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Wednesday 24 November 2021

The Skinny From My Week at Boot Camp

 Sun rises over the Highbullen Hotel in North Devon, location for the first Devon fitness retreat from Fit Farms

Dear friends. Today's post is all about the six days I had at a FitFarms fitness retreat. After spending a few days in Plymouth with my mum, I drove to North Devon feeling a bit apprehensive: would everyone be in their 20s? Would I be able to "keep up?" The answers to those questions were No, and Yes.  I had the most fabulous time and achieved better results than I expected.  Here's what happened at FitFarms.

The reason for doing the boot camp was giving myself a different experience during my month-long sabbatical from work.  I thought it would be good to challenge myself.  I also hoped to try some different types of exercise, and get myself into a more varied routine.  

And yes, I did want to lose some inches.  I do a lot of walking and the occasional workout at home plus a weekly Body Balance class.  I didn't put on any weight during lock down but I did notice that my waist and thighs were bigger.  I put it down to the fact I was no longer going to a gym and not doing enough home workouts.

I'm writing an entirely unbiased review because I funded my stay and I didn't mention to the organisers I have a blog.

How I Chose FitFarms

I made sure I didn't choose a "military" boot camp. The last thing I wanted was burly ex-soldiers shouting at me. I wanted lovely surroundings, and Devon was a bonus because it would work alongside a trip to Plymouth. FitFarms run courses in many locations in the UK and Europe. 

FitFarms is run by three extraordinary men:  Steve, the owner, who also creates the low-carb (and delicious) meals;  Justin, who's been on TV many times, who led daily workshops, and Dave, the no-nonsense but very motivating trainer, who somehow managed to make gruelling tabata sessions fun.

There were 18 of us  (16 women, two men) with ages ranging from 20s to 60s (me!). The majority were in their 40s and 50s. We were all shapes and sizes, with varying levels of fitness.  Not everyone was currently exercising but it was never an issue because you work to your own ability.  It was a very supportive environment. 

Our accommodation was at a golf and country hotel set in rolling countryside  (top picture). We were assigned to delightful cottages in the grounds.  The hotel had top notch facilities including a gym and pool.  The Elemis spa was sadly out of reach because we were too busy!

Justin, a former Royal Marine and King's Badge, is an expert in fitness, nutrition and psychology, now working towards his PhD. We covered so many topics ranging from the reasons for being perfectionists, to the underlying reasons for over eating,  sleep and stress solutions, and how to get through the menopause faster.  

We worked on our own personal vision of where we wanted to be, and Justin effectively threw the usual idiom of "lose weight - become a size 10" into the bin, and gave us a unique methodology to make our goals desires, and linked to what we really want in life. 

Burning Body Fat

We learnt about the benefits of intermittent fasting to burn fat. The model is fast for 16 hours followed by a period of eight hours in which to eat two or three meals. 

Why it's effective is that it forces the body into burning fat, particularly when exercise at a low intensity is introduced before breakfast.

Nowadays we are constantly snacking and eating so many bad carbs that our insulin is constantly spiking, and the body has no reason to rely on anything other than the carbs consumed.  But if we take a break from eating for 16 hours, and then undertake low intensity training before we break the fast, the body has no option but to burn fat.

We started every day with two hours' "green zone training", starting in the gym and spending 10 minutes each on the rower, cross trainer, treadmill and bike.  Two hours first thing in the morning is not a requisite in normal life, you'll be glad to know. We were aiming to get a heart rate of between 120 and 150 BPM.  The gym was followed by swimming. I find lengths very boring so my MO was running up and down in the water, powering my arms. 

Earning Your Carbs

We also did "red zone training" in the afternoon.  In real-life, this should be done three or more times a week, or whenever you want to indulge in carbs. You need to earn those carbs. It's not as onerous as it sounds, and can be done in 15 minutes.  You need to work flat out, to get your heart rate up, with short periods of recovery.  

Do this and weddings, parties, nights out with friends, no longer have to be sacrificed. You can still eat the odd burger and chips or bag of pick and mix! Christmas need not be cancelled!  (Although Boris still reserves the right.....). 

I surprised myself by really enjoying the red zone training.  We were shown many ways of doing it at home, with minimal equipment. In the gym, spinning bikes or aerobics classes can be used, or you can recreate one of the set-ups we learnt - variations on HiiT training. 

We also did other types of exercise: walking  (starting from the beach at Instow, below), Pilates, aerobics and boxing.

On the first and last day, we did a fitness test.  A partner counted how many press ups and squats we did in 1 minute each, and how many sit-ups in two minutes. Then we did 12 rounds of:  7 x ground to ceiling (with a kettlebell), 7 x swing, and 20 x jumping jacks.  There were always modifications for those who couldn't do one or more of the exercise.  The second round was an eliminator.  If you couldn't complete the exercise within the time slot, you had to drop out.  Reader,  this 61 year old managed to complete the 12 rounds.  I was so thrilled! And those who did the fitness test on the first day all saw dramatic improvements.

Food at FitFarms 

So what does 16:8 mean?  At home, I aim to have dinner by 6pm  (sometimes a lot later depending on work) so eating 16 hours later would mean breakfast at 10am. I would then have an eight hour window for either two or three meals, depending on preference. If you want to lose weight, those meals should be low carb.  You shouldn't have milk in any drinks before breaking fast.  I thought this a non-starter but have discovered a very good coffee that I can drink black.

Steve shared the recipes and I will definitely be making some of them, particularly the smoothie with full fat yoghurt, nuts, prunes, coconut and blueberries, the chicken Thai curry, and the cauliflower mash with meatballs. Examples of some of the delicious low-carb food on offer during the Fit Farms retreat

The Results

On the morning of departure, we were measured (and weighed, for those who wanted it).  I lost a staggering three and a half inches (nine centimetres) off my waist, and just over two inches (6 cms) from each thigh. Each pound lost in a normal diet usually equates to 1 inch lost, so you can see from my results that the intermittent fasting really does aid fat burning. 

I left feeling on top of the world and wearing a pair of new jeggings a size smaller.  I feel confident I can handle anything in a gym and more than hold my own against people half my age.  It's a very empowering feeling because at school I was always the one that never got chosen for a team. 

As far as my own exercise routine is concerned, I've increased my pace on my walks so that my heart rate is in the right zone for low intensity training.  I'll make sure I do at least three intensive home work outs a week.  If I find myself slacking, I will rejoin the local Nuffield gym which has top notch facilities and classes.

Is This Mutton blogger Gail Hanlon in green top and boots with Kettlewell Mole top

Have you ever been to a residential "boot camp" or tried intermittent fasting?  Do share in the comments. 

Sharing this post with: On Mondays We Link Up at Glass of Glam, Top of the World Style at High Latitude Style, Chic & Stylish at Mummabstylish, #SpreadTheKindness at Shelbee on the Edge, Thursday Moda at Elegance and Mommyhood, Turning Heads Tuesday at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish,  Style with a Smile  at StylesplashTFF at Doused in Pink, Lizzie in Lace Confident Twosday at IDoDeclaireRena at Fine WhateverFabulous Fridays at Lucy Bertoldi, #Neverendingstyle at The Grey Brunette #TheWednesdayLinkUp at Claire JustineFancy Friday at Nancy's Fashion StyleHappiness is Homemade at Life as a Leo Wife#AnythingGoes at My Random Musings

Now it's time for #WowOnWednesday, the link-up where readers find new blogs to read, and bloggers find new readers. 

Last Week's Favourites - Most Clicked

Di from Di-alogue with her post "Thanksgiving" and two dressy outfits for the festivities. 

"Makeup staples that I swear by" from Laurie at Vanity and Me, which included some of the products from Look Fabulous Forever I used in last week's tutorial.

Is This Mutton Favourite

How to Dress Different Bodies for the Holidays by Kellyann at This Blonde's Shopping Bag. Kellyann and Instagrammer Cathie (right) showed their different interpretations of similar outfits. 

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1 comment

  1. How good of you and very impressive! And in a beautiful area!


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