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Weight loss retreats are a growing industry as people become increasingly aware of the way food and excess weight can affect health. Opportunities to loose weight and learn about a healthy diet while on a relaxing holiday or break are increasing.


<< Check our weight loss holidays section


Women, Chocolate and Olives ...

Weight loss and dieting usually come before heading off for sunshine holidays in beautiful places serving good food, but why not try them as part of the holiday itself? On holiday you have time for yourself, time to think and consider how you eat and why you eat, and time to pamper yourself and truly relax. Try a weight loss retreat to kick start a change in your eating patterns and get off the dieting rollercoaster. The account that follows is one persons reflections on such a retreat in Italy, with Beyond Chocolate.

... a participant's account!
I didn't know what to expect when I signed up for the Beyond Chocolate Retreat in Ostuni, Puglia but it sounded promising. Beyond Chocolate run workshops for women who want to stop dieting and lose weight for good by developing a healthy relationship with food and your body. After 15 years of being on all sorts of diets and obsessing over calories and dress sizes, my friend, who recommended the Retreat to me, enthused about her new approach to weight loss as she tucked into a cappuccino tiramisu with gusto at the restaurant. The idea of mixing a pampering holiday with a workshop which would rule out dieting for ever was irresistible.

I was picked up at the airport and driven through narrow roads weaving through century-old, twisted olive groves to the Masseria La Rascina, a perfectly restored 15th century farmhouse surrounded by olive and almond trees, the dark green of the leaves standing out against the bright red earth and low white walls. I was shown to my gorgeous apartment with its vaulted ceilings, brightly painted terracotta tiles and its own patio to unpack and settle in.

That evening at dinner I met the other nine women with whom I would be sharing this adventure. The atmosphere was warm and chatty and Sophie, founder of Beyond Chocolate and retreat leader, explained how she had decided to run a retreat in Ostuni after thirty years of holidaying here. She said she couldn't think of a more perfect place and frankly, after having tasted the chef's incredible meal, neither could I. We were given a programme for the week: workshop sessions in the morning or afternoon, sometimes in the evening; optional visits to tourist attractions, wine and olive oil tasting and daily yoga and beauty treatments. I couldn't wait to start.

The next day I decided to try out the morning yoga session. It took place on the terrazzo and left me feeling refreshed, revived and ready to face whatever was waiting. Sessions were fun and thought provoking and incredibly practical. Beyond Chocolate is not a quick fix, it is about doing things differently and changing certain beliefs we have about food and our body.

Beyond Chocolate is based on a set of ten simple principles. Each session is structured around a specific theme and throughout the week we looked at why, when and how we eat, why diets don't work, how to eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full and how to really enjoy food. We looked at body image and exercise and how to nourish ourselves without turning to food. Over the week, Sophie helped us to identify all those habits we had built up over the years: depriving ourselves through relentless dieting, turning to food for comfort, eating in social situations and gave us an alternative approach which we put into practice there and then.

Meals were fabulous. The mother-daughter team in the kitchen turned out meal after perfect meal with enticing smells and good humoured laughter wafting from the kitchen throughout the day. We also went out for dinner twice to fabulous restaurants.

There was also plenty of time to relax by the pool with a good book from the Beyond Chocolate library. I took walks in the beautiful countryside I also discovered the delights of Thai Yoga Massage, which Gareth, our yoga teacher, is an expert in.

I came back to London a week later, excited and enthusiastic about my new approach to food and weight, with a whole host of tools at my disposal, knowing I'll never have to diet again. And I know that I will have continued guidance as I integrate these changes into my daily life with the evening support sessions that Sophie runs in London. I also discovered a truly beautiful region of Italy which I look forward to going back to over and over again.

Text © travel-quest 2006

Beyond Chocolate Retreats offer women-only weight loss retreats among the breathtaking olive groves of Puglia in Italy; looking at diet from a physical, intellectual and emotional perspective as well as offering beauty treatments, cultural activities and great cuisine!

For alternative weight loss and dieting retreats and workshops take a look at our weight loss holidays section.