When I was 14, my mother put me on a diet. "You have thin arms and legs," she said. "It's a shame you have a fat belly."
At 5ft 8 inches I weighed just over 9, the perfect weight for my height. Nevertheless, I was starving to lose a stone – that's how my weight problem started.
Inevitably I put this stone back on and then a lot more. In my 40s, after years of the yo-yo diet, I weighed 14. So I joined the women in the loos before the Weight Watchers meetings and hoped to lose an extra ounce before weighing. But the needle on the scales kept moving.
Then I discovered the magical combination of fasting and extreme movement. Not eating is easier than dieting, I found. Add exercise per day in three hours, and the weight will evaporate damn.
In six months I almost fell to 4th place, dizzy with excitement until I got gallstones (a common side effect of sudden weight loss). That did not stop me either.
Jane Alexander with Marina Efraimoglou, the owner of the Euphoria Therme in Peloponnese on the Greek mainland. She lost after her visit to the spa town of 4lbs
But on the day I fainted on the highway freeway just before the low blood sugar, I was the day I reluctantly stopped fasting. The weight galloped back. As I howled over my fat, my doctor shrugged. "It's genetic," she said. It seems like I was born to be fat in the middle.
I rated the spas like a junkie packing the next fix. I went to fasting juice and boot camps that were so hard that I threw up.
Yes, I lost weight, but it inevitably came back. I knew that not only my weight but my entire relationship with my body and my food itself was mixed up.
Then I heard about Euphoria Retreat, the new It-Spa for women who can not lose weight. 19659002] Located on the Peloponnese in mainland Greece, it offers something called the Nutrigenomics program. Under the guidance of molecular nutritionist George Leon, we will examine what goes on in your body down to the cellular level. The focus is on the new field of epigenetics: how nutrition and lifestyle can influence the expression of our genes. Could I perhaps pick up the perseverance of my 50s body to keep me fat in the middle?
It sounded appropriately scientific and reassuring, though watery, expensive. A few weeks later I was sitting in a small room in Greece and had enough blood to satisfy Dracula, who was taken from my arms. My entire biochemistry has been scrutinized. The next stop was the gym, where I was strapped into a harness, got a mask to put on my face, and made to the cross trainer. This would seem to show how my metabolism worked and which fuel my body used.
Antonia Vasilakou, the resident nutritional therapist, asked me about my eating habits. I told her I had super-filled porridge for breakfast. "That's great," she said. "And lunch?" Um, maybe some slices of toast. She looked less impressed. & # 39; & # 39 dinner?; I mumbled into my hair. "Um … oatmeal?"
I hate cooking and since I lived alone after my separation from my husband, I often can not bother to eat properly. So I mainly consumed carbohydrates, including occasionally (or two) (one or two large) chocolate bars.
Antonia attached herself to electrodes to measure my fat. I got in and winced. I came in 13th and my waist was 38 cm.
Antonia handed me over to George Leon and his colleague dr. Ioannis Charizanis, a specialist in metabolism. I felt like a naughty schoolgirl.
I hate cooking, and since I lived alone after parting with my husband, I often can not eat properly. So I basically consumed carbohydrates, including the occasional (big) bar of chocolate (or two).
"They basically have only thin arms and legs," Dr. Leon. "But your middle saves fat." Tell me something I do not know. The next part, however, brought me up sharply. My fat tumor put my health and even my life in danger. I had always known that belly fat was not a good thing, but I had stuck my head firmly in the sand.
Weight is not really the main factor here – it's the width of your waist. For women older than 35 inches (and 40 inches for men), this indicates that you may be storing potentially dangerous belly fat.
This material clings to your organs and is associated with serious illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and dementia. The physicians explained that abdominal fat cells effectively form a whole organ that secretes hormones and other biochemicals.
Then they showed me my blood levels, the alarming parts red like a bad school report. The next hour was dazed when they hit me with a biochemistry lesson.
It turned out that not only did I have too much fat – I had too much of everything. My series of states had alarming names and it all started with "hyper" (too much): hypercatecholaminic syndrome, hyperlipidemia, hyperuricemia. Roughly translated, I had far too many stress hormones, too much cholesterol and too much uric acid. My liver was "exhausted"; my immune system was on my knees.
In addition to medical advice and fitness programs, Euphoria offers everything from Watsu (similar to Shiatsu, the Japanese massage) water) to floatation therapy, from chakra balancing to acupuncture. Jane was prescribed meditation and yoga to relieve stress and massage to release the tension from her body.
When I went to my GP, they said, I would probably get statins and be warned that I would be on the way to getting diabetics.
My habit of porridge did not help, but it was not all a diet. High cortisol (a stress hormone) had led to my insomnia, which was partly responsible for my stressed liver. The knock-on effect was poor glucose management and poor fat metabolism leading to weight gain.
Obviously this is a general picture in middle-aged women. A large part of us lives with permanently increased stress hormones and exhausted liver.
We try to break down fat, but this makes the problem even worse by interfering with our metabolism.
Leon calms me, although it was not a beautiful picture, I could put myself on the right track again. "Our health is in our hands. It's a matter of choice, "he said. "We can adjust this again in days."
I had to lose third place, not because I was starving myself, but by using diet and exercise in a precise manner. My goal was to change my metabolism from burning carbs to burning fat by eating something every three hours – three main meals and two or even three snacks.
I had to lose the third part, not by hunger, but by diet and exercise in an accurate way. My goal was to change my metabolism from burning carbs to burning fat by eating something every three hours – three main meals and two or even three snacks.
It was more than I ate in my life. Breakfast was omelette with salad or porridge with nuts and berries. In the morning I drank a superfood-rich smoothie for antioxidants. For lunch there was soup, then salad, followed by grilled fish or chicken with vegetables.
In the afternoon there was a protein biscuit or yoghurt with fruit. The Lord's Supper was a palm-sized piece of protein plus vegetables.
So no pills, no potions? "We adapt the diet to the specific needs of each person," said Leon. We use certain foods instead of supplements. It is the safest, easiest and healthiest way. "
It was a blissful non-faddy. Only the good old Mediterranean diet, but in precise portions.
I thought my comeuppance was coming to the gym, but no. Vasilis, the personal trainer, judged me. "They are tall and your arms and legs are thin, but …" Yes, yes, I know.
He prescribed an hour of brisk walking daily (my dog will be happy) and a week in the gym three times – a combination of aerobic exercise on a treadmill and bicycle with light effort.
So far, so reasonable. But euphoria is not an average medi-spa. Her owner Marina Efraimoglou had a serious health risk – a cancer diagnosis that prompted her to explore the world's most potent tools for self-transformation and healing.
In addition to no-nonsense advice and fitness programs, Euphoria offers everything from Watsu (similar to shiatsu, the Japanese massage performed in water) to floatation therapy, from chakra balancing to acupuncture. I was prescribed meditation and yoga to relieve stress and relieve tension.
A session with ThetaHealing was also on my plan. It's a mix of meditation and visualization, exploring how emotional energy affects our health. I had been skeptical, but an interesting story emerged in my session. The therapist Katerina brought me back and followed in the footsteps of my memories.
I do not know exactly how, but she brought me into a relaxed state similar to deep relaxation.
The Overview of the Euphoria Plan
At Euphoria everything is tailored to each person. However, there are general guidelines for healthy weight loss that can be followed by every midlife woman at home.
. 1 Eat three main meals per day plus two (or even three) snacks. The goal is to eat every 3-4 hours. It is not a case of grazing during the whole day.
. 2 The main meals should be balanced with egg whites, green vegetables and small portions of complex carbohydrates (wholemeal pasta, pasta, bread). Think of the classic Mediterranean diet. A serving of protein is about the size of your palm.
. 3 Eat healthy fats every day – oily fish, avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds. Avoid sugar if possible.
. 4 Snacks could be a protein smoothie; a small portion of yoghurt with fruits; a handful of nuts. Always take some protein (nuts and seeds) next to fruit (to avoid blood sugar spikes).
. 5 Stay well hydrated. Drink water all day long instead of choking. Adding chia seeds to your water bottle will make you feel fuller.
. 6 Integrate exercise into everyday life. A brisk walk for an hour is great. The workouts are good, but do not work out as this puts a strain on the body. Mindful Yoga is good (choose a gentle class like Hatha or Yin).
. 7 Learn stress management techniques (high stress hormones cortisol stop the body burning fat). A simple meditation practice (Try apps like Buddhify) can be helpful. Also, practice abdominal breathing (concentrate on the abdomen while inhaling and squeeze it out, releasing the air pressure as you exhale). This concerns the parasympathetic nervous system (the rest and repair cycle).
. 8 Sleep well to balance your hormones and reduce stress.
. 9 Avoid alcohol. It not only increases the calorie intake but also pollutes the liver and affects your sleep patterns.
10th Avoid fasting, as this can affect the metabolism.
It started like psychotherapy, and Katerina asked me what I would like to change. At first, I said I wanted to become more assertive. Was that, she wondered, connected with anger? She asked me to remember the earliest time I hurt someone by expressing anger.
I remembered an incident when I was a child when I pushed my friend, who had fallen down a staircase, intermittently. Katerina asked what I felt and I answered, "Guilty."
When she asked me to think about the first time I felt guilty, I imagined I was in the womb. My mother had miscarriages and abortions, and I realized that I felt guilty about the siblings who did not make it. Tears fell over my face and I strangely felt a sense of dread as I realized that the uterus was not a safe place for me.
And so it turned out that the & # 39; script & # 39; or the pattern that runs My life is a deep lack of security – I'm not sure; I'm afraid there will not be enough. Apparently it did not just start in childhood but in the womb itself.
Sound crazy? Research shows that trauma can be transmitted in the uterus and even influence our genes. My mother had not only experienced the rationed war years, she suffered from malnutrition before I was born. Could my embryonic self start to store fat to fight off hunger?
It was an interesting theory, but I had enough on my plate. I had been warned that I probably would not lose weight at first, as my metabolism adapted to the new way of eating, but I still felt abandoned when I had not lost a single pound on my last day.
"It's not a quick fix," Marina said. "The work really starts when you get home. Some people even gained weight, but in the following weeks it starts to regulate.
The Nutrigenomics plan does not end when you leave the door. You stay in touch for three months and contact the resident nutritionist and physicians via Skype and an online platform that optimizes your diet and exercise guidelines.
Back home I had problems. The meal plans are precise and cooking felt like a full time job. The breakfast could include an omelette with two egg whites and one egg yolk, mushrooms and peppers, 40 grams of avocado and 30 grams of gluten-free bread rolls. Lunch could be or 100 g of grilled tuna with salad (with cabbage, 50 g of grated carrots and a tablespoon of pine nuts).
Even eating so much food after a lifetime of depriving myself made me uncomfortable. I realized that my biggest fight would be with my mind.
Almost a month later I lost 4 cm and 1 inch from my waist – it's slow but healthy.
I think of my meeting with the doctors back at Euphoria. I had mumbled something about willpower and psychology.
Leon had none of this. "It's really a matter of priority," he said. "If you want to kill yourself, you have the choice." Ouch.
I had gone to Euphoria, hoping for a magic bullet that would melt my stomach. Instead, they had given me truths at home and read the uprising. It was not about losing weight to look better in a bathing suit. It was about turning to my health.
We think of spas as places of sybaritic beauty treatments and boring massages. But euphoria may just be the spa that saves your life. [Nutrigenomics7-dayretreat(plus3-monthfollow-upplan)atEuphoriaRetreatcostsfrom£4695(healingholidayscouk)