After her first ever juice fast at the Body Toolkit retreat last week, we invited Mhairi to put pen to paper to tell us about her experience & feelings about juicing now she's got a retreat under her belt:
The journey up north to the Body Toolkit retreat largely consisted of me swaying between two predominant thoughts: complete awe of the incredible scenery and blind panic about how hungry I was going to be living on just juice for a week. It really was quite a sobering thought, although on arrival all previous anxieties quickly disintegrated. There was something hugely comforting about the place: outside it was just getting dark and inside it was just lovely and cosy. The prospect of no solids for a week was a lot easier to stomach when we were greeted by Katrina and a pint of fresh juice which, despite my hesitations, was delicious. The view from my lounge and bedroom window was of the surrounding hills, completely unspoilt, with just a few grazing deer nearby, and at that moment in time I knew there was nowhere else that my body needed to be.
I’ve been a comfort food lover for many years - bread, pasta (macaroni cheese in particular), fried rice, pizza, did I mention bread – basically anything carbohydrate in nature and white in colour. Above all else, that was the one crutch I was terrified of losing. It’s hard to explain but there’s a certain calm about Garmoran Square and I knew that even though I was going to be foregoing my safety blankets in terms of food I would at least have my own space to retreat to if I found the cravings getting too much. But before I knew it, the evening soup had been served, the log fire had been lit and I had already relaxed.
Day 1 and 2 were my most challenging days, I think partly due to the build-up in my head about not having solids, mentally I was feeling deprived. I knew it was all in my head because I wasn’t actually hungry and seeing the amount of fruit and veg going into every juice and smoothie I knew I was being fed more nutrients than I would usually get in a week, never mind a couple of days. After the first two days, the combination of the camaraderie of the group and the knowledge that it really was all downhill from there I started to savour the whole experience. The juices were wholesome and incredibly tasty, which was quite surprising when you found out the combination of ingredients – who knew I would love a smoothie with broccoli, kale and avocado in it?
With each new day the detox became easier – as well as a carb lover I am an avid tea drinker (milk no sugar) and although we were encouraged to wean ourselves off tea and caffeine before we arrived, I struggled and thought I’d be lost without my tea. As the days passed I began to miss my morning tea less and less, but what is really surprising is that I’ve not felt the need to touch a drop of tea since I came home.
One of my favourite parts of the retreat was the daily walks, which were a lot of fun. I cannot put into words just how beautiful the west coast Scottish Highlands are and even in the rain it’s all still absolutely breathtaking. The peace and fresh air helped me clear my head each day, so not only was it a detox for my body, but also my mind. The day was punctuated nicely with the juices, just as I felt myself getting peckish along came another juice. After the soup in the evenings we would normally watch a film or play a game then I would enjoy a bath and melt into the nice fresh sheets. I took a whole bunch of books with me, but with the best will in the world, as soon as my head hit the pillow there was no way I could stay awake. I was a bit worried about how I’d sleep at the retreat, as this last year I’ve been having trouble sleeping, but I didn’t have any problem there at all. Not only did the fresh air, the good nutrition and the relaxing atmosphere help in getting straight to sleep but there was something about the setting that made the usual distractions, like my phone and the internet, far less appealing. I’m delighted to say that I’ve been sleeping so much better since I've been home as well.
On the Friday morning the difference in everyone’s outlook and appearance was quite incredible; to think we had only been there for 6 nights... It wasn’t just a case of weight loss, I lost exactly half a stone and my clothes felt much less “snug”, but everyone was glowing with health and beaming from ear to ear. The others commented on how noticeably brighter my eyes looked and what I noticed was the quality and texture of my hair. The biggest surprise was my change in attitude from earlier in the week when I could have literally murdered a pizza, to the Friday when I felt lighter, cleaner and like absolutely nothing could ruin the amazing feeling that the week had given me.
After we had our final juice and said our goodbyes we were given an extra one for the journey home. On the Friday night I went out for dinner with friends and I was quite shocked at the way I was able to sit and read the menu calmly and objectively without scanning it for the biggest carb-filled option. I took my time and ended up ordering something from the vegetarian menu, which alarmed my friends as it’s so uncharacteristic of me, but that was exactly what I wanted to eat. Miracles do happen. My taste buds have obviously changed and can see past all the salt and sugar they were previously clouded by. I feel fantastic and it’s so wonderful not to have food dictating my life. The retreat has shown me the power of the human body to heal itself, if given half the chance. I’ve seen such a huge change in my body and my relationship with food after just 6 days and now I’m sharing all I’ve learnt with everyone I care about. In fact, I've raved about it so much my sister is going to the retreat in November... and I know I'll be back for sure.
Mhairi (West Lothian, Scotland)
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