Last weekend, I went on a 48 hour 'Detox Weekend Retreat' run by Maria Donlon of LifeCleanse (www.lifecleanse.ie). I have been following Maria on Instagram for some time now and signed myself up to this weekend a few months back. Maria is a nutritional consultant who specialises in detox programmes. She is also a certified yoga teacher. She decided to make her passion for nutrition and yoga a career and founded LifeCleanse. LifeCleanse's Detox Weekend Retreat is described as a weekend of organic detoxifying food and juices, yoga and breathwork classes and beach walks less than an hour from Dublin.
The weekend is held in a retreat centre near Brittas Bay in County Wicklow and the surroundings are very quiet and peaceful. On arrival, the first thing I noticed was the beautiful countryside and the next thing I noticed was the pretty non-existant mobile phone reception. Not just a food detox but also a technology detox. Perfect!! There were five others on the detox too, a good number as we needed the mutual support over the weekend when the hunger pangs kicked in. The number was still small enough to ensure we had excellent access to Maria throughout the weekend.
I was attracted to the sound of this retreat as I wanted a weekend away from stress and an opportunity to relax and unwind. In the run up to the weekend, I didn't really think of the 'detox' element of the programme as I figured the food would be pretty much the same as I eat at home, i.e. healthy and unprocessed. As I eat healthy pretty much 95% of the time I was sure I would be well able to handle the 'detox' element of the weekend. Anyway, it seems to me that the word 'detox' is used all the time to describe all sorts of healthy and semi-healthy products and services. It's used to such an extent that I largely ignore it and it has lost alot of meaning for me. However, in the case of this weekend, the retreat is very much a 'detox' and the use of the word has real meaning. The idea is to give your body much needed support to help it to detox. Sounds good to me.
We ate and drank green juices, wheatgrass, herbal teas, coconut water, green leaves, cucumbers, sprouts, sea weed, broccoli, onions, raw corn soup, butternut squash, chia seeds and a bowl of quinoa and vegetables just before we left for home. I never thought I would be so happy to see quinoa. Honestly, I was pretty much starving all weekend and had waves of headaches and exhaustion throughout. Thankfully, I had five others to share the experience and to provide support. At this point you may be wondering, where is the positive?!
For me, there are lots of positives to weekends like this. Come Sunday evening and Monday, I felt absolutely great and had masses of energy. I also had the flatest tummy I have had in a long time (and this seems to be lasting). But more importantly for me, this weekend served as a reboot. It left me energised both physically and emotionally. I really feel good about my diet and the changes I have made and am continuing to make. It reminded me that even though I eat a very healthy diet, there is always room for improvement. It also reminded me that the food I eat is crucial to my wellbeing and has encouraged me to continue to eat well.
Aside from the food, it was lovely to meet new people and spend time getting to know them. The yoga element of the weekend was fantastic, especially the restorative session we did Saturday evening before dinner. The retreat is located about a ten minute walk from a beautiful beach which was perfect for long walks in the fresh air. Each person has there own unsuite bedroom which is great for privacy and also meant I got two great nights sleep.
Maria is a very nice person, which is super important when you are spending an entire weekend with someone. She is very knowlegable about food and it's affect on the body. She is more than happy to sit and chat and answer questions. In fact, the entire weekend was an informal Q&A. I learned new things and definitely feel like the weekend has served as reboot. I think this type of weekend is really worth doing once or twice a year. I don't think I can honestly say I enjoyed the weekend, but I am most definitely glad I did it.
Maria is running a similar Detox Weekend Retreat in Brittas Bay, Co. Wicklow from January 8th-10th 2016 for anyone who is interested in a New Year fresh start.