As someone who’s sole purpose when on holiday is to eat all the food, the initial thought of simply having juice for 7 days was a tad daunting. But always a fan of a health fad, along with the the fact flights to Portugal in November are £30, I was in.
The location of Juicy Oasis is incredible. Set amongst the mountains alongside a beautiful forest and lake, I was immediately relaxed. I was especially excited about the giant lake in front of me as I’ve been trying to embrace a spot of cold water swimming this year and I love it. Yes it’s brutal and initially, largely unpleasant, but I’ve got well into Wim Hof and the benefits are astounding. Plus it makes you feel ALIVE. You know, in that kind of wow-am I about to die-oh no I’m not-phew-kinda way. So, yes, I’m aware it’s Portugal, but it is November and actually around 14 degrees tops, so it is a cold water swim, which definitely makes me very, very brave.
The view from my balcony. Stunning.
Day 1 – 3
First off we had a talk about the week ahead, what to expect, how it’s structured. The juices are distributed 4 times a day, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm. And because it’s the winter season we get a soup in the evening. One of the most interesting things I learnt from this talk, was about inflammation. Whilst many were there to help lose weight or kick start weight loss, the most we’ll initially lose during the week will actually be inflammation in the body. I was happy to hear this as I’ve become increasingly aware that inflammation causes a plethora of issues within the body, from chronic pains to cancer. And with my sugar addiction, it has become a rather grave concern!
There’s a daily schedule of exercise and activities, from the morning hike in the mountains to HIT sessions, yoga and relaxation. Being new and keen as mustard I wanted to pretty much do the lot. So off I trotted on the hike, which was awesome. Also squeezed in three yoga sessions, a rebound class, sauna and salt bath, then topped it off with a cold water swim initiation with everyone. BRACING.
The spa is awesome. The sauna is outdoors, right next to the cold water pool so you can have a good sweat whilst looking over the mountains. There’s also an indoor spa with the salt bath and these sleep pods, which gently rock you to sleep. JUST LOOKING AT THEM MAKES ME WANT TO NAP. So dreamy. Literally.
After that first day I always did the morning yoga at 7am and hike 8.30am to start the day. And that’s even before your first juice. The morning yoga was always a more relaxed, meditative session and also where I was introduced to the 5 Tibetan Rites, a series of movements, that if practiced daily, 21 times each, can keep you youthful and strong and supple. Apparently for bald men it can help hair grow back. Cancel your hair transplants lads!
The one thing I was also relieved about was that the juices and soups are absolutely delicious. And also surprisingly filling. I mean, I’ve never been so excited about a bowl of soup in the evening, I would’ve married it.
A lot of people have caffeine withdrawal or miss the actual action of chewing. Neither of those bothered me, however sugar cravings were pretty tough. And they were really weird sugar cravings. One day I spent at least 7 hours thinking solidly about custard creams. Which is particularly odd as I can’t remember the last time I had a custard cream. Bloody good though aren’t they.
To help curb cravings I started dining out on different variations of herbal teas that are peppered throughout the retreat and always available. Dunno if it’s possible to OD on green tea with matcha but I sure tried.
It was my birthday mid week so I got an extra treat! A platter of fruit. It was enormous so obviously shared with the room (I mean I had to-otherwise I would have been, rightly, despised). Everyone looked at me like I was Jesus. Was the cleanest birthday of all time. Oh and I also treated myself to a birthday colonic. I know how to live.
Kenny, our Yoga teacher, (who is like a mythical being that people tell fables of like, “he lives in a tree”) asked if I’d done yoga before and asked me help lead a class. This was incredibly exciting and I am basically a yoga teacher now. (Resisted telling him I just watch YouTube videos). Namaste.
Craving: Custard Creams. Sugar Puffs. Not had them since I was approximately 8. Wondering if the honey monster had some kind of psychological effect on me.
So I did a few dips in the lake. Alone. As it really is bloody cold and no-one else is interested, but I did love it. Being alone in the lake, amongst the mountains with the mist on the lake, feeling that teeny bit of risk like you’re in a horror movie. Only lasted a few mins though as then I suddenly get worried a sea snake/shark will drag me under and no-one will know. Yes, they can do that.
My energy levels had been pretty steady throughout the week. But suddenly, by Wednesday, BOOM. I had an obscene amount of energy. I literally couldn’t burn it, even after two yoga classes, two fitness classes back to back, a run in the mountains, a gym sesh, followed by a swim in the lake. Felt like I’d taken one of those pills, like in Limitless. Probably very annoying to be around.
Yoga teacher told me the universe wants me to spend a month in India. Well if the universe is telling me, then work better sort my cover asap as the last thing I wanna do is piss off the universe! Feel like Yoda. Namaste.
Craving: Club biscuits & chocolate cornflake cakes. Why am I just getting cravings for childhood snacks?
Quick morning brew by the lake before yoga. Namastea.
Started to get hungry in the evenings by this point. Think it’s probs psychological as know I’m heading home soon and thinking about what to EAT. Which oddly wasn’t a massive curry and chocolate as expected. Actually feel worried about putting any crap in my system now.
Did an incredibly intense yoga gathering where we sat in robes and had some kind of out of body experience. No drugs involved. Read tarot cards. Mine freaked me out a bit was so accurate. Felt like a yogi/yoda/witch. Namaswoah.
Craving: Bakewell tart. Also something I seldom never eat. What on earth are my cravings telling me? That I need to spend more time in Derbyshire? That i should date the honey monster?
My sole purpose for this trip, was actually to help heal my body after a health issue earlier in the summer. And I feel I couldn’t have possibly done more to help that. I’ve never felt so relaxed, so much leaner and mentally, it felt like my mind had cleared. I didn’t weigh myself at the start as weight loss wasn’t particularly a goal for me. But it has entirely reset my attitude towards food and healthy eating and I feel I don’t want to sabotage what I’ve done.
I met some awesome people and I’m pretty much a qualified yoga teacher now so all in all what an incredible experience.
Two months later, what’s changed?
Went for a scan week after retreat and my health issue totally cleared up! Of course this may well have happened without the retreat but I can’t help but think it entirely helped.
The experience I had here and the habits it’s changed for me, will stick with me for life.
What I Learnt:
That I, and probably most of us consume waaaay more food than our body requires
Annoyingly fruit and vegetables in abundance makes you feel amazing. Refreshed, invigorated, energised, lighter and healthier
That I really need to live by a lake
That most my sugar cravings are in my head and not a physical need & a barrage of herbal tea can work wonders to dispel them
That yoga is an essential part of my daily routine
New Habits Post Retreat:
Replaced my immediate morning coffee with a large mug of fresh lemon and ginger. I still have coffee later in the day if I want it, but it feels so refreshing starting the morning with that goodness. Feels amazing fuelling your body with goodness as soon as you wake
Regular juicing-most days. It’s obviously not realistic to juice all day, every day. But now I know how good it makes you feel, I often switch up breakfast for a juice, or like this week (first week of Jan) where I felt revolting after all the Christmas excess, I’m juicing for 5 days and after 2 I already feel so much better
Herbal Teas! I am pretty much an unofficial ambassador for Yorkshire Tea, so I’m not turning my back on a good brew, but I switch up half my tea/coffee intake with herbals. They’re a lot more refreshing and I even went super rock n roll and started mixing up flavours. My faves are jasmine with green tea, fresh mint, fresh lemon, ginger & mint, all the pukka macha range (mix em up for a wild time), and berry
Tibetan 5. Everyday. The 5 Tibetan Rites are a system of exercises I learnt during my yoga classes. They are supposed to keep you youthful, supple and strong if performed every morning, 21 times. They are brilliant because they’re relatively quick and easy to do in the morning and they help stretch and awaken the entire body. I’ll post a video soon, or check out video’s on youtube for the moves
Morning walk with dog and yoga every day. Make sure you move & embrace nature in some way each day
Check out Jason Vales Juicy Oasis retreat here: