My Detox Retreat Weight Loss Experience at Slimmeria

Overlooking Ilfracombe Harbour: My Detox Retreat Weight Loss Experience at Slimmeria | Not Dressed As Lamb

Not Dressed As Lamb

I’ve been promising to post my detox retreat weight loss experience review for a while now… many of you have told me you’re very keen to read it!

To summarise: I spent five days and six nights at Slimmeria, a vegan detox retreat in North Devon, at the end of last month. A place to get your mind, body and soul in order – it’s described as a “weight loss and rejuvenation retreat”. So, in a nutshell, how exactly was the experience I hear you ask?

It was tough, it was brutal, it was eye-opening. But quite simply, it was one of the BEST experiences of my entire life…

I loved every single minute of it.

I’m glad to say I ALSO had some incredibly positive results at the end of the stay which I shall share with you later in the post. But first, let’s talk about exactly what I’d let myself in for and why I went… I hope you’ll find it a fascinating read. It may not be what you’re expecting (it certainly wasn’t what I was expecting).

Disclosure: I was not compensated for writing this post but I was gifted the Slimmeria experience in exchange for a review. Everything I’ve written is 100% my own opinion and Slimmeria had no control over what I wrote.


Slimmeria: what it is, and why I went

Slimmeria is run by the magnificent Galia Granger (some of you may have seen her in Channel 4’s Extreme Diet Hotel on TV a few weeks ago) and there are two retreats: one in Ilfracombe, North Devon (where I went) and the other in Hye House, East Sussex. The thing to remember is that it’s not simply a “weight loss retreat”. Galia’s aim is to get you to retrain your way of thinking about food, about exercise, and about self-care. Yes, you can potentially lose up to 12lbs (or even a little more) in six days.

But so much more than that, the point is to get you to come away feeling refreshed, energised, incentivised, and positive.

At the end of my six days I came away feeling all those things, and MORE.

Merlin Court, Ilfracombe, Devon: My Detox Retreat Weight Loss Experience at Slimmeria | Not Dressed As Lamb

Merlin Court, Ilfracombe, North Devon – photo by Slimmeria

Galia is what you call a force of nature. She’s as strict as she needs to be to get you doing and thinking the right things, but she’s incredibly kind and understanding with it. There’d be no point having someone run the place who was a pushover, would there? I loved her the moment I met her.

What I didn’t expect was how much time she’d spend with us. She was there every step of the way (though obviously she’s not looking over your shoulder or breathing down your neck every second of the day…) and we saw her every morning and every lunchtime. Her presence was a perfect balance, and what she does so well is to encourage you when she’s around, but also to encourage you to self-motivate when she’s NOT.

She said on our first day about extra walks in the afternoon that aren’t scheduled: “The afternoon walks are not obligatory, but they ARE mandatory…!”

The reason I went was that, since my operation in January, my fitness levels have plummetted and my relationship with food has deteriorated. I’d been steadily putting on weight since I first had the problems with my leg back in 2015, but when I had the op I thought I’d snap back into my good habits, find my mojo, and start back on my road to being a fit, strong woman again.

This didn’t happen. In fact, the OPPOSITE happened.

I think I’d got so far down the road of comfort eating and snuggling on the sofa that trying to recuperate after surgery tipped me over the edge, making me more tired, lethargic and lazy than ever before. Pizzas became a weekly treat rather than a few-times-a-year treat. The endless good weather this summer meant that a whole lot more beer, gin & tonics and cold glasses of rosé were consumed than normal. Chocolate bars and treats became a daily part of my diet.

What I ended up with was three-day headaches several times a month, regularly blocked up sinuses, daily lethargy and the inability to crouch down to pick something up from the floor without feeling like I had 90-year-old legs. Therefore when the chance to go to Slimmeria was offered I practically leapt through the computer to snatch it out of the hands of the unsuspecting PR who got in touch… it was as if the blogging gods heard my prayers.

My goal was to lose weight, feel stronger and to protect my future health. Fitting into all the clothes I could no longer fit into would just be a huge bonus and make me feel positive mentally as well.


Check-in and the weigh-in

Upon arrival at Slimmeria on the Sunday afternoon, I was shown to my room on the top floor of a stunning renovated listed building with incredible views of Ilfracombe. My room was very pretty with my own private ensuite and a comfy bed… I knew I was going to be happy there for six nights.

Merlin Court Bedroom: My Detox Retreat Weight Loss Experience at Slimmeria | Not Dressed As Lamb

There were five other ladies and myself – six turned out to be a perfect number to make a strong, supportive team. Introductions were made, a tour of the building was given, and instructions for the week ahead were discussed. The retreat itself is stunning; there’s a spa room, gym (weights and mats mostly, no large equipment like treadmills or rowing machines), a “chill out” room, dining room, etc.

The White Room, Merlin Court: My Detox Retreat Weight Loss Experience at Slimmeria | Not Dressed As Lamb

We each then had ourselves weighed and measurements taken. We were asked to hand over any contraband (ANY food or drink – even tea bags for example), though I think most of what we’d brought was eaten on the journey up to the retreat…!

To backtrack a little… I was emailed a welcome pack a couple of weeks beforehand which gave advice on how to prep for the detox: Cut down on sugar and processed foods, alcohol, tea, coffee and fizzy drinks, and drink plenty of water. None of those things were a problem for me as I consume very little of any of those things (with the exception of sugar: I eat all the naughty cakes and biscuits on top of all the healthy stuff). But I don’t drink anything with caffeine in it, and very little alcohol. So two weeks before I went I was eating reasonably clean, the week before I was eating very clean. I felt prepared, and absolutely raring to get started.

We didn’t have to wait long: there was enough time that evening to have our first delicious dinner and go for a long walk around Ilfracombe and down to the harbour. Sounds like a nice stroll? No… Ilfracombe is FULL of steep streets. The hills are brutal, even round the town centre. We walked up and down Capstone Hill (which looks over the sea) three times in a row and my legs and lungs nearly died. But what made it worthwhile was the view and the sunset; it was up there in my top five of Most Amazing Sunsets I’ve Ever Seen.

Sunset Over the Sea at Ilfracombe: My Detox Retreat Weight Loss Experience at Slimmeria | Not Dressed As Lamb


The daily routine

This was one of the best parts of the week: the fact that we had an almost-identical schedule every single day. A typical day looked like this:

7:30am Wake up (a bell is rung in case you sleep in)
8:00am Lemon tonic
8:15am Briefing
8:30am Walk (with the coastal paths and hills it’s really a brutal two-hour hike, accompanied by Galia)
10:30am Breakfast
11:00am Fitness (circuit and strength training)
12:00pm Yoga or pilates
1:00pm Lunch
3-4:00pm Afternoon tea
(Spa treatments and another afternoon walk of your choosing were fitted in between lunch and dinner)
6:30pm Dinner
7:15pm Evening class of e.g. dance, self-defence, mindfulness, etc.
9:00pm Bed

So you can see it was really well structured. We all got used to our daily routine, and I actually thrived on this part of the week. Working late, eating late (or not eating at all!), going to bed late… these were all bad habits I wanted to kick. Having structure and a routine is SO important, and I’m not saying you can exercise for six hours a day in your normal everyday life, but this was all about getting into good habits.

I found it made me work especially hard knowing that lunch was going to be at 1 pm.

I found it made me take the time to relax and enjoy my spa treatment because I knew it was coming up at 4:30pm.

And boy, did I need to get to bed by 9pm. Work that hard and you NEED all the time in bed you can get. I loved the fact that the communal areas had lights switched out at 9pm so you were forced to retire to your room, have a read of your book, and then switch out the lights.


The food – a vegan menu

This is the part that is probably what most people are curious (and scared) about – the menu. Yes, it’s vegan, and designed to cleanse out your system. At Ilfracombe, the calorie intake is a little higher than at the Hye House location as there are serious hills to climb and you’re therefore burning more calories. And yes, the calorie intake is only around 500 a day.

Now this is the part that most people I’ve spoken to (before and since) react with horror about: How can you survive on 500 calories a day? There’s no way in the world I could do that.

Firstly… you CAN. It’s only five full days. Five days out of your whole life. And secondly – the food is absolutely DELICIOUS.

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I can honestly say, with hand on heart, that the food was amazing (hats off to Alla the chef/housekeeper) – we all cleaned our plates on nearly every occasion. I didn’t leave one scrap of food the whole week – not because I was so hungry I would eat anything put in front of me, but because I loved the food so much. (But then I also love pretty much all food anyway… I’m an easy-to-please dinner guest.) Here are some examples of the meals we had:

Healthy Vegan Meals: My Detox Retreat Weight Loss Experience at Slimmeria | Not Dressed As Lamb

There were obviously a lot of vegetables, but also pearl barley, buckwheat, rice, seeds, nuts, etc. “Afternoon tea” was not what you’re probably thinking (no Devon cream teas of course) – usually fruit and nuts or raisins. Breakfast was always juice (carrot and celery or grapefruit and orange). Lunch was usually cold and raw, dinner was usually something warm and cooked. But it was all very flavoursome with onions, garlic, chilli and seasonings.

So forget those dreaded visions of boiled cabbage and green juices… it couldn’t have been more different.

As far as hunger went, I only really ever felt hungry in the morning on our walks, and even then it didn’t last long. Just a bit of a tummy rumble. But to be honest when you’ve got such a full schedule you just don’t have time to sit and think about how hungry you might be. However, what was the main topic of conversation among the group? That’s right – FOOD. I think about 90% of our conversations revolved around food – good food, naughty food, alcohol consumption, our attitudes towards food. But in a way, it was good that we did because talking about your relationship with food openly with like-minded women really helped.


The walking and fitness programme

This was perhaps the toughest part. Fitness is a MAJOR part of the week because in order to lose weight you need to burn far more calories than you’re consuming. Galia puts a huge emphasis on walking outdoors and its health benefits (I didn’t need any convincing about that part as I agree 100%). We were lucky enough to have the most glorious week of sunshine and mild temperatures, but at Slimmeria you walk all year round, come rain or shine. There are no fitness machines or treadmills. You take walking boots (an absolute must), indoor trainers and outdoor trainers. You need to take countless changes of fitness clothes because by midday you’ll be sweating profusely and will want to change into something fresh and dry.

North Devon Coastal Path: My Detox Retreat Weight Loss Experience at Slimmeria | Not Dressed As Lamb
Ilfracombe, Devon: My Detox Retreat Weight Loss Experience at Slimmeria | Not Dressed As Lamb

Our morning walks were my favourite part of the day. To get out into the fresh air and sunshine, to see the most incredible scenery (the sea views on the coastal paths are stunning) and to get your heart beating and your blood pumping produces an awful lot of endorphins. All those factors are guaranteed to produce positive mental results. What Galia made us do was to walk at our own pace, and then for those in the group that ended up further ahead, we’d walk back to join the others, give high fives all round for encouragement and then continue to walk on.

Team spirit was one of the best things about the week: connecting with a fabulous group of women who all had a similar goal (and who weren’t naysaying with “Oh but you look fine, you don’t need to lose weight…”) was SO brilliant and SO encouraging. Being a team player was vital to the success of our week, especially where tough workouts and steep hills came into it.

Slimmeria Residents, Ilfracombe, Devon: My Detox Retreat Weight Loss Experience at Slimmeria | Not Dressed As Lamb

Photo by Slimmeria

We walked somewhere different every day and climbed hills, trekked over coastal paths, visited tiny coastal villages, walked amongst cows and breathed in sea air. As we were free to walk on our own or with others in the afternoons we did something different each time; Woolacombe beach (a short drive away) – being sandy, flat and three miles long – was a favourite.

Woolacombe Beach, Devon: My Detox Retreat Weight Loss Experience at Slimmeria | Not Dressed As Lamb

The fitness, pilates, dance, etc. classes were all taken by professionals: personal trainers (ex-military) and qualified instructors. The classes were pretty tough, but still a lot of fun. We were lucky enough to do circuit training outside on the terrace in the sunshine nearly every day, adding to the positivity. By the end of the week my muscle-memory had kicked in and I felt stronger and leaner. I found a new passion for pilates (I likened it to a faster, more movement-y yoga if that makes sense).


The location (Ilfracombe, North Devon)

This was SUCH a massive bonus: Ilfracombe itself. There are good and bad points about being in such a picturesque, coastal on the beautiful North Devon coast, however.

The good: the scenery is stunning. There are loads of wonderful shops, art galleries (I may have spent a fair bit of money on some art for our new house…), independent boutiques and amazing-looking cafes and restaurants.

The “bad”: There are loads of amazing-looking cafes and restaurants. I say amazing looking because obviously there is the temptation of walking and passing all the bacon and fish and chips and bread smells. (Personally, I wouldn’t DREAM of going to the retreat and undoing all my hard work by popping in for a cream tea or fish and chips, but people have in the past apparently?! Our group was solid and supportive enough to make sure no one strayed. We were there for each other.)

Ilfracombe Panorama: My Detox Retreat Weight Loss Experience at Slimmeria | Not Dressed As Lamb

The fact that Ilfracombe is so hilly is a huge bonus; your thighs and calves get the ultimate workout even just from walking daily. If we walked round the town we usually made sure we left our wallets at home to avoid temptation of eating/drinking anything naughty.

The harbour is especially fabulous – it boasts the controversial statue “Verity” by British contemporary artist Damien Hirst. She’s in bronze, naked and heavily pregnant, holding a sword up to the sky in one hand and a set of scales in the other. However, in true Damien Hirst fashion you get to see inside her as well as outside… she’s a love-her-or-hate-her work of art – we all LOVED how empowering she is.

Damien Hirst's Verity at Ilfracombe harbour - My Detox Retreat Weight Loss Experience at Slimmeria | Not Dressed As Lamb

So Ilfracombe is somewhere I want to go back to soon just to experience it as a coastal town on a weekend away. Admittedly I want to try all the restaurants and cafes: the seafood places especially. When I’m leaner and fitter I will… I’m desperate for Keith to visit it with me.


How I felt daily from Monday to Saturday

For me personally, I think because I was a very fit person until recently and I didn’t have a huge amount of weight to lose and the fact that I already don’t consume, tea, coffee, much alcohol, fizzy drinks meant I didn’t get the headaches or suffer from sugar withdrawal. If you’re a caffeine and sugar addict I can imagine it will hit you hard, so prepping yourself in advance by cutting them down as much as possible would make a huge difference I’m sure.

I was absolutely exhausted at the end of Monday (the first full day). But with each day I felt gradually fitter and stronger, and apart from my one blip (see highs and lows below) I didn’t suffer any side effects. By the end of Wednesday I was already feeling the positive effects and could see that my prone-to-bloating tummy had gone right back to being flat.

On Thursday afternoon I tackled Capstone Hill again by myself: the difference in my fitness levels was remarkable. On the first night I was wheezing and had to stop many times on the way up; by Thursday I practically raced up it without stopping for breath. I also found myself literally RUNNING up the three flights of stairs to my room to get something just before dinner one evening at the end of the week – without even thinking about it. At the start of the week I was out of breath by the first floor, and nearly dead going up the final, third (fourth?) flight.

The difference in how I felt from Sunday to Saturday was ENORMOUS.


The highs – and the one low

I’ll start with the one low, and it really was minor. Galia warned us that mid-week was the point where you might feel low or pretty rough, but it would be the turning point for sure. My only “blip” was on Wednesday after we’d been doing circuit training on our cores outside in the sun on the terrace. I was hot, tired and really, REALLY didn’t feel like doing pilates straight after as I was aching from all the exercise we’d done up to that point – but I got through it. Once I had lunch my mind switched (oh, the power of a good meal!) and from then on it was onwards and upwards for the rest of the week.

But it goes to show that this is not a sustainable diet/fitness routine, and it’s not designed to be. As Galia says, it’s a short, sharp shock to the system to kickstart good habits. No one should consume so few calories and do that much exercise for more than one week, nor should they do it unsupervised.

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So that was the only (minor) low, so what about the highs? Where do I begin…

~ The food was tasty and beautifully cooked. I absolutely can’t fault it.

~ The days were well structured and gave us little time to get bored or give in to temptation. Plenty of rest time was scheduled in as well as the fitness regime.

~ The fitness was a perfect blend of strength training, calorie burning and walking – and made you feel AMAZING afterwards.

~ One complimentary spa treatment (massages, facials, etc.) was included with my stay, and you can then book more if you wish. I had two deep tissue massages and two relaxation massages, and the former were brutal (a word I know I’ve been using in this post a lot) and the latter were heaven. But they were truly needed because I had really aching shoulders (more than my legs like the rest of the group) and I’m so glad I had them.

~ The scenery: the walks and the surrounding countryside, seascapes and landscapes were out of this world. So many different walks, so many routes, so much to see you’ll never get bored of where you are.

~ The team spirit was everything and I loved the group of ladies I was with. I’ve made friends for life – we’d find ourselves hooting with laughter every single mealtime (and maybe even through fitness classes a bit too, oops). We now have a Whatsapp group to continue to support each other and speak to each other most days.

~ The weather was simply glorious. I know it’s not something that can be controlled, and you do go out in all weathers to walk all year round, but we had a week of Indian summer at the end of September and boy, did it help with the endorphins.

~ It made me appreciate everything so much more and be thankful for what I have in life. Not that I was taking anything for granted before per se, but there’s so much time for reflection (we had a mindfulness class and it really got me thinking) and relaxation that life becomes clearer. The stuff that had been weighing me down before seemed to ebb away day by day.

I came away feeling totally refreshed mentally as well as physically. I’ve honestly never felt better – and I’m 46. I’ve been very slim and very fit before, but much of that was due to stress and unhappiness in my life. This was the time to get both right at the same time.


The results (and the bonuses)

So here we go… what were my results at Slimmeria? To be honest, I felt SO amazing at the end of my week that in a way the potential weight loss was secondary to how good I FELT. But obviously weight loss, when you’ve been piling on the pounds for so long, is a massive bonus and something of a reward at the end for all your hard work.


In the end I lost a total of 8lbs and lost 3″ off my boobs and 3.5″ off my waist (3.6kg, 7.5cm and 9cm)… RESULT!! Pleased? You bet. SO proud of myself.

So it proves what can be achieved in just five days when you put your mind to it. I’ll say it again… this is not meant to be a sustainable diet and fitness regime. It’s a KICKSTART.

The rest of the group did brilliantly as well: 6lbs, 10lbs, 12lbs, 13lbs and 14lbs were lost by the others, and up to 6″ off waists were achieved. We were incredibly proud of ourselves. It’s safe to say we all left on cloud nine.

As far as my health went, I wasn’t getting headaches and I slept like a baby (nearly) every night, waking automatically at 6am just before my alarm would go off. I’ve had bunged up sinuses for absolutely ages, going to bed and waking every morning with a stuffed up nose. That soon went – someone in the group suggested cutting out dairy may well have been a factor, so I was pleased about that too (and am sworn off dairy as much as possible from now on).

Damien Hirst's Verity at Ilfracombe harbour - My Detox Retreat Weight Loss Experience at Slimmeria | Not Dressed As Lamb

I woke up on the last day (Saturday) feeling full of beans, incredibly positive (a bit sad that it was nearly all over though) and craving fresh food like eggs, lean chicken, and fish with lots and lots of vegetables. Rather than coming away wanting to eat all the chocolate and cake I could get my hands on, I just wanted fresh, clean food.

In fact, I was so desperate for eggs I asked Keith to bring a boiled egg in the car with him when he picked me up from the station…!

And finally: the pain in my leg which has plagued me for so long seems to have (=she knocks on wood=) disappeared. There would have been NO WAY I could have done all that exercise last year (pre-op) without my leg going into spasm or causing me severe pain, so getting back into exercise has made all the difference. I’m stunned at how my leg has improved.


The promises I have made to myself

I was full of ideas for my new healthy life by the end of the week. I pledged to do the following:

  1. Look into getting a personal trainer for one session a week (I’m waiting to hear back from those I’ve contacted). I want to “report” to someone while I continue the good habits.
  2. Continue with pilates by signing up to classes at my local gym which is a three-minute walk from our new house.
  3. Book fortnightly deep-tissue massages as recommend by the masseuse.
  4. Get back to regular running like I used to. I always enjoyed it and I miss it.
  5. Go for a fast, fat-burning walk early every morning before Keith goes to work – again, this was a habit that lapsed. Riley is old and slow so dog walking isn’t any sort of fat burner for me unfortunately.
  6. Get to bed early, and stop working at 6pm. I want to structure my days much better so that I’m not working late into the night and then find myself too tired to start early.
  7. Treat myself at the weekends with a little dark chocolate. Ilfracombe has the most incredible artisan chocolate shop where they make everything on site (oh, the irony) – I bought a ton of small, individually wrapped dark chocolate treats to eat at weekends only. Dark chocolate isn’t moreish like sickly milk chocolate so a little once a week will more than satisfy me.


It felt good to make these promises to myself. I may well do a follow up post in a month or two to let you know how I got on with all these things. To start, these were the first meals I cooked on my return…

Healthy Eating Meals After My Detox Retreat Weight Loss Experience at Slimmeria | Not Dressed As Lamb

Exactly the food I was craving. I can’t tell you how my eating habits have changed since I’ve been back.


Slimmeria prices and availability

There are several different packages and prices available at Slimmeria, and you’ll find they offer a lot of deals and discounted prices so it’s worth keeping an eye on their Hot Deals page. For example, prices start at £795 for an “Indian Summer madness” deal for seven days with two spa treatments at Hye House. You can also do short breaks if a week is too long for you… there is loads of choice.

Something to note: the Ilfracombe retreat closes this month for winter and reopens in March, but Hye House is open all year round. If you think what is offered to you and what you get out of this retreat when compared to a stay in an average hotel, it’s VERY good value for money (and you’ll feel so much healthier at the end).


My conclusions about Slimmeria

I think you can tell that I thoroughly enjoyed my week, and I was incredibly proud of my achievements. I came away with so much more than 3 inches off my waist and 8lbs off my frame; I came away with experiences I’ll never forget, a refreshed, revitalised body and mind AND friends for life.

I get that it wouldn’t be for everyone, I’m definitely not saying that. BUT if your goal is to remotivate yourself, to get your head sorted and to kick bad habits into the ground, then this is an amazing way to do it.

If you ARE thinking of embarking on a Slimmeria retreat, for goodness sake make sure you visit your doctor first. If you have any underlying health problems then it’s very important that they’re addressed because the extreme calorie burning and the low-calorie diet may cause you more problems.

Finally: I want to thank Galia and everyone involved in making this happen – and for making it so special for me (they know who they are). Even to Keith for taking the week off work to look after Riley so I could go. It was a week I’m not going to forget in a hurry.

Yes, I lost 8lbs which is incredible… but the experience meant so, SO much more than that to me. It’s up there in my top five life experiences, that’s for sure.


Tell me your thoughts on my experience in the comments… Would you consider going to a Slimmeria retreat? What are YOUR health and fitness goals? Do share!


  1. 26 October 2018 / 8:12 am

    It all sounds fabulous. Congratulations on your success – that’s a huge amount to loose – such a great kick start. Your plans sound so positive. I have 2 old dogs (and 2 young) so we have to walk at a snails pace and I miss the vigorous walks of the past too. Great post. It’s good to know there is a place to turn to when I need putting on the right track xx

    • catherine
      26 October 2018 / 1:52 pm

      Yes, everyone says to me “well at least you have daily dog walks to keep you fit” – having an old dog has done exactly the opposite for me, Maria!! I missed my daily fast walks so I’ve had to find a new time to do them – very early before Keith has left for work. The week was so much about changing habits and often that’s half the battle πŸ™‚

  2. lizzie g
    22 October 2018 / 4:46 pm

    hi catherine, curious to know
    if losing the lbs and inches was temporary or they came back when you went back to normal life?
    has it changed your exercise regime?
    has it changed your diet?
    has it changed your daily routine, meal times, eating times, etc?
    did they assess your injury / health constraints?

    i’ve been immobilised with a back injury for several months and i’ve become a bit soft after no exercise, just wondering if an intensive session is a good investment to get back into shape.

    • catherine
      26 October 2018 / 2:02 pm

      Hi Lizzie – I’ve actually found it hard to keep everything up since being back, but before it got out of hand I made big changes to my work life just this week which I wrote about on Tuesday (my work schedule was out of whack and needed a shake up big time)! I always USED to have a very good diet and a very good (and regular) exercise regime, so for me it was about getting back into it, not creating a new one from scratch. I will admit a few pounds have probably gone back on (my waistbands are a bit tighter again) and that’s mostly because of not doing the exercise since being back. Without wanting to make excuses, it was because I got so behind with work while being on the retreat (the joys of self-employment and not wanting to work during my break!) that I’ve been playing catch ever since I got back and have found myself working late into the night again.

      So I should probably report back to you in a couple of weeks once I get this week out the way… I should be caught up with work by the end of this week, then the “real” regime will start again. My new schedule allows for proper breaks for lunch, an end of work time of 6pm as I mentioned and early nights in bed.

      As for the question about assessment of injuries – yes, the instructors always ask everyone if they have any injuries or health problems which would prevent them doing the exercises. They then allow for anything like that and monitor you and guide you throughout the sessions. With such small groups you’re almost getting one-on-one tuition which is great.

      The massages also help A LOT, so if you did something like this I’d recommend those too. But do make sure you see your doctor first to make sure it’d be right for you! If anything, the mindset you come away with is the most important thing and actually meant so much more to me than the weight loss did – that was just a bonus. Hope this helps x

  3. 14 October 2018 / 11:06 am

    Well done Catherine. Little in life is so rewarding as setting goals and reaching them! As for your new plans: good to set a time to end a working day. As a teacher and part-time blogger I know everything about working at the strangest hours, because for both you are never really done with the work. There is always something you could do, but hey…that does not mean it has to be done today! Love, Lieske

    • catherine
      26 October 2018 / 2:04 pm

      Ugh the working late thing had become such a pain Lieske! I’ve mostly managed to stop work-work at the weekend (as opposed to just putting Stories on Instagram for example), but to have evenings free to spend with my boys is a huge bonus. Thank you so much for the lovely comment! x

  4. 13 October 2018 / 7:24 pm

    It sounds hard but totally worth it. I know I would absolutely benefit from something like that. I must look into it for next year. Thanks for sharing.

    • catherine
      26 October 2018 / 2:05 pm

      Keep an eye out on the deals page Hilda – you could get a great bargain! I’m sure you’ll love it x

  5. 13 October 2018 / 7:05 pm

    That sounds like a week I would love to try and what a perfect part of the world to experience it, Catherine.

    I like the promises you have made to yourself .. I keep telling myself I need to give myself more ‘me time’ and practise more self care, too.

    • catherine
      26 October 2018 / 2:07 pm

      Self care is SO important, isn’t it Sharon?! I felt awful knowing that Keith had a week off work and that I could be spending it at home with him and Riley, but I felt this was time well invested. You’d love Ilfracombe if you went – it’s such a beautiful part of the country!!

  6. JAM
    13 October 2018 / 5:04 pm

    The pictures of your food look good ( The Japanese always say you need to feed your eyes, too). Did you get any recipes you can share?

    • catherine
      26 October 2018 / 2:10 pm

      I didn’t really get recipes as such, Jam – we just asked for what the main ingredients were each time. For example, one meal has a ton of diced raw vegetables, and Alla the chef said that it was covered in an olive oil and mustard sauce. That simple – and it was DELICIOUS! I’ve since been using Dijon mustard (with the whole seeds in it) mixed with olive oil and a little lemon juice as a dressing, and my goodness it’s tasty. I just know that everything was cooked with a lot of garlic and onions, and you always have chilli flakes on the table to sprinkle on your meals… that’s another thing I’ve been doing since being back. Hope that helps! x

  7. 12 October 2018 / 7:15 pm

    I am so pleased for you that you have found “the switch” to return to your good health, good habits and smaller size. I know you want all that so I am glad for you. The fact your leg doesn’t hurt anymore is the best. Indeed without that you couldn’t do this.
    Wishing you lots of success in this endeavour.

    • catherine
      26 October 2018 / 2:12 pm

      Having spent the day with me in Amsterdam with a very sore leg you know firsthand how much pain it was causing me, Greetje! I’m so glad to report that the pain has pretty much gone… I honestly thought at one point it might never get better. The whole experience did wonders for my general well-being πŸ™‚

  8. Mary Katherine Graetz
    12 October 2018 / 1:36 pm

    How wonderful – SO glad you did it, and very happy for you. Eating clean and exercising makes the biggest difference in EVERYTHING else. It sounds like the perfect thing at the perfect time for you. I have watched you struggle with your weight, and I know exactly how it feels, especially if you feel helpless to do anything about it. Thanks for a wonderfully thorough and inspiring review. It’s so encouraging to the rest of us. Keep up the great work – I love your posts!

    • catherine
      12 October 2018 / 2:12 pm

      I’m so glad I did it too, Mary!! I did feel somewhat helpless about my weight, but truthfully I KNEW it was about getting my head in the right place in order to do something about it – but that was what I found hardest. PMA (positive mental attitude!) is incredibly hard to find when you’re letting yourself slide down a slippery slope, it’s so hard to get back up again. Galia and her team have created something that addresses that lack of mojo in the most perfect way, I can’t thank her enough…!

      And thank you for the lovely compliment, I hope you continue to enjoy my posts…! C xoxo

  9. 12 October 2018 / 12:48 pm

    The first thing I notice is the decor! Such a calm and pretty room. Devon is undoubtedly a beautiful part of the world, especially Ilfracombe which is nothing short of spectacular.
    To be honest I wouldn’t ordinarily look twice at a retreat. It’s just not on my radar. Well until now
    I think the entire set up has been so incredibly well thought out nobody could fail to feel rejuvenated. What a wonderful experience for you Catherine! This is definitely something I’d like to do now that I’ve read your post.

    • catherine
      12 October 2018 / 1:37 pm

      You should see the rest of the hotel, MT – you’d LOVE it!! Rejuvenation was definitely the most important aspect. It was such an amazing experience.

  10. 12 October 2018 / 12:39 pm

    Goodness Catherine, I hear you when you talk about operations. After I broke my collarbone in September 2014, I was out of action for a whole year yoga-wise. Even then the vinyasa yoga I was used to (a very active style) was beyond me. Happening at the same time was the start of the change, hence my metabolism slowing, and meeting a wonderful man who is also a wonderful cook. All these things combined and I put on weight.

    Needless to say it depressed me (apart from the wonderful man, of course!). However, I’m happy to say I’ve shifted it, although maybe not in perfect circumstances. Bad cells were discovered on my vocal chords earlier this year, and even though they weren’t immediately threatening I had radiotherapy as a precaution. As a result I could only have soup and smoothies and I’ve shed a heap. Not back to what I was but that’s also fine because I was too low. I also changed my hrt to a higher dose which is probably speeding up my metabolism.

    My confidence has improved as has the yoga. I would much rather have done it *your* way, of course. But the point is that being a healthy weight is definitely in terms of emotional as well as physical health, so I was able to find a silver lining.

    Well done and best of luck! Xx

    • 12 October 2018 / 12:42 pm

      *Should read definitely beneficial in terms of emotional as well as physical health.

      • catherine
        12 October 2018 / 1:40 pm

        Oh my goodness I forgot you’d broken your collarbone as well Emerald, of course your op on your vocal chords was around the time of my cyst removal. It’s good to hear you shifted your own weight (a husband who cooks can be a curse, lol! πŸ˜‰ ), and you’re right about needing to be healthy. And thank you!!!

  11. 12 October 2018 / 12:32 pm

    Fantastic result and even more telling that you loved it and went away fired up. I may well go to Ilfracombe and give it a try myself next year – being an ex-Devonian. I miss that part of the world.

    • catherine
      12 October 2018 / 1:41 pm

      Thank you Gail…! If you do think about going don’t wait too long as I know it gets booked up very quickly. As I said keep an eye on the website for special offers, you could get a great deal! Let me know if you do go, I’d love to hear about it x

  12. 12 October 2018 / 10:43 am

    Oh catherine, I know how much you got out of this experience from the few messages you sent when you were there, but, wow!!!! I didn’t know just how much you loved it. I can totally see why though. The views, the routine, the yummy food. Everything! And I’m so pleased you had such excellent results, both measurable/physical and non-measurable/emotional. Gorgeous photos too. Have a lovely weekend my lovely xxxx

    • catherine
      12 October 2018 / 1:43 pm

      I didn’t send many messages during the week as I was so busy Liz!!! heehee

      Thank you – the weather played such a major part but really, it would be an incredible experience come rain or shine. I’m still dreaming about the food now…! C x

  13. 12 October 2018 / 10:27 am

    WOW it sounds like you had the most incredible time, Catherine. It sounds similar to when I did my yoga teacher training – seriously hard work but so rewarding in every way possible. I’ve got Devon and Cornwall on my to-visit list for some time in the next couple of years so will have to include Ilfracombe because it sounds absolutely gorgeous!
    Well done for achieving some amazing results. I have to say, I ADORE that selfie you took behind Damien Hirst’s sculpture. You look so happy and so full of life. Love it!
    Suzy xx

    • catherine
      12 October 2018 / 1:45 pm

      It was DEFINITELY rewarding, Suzy :D! I really felt amazing when I took that selfie… it was just one of many good days. (Though they were ALL good to be fair!) Thank you, and yes do go to Devon & Cornwall if you get the chance, it’s so beautiful x

  14. 12 October 2018 / 8:44 am

    It sounds to have been an inspiring experience. Congratulations on your physical and mental success Catherine. I hope you’ve hung on to some of your old clothes and look forward to seeing them re styled Sarah aka badassbabyboomer

    • catherine
      12 October 2018 / 1:46 pm

      Thank you Sarah – yes they’re all ready waiting! I can’t fit in them yet but waistbands are getting looser… I’m on the right track x

  15. 12 October 2018 / 8:34 am

    Wow what an amazing week! I became vegan 4 months ago and absolutely love it. I have become lazy though and in the last few weeks I’ve eaten far too many vegan pizzas. I need to lose 5 pounds to feel myself again so am back to intermittent fasting daily (not eating for 14 hours from say 9pm the night before to 11am the next day) and walking as much as possible. I love that this has given you the kick-start you needed. The location looks incredible and it was wonderful to read about the friends you made. Quitting dairy will help everything-sinuses, hormones etc. You are glowing here xx

    • catherine
      12 October 2018 / 1:48 pm

      Gosh yes I remember you going vegan Vicki! Though I think it must be tough having Greek parents who own a restaurant, no?!! πŸ˜‰

      Walking is SO, good, isn’t it? It’s one thing I really let slip – an old slow dog gives you an excuse for not going on fast walks anymore – and I’ve really felt the difference. It always kept excessive weight gain at bay for me. But no more! No more excuses! Good habits all the way now x

  16. 12 October 2018 / 7:33 am

    Great post Catherine. Well done with your success and I’m sure this will be much easier to maintain now you’ve had all of this wonderful advice and input. The last photo of you shows you looking so healthy and more importantly happy! I’m all for these team building adventure type holidays – you can’t fail to be successful with all of these others egging you on. Talking of eggs – not sure I could bear to be without my morning boiled eggs for so long!

    Anna x

    • catherine
      12 October 2018 / 1:53 pm

      Thank you Anna!! You’re so inspiring with your open water swimming… I won’t say I’ll go that far (cold water and I don’t mix!) but you’re so incredibly fit and healthy, you inspire me to stay on top of my game.

      And YES to the boiled eggs!! I was talking about boiled eggs all week at the retreat…! lol πŸ˜‰

  17. 12 October 2018 / 1:55 am

    Sounds heavenly, even the hill walks. And a total turn-around, in a magical building.

    • catherine
      12 October 2018 / 1:54 pm

      The hill walks were fabulous Ratnamurti, hard work but wonderful x

  18. 11 October 2018 / 9:37 pm

    First, I want you to come to my house RIGHT THIS MINUTE and make me that soup that you have pictured at the end of your post! Once I eat that, I want to jump on a train and go straight to Slimmaria for a week before the weather turns too cold. I would dearly DEARLY love to go on a week long jump start there. I love Galia for saying the extra walks are not obligatory but they ARE mandatory, hahaha. I love someone telling ME what to do, for a change!

    I am especially impressed that the meals are vegan; there is something about cutting out flour, sugar, and dairy (and meat of course) that makes you feel so alive and vibrant. Plus the hiking and the sea air along the coastline must be so invigorating. I am hoping that if I stare at your pictures long enough, I might soak in some of the benefits. Honestly, I would go there in a flash. I always planned to go on a similar break in Spain, but if there is one this good in the UK, why bother flying? This is officially ON. MY. LIST. Thanks for such a thorough review. xxx

    • catherine
      12 October 2018 / 1:57 pm

      I have to say that that soup was incredible tasting as well, Lisa… cod and prawn miso soup with just about vegetable you can think of! It was exactly what I was craving by the end of the week πŸ˜€

      You’re right about cutting out those things, especially dairy – and in your case, sugar. I couldn’t believe how amazing you looked the first time I saw you after your sugar detox!!

      You’d honestly love it at Slimmeria, I know you well enough to know you’d thrive there. Hye House might be nearer for you, obviously the programme is the same at both locations but having done Ilfracombe and living in Devon anyway I guess I’m biased…! x

  19. 11 October 2018 / 9:30 pm

    Catherine, that sounds like *the’* perfect place to get fit and in shape again!!
    Since I am vegetarian anyway, I love vegan food , the outdoors exercises sound challenging as well as a beautiful experience at the same time. I am glad you had such a great time and I am sure it was a great kick-off into your health routine at home!

    xx Annette

    • catherine
      12 October 2018 / 2:00 pm

      I can just imagine you loving it Annette, being both a veggie and an outdoorsy, hiking person. For me it really was the kick up the bum I needed…!!!! Thank you x

  20. Andria
    11 October 2018 / 8:47 pm

    Loved my time at the Slimmera Retreat with you Catherine and the other ladies made it one of the best experiences of my life.
    With all the encouragement, support we have each other and with all other own personal reasons why we wanted to be here. I will be coming again for a reunion next year.
    I feel, this is what I needed to get my health back on track and my fitness mojo back and with 13 lbs lost and 5 new friends gained what more could I want in a beautiful location in a Devon Ilfracombe.
    Thank you Galia and the lovely Alla for making this worth while and making me a better version of myself. Xxx

    • catherine
      12 October 2018 / 2:02 pm

      Aww Andria didn’t we have an AMAZING time?! I think we had a really, really special group. The results were just the icing on the cake – my GOODNESS didn’t we all do well?

      I’m definitely up for a reunion and to do it all again next year!! Much love x

  21. Kay Bailey
    11 October 2018 / 8:16 pm

    Catherine, I was there with you , my fourth visit to Galia and third to Ilfracombe over 4 years. I went initially to get in shape for my daughters wedding and it set me on a pathway to health and happiness. I will return next year, it puts my head in the tight place and I hope to take my daughter with me for the second time. She loved it too. Galia is just the best and Alla sooo looks after us.

    • catherine
      12 October 2018 / 2:04 pm

      Kay you were a total inspiration, you absolute fittie, you!! I’m with you on the “getting your head in the right place” aspect and I can TOTALLY see why you go regularly. It was so wonderful to meet you and the other gorgeous girls, and of course the wonderful team of Galia and Alla too. Hope to see you again next year…! C x

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