Why do you think you haven’t done enough asked my physio at a recent appointment? I was explaining why I hadn’t done enough exercise and why I always felt I should be doing more – of everything! It was at that moment that I realised I create my own stress. I work for myself, have a wonderful family and friends, and I’m reasonably fit and healthy. So why do I always feel under pressure, and how do I stop it? This scenario is nothing new to Juls Abernethy and Julie Brealy, the founders of The Body Retreat. They are used to helping professional women reconnect with themselves and teach them how to cope with the stresses of working under pressure.
It was a chance meeting that saw Juls and Julie team up to form the UK’s only Health Retreats run by women for women. Juls, who previously held down a responsible corporate position had already taken a strong interest in self-improvement and studied behavioural coaching as well as hypnotherapy. Having suffered from burnout herself, she knew how important it was for women to seek guidance to get back on track.
Julie, a former semi-pro sportswoman had worked in conventional boot camps and realised there was a far more holistic approach to fitness and women’s wellbeing. A certified personal trainer, master kettlebell trainer and sports coach, she believes in working closely with clients to help them achieve their own fitness goals.
Together the two Julie’s make a formidable team, caring and nurturing while offering the discipline you need to achieve results.
I was invited to review a retreat with Juls and Julie. So, on a beautiful sunny day in early July, I set off to drive to Somerset and join the Stress Re-set Retreat. A five-day programme which helps women escape the pressures of their daily life and educates them to eat better, exercise well, how to improve sleep and how to become more mindful. As I pulled off the motorway and slowly drove down the country lanes to the retreat, I already felt the tension starting to ease.
Tucked away at the bottom of a long drive was the retreat house, spacious and modern and looking like a cross between a luxury home and a hotel. My room was flooded with light and I must admit part of the excitement was having a huge bathroom and bed all to myself. Waiting on the bed was a collection of gifts, a water bottle, t-shirt, body brush, gorgeous toiletries and notebook and pen.
Any apprehension I might have had about attending a retreat on my own quickly disappeared when I met the other ladies. They were also alone and no doubt feeling a little nervous as well. We immediately clicked and found we had similar ambitions for the week ahead. Stepping away from your business or family to start a journey of self-improvement is never going to be easy but having likeminded people and professionals around you makes all the difference. We all wanted to exercise more efficiently and find ways of relaxing rather than filling every spare moment catching up – this was definitely one of my goals.
The days at The Body Retreat are carefully planned from your wakeup call with hot lemon, to your mindfulness sessions, talks on nutrition, walks in the country and swimming, to the three exercise classes each day. In between you have the lovingly prepared and expertly devised healthy food. During the week I learnt a lot about portion control and the fact that I don’t have any! I serve far too much food than we actually need. I’m obviously just greedy as I never once felt hungry even though the portions were much less than I’m used to eating. Juls reminded me that was because they are nutritionally balanced to provide everything you need and nothing you don’t.
The mindfulness session with Dr Miranda Bevis had me literally stopping and thinking, it made me realise I’m constantly planning and looking ahead and rarely living in the moment – something I need to work on.
Sleep is a key part of the Stress Re-set Retreat. Many of us just don’t get the required amount of sleep each night and find it hard to unwind from a stressful day. Juls will teach you techniques that have you dropping off to sleep faster than you have for years and waking refreshed. The early nights certainly agreed with me, I found it much easier to wake up in the morning than I usually do. There’s also plenty of time to just relax by the pool, in the garden or in your room.
Many women enjoy The Body Retreat so much that they return year after year. So, Juls and Julie have introduced Healthy Holidays for those who want to relax more and enjoy great food in the company of likeminded women but don’t have a specific goal in mind.
After 5 days away from home, I felt much slimmer, more toned, and looked refreshed. Not only had I learned a lot about myself but also the way in which I live my life. I do create my own stress and sometimes find it hard to walk away from it. The exercise and sensible diet obviously did me good, I lost 1.5” from my chest, 2.5” from my waist and 1” from my hips. I dropped 3lbs in weight and my body fat reduced by 3%. It would be hard for me to spend as much time exercising each day, but I can implement lots of the advice I was given. I found the Retreat environment perfect for making some long overdue changes.
Whether you want to lose weight, handle stress better, or just find a way to get your life back on track, The Body Retreat has a programme that will suit you.
Contact The Body Retreat for more details