this healthier road to a smaller dress size. In the same way you wouldn’t go to one slimming club class and never go back, or wouldn’t go to the gym just the once and think “I’m done now”, Slimmeria is somewhere I’d recommend returning to on a regular basis (even if it’s once a year). Whether it’s weight loss, detoxing, or just a break from modern life, Slimmeria helps its clients get back on track and feel human again in just one week and for that Galia, I am truly grateful. Thank you and see you soon…!

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