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My fitness journey started for real back in 2006 after returning home from a week long weight loss bootcamp in Devon at a time when I couldn’t even run to the top of the road I lived at…I came home 6lbs lighter, with some new ideas for food and a surprising enjoyment of running up hills (who’d figure?). I went on to take part in a further 5 or 6 bootcamps, fitness weekends or retreats over the years each with weight loss, renewed motivation and fun memories…but there was always something missing I think….

…An understanding of why I struggled with my weight in the first place, and the tools I needed to address those issues instead of the simple eat less move more approach once I returned home.

Me at the start of my weightloss journey

Me at the start of my fitness and weightloss journey

Exercising 8 hours a day, 7 days a week is not sustainable, neither is having someone preparing all of your meals, measured as accurately as can be imagined, with no allowance for hunger levels or eating out etc. So even if you have the best results on the scales at the end of the week, chances of maintaining that level of weight loss afterwards is near on impossible….and the fear of spending all that money only to put on the weight again is crippling.

So when I decided to host a week long retreat in Rhodes, Greece…I knew I didn’t want to prioritize weight loss over more general health and happiness, and I knew that for us to have real transformation with our participants that our week away had to be completely bespoke to the ladies that came on it giving them personalised tools to help them in the months that followed.

And I reckon we can say we did just that.

I have now been back home in the UK for more than 24 hours and I am slowly but surely trying to piece it all together to give you guys some kind of update around how it all went and for once I am kind of a bit lost for words. I am sure the ladies will agree that you had to be there to understand the magic that went on but I will try to summarise some of the activities we did and what the impact of them were.

The Venue

13076650_10154180172100477_6109850192114354255_nWe stayed in a resort called Pefkos on Rhodes in Greece, in a mountain top luxury villa managed by Boutique Greece a company led by plus size runner Elizabeth Cass Konti, who was our fabulous host and hard working chef for the week.

The stunning villa had 6 bedrooms, multiple bathrooms, a huge open plan kitchen lounge space, a TV room, an infinity pool, large BBQ outdoor space, and various balconies and outdoor chill out spaces…the view from the pool was pretty epic and enough to drag you out for exercise most mornings.

Staying in this high end accommodation went a huge way in showing these ladies that they deserve the best in life, it meant they could wake up and swim whenever they wanted, do yoga as the sun rose, or simply sit on their balcony and journal at their own leisure.
The Food

13254406_937414079709543_6956231570619454430_nWe chose to stick with a Mediterranean diet, with no restrictions on portions and plenty of fresh fruit, nuts and seeds available for snacking. The ladies made their own breakfasts, normally Greek Yogurt, or eggs, or overnight oats with fruit, honey and nuts where required. There was also fresh bread available, but this was eaten in moderation.

Lunch and dinner was traditional Greek fair with vegetable lasagne, stuffed aubergines, pork chops, or tabulah (a quinoa style salad) with cheese, we had homemade burgers one day, and even ordered in Pizza which was of course eaten in moderation and with lots of salads.

There were also a number of excursions which required the ladies to order their own food, including a trip to THE best Greek restaurant Philospohia where we had 3 delicious courses with wine, and we also visited a few beach side tavernas where the occasional cold beer was consumed with lunch too.

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Water was the drink of choice all week, although there was orange juice available in the fridge too but not much of this was consumed in the end.

We finished off the week with a delicious BBQ with only a small portion of well seasoned meat each, and heaps and heaps of vegetable or cheese based kebabs and side dishes….a good few bottles of wine were shared between us too.

The Activity

13241262_10153686908297507_4509350886128341274_nThis was not a bootcamp, so therefore there were no 6am wake up call or hours and hours of cardio for fat burning.

There were a couple of Yoga sessions led by a fabulous greek instructor who had just the right balance between spiritual connection and physical practice, and each morning there was an option for a group running session which involved a rather steep hill back up to the villa.

There was water circuits in the pool on the first day (and a few ad hoc handstand and tumble turn lessons through the week) plus a pretty intense twilight circuits challenge and some kettle bell sessions.

And who could forget the tough morning hill session which later turned into a stunning photoshoot.

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One lady worked out she covered 14K in running during the week, I can’t even think about how many steps we would have covered on our midweek excursion to Lindos, with its hike up to the Acropolis.

We finished off the week with an energetic Zumba session with Rhodes based northerner Jill.

The fitness focus for the ladies was being active and trying new things, doing as much as you could manage…which for most was more than they first imagined.

The Hypno

We were working with the incredible weight loss hypnotherapist Donna Kenny (who was later renamed as Dave because she kept getting everyone elses names wrong), she led a number of group hypno sessions focussing on mindful eating and overcoming barriers and then one to one sessions with each ladies to work on issues specific to their own challenges.

On her website she says

I review the client’s emotional relationship with food, as often this has never before been addressed. There are many reasons why people gain weight. Bad eating patterns are a contributory factor, but this is most often not the root cause of weight gain.

I help Clients:

  • To change their relationship and enjoy food
  • To feel in control and have freedom around food
  • To become slimmer, fitter and healthier
  • To feel physically more attractive and confident
  • To be mentally calm
  • To feel fulfilled and happy in life

I have been working with Donna for almost a year now, so didn’t feel I needed a one to one, but her techniques are so strong that on the way home from Greece at the airport when looking at a shelf full of crisps, I all of a sudden got the taste of liver in my mouth…and this wasn’t even from a hypno session she did with me, this was just hearing anecdotally about a crisp related session with another lady. Powerful stuff hey?

The Mindset Sessions

13256336_937413759709575_5262495973642804401_nMost afternoons we took refuge from the midday sun and sat in a shaded area around a large glass table and had group sessions where we looked at mindset issues and challenges.

Donna and I focussed on different areas of life each time and helped the ladies to look at their goals and dreams for the future, and the behaviours and habits they will have to address to get there.

This is where some of the biggest breakthroughs came, and we realised after day one we would need tissues on hand (often just for me!!) and our journals we had all been keeping, to make notes and lists of the things we wanted to focus on or achieve once back home.

So much happened in one week and much of it was of a personal nature so we will never think of sharing the individual or group journey we have been on in detail, but I am sure I will be writing about some of the things that became clear for me during that week which may be of use for our wider community.

13241147_10154194595965477_5465994385028313797_n7 ladies bravely booked a place on my retreat, with very little information about the programme. They booked flights and headed off not knowing what lay ahead. That in mind is very brave in itself.

The group couldn’t have been more different, with a 17 year old right through to a lady in her 60s…I needn’t of worried though as they bonded incredibly fast, and the friendships that were created were incredible.

I would like to extend a massive thank you to everyone who came on the retreat, to Elizabeth Cass Koni who was nicknamed Cinders due to spending so much time in the kitchen you were the backbone of the week and I simply couldn’t have done it without you, and to Donna “Dave” Kenny for helping us all navigate the emotions through the week so well.

You ladies truly were the best team mates I could have asked for.

I would also like to thank all of the following companies that sent us items for the ladies goodie bags..

We will be hosting this retreat for 12 ladies around the same time next year, full details of the 2017 retreat will be available soon, but do be sure to book ASAP as we know this time round we will sell out for sure.

Look out later this week for a further blog post about the specific results of the retreat, the losses and gains the women took home with them and how we are measuring success.

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  1. May 24, 2016

    I am lost in admiration for you on many levels as you know, but not least for being able to put last weeks experience into such concise words!
    Even though i was a part of the ‘working team’ for the retreat i was able to benefit from your excellent fitness knowledge and from Donna’s one to one hypnotherapy session at least. The camaraderie among the women on the retreat was awe inspiring – the encouragement, the love, the admiration and the laughter was a therapy within itself. And reading our group messages its incredible to see the positive changes we have all made in our lives with mindset, food and exercise.
    What can I say, the week was a gift. I am really excited to see not just my own progress, but to follow the ongoing progress of ‘the retreaters’ too.
    Lots of love from Rhodes, i miss you all! xx

    • You my dear were the backbone of the week. You did so much to ensure the group felt at home in Rhodes and I simply can’t wait to come back. It was an awesome week right?

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