After an amazing summer of wine, food and the very rare British sunshine I found myself moving into September feeling pretty rubbish. I had fallen in to bad habits, drinking every day, reaching for crisps and sweets as a pick me up and eating large portions. All my clothes started getting tighter and I was relying on my ‘baggy’ wardrobe. So me and Jason decided to take ourselves off to Jason Vale’s Juicy Oasis in Portugal to have a detox and a reset. I’ve been twice before for 4/5 days with friends, Amanda Holden, Nicola Stephenson and Tamzin Outhwaite so this was going to be the first time going as a couple, Jason having never juiced before. I’ve never done the full 7 days before and thought that this was the ideal time. We asked my mother in law to come and watch our girls as we went for the first holiday ever together where we didn’t buy booze in the airport to ‘keep in our room’.
Jason was understandably worried about what the experience would entail, he loves his food and the idea of not sitting down to eat filled him with dread. I assured him that at no point in the week would he be hungry, which he found hard to believe. But its true! What you do miss is the ritual of eating, the choosing and planning of the restaurant, browsing through menus, the act of using a knife and fork. But its only for seven days I assured him.
We arrived in Lisbon on the Saturday evening and then had a 1.5 hour transfer to Serta. I admit that we indulged in Prosecco and Kitkats on the plane, and a lovely meal at the airport knowing that we weren’t going to be having any solid food, alcohol or processed food. On arrival at the retreat we were met with a fresh juice, a quick tour of the hotel, and then we were shown to our room. There are a few different room types to choose from including Ecopods and Jacuzzi rooms. Ours was a Bubblicious room which meant we had a kingsized bed, big bath and a balcony overlooking the lake. The rooms are lovely, very simple and airy. You have a little straw bag with your name attached for you to ferry your bits and bats around for the week, a pair of slippers, a pool towel (which you get to keep at the end of the stay), some sleep spray, a latest copy of the Juiced magazine and a dressing gown.
We woke up early on Sunday morning for the first full day there. It was full of introductions, to the team, your fellow juicers, the classes, the games and of course the juices themselves. Its a gentle ease in to what can be a tough physical week (if you so choose).
This is drummed into you during the talks, the week is yours, its up to you, you can do as little or as much as you like, even during the classes, if you decide that its too much nobody is going to judge you for leaving.
There are such a range of people there, from 20 to 80 years old, men, women, people who have never juiced before, people who have never yoga-ed before, tall, short, fat, thin, British, American, Swiss, married, single, in a group, on their own. We found ourselves sharing a week with the very talented and all round lovely lady Beverly Knight and her husband James O’Keefe, we spent lots of time with them, but we also make friends with all the other Juicers, it was a very sociable week. Going with my friends usually means that we hang out with each other generally, but just being with Jason meant I socialised much more.
The first and last of the day have an avocado or a banana blended into them so they are thick and creamy and much more filling. There are a few treats along the way too, melon and a Juice version of ice cream which is really interesting. When the melon comes and you have to use your jaw you realise how much you haven’t been using it!
Every day has a different schedule of activities with a few things staying the same. The day begins with yoga followed by a big walk on one of the many walking paths in the area. The walk are my favourite part of the day, the surrounding areas of Juicy Oasis are stunning, lush green landscapes, with well worn paths that spiral up into the surrounding hills, the view over the lake are incredible. The walks can be done at a pelt or you can chat and take your time, some people even put on extra 5kg vests to get a souped up workout (I am not one of those people, my husband is). By the end of the week there is a 10k walk to Dornes which some people can’t believe they achieve having never really done big hikes before. Yoga is the same, you don’t need to have done any before to join the classes and you’ll be surprised by how much you improve as the week goes on.
There are various, changeable fitness classes, (spinning, legs/bums/tums, bands, circuits) to dip in and out of and Rebounding, which is a class of mini trampoline jumping with sing-a-long tracks that you can’t help grinning the whole way through. Then there are the games. Volleyball, throw ball, sometimes football. Lets get this straight. I LOVE GAMES. I love them. Its not because i’m some brilliant player, but I love the team play, working with others and exercising without having to think about it. There were people who had never played before who by the end of the week were scoring ace after ace on their serves in the volleyball, the confidence that was built was incredible, and such fun. In the afternoon you get 3 hours to just chill and do what you like. It was 35 degrees the whole week that we were there so I sunbathed, read my book, dipped in the pool and also did little bits of work, emails and so on. Although one of the faults for me, others may see this as a positive, is that the wifi and phone signal is pretty pants.
Each evening after the final juice there is a film shown in the little screening room, either a documentary on juicing, health and nutrition (really not as boring as it may sound and they also really keep you going if you hit a wall, they remind you what a favour you are doing to your body), or an old classic film such as Good Will Hunting or Dirty Dancing. The film takes you through to 10pm by which time we were absolutely shattered.
All the juices, films, classes etc are included in your price for the week but there are also some little extras that you can pay for separately. A lovely spa with manicures, massages and other beauty treatments are perfect for a pampering but there is also a cryotherapy unit there which Jason used to treat a bruised rib that he had. Its 3 minutes in a ridiculously cold unit and promises to fix all kind of ills, boost metabolism and help lose weight too. I hate the cold!!
….. and then there are the colonics. We all remember Gillian McKeiths obsession with poo, well after a couple of these babies you might also get the same obsession. They aren’t my favourite thing to do in the world, but if you you are going to detox your whole system you may as well give yourself a thorough flushing out and get rid of some of that poo you’ve had inside you since 1982. Its a funny old sensation and a very bizarre thing to do with a complete stranger, but the therapists have been doing this for years, they’re fully trained, and it really all is in a days work for them. I have a sensitive gut so the whole treatment has to be very gentle for me or I get massive cramps. I’ve had it done twice before, both times at Juicy, but this time it went much better than before and I ‘held’ more water. The first I had on Sunday and the second on the Wednesday which was very successful. I got told to cut down on the sugar, chew more throughly, find out what foods bloat me and cut down on them, and take a probiotics as I’m very gassy. I’ve taken all that on board and my tummy is flatter and happier than its been for a while. Jason was very reticent about having one, but having got over the initial trepidation, he’s now an advocate. The colonics are treated the same as everything else at the retreat, if you don’t like it and you don’t want to, you don’t have to.
After a week of juice, exercise, meditation, yoga and relaxation we went home feeling throughly recharged and rested but eager to keep it going. We’d worked so hard, sweated and fought that we didn’t want to just fall off the wagon the minute we got home so we did a healthy supermarket shop and started looking up recipes to continue our health kick once home. We also wanted to share it with our kids, pass on the positive vibes that we gained from the retreat, give them some healthy habits. Its much easier to do this when its coming from both mum and dad, rather than me just arriving home like some weirdo health nutter.
I measured and weighed myself before I went and I lost 5lbs and 3”, so I was really pleased with the results. And as I’m keeping up the healthy lifestyle I hope to lose a little bit more.
Check out www.juicyoasis.com to find out more.