Super Slimmers: Did They Keep the Weight Off? #diet #healthylifestyle

Photo credit: Channel 4
Photo credit: Channel 4

Last week, Channel 4 in the UK put out a documentary about Super Slimmers – people who had lost huge amounts of weight.  All had achieved recognition of one kind or another for their dramatic weight-loss; there was a US winner of ‘The Biggest Loser’, a Slimming World ‘Woman of the Year’, a Rosemary Conley ‘Slimmer of the Year’, a Lighter Life ‘Wall of Fame’ loser and a couple of others.

The question in the programme title was always rhetorical – you knew that, didn’t you? Because, like 95% of dieters, all but one of these poor ‘losers’ had put masses of weight back on again.

My heart sank for the men and women whose undeniable dieting efforts had come unstuck.  I felt their pain, because I’ve been there too. In 2002 I dieted with WeightWatchers. I lost 50 pounds. Then I put it all back on again – and more – in the two years that followed. And that wasn’t the first time that had happened. So I know what it’s like to lose the plot, to see a pound, and another, and another pile back on, until you stop weighing yourself because you don’t want to face what you know is happening. I know what it’s like to swell up through the dress sizes, feeling utterly bewildered by the speed at which the weight is stacking up, when you’ve hardly changed your eating habits, and only slipped every now and again… or so you tell yourself.

Getting to Goal

I can’t claim to understand the personal journeys these regained Super Slimmers have been on, but it seemed to me that in being awarded recognition for their success in reaching some predetermined goal, they were considered to have reached an end point. Perversely, the recognition and reward they received reinforced the perception that their weight-loss journey had now reached a conclusion – in effect, a point where old/bad habits could be allowed back in again. Why? Because the job of dieting was done. And because don’t we all secretly want to consume really unhealthy stuff that clogs up our digestive system and dulls our mind, all the time? Hmmm.

Responsible diet programmes usually promote some kind of maintenance plan for once goal is reached, and that’s what is supposed to help dieters keep the weight off. But the very fact that 95% of dieters regain lost weight is testimony to the inadequacy of the diet-and-maintenance approach. I speak from personal experience here and I can tell you, the difference between eating for weight-loss and eating for maintenance is infinitesimally small – much smaller than you think.  Much.  Most people (myself included) assume all sorts of tempting foods they had foresworn for the duration of their diet, can be welcomed back for first occasional but then, inevitably, regular consumption.  Not so, friends. SO not so.

As many of you will know, my weight-loss – 70 pounds to date – was until recently frustratingly plateaued for several weeks. But in a weird way, I’ve been quite happy about this.  That’s because, beyond see-sawing within a three pound threshold, I didn’t put any weight back on.  I continued weighing myself every day (and, now I know it works for me, I always will) and eating for my new healthy lifestyle, with all habits established over the last few months still in place. I feel as confident as I can be that these habits are my lifetime habits, not something to cast aside in a fit of self-destructive pique when I’ve a bad day or feel weak-willed. They are, perhaps surprisingly, not habits which demand vast reserves of willpower from me any more (though they did at first), just a generally positive attitude (which I can summon up most of the time) and a constant refocusing on how much healthier, happier and more energetic I’m feeling overall, than I was two years ago.

To lose weight is one thing; but to keep it off, one needs to have changed the habits of a lifetime – food habits, exercise habits, stress habits, sleep habits, social habits.  Yes, all of them. To keep the weight off, those changes have to be permanent, not temporary. They have to be about not simply squashing your overwhelming desire for a biscuit with your cuppa, but altering altogether how you think about food and exercise – and yourself. They have to be about changing mindset, so you find yourself wanting to go out for a walk, not forcing yourself to do it. They have to be about loving how the changes are making you feel, so much that you never, ever want to go back to your old ways. They’re not about resisting temptation, they’re about never feeling tempted. When this is how you feel, the chance of you keeping the weight off significantly increases.

Change is for Life

Of the six Super Slimmers, which one had successfully kept the weight off? What do you know, it was the only one who hadn’t actually been on a diet.  Daniel Wheeler, the very picture of male physical health and fitness, today makes his living helping others achieve their weight loss and fitness goals by… yes, you knew it was coming… changing lifestyle and adopting healthier habits, not for a few extreme dieting months, but for LIFE.

There were some other points touched on in the programme too, to which I want to turn in future weeks… the drastic nature of powdered meal replacement programmes, the role of exercise, and overcoming the challenge of a slower resting metabolism (something called persistent metabolic adaptation). But the concept of being on a diet versus developing a healthier lifestyle for life was top of my list, as it’s very dear to my heart.

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Have yourself a merry… sugar-free Christmas #weightloss #healthylifestyle #positivechange

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Christmas presents all sorts of challenges for those of us in the midst of a healthy weight-loss campaign.  This is my second such Festive Season…

This time last year, I was looking forward to my first healthy lifestyle, sugar-free Christmas with some trepidation, wondering how I would cope. I’d been working on my mental attitude and better dietary and exercise habits for four months and by then I’d lost 33 pounds – not bad going, if I say so myself. But… Christmas is Christmas, and when it comes to food, the temptation factor is off-the-scale.

Checking back in my food diary, I can see I ate well on Christmas Day:

  • For breakfast: Homemade Bircher muesli; a slice of cheese
  • For lunch: Six mini savoury oatcakes with cream cheese and smoked salmon; Roast turkey with roast potatoes, roast parsnips, Brussels sprouts with chestnuts and pancetta, broccoli, carrots, red cabbage
  • Evening: A little leftover smoked salmon
  • Drinks: Black coffee (copious!), a half-glass of Prosecco; a half glass of red wine.

But there was self-restraint too, I’m happy to report; I didn’t partake in Christmas pudding and mince pies, with their layers of sugar, fat, alcohol, sugar and more sugar. Nor did I drink except with the main meal. Nor, so it seems, did I trough my way through mountains of nibbles whilst watching TV. You know, that mindless time when you seem to have one hand permanently in the confectionary tin or the bowl of nuts; when you say yes to everything – sandwiches and dates, canapés and cake, jelly fruits, chocolates and a tsunami of the sort of icky, syrupy snifters you never partake of at any other time of the year, but somehow can’t get enough of at Christmas – even when your stomach is fit to burst.

My Christmas Day 2015 was still a good day’s eating by anyone’s standards (and cooking too – for it was me taking care of the day’s big feast for the family). My diary says I even made time for a good walk; 50 minutes, first-thing, whilst it was still dark outside.

The rest of the week involved a couple of meals out and, as far as I can make out, an ocean of turkey and vegetable soup.  But at the end of that week, I’d lost weight – an unexpected but joyous 1.7 pounds.

A few things have occurred to me as I look back. I was thoroughly in-the-zone then, keeping an uncompromising tight rein on my eating, planning all meals and being rigorous about regular exercise – even on Christmas Day. I know I’ve become a little more lax lately on both food and exercise fronts. I know this is why my weight loss has levelled off at 70 pounds, and I’m struggling to get it moving again.  To be perfectly frank, there are too many days when I excuse myself from exercise, too many sneaky (though still sugar-free) little treats, and some questionable portion control.

So I’m reapplying myself, as of now. I still have at least 30 more pounds to go and I’m eating for maintenance at the moment, not loss. Keeping on keeping on is the only way to succeed at this game; one day at a time, one pound at a time, until it’s all gone.

When I reflect on my first healthy lifestyle year and reconnect with all the benefits I’m already enjoying (here and here), I kick myself for stalling, as my life, health and wellbeing can only go on improving as I shed the remaining excess. But I’m also going to congratulate myself for having made it this far, because beating-up on yourself, anything more than momentarily, just isn’t helpful.

Happy Festivities and…. THANK YOU!

So it only remains for me to wish all readers and followers of my humble blog every happiness at this festive season, good health and contentment – and success in pursuing your goals, whatever they are – in 2017. Thank you all so much for reading my blog posts, being interested in my progress, commenting, supporting and encouraging me throughout the year.

YOU have all been the wind beneath my wings throughout 2016.

Yo-Yo is a No-No #yoyo #diet

weigh-689873_1920I’ve been a yo-yo dieter all my life – here’s my story of the ups and downs.  Every time I lost weight, I put more back on.  This perpetual state of failure took me to the point of total despair. I decided a few years ago that I wouldn’t try to diet any more, as I always ended up worse off.  I actually came to fear weight-loss, because of the inevitability of the weight-gain which would follow.  I’m not alone – a survey in 2014 found that 60% of yo-yo dieters will try up to 20 diets in their lifetime.

What changed for me in September 2015, was that I found a way to alter my mental attitudes towards food and health, to make a holistic change to the way I live.  This has underpinned not a successful diet, but a total change of lifestyle which happens to have led to weight-loss; one which I ultimately believe is sustainable in the long-term; and one which carries with it the promise of not regaining that weight, but instead successfully breaking that yo-yo cycle.

So, I read with some interest a few of the articles which have been appearing in the press recently, about a study presented last week at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions, which is bad news for the yo-yo dieter.

Yo-yo dieting has long been associated with a range of health issues, including hormone imbalances, arthritis and osteoporosis.  But from this study it appears that yo-yo dieting is harmful in a potentially much more serious way – it harms your heart.

What goes down, comes back up – faster

When you diet, your body thinks it’s being starved.  It will protect itself, as anyone staying on a weight-loss programme for any length of time will tell you, by holding on to those pounds for all it’s worth.  Eventually though, you will lose weight, and your body will get used to functioning at a lower metabolic level. But when the diet ends and normal eating resumes, with this new slower metabolism, you will gain weight rapidly. It’s happened to me, again and again. The last time, I put on a pound a week for over 18 months – I just couldn’t seem to stop it.

Yo-yo dieting is more harmful to the heart than obesity

The AHA study analysed data from over 158,000 women over the age of 50. It found that over 11 years, women of normal weight who confessed to yo-yo dieting more than 4 times in their lives, were 3.5 times more likely to die from a heart attack than women whose weight stayed stable, even if they were obese.

Losing weight, it appears, is all very well, but it’s the regaining weight – which has that yo-yo inevitability about it – that stresses the body, increasing heart rate, raising blood pressure and elevating blood sugar levels. The problems accumulate, as these elevated levels do not fall back down during the next yo-yo cycle, leading to worsening health and elevated risk over time.

And that’s not all…

The articles about this study cover other issues too, including problems with bone density, fertility, skin elasticity, hair condition, gum disease… and possible correlation to some cancers. If you’re a yo-yo dieter, even if you’re not obese, it’s not a pretty picture.

I wasn’t just a yo-yo dieter, I was obese too.  I still am, according to the BMI charts. I came to fear dieting, for the yo-yo factor – and many others will understand that fear. The way to break the cycle is not through the food you eat, or the exercise you do.  Well, it is, but it doesn’t begin there.  Those are just the tactics. The way to break the cycle begins in the mind.

Success starts in your head – that’s where you can learn to tap into your motivation, positivity and resourcefulness.  It’s where you can flick the switches that mean it’s not all about willpower – which eventually fails – but about designing a different view of yourself, and creating a different and compelling vision for your future; one which puts the wind beneath your wings.

I’ll be writing quite a bit more about this in the coming weeks.

The Peril of #Plateau

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I’m stuck.  Again. I’ve been up and down the same three pounds for 10 weeks. I made it to 200 pounds, hit my 70-pound loss marker (a very big deal for me), squeezed out another pound, drifted back over 200 pounds, then back down, back up again, sticky for a week, then down again, dancing around and about the same three frustrating pounds.  And it’s gone on for… weeks.

I decided I might try and go back to the way I was eating this time last year, when I was comfortably losing between one and two pounds a week. I hadn’t revisited my food diary for this far back before. So what did I expect to find?

To be frank, I thought I’d be reminded that I was eating a bit less back then than I am today; I thought I’d be forced to face an uncomfortable truth. I expected to be jogged into some kind of ‘fair enough, I get it’ response; I thought I’d be forced to admit that as time has gone on, I’d let things slide a bit.

But I hadn’t.  Back then, so it seems, I was if anything eating more – and a little more indulgently –  than I am today.

I was still making my breakfast Bircher muesli with sweetened yoghurt (horrors!). I had a couple of favourite pre-made salads and even one or two less processed ready-meals (I hadn’t yet got properly to grips with a change in my cooking habits). I was snacking on cashew nuts and rice crackers, toasting soy and linseed bread. I was tucking into mixed Chinese starters and crispy duck pancakes. I was treating myself to cheeses and pates on a regular basis. I was getting away with all of this, and still losing a comfy pound or more every single week.

So I already eat less. I eat better too; more ingredients, fewer processed items, almost no bread, rice, pasta or potato, no added sugar.  But somewhere in there, if I’m to chip away at the remaining 30 pounds or so, adjustments must be made.

When you think about it, it makes sense. I’m hauling around the equivalent of two well-packed medium-sized holiday suitcases LESS than I was this time last year.  Logically, it’s taking me less energy to simply… exist; and when it comes to any level of physical activity, I’m expending less energy there too.

When I think back to last year, a simple 40/50-minute stroll was quite an exertion, resulting in me returning home with rather more than a gentle glow about me.  I would need to go out on any kind of walk in exercise clothes, and with time for a shower once I got home. My heart-rate from such a walk would be high, my sweat-glands over-active, my muscles twitching from the efforts. Today, a walk is… just a walk; executed in any old clothes, at any old time of the day, and without the need to carry a pocket full of kitchen towel for brow-mopping purposes. The first time I realised I needed to put a jacket ON to go on a walk (rather than strip down to a sleeveless vest, even on the chilliest day), was a joy.

So… two things:

  1. I burn less energy simply existing, so I do need to consume a little less fuel
  2. Without going all gym-bunny (never gonna happen) I need to up the ante a little in the exercise stakes. Walking still, but faster; maybe try that ‘Couch to 5k’ App I’ve been threatening to deploy.

Nothing stays the same. You have to adapt, modify, re-calibrate. Whilst, like last time, it’s been frustrating, getting plateaued, I’m also pleased, as it’s telling me positive things about the impact my lifestyle changes have had on my health and fitness over the last year and more – and that’s all good.

Dietary Heresy – or New Wisdom? #functionalmedicine #sugar #fat #carbs #cholesterol

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A quickie post today: I thought I’d share a few of the websites and influences that I’ve found helpful in shaping my attitude to food and health in recent months.  One or two of the understandings I’ve arrived at, having read some of the material available on the internet and in books, are beginning to catch a wave – it seems they’re not such crazy notions after all.

Sugar – what people generally call either free sugar or simply added sugar (ie, not the sugar found naturally in whole fruits, for example) – is an unhealthy and unnecessary dietary additive and the root cause of the so-called Obesity Epidemic. It may be tasty, but it’s addictive, it brings long-term harm and lifelong weight challenges, and we don’t need it.

Simple Carbohydrates – I’m thinking pasta, white rice, bread – should not be the foundation stones of the average meal. They convert to sugars far too quickly and mess with the body’s insulin regulating mechanisms. Particularly if you’re overweight and want to lose excess pounds, or you have type two diabetes, or are pre-diabetic, ditch those simple carbohydrates.

Fat – is not the enemy. In many, many forms, fat is more friend than foe, and should be an essential component within a healthy diet. The food industry has got rich persuading us that low fat products, processed and stuffed with additives and sugar, are healthy. This is more than misleading.  Dairy fats have much to commend them, and so-called healthy fats in nuts, oily fish, olive oil and avocados, for example, are an absolute must.

Cholesterol – which Big Pharma has gone into overdrive to persuade us is killing us – is natural and normal and for the vast majority of us, does not need to be controlled by drugs.  Statins are a con being perpetrated against vast populations of healthy people, for profit.

Great reference sources and health heroes

Action on Sugar http://www.actiononsugar.org  is a group of specialists concerned with sugar and its effects on health. It is working to reach a consensus with the food industry and Government over the harmful effects of a high sugar diet, and bring about a reduction in the amount of sugar in processed foods.  Spearheading Action on Sugar is one of my dietary heroes, Cardiologist, Dr Aseem Malhotra http://doctoraseem.com.

Diet Doctor https://www.dietdoctor.com seeks to promote natural health. Focused on LCHF (Low Carb High/Healthy Fat) approach, the website is an enormous practical and inspirational resource, particularly for those battling weight issues and diabetes. It promotes what began as a revolutionary approach a few years ago (carbohydrate reduction, the happy consumption of fats), but which is gaining considerable credibility in the medical community and beyond.

Dr Mark Hyman http://drhyman.com is a practicing physician, prolific author and advocate of the power of Functional Medicine. It seeks to identify and address the root causes of disease, and views the body as one integrated system, not a collection of independent organs divided up by medical specialties. It treats the whole system, not just the symptoms. Dr Hyman has written extensively on issues around fat and sugar.

Dr Malcom Kendrick https://drmalcolmkendrick.org Practicing GP and author of ‘The Great Cholesterol Con’, Dr Malcolm Kendrick throws light on the lies, damned lies and statistics that surround the demonization of cholesterol, the pushing of statins to almost anyone over the age of 50, and the ways we are made to fear eating just about any foodstuff you can contemplate. Great blog and real insights into how statistics can misdirect, and the difference between correlation and causation.

Insightful videos, podcasts and films

The Big Fat Fix

http://www.thebigfatfix.com

Addresses the issue of how recommended but misguided dietary advice over the last 50 years has spawned the obesity and diabetes epidemics.  It looks at the role of healthy eating – based around what’s become known as the Mediterranean Diet – in treating and preventing these and other diseases.

That Sugar Film

http://thatsugarfilm.com

In this revealing film, Damon Gameau embarks on a unique experiment to document the effects of a high sugar diet on a healthy body, consuming only foods that are commonly perceived as ‘healthy’. The results are shocking.

The Truth about Sugar (BBC Documentary)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4LzSH9qU_Q

Even-handed documentary on how much sugar there is coursing through our everyday foods.

Dr Mark Hyman on Eating Fat to Get Healthy – with Lewis Howes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgWBKJsJtk0

An interview podcast, Dr Mark Hyman talks passionately about why eating fat is the key to weight loss.

That’s by no means an exhaustive list, and remember, I’m hardly the expert. But I personally have found each one of these websites (and their wealth of resources and links), health heroes and videos an excellent source of information and insight.  They have shaped my new eating and lifestyle habits, helped me towards a weight-loss of over 70 pounds in the last 13 months, and helped me to become healthier, happier and more energetic than I’ve been in almost two decades.

The BLECH Factor #fat #fryup

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Or… when fatty food doesn’t feel like it used to

I don’t eat out these days as often as I used to, which was at least once a week in the good old days of indulgence. I haven’t ordered a takeaway (also at least a weekly occurrence) or been to a fast food outlet (ditto) for over a year either.

When I do go, my strategy for restaurants nowadays is to take a look at their menu online beforehand and decide ahead of time, what is the best (ie, healthiest) choice to make. That way, when I sit down to eat, I don’t taunt my taste-buds. I know what I want, so I don’t tempt myself the way I used to do, into picking the dish, or dishes, which most excited my imagination. I’m not saying that wholefood salad and grilled salmon doesn’t excite my taste-buds, but… but… when hungry, and faced with acres of scrummy-yumscious descriptions designed to make you drool, it’s highly likely I would choose something altogether more… decadent.

However… on Friday evening, I had failed to prepare.  And by the time my friend and I got to the restaurant, I was also more than peckish.  And very susceptible to those drooliscious descriptives.

It was a seafood restaurant, so the potential for disaster wasn’t enormous.  It wasn’t a total tumbling off-the-wagon either, and certainly not a culinary crisis of the kind I’ve been so familiar with in the past. It was a short-lived, giddy overbalancing; but one from which I’ve learned an interesting lesson.

I began my meal with one single oyster. How about that for self-control, even when it wasn’t needed?  I just wanted the aroma of the sea, and a solitary slippy little creature dressed with a squish of lemon did the job. Happy days.

But then the proper starter.  And… oh… when you haven’t had a Chinese meal in over a year, and your seafood restaurant menu tantalises you with their version of Salt and Pepper Squid… Just the once, I thought.  Just the once, wouldn’t it be lovely?

Well, it was ok – not lovely – but ok.

Actually, it was greasy. It was properly yukky yuk-yuk greasy. 

If I’m honest it was just like Salt and Pepper Squid always is. But to me, whose palette rarely experiences deep fried anything these days, it was swimming in the stuff.  Ikky and claggy, it clung to my mouth.  It wouldn’t wash away – a glass of cold water served to set the grease, rather like when you leave a frying pan full of fat to go eat your breakfast and when you come back, it’s all congealed. It wasn’t pleasant.

But I pressed on.

Next came the main course. I know… I should have chosen a nice piece of poached white fish, grilled salmon maybe. But I was choosing with my taste-buds. I picked mussels, poached in cream, white wine and garlic. You see what I mean? This wasn’t a total crisis.  Mussels is not a bad choice, as such.  But I’ll admit, the creamy poaching liquor was less than prudent.  Oh, and I mustn’t forget the tiny tin bucket of French fries.  I probably ate about half of these microscopic and not in any way delicious little sticks of fry-up.  I eat almost no potato these days, so I was going carefully – at least I thought I was. But I can’t remember the last time I ate chips in any form – and their greasy coating settled all too quickly, like a second skin on the layer of greasy batter residue already lining my mouth.

To be fair, the mussels were delicious and I slurped about half the creamy, white winey jus.  I slurped until I began to feel it might be wise to stop.  My stomach, you see, had already begun to protest the slippery onslaught of batter, chip fat and lastly, that admittedly tasty slew of unctuous yummyliscious cream.

You can see I’m torn by this experience, can’t you? Good in parts, bad in parts. But with a claggy, fatty yuk yuk payload.

I had a great night out – I enjoyed it, I really did. The ambience, the company, the laugh we had, all perfect. But as I lay awake for almost the whole night, taking too many trips to the bathroom, feeling the silt swill around my stomach and occasionally wash high up my oesophagus (I haven’t had acid reflux in ages), I did indeed wonder, was it worth it?

I’m glad I had this experience though, as it’s shown me how far I’ve come since the days when I could happily put down platters of deep fried squid, fried pancake rolls, fried crispy seaweed, sweet and sour chicken fried in batter, fried rice and any amount of sweet, sticky sauces. It’s reminded me why I no longer buy and eat crisps (USA: potato chips) in epic volumes. It’s shown me how my sense of taste has adjusted, how I no longer crave the mouthfeel of those fattier, richer foods.

I do eat fat, just not deep-fry fat. I celebrate healthy fats like olive oil, oily fish, avocado and brazil nuts. I enjoy full fat yogurt, too much cheese, a little butter here and there. I love chicken skin and salmon skin (weird, I know). I leave the fat on meats likes steak or chops when I grill them and I relish the taste of it. I’m not against fat.

But I have left behind the deep-fry fatty mouthfeel sensations.

And yes, that would be yet another payoff of my new healthier lifestyle.

I’ve been D-Toxd! #healthy #retreat #juiced

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I was away last week – did you miss me? I went to Spain, to a beautiful healthy retreat up in the hills over the town of Calpe.  Check out D-Toxd here.

D-Toxd is a very level-headed Body|Mind|Life experience; not spiritual, but very contemplative, and very real; a well thought-out and balanced blend of juicing, healthy meals, walking, exercise classes, yoga, creativity time, motivational talks, mindset sessions and practical advice. Nobody corrals you into participation – you do only what you want to do.  I spent plenty of time reading by the pool, swimming and even catching up on sleep.  I’m not a big fan of yoga so I dropped out of a few sessions. I also… um… bypassed… the available colonic treatment, but I found time for a blissful Ayurvedic Massage.

Drinking my greens
Drinking my greens

Juiced!

Ah, the juicy detox experience. I’ve juiced intensively before, courtesy of a Jason Vale retreat in Turkey several years ago, so I knew what to expect of the detox element and I knew I wouldn’t be hungry.  Three days of juicing is a wonderful way to flush out – as it were – your internals. And it clears your head as much as it evacuates your intestines.  On day two I suffered an hour or so of caffeine withdrawal headache, which is quite normal apparently; but that was the worst of it. We were treated to a rainbow of juices, and always a choice between a sweeter/fruitier option and a less sweet version with the emphasis on the vegetables. Every vegetable imaginable, and plenty of fruit, found its way into five juices a day, along with ginger, milled flaxseed, bee pollen, fresh mint and more. My body rejoiced!

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A rainbow of nourishment

After three days of wonderful, vibrant juices, and three days of colourful and delicious vegetarian meals, the holiday rounded off with a celebratory fiesta meal and both the first meat, and the first (and only) alcohol of the week.  A grand time was enjoyed by all.

The Social Introvert (with the sensitive skin) goes Walkabout

An aside: I’m not generally shy, and I don’t lack confidence; I interact perfectly comfortably with friends and strangers alike. But I learned long ago that I’m some kind of introvert – I restore my energy by withdrawing, and being by myself. I only became aware more recently that there’s a name for people like me – we are social introverts. That means that whilst we’re cool with social situations and groups, we gain our energy from within ourselves. We love people – but we need solitude too.

Yours truly doing the early-morning no make-up no hairdryer wonky baseball cap selfie thing
Yours truly, doing the early-morning no make-up no hairdryer wonky baseball cap solo selfie thing

A week in the company of a group of like-minded people is very enjoyable on many levels, but it can be a little challenging for the social introvert. As the days pass, I seem to notice noise and chatter, more and more – it’s like the volume gets turned up in my head. Sooner or later when this happens, I have to listen to my protesting psyche and seek solitude.

And something else… The combination of 32-degree scorch, sun, sea-breeze, sweat and suntan oil on the mid-morning walks had been a little harsh on my English Rose complexion.  By midweek my face was puckered, sensitive and overheating.

So it was, for those two reasons, that for the last couple of days, I pulled out of the big walks and instead trundled off for a stroll (along the only path I could be certain I could follow there and back) at 07:30 in the morning, just as the sun began to peek over the hilltops.  This served both my tortured flesh and my solitude-seeking introvert.

Vineyards and olive groves in the early morning
Vineyards and olive groves in the early morning
My early morning walk, the retreat and pink-tinged mountains behind
The retreat at sunrise,  pink-tinged mountains behind
I've always wanted longer legs
I’ve always wanted longer legs

Those quiet early-morning strolls in the cool air, accompanied by nothing more than birdsong and the hum of waking insects, were blissful.

Refresh | Recharge | Refocus

I’d booked D-Toxd to coincide with the first anniversary of my not-so-new healthy lifestyle, and I envisaged it being of value in refocusing me and strengthening my resolve as I continued into my second weight-loss year.  It did the job magnificently.

It served to remind me why I had embarked on this path at the end of August 2015, and how far I’ve already come. It helped to jog me out of a few lazy habits which have crept in over recent weeks, and energise my attitude.  And (woo hoo!) the juices, salads and regular exercise nudged my system into releasing an additional four pounds – taking me over my next big milestone (70 pounds / 5 stone and 25% of my starting weight – gone).

All in all, it was exactly what I needed.

The D-Toxd Philosophy
The D-Toxd Manifesto

Gareth, Jeroen, Louise and the rest of the D-Toxd team go out of their way to deliver a multi-dimensional health and vitality retreat experience, with care and sensitivity.  Their philosophy is worth sharing – see the poster which adorns their wall.  They walk their talk, and D-Toxd has bucket-loads of integrity and passion as a result.  I could not recommend it any more highly.

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Just another sublime sunrise