Womens Own
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We put FitFarms new fat-busting holiday to the test...

Rachel Roberts

Forget the sugary cakes and biscuits Tesco has on its shelves – my daily nutritionist-devised diet will provide around 1,500 calories. Sounds a lot but it's divided over meals and snacks from 6am to 9pm , so I start to discover how hunger really feels! A typical day's menu starts with a small bowl of porridge, followed by a mid-morning snack of two oatcakes with almond butter. Lunches include my favourite meal of the week – a feta and beetroot salad. Some of my fellow retreaters struggle with the food, but I've been preparing for three months, and don't find it quite so tough. Only being allowed one coffee in the morning is harder than I thought – and I suffer a sense of humour failure one night when the chef serves up a fishcake that would even have Posh asking for seconds! I'm nowhere near full and request more oatcakes. When he teases me to ‘ask him nicely', it's all I can do to stop myself knocking the smile off his face. I blame it on my blood sugar level being low – which is restored when he eventually takes pity on me and gives me the oatcakes.

No time for loungers

Some of the group are starting to struggle with the idea that to lose at least a 1lb a day, you have to work hard – up to six hours a day. There's no time to lounge around in fluffy bathrobes. We quickly name our exercise hall the ‘barn of terror'- it's no fun trudging in there at 6am every day to do a circuit-style class while the birds are still in bed! The increasingly long daily walks are pretty arduous too. Lovely as our instructors Julie and Sian are, they impress on us that it's important not just to meander over the stunning Exmoor landscape. But it's not all hard slog. Laughter fills the air at our line-dancing session when we discover who had two left feet (that was me). I also enjoy the tai chi class – at the cost of pulled calf muscle.

Positive thinking

A session of life coaching helps to turn around some of the negativity that is in danger of engulfing the group. “I can't” is turned into “I can”, thanks to a crash course in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming).

We also take part in nutrition workshops, learning about the importance of keeping our blood sugar on an even keel. If it ‘spikes' due to a hit of sugary food, it's turned straight into fat. To avoid this, we're encouraged to eat every two to three hours. I'm not the only one to realise that my portion sizes are out of control. To lose weight, a plate should be divided into quarters of carbohydrates and protein. The remaining half should be piled with vegetables.

Final weigh-in

It's an amazing experience to watch people come alive with energy. Confidence soars as some of the bigger guests achieve their small victories. People talk about having put their bodies and minds through a tough but essential MOT. And the shrieks of delight at the weigh-in on our final morning end our retreat week on a real high. I'm really chuffed to have lost 5 and a half lbs and 4.3 per cent of my body fat in just seven days. Result!

Before

Weight: 11st 9.5lb

Body Fat: 33.5 per cent

Waist: 38.5in

Hips: 42in

After

Weight: 11st 4lb

Body Fat: 29.2 per cent

Waist: 36.5in

Hips: 40in

Precious Gough, 32  is a mum of two. She weighed 16st 8lb at the start of her week at FitFarms, finishing 9lb lighter.

“Before I had my boys, Adam and Adrian, I was a size 10. But I saw my weight rocket and it upset me when a size 22 was straining at the seams. I'm a classic yo-yo dieter and would lose 7lb before putting it back on.

“My weight's stopping me really enjoying my boys – I can't play with them in the park like other mums. The first couple of days at camp were tough, especially when I was left lagging behind on the walks. But it got easier and I started to enjoy it. I lost 9lb and although I'm really happy, there is a lon way to go. The signs are good, however. Since i got home, I've cut my four teaspoons of sugar in my tea to two and stopped adding salt to my food. I've kept up the walking too. I walked the three and a half miles to my church on Sunday, resisting offers of lifts from my friends.