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Irish Independent - Weekend Magazine - - Wellbeing -

is very nice. Then there is a talk by the nu­tri­tion­ist, who is also a master her­bal­ist and naturopath and is hor­rif­i­cally well in­formed, about di­ges­tion, the ben­e­fits of fast­ing, which sup­ple­ments to take, a word on psyl­lium husk (which we are en­cour­aged to take dur­ing the next few days as it puffs up in the stom­ach to mimic feel­ings of full­ness — al­legedly), and how to use the Clysmatic. The what? Oh, and how to oil swish and body brush.

Nope, me nei­ther.

We are given an av­o­cado and pea pro­tein smoothie, to ease us into the fast, and en­cour­aged to drink lots of wa­ter and herbal teas. There is freshly made juice every three hours, which means our blood sugar doesn’t crash. I feel quite tired and spaced out by lunchtime. And with a bang­ing caf­feine with­drawal headache. In fact, by the af­ter­noon, I’m like a hy­brid of the less joy­ous mem­bers of the Seven Dwarves — Dopey, Grumpy, Sleepy. Time stretches, and de­spite the heav­enly sur­round­ings and my ini­tial op­ti­mism, I feel a bit meh.

I have a one-to-one meet­ing with a mem­ber of the team, to find out what I’d like to get from the week — ev­ery­one is here for dif­fer­ent rea­sons, from need­ing a break from the world to deal­ing with be­reave­ment and emo­tional up­heaval to re­pro­gram­ming be­havioural pat­terns around food and drink, or re­la­tion­ships. I want to break my chronic life­long sugar ad­dic­tion. Since I quit al­co­hol aged 38, my sugar in­take has in­creased, mak­ing me fat and cravey. No mat­ter how hard over the years I have tried, I can­not kick it. I’m hop­ing this week will be my sugar re­hab.

That night, I have jerk-up­right night­mares in­volv­ing gi­ant spi­ders and Don­ald Trump. I’m re­as­sured that such night­mares are part of the de­tox process. As are the teenage spots that are pop­ping up on my mid­dle-aged face. (un­like the blood, the lymph sys­tem doesn’t have its own pump).

The ethos at this re­treat is very much about knowl­edge, ed­u­ca­tion, and tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for your own phys­i­cal health and emo­tional well­be­ing, rather than pas­sively re­ceiv­ing beauty treat­ments while sip­ping fruit tea. I thought I al­ready knew a lot about nu­tri­tion, but this is next level; I am learn­ing huge amounts about the body, how to nour­ish it, and how to prop­erly look after it at a pre­ven­ta­tive level.

And then in the late af­ter­noon I have a mas­sive dip.

The re­treat’s FAQ page says, with some un­der­state­ment, that, “It’s not for the faint hearted be­cause it can be quite tough at times”. Sure enough, 48 hours after ar­rival, I want to go home. WTF am I do­ing here, my head rages. Why am I putting my­self through this. I hate ev­ery­one and ev­ery­thing and am so hun­gry I’m al­most lick­ing the food emo­jis on my phone. The goats peace­fully graz­ing out­side my win­dow are start­ing to look tasty (I’m ve­gan). Peo­ple are sail­ing around be­at­if­i­cally, and I want to punch them. I hate be­ing on my own in the eco pod, but can­not bear the thought of com­pany. The idea of four more days of this feels like in­fin­ity. I draw on all my men­tal re­sources, but my over­rid­ing urge is to run away.

So I speak to one of the team and tell her I am strug­gling (the team com­plete this fast­ing process to­gether once a year, while not sup­port­ing clients, so know ex­actly what it feels like). She as­sures me that these feel­ings will pass, and gives me some sup­ple­ments. Trust the process, she says. I re­alise that this is prob­a­bly the dark­est hour, and re­solve to tough it out. Mind, body, spirit: the daily de­tox rou­tine for Suzanne ( pic­tured in­cluded walks, mas­sage and yoga

right)

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