Saturday, 14 June 2014

There is another way: the Obsidian experience

So... Obsidian. I have been back from my trip to Southern Spain for a little over three weeks, and life has been as manic as ever; but I wanted to report back on the experience, and my continuing progress - so here I am. [I'm dating this entry shortly after my return, although it's being written in retrospect!]

[The above is my first Obsidian sunset. You can see my photo album of the whole stay by clicking here.]

I was introduced to the Obsidian Retreat by a local friend and business networking contact, Debi. She has achieved some inspiring weight loss herself in the last few months, as has her husband, and this was inspired and kick-started by her initial visit to the retreat. She has since become their General Manager - commuting every couple of weeks between Norfolk and Spain - and is working to raise the profile of this excellent place. She spread the word around those friends and colleagues that she knew were keen to review their health and fitness, and that included me.

So on 3 June, I set out for Spain via Stansted Airport. I arrived late that evening, and spent the next eight full days - leaving at lunchtime on Thursday 12 June - taking advantage of many of the opportunities afforded by my stay. This included:
  • superb vegan food, delicious imaginative salads and amazing juices - all of which, as a lifelong meat-and-dairy girl, I found surprisingly easy to adapt to
  • a 5K walk every morning (tougher in the Spanish hills than at home in Norfolk!)
  • various exercise classes, from yoga to rebounding (mini trampoline), stretch & tone and Zumba, as well as higher-impact workouts that are less my personal style but clearly worked very well for other guests
  • use of the little gymnasium and the swimming pool at any time of the day or night
  • a thorough medical assessment and in-depth interview at the start and end of my stay, with weights and measures of all kinds allowing me to monitor progress
  • cookery and juicing demonstrations
  • talks relating to health, motivation, inspiration, future planning
  • two visits to local seaside resorts for a change of scene and keeping in touch with real life!
  • support and encouragement from all staff, including the nurse, yoga teacher, several fitness coaches, life coach mentor - and all the other guests during my stay
What about the food? Well, this is intended as a detox (although it's up to you to what extent you do this). My toughest challenge was doing without my 4-5 mugs each day of strong Assam tea. I spent the first three days in a bit of a confused fog - with attendant headache - from caffeine deprivation. However, I soon became accustomed to fruit, herbal and Redbush tea, taken without milk.

The juicing is a revelation. Imaginative combinations of vegetables and fruit made into effectively giant shakes (although there's no milk in there!) in a pretty large glass; always served for breakfast, and guests choose a juice or salad for lunch, and juice or vegan evening meal. For days 1-3 I had two juices and one meal each day; days 4-6 were spent entirely juicing; days 7-9 one juice and two meals.  I was seldom hungry, took around an hour to drink each juice, drank loads of water, and after the initial three days felt genuinely much, much better in myself.

Now, I could have done a lot more exercise than I actually did; but what I did worked well for me. My own personal fitness investment went something like this:
  • 5K walk every morning (except the first one)
  • several yoga classes
  • one stretch & tone
  • three rebounding classes
  • one Zumba class
  • two swims
  • one gym session
I also spent a fair bit of time sleeping; talking to staff and other guests; a few treatments (facial, manicure, sports massage); a counselling session; and several talks and workshops. As I observed to a friend, the lack of 'normal' daily responsibilities is extraordinarily liberating: no cooking or housework, emails (unless you want to!) or work, means that 24 hours in each day is yours to use as you wish. If you sleep for 8 hours each night, that still leaves SIXTEEN HOURS for the other activities.

I was inspired and encouraged, as I've said, by so many people. Each day new people came and went, with different aims and lives and situations, and I never failed to be impressed by their willingness to try all that the resort had to offer. 

On my final day, I was delighted to find that I had - in the course of eight days - lost seven pounds, leaving behind the scarily imminent 'medically obese' definition (5'5" tall and 12 stone 13 pounds) and reaching 12 stone 6 pounds. Better still, my BP was lower than I believe it has ever been in my adult life: it went down from 131/95 to 114/76. I had lost an inch each from waist and hips. Best of all, I had found my enjoyment of the vegan, non-dairy, non-caffeine, non-alcohol regime had been far, far easier than I would ever have imagined, and the health benefits were very clear.

Friday, 13 June 2014

There is another way

I haven't written in this blog since 2011. Somehow I could never bring myself to delete it, as I subconsciously knew that the issue - that of maintaining a level of health that allowed me to live my life - wasn't going to go away. Meanwhile, my injuries caused more trouble and my weight topped out at just over thirteen stone - bringing me into the 'medically obese' category.

I will write a more detailed post as soon as I can (the backlog of emails and laundry after nine days' absence is rather scary) but in the meantime I just wanted to say:


In eight days, I have lost seven pounds (that's represented by the yellow stuff I'm holding in the photo). I went from 12-13 to 12-6.

Much more importantly, I have gained a huge amount of friendship, knowledge, support, ideas and inspiration from the superb staff, from coaches to cooks to cleaners.

Obsidian is a health resort near Benissa, an hour from Alicante, in southern Spain.The experience was extraordinary, relaxing, exhausting and rewarding in equal measure.

More soon, but as a taster, please check out their website here; and feel free to view my photo album here.

And expect to see me back on this blog much more frequently in coming weeks and months.

Next post: The Obsidian Experience