Nurture, reboot and deep clean your fitness habits
Health retreat programs overhaul our workout habits and get us moving in the right direction towards change.
West Coast Fitness Vacations is a wellness retreat and weight loss camp company on Vancouver Island in B.C., Canada. In my experience, weight loss boot camp programs like ours have a lot to offer both during the fitness retreat and after.
But there are some things you can do today without being on a health retreat, to receive similar rejuvenation benefits. In this article, I’ll share my top 11 ideas.
1. Change your home environment and routine
Breaking up is hard to do, whether it’s quitting the habit of being perpetually 5 minutes late, or smoking.
- Changing your routine could be as simple as waking up earlier, driving a different way to work, or joining a new gym.
- More drastic environment changes could include redecorating your dining room – new pictures or perhaps paint!
- Try a new drink at Starbucks! Meet a friendly person from yoga class for a tea – be open to new friends.
- Reorganize your wardrobe, donating, selling or gifting everything you no longer wear.
- Treat yourself to an afternoon makeover at your local mall – makeup, new outfit and trip to the hairdresser.
Health retreat programs act as a catalyst towards new behaviour – partly because participants change their environment and routine.
2: Pick a date for your fresh start – and stick to it
As soon as you know that you’re going to a weight loss resort, you’ll probably get a push of motivation. Whether that’s cleaning up your habits, or starting to exercise more, booking a trip gives you a future landmark. Behavioural scientists call it ‘The Fresh Start Effect” – an important time on the calendar that helps get started on goals.
- Commit to an upcoming landmark like New Year, birthdays, Mondays or semesters to shift your routine.
- Clear your schedule in advance to allow sufficient time to get started on your goals, on those dates
- Go to the bookstore and browse journals – I personally love productivity planners!
- Get yourself ready; organize your food, groceries, workout clothes and gym classes to start that day.
Leverage big picture thinking by using landmark dates to start a new chapter. Create clear action plans on the time and effort required to achieve it! The first 3 months of your new routine are the most vulnerable. This is the best time to hire a professional to support your aspirations and help with clarity.
3: Spend the afternoon planning, organizing and envisioning
Women’s weight loss retreats are BIG on making lists and action plans. Lists are such a rewarding and proactive way to plan a fresh start in the things that you do daily. In our group coaching sessions, I work with guests to guide them towards realistic checklists – that align with their lifestyle.
- Write down everything you do for your health for one week. Include meditation, exercise, food, beverages, sleep.
- After a week, take a good hard look at what you wrote. Note down all the changes that you think you should make.
- List these changes in priority order. Don’t try to quit everything on the same day!
- Create columns, today, next week, next month. You can also look at quitting one negative thing per month.
Making an action plan and visualizing yourself following through with it is the best way to improve your food choices. Similar to how athletes use visualization techniques to prepare for optimal performance, mentally rehearsing healthy habits has the same effect. When you can first ‘see’ something, whether that’s through imagination or reflecting upon a memory it plants the seed to take action.
4: Spend the day outside doing something in nature
There are some health vacations that are mostly indoors, focusing on consulting, personal training and fitness classes. Yet the best weight loss retreat for adults (in my opinion) will get outside as much as possible. There’s so much activity that gets the heart rate up; hiking, power walking, biking, kayaking and outside fitness classes. Being in nature is truly refreshing and inspiring, important to me anywhere I travel.
- Next time you’re in a new city unsure whether there’s a safe park around, take a cab. The driver will know!
- Take time to walk, relax, stretch and let your mind wander in the forest – at least once a week.
- Not sure where the safest forest is near you? Google ‘provincial park in [your town]’ or ‘[your town] hiking tours
- Get outside every day, at least two sessions of 10 minutes. Even in the middle of winter. Let the sun hit that beautiful face!
5: Focus on your sleep
Enhanced sleep is one of the most glorious things about participating in a wellness retreat. Ongoing sleep disturbance and insomnia can result in drastically reduced wellbeing that can effect your long term health. One of the powerful benefits of participating in a residential weight loss program is that all elements of your health can be addressed, including sleep.
- Develop an evening ritual with winding down at least an hour before bed. Try tea, skin care, hot shower and taking the dogs out!
- Try to follow the same time each night, so that your body finds a routine of waking up and falling asleep.
- Exert yourself physically in the day by getting enough exercise and outdoor time.
- Invest in an amazing mattress and sleep set! This will truly make the world of difference.
Our blissful daily schedule provides just the right balance of outdoor activity, nourishing food and stress-relieving therapies to promote improved sleeping patterns. These sleep benefits continue even after you return home.
6: Get strict with yourself
Being held accountable for your food and workouts is one of the huge benefits of joining a health retreat, especially one that focuses on weight loss. At West Coast Fitness Vacations I encourage all our guests to journal prior to arrival. We get them to write down everything in detail using the labels on the food, and measuring the food (instead of estimating the portions). Identifying the problem is the first step in identifying the solution.
- Learn how to use your smart watch to full potential.
- Download apps to support your goals, such as step counting and calorie counting.
- Set yourself a daily step goal of 10,000.
- Learn the energy value that you are putting into your body.
Education is an important part of your personal development towards becoming an empowered, knowledgeable eater. Tracking the time that you ate is a valuable way to increase personal awareness and make necessary changes.
7: Find a way to monitor progress
Wellness is not about watching the number on the scale go down, and weighing yourself can be triggering. If you’re working towards your goals independently (ie not at a health retreat or weight loss camp), then photo and measurements are also helpful.
- Track caloric deficit instead. How many calories did you burn today – and how many did you eat?
- If taking your own photo, use the timer on the 10 second setting, phone at eye level. Use your better judgement on this but definitely embrace the unflattering light – it’s where you’ll see the most encouraging improvement.
- Commit to taking a new pic every month or so. Save it on your phone to refer back to when you want to quit on your healthy intentions. It’ll be a huge motivator to keep going in the positive direction.
- To measure yourself, keep the tape firm but not tight. You can buy one at a hardware store, in most supermarkets or at a craft store. Measure your hips, waist, legs and chest.
- Tracking is a good task to delegate to a personal trainer. Even if you only buy a few sessions, measurements and photo will take them less than 10 minutes and likely will be more accurate. It’s tempting to not be completely honest (with both starting point and results) when you’re doing it on yourself!
8: Set up a system of accountability
Goal setting is an important part of our weight loss camp program.
- Set daily goals that you want to achieve, and break them down into smaller chunks that are achievable. For example, perhaps today your priority is to drink 3 liters of water. Break this down into drinking 3 cups before lunch.
- Focus on micro-goals as well as the big picture ones. The little steps in the right direction really do add up.
- Every Sunday, look back on your week. Note your achievements, and where you could improve.
- Reward yourself along the way – perhaps hiring a baby-sitter for the afternoon so that you can enjoy a long walk in the forest.
- Hire a coach to support your goals, or join our wellness retreat for a month.
- Find your people – an encouraging friend, neighbour or community fitness group to be part of your team.
One of the benefits that you get from being on a fitness vacation is the encouragement and support from the other like-minded guests. It can be harder to keep yourself accountable and motivated on your own. Without a doubt, the team environment that comes from women going on an active vacation together is truly inspiring!
9: Become a planning ninja! Create a health retreat at home.
One of the best things about participating in a fitness retreat is that everything runs on schedule. Well-organized days really make a huge difference as our weight loss camp customers learn how to apply this organization to their lives at home. Throughout the years of running wellness retreats, we’ve learnt a lot about how to make things run smoothly.
- Plan your workout time productively – go to the gym with a solid plan.
- Insist that the personal trainer that you hire works with your learning style. Are you visual? Then ask for less verbal explanation and more workout demonstration.
- Limit waiting time between workouts and activities. All of your workouts should include super sets and multiple tasks. Let your trainer know that you’d prefer not to rest between sets.
- Be proactive with meal planning – look ahead at your week and organize what you’re going to eat. Write a shopping list every Sunday. Prepare rice in advance, keep it in the fridge up to 2-3 days. Cook two portions, freeze the second. Consider buying a second freezer so that you can take advantage of bulk buying, and always have healthy food on hand. Busy lives often make it hard to get to the grocery store.
10: Seek out new friends
Signing up for a health retreat means that you’re also signing up to meet like-minded, active people. It’s great to have the direct connection with potential friends who’ve got similar values.
- Figure out how you can meet like-minded women that uplift, encourage and support you. Perhaps you’ll need to be the group leader to coordinate a meetup or social. Yoga memberships are quite good for meeting others, more so than regular gym memberships (in my experience!)
- Join a progressive, 4-8 week fitness program. The community centre has programs all the time.
- Be friendly, and look friendly – even when nobody is engaging with you. By having open body language and looking approachable, people might approach. Have a few light things to talk about, and to ask others about – know a few ways to encourage others to talk.
Being surrounded by others with like-minded goals and interests will help significantly with motivation. Goals are always easier to meet when you have a support group of people to cheer you on.
11: Take a break from your every day routine
Sometimes it’s hard to make a change in your life without changing your environment. Traveling to a health retreat is a great way to get out of a rut because everything is different.
- Get back in touch with yourself – quiet time, meditation, self-reflection, journalling.
- Have the courage to re-structure your life, if needed. Hire the relevant professional to support you.
- Take the afternoon off. Go to the spa – have a massage. Or, take a nap. It’s okay to rest!
- Do a staycation in your own town, google tourist attractions and actually go visit them.
When you return home from a health retreat you establish a new routine, and you’ll have clearer vision about how you want it to be.