Juicy Oasis Retreat & Spa: Finding clarity & calm in Portugal
As a freelancer, you have to value your health on a cost-benefit basis. When I wake up feeling sluggish, exhausted and under-the-weather, I can’t just send an email saying sorry I won’t be in for the day, I’m ill. Instead I stay put for about two or three minutes and consider the benefit of remaining in bed to recuperate. Just before deciding to pick up the phone and call in sick, I remind myself that work means money, and no work means no money. For the past few months, I have been pushing myself to get through the day, pushing my health to the limits. In life we see luxury as a tangible commodity based on what new gadget, product or holiday we can throw our money at. I must point out here that I am in no way complaining about our capitalist culture and consumerism, but I think that we should be prepared to dig into our pockets more often in order to look after our health.
There may be times when you take stock of your life and reassess your priorities. This happened to me a few months ago: I had been using self-defence and other preventative medicine for a while, trying to stave off a cold – I do not condone this, read the label, don’t take medical advice from me. Unfortunately, like many things you resist for a long time, I finally succumbed to a fever and found myself standing on a platform, waiting for my train to work, drenched in cold sweat. It was then that I decided to prioritise my health. Although I still push myself at work as much as I can, I am now paying more attention to rest and relaxation – I am taking heed of those gym gods and goddesses who, on Instagram, advocate taking a rest day.
Stress in the work place is everywhere, at every level and in every industry. In the UK, stress has emerged as the top cause of illness across the nation: Chief Executive of the Health and Social Care Information Centre, Tim Straughton, said that it cannot be assumed that stress and anxiety are simply treated in doctors’ surgeries – thousands of such cases lead to patients becoming hospitalised in England each year. In the US, the situation is no better, 60-90% of visits to the doctor are to treat stress related conditions.
At the end of last year, I fell into the category above, extremely stressed and lacking fulfillment in all aspects of my life: I got up, ate, worked, slept and this cycle continued daily, weekly, monthly. I was constantly concerned about keeping on top of my emails, responding immediately and always wanting to see a 0 on my inbox. This of course is impossible as 50-75% of emails will require a response from the recipient, while incoming mail continues to arrive in your ever expanding inbox.
This is what I found myself telling a group of women in the spa at Juicy Oasis in Portugal. We were all describing what had drawn us to the famous juice retreat, founded and owned by Jason Vale, the highly acclaimed Juice Master, loved by many celebrities. Juice retreat equals weight loss – this was my first thought when booking a week away in the mountains of Portugal, overlooking a serene lake which rippled in the sunlight all day long, and which was also the enchanting view from my room.
Weight loss and dieting is an industry worth billions. However, many people find it difficult to maintain a satisfactory weight: everyone is just a mouthful away from that ‘cronut’ – a croissant-doughnut – despite being on a no carb, no gluten, no dairy, no sugar diet. Self-discipline and restraint is often short-lived, particularly in London, where there is such a plethora of temptations that it almost feels rude not to take that extra bite!
The environment I live in means drastic action has to be taken to have a no cheat, ‘perfect’ food week. Juicy Oasis offers even the most useless dieter or ‘health-seeker’ a chance to see the benefits of fuelling your body with a lot of freshly made goodness. Upon my return, I described the retreat as a luxury prison, from where you couldn’t leave but you also didn’t want to. Guests were rationed and incentivised to be good, so you could leave at the end of the week on a ‘food parole’ where you would either continue or fall at the first hurdle and end up back on the yo-yo dieting cycle.
It is true this retreat is about weight loss – I lost 9 lbs in a week – but it must be made clear that it is so much more than a set of scales. Surrounded by a lush green natural environment, it really is a truly special place where like-minded individuals come to find clarity and solace. I learnt so much about caring for my body and mind, from acknowledging tiredness and not feeling guilty about having a nap, to not worrying about my day’s to-do-list. The week taught me to listen to my body, resist putting pressure on it and to simply just relax.
The environment is peaceful inside and out. The interiors were plush, comfortable with a quirky charm. Each room had a different character, so you could choose the one which was appropriate to how you felt. Despite my comfortable bed and delightful room, I could not resist a nap in the spa’s cocoon pods – moving rhythmically in and out of sleep, hanging from the starlit sky.
When telling friends about the juice detox, I was often asked ‘how did you survive?’ – ‘Easily’ was my answer. You are nourished with so many nutrients that hunger is not a problem at the end of the week. For me the retreat was so much more than juice, no solids and weight loss. Yes, the numbers on the scale display were a pleasure to read at the end of the week but my clarity of mind also felt wonderful. I came back with a new lease of life, a positivity and a desire to get on with my life, both at work and at home. Juicy Oasis is a centre for recuperation, relaxation and rest and to all those wanting to get their new year off to a great start, I’ll see you in January!
Address: Ponte Vale da Ursa, 6100-302, Portugal
Phone: 01234 480280