Wellness and mindfulness are both hot topics at the moment; with much being said about how taking just a few minutes out of your day to ‘be mindful’ can have a huge impact on your productivity and overall wellbeing.
For those that aren’t so au fait with the term ‘mindful’ or ‘mindfulness’; to be mindful simply means ‘focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging one’s feelings’, a form of short meditation.
We all spend hours in the gym, at the barbers and some at the Spa, but it is important that we take the time to look within and get away from the hustle and bustle of every day life to let the mind rest.
Last Friday afternoon Josie and I were picked up from our house for a Weekend of ‘Wellness by the Lakes’. This concept has been devised by the founders of Lakes By yoo, a stunning 650 acre private estate centred around a number of manmade lakes and beautiful woodlands. The estate is situated just a few hours from London, outside Lechlade in Gloucestershire.
Upon arrival we were warmly welcomed by the team and introduced to the itinerary for the days ahead. Wellness By The Lakes is a balancing and spiritual retreat designed to offer lasting lifestyle benefits, a harmonising diet rich in alkaline plant-based foods, mindfulness and wholesome wellbeing. First impressions were very welcoming and both Josie and I agreed the decor of the house we were staying in could only be described as ‘blogger porn’.
We were whisked away from the main house to where we would be staying, the interiors were an absolute dream, definite house goals! Here we were told of the plan for the days at Lakes By yoo – plant based eating – sunrise yoga – massages and reiki – evening meditation and forestry cycling all lie ahead; the ultimate well-being itinerary!
Now I don’t want this post to turn into a ‘dear diary’ (!!) so I have broken down the retreat into a few key areas:
We were very lucky to be accompanied to the Lakes by Bettina Campolucci-Bordi from Bettina’s Kitchen, a leader in plant based eating and an all-round vegan warrior. Over the course of the retreat she not only cooked up some unbelievably beautiful and tasty food, but also helped us understand the importance of plants in our diet and how easy it can be for us all to incorporate more in our every day lives.
Disclaimer: At this point I must state that I was still not wholeheartedly convinced, being a huge lover of meat and eggs I was slightly concerned to be told breakfast would contain no animal protein; but over the course of the 3 days I can honestly say I really didn’t miss eating these foods and enjoyed discovering many new ways of using everyday plant produce.
Below is one of the delicious breakfasts we were treated to during our stay. Buckweat and Oats porridge with coconut cream and turmeric and stewed wild berries. It was perfection in a bowl!
After the retreat I felt like my energy levels were much higher and my skin had improved, it was almost glowing. There is no doubt that eating organic and raw vegetables and fruit can have a hugely positive impact on both the way we feel inside and out. Cutting out refined sugar was key to this empowered feeling and its something we should all be aware of, refined sugar is in almost everything these days and it can easily be replaced with natural sugars like date syrup and honey.
The below is a raw cacao torte; using date syrup and coconut butter it contained no gluten or refined sugar, yet is one of the tastiest things I have eaten to date! (no pun intended)
If you are interested in Bettina’s recipes, she has a number of amazing creations outlined on her blog here.
A quote that stuck with me from Bettina was ‘most people have no idea how good their body is designed to feel’ and since this break Josie and I have started to give more thought to what we put in our bodies and importantly where it comes from.
It’s common knowledge that exercising is good for our bodies, but how many of us change up our routine? Gordon Bosworth, a leading physiotherapist and chief physio to team GB at London 2012 raised the point that rarely do we mix up and alter our daily gym schedules and that repetitive exercise can actually cause more problems than positives.
We were fortunate to have one-on-one sessions with Gordon during our stay and it changed my outlook on how I exercise. I hold my hands up that I often do the same routines week in week out, maybe increasing weight but hardly changing anything. When you think about it, its common sense that we need to add variety and test our bodies in different ways to develop.
A quote from Gordon that stuck with me was ‘there are all particular exercises that we dislike. These are the exercises that tend to be the most beneficial and have the biggest impact’. Food for thought although I’m not sure Ill be jumping on the pull up bar anytime soon…
A key focus of the Wellness By yoo programme was exercise for the mind and meditation played a key part throughout our stay.
Amanda Barlow from Spiezia organics lead the retreat and she opened my eyes to how taking just a few minutes to collect your thoughts and breathe, can have a lasting impact on the rest of your day. Every evening we spent time as a group meditating before bed and my sleep improved every single day; amazing how just focusing the mind on positive thoughts can impact such a crucial part of our lives – sleep.
Spiezia make some unbelievable skincare products, using 100% organic ingredients. I will be reviewing some of their products in an upcoming post, but to prove how organic Spiezia products are, Amanda used their mindful moments oil as a dressing one evening for a kale salad!
Amanda was full of useful and inspiring quotes, the most impactful from my perspective was ‘Catch the breath. When times are challenging take time out and appreciate all that is around you’.
We all lead busy and hectic lives and its easy to forget that our minds need a break as much as our bodies.
Wellness By the Lakes is a new concept devised by Lakes By yoo with lasting wellbeing benefits in mind. For further information check out their website here.
‘Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it’ – Sharon Salzburg