For fast fat loss that is also safe, keep reading. Sharon Walker’s week at the Body Camp in Mallorca transformed her mind and her body. Here’s what she learned
If you want to have a whole load of fun and burn a whole heap of fat, then a week at The Body Camp is just the ticket.
The Body Camp are experts when it comes to fat loss. They’ve been helping people get in shape for over six years at their gorgeous Ibiza retreat and now they’ve opened one in the neighbouring island of Mallorca and of course I just had to check it out.
I loved the idea of a sunshine holiday, but what I really, really wanted was to lose an inch, or three, from my waist, to boost my fitness and to reset my habits.
Did it deliver? Hell yes. It was just the kickstart I needed AND I lost two inches from my waist and half an inch from my bust in a week.
If you get a chance to go, I can hand-on-heart recommend it. The venue is a gorgeous, traditional finca, in the middle of the Mallorcan countryside, surrounded by olive trees; the food is exceptional and the trainers are brilliant. It’s just one big superlative. They’ve even got their own pet dinosaur. (Not a real one I hasten to add, that would be weird).
But in the meantime, here are a few of their fat melting tips and tricks that worked for me, which I’ve kept up at home. I hope you find them useful:
#1 Eat more plant-based food
At The Body Camp they follow a raw(ish), plant-based diet, with plenty of vegetables, fruit, grains and pulses.
Like many of the people who visit The Body Camp, I don’t generally follow a fully vegan diet and the food was a revelation, it was so delicious.
So if you think plant-based food is boring, think again, you just haven’t tried the right recipes. I’ve been trying out The Body Camp recipes at home and even my vegetable-hating, teenage kids love them.
There are lots of reasons to switch to a plant-based diet, or at least to include more plant-based meals in your diet and one of them is fat loss.
The more animal products you eat, the more fat you’ll gain, that’s according to the research. In one study, for example, an increase of 250 g/day of meat – that’s an 8 ounce fillet steak – led to a 2 kg weight gain after 5 years, even after the researchers had controlled for over-all calorie intake.
While an analysis of 15 different studies, showed people who start a plant-based diet lose 3.4kg over 4 weeks and 4.6 kilos for they stick with the plant-based diet for the entire month.
In other words, if you eat a plant-based diet, you can eat more calories without gaining weight. Studies also show that vegans gain significantly less weight as they age, compared to non-vegans.
What’s more, unlike a calorie-restricted diet, which will drive you crazy, a plant-based diet will fill you up with no need for obsessive calorie counting.
And for every year you spend on a vegan diet your likely hood of becoming overweight decreases by 7%, according to one long-term study. If you’re worried about deficiencies, top up with Better You’s Vegan Health oral spray.
Do it: Make sure at least two of your three main meals are plant-based.
#2 Watch what you say
You’ve probably all heard the saying: ‘If you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right,’ the famous quote by Henry Ford. At The Body Camp they take this can-do attitude to the next level, with a process called ‘reframing.’
So instead of grimacing: ‘Christ I’ve got sore muscles’, we were tasked with giving our pain a positive spin. For example, after your next big gym session, try saying: ‘My muscles are getting sexier’,
It’s amazing how a few simple words can boost your mood and help you stay motivated.
My muscles are getting sexier
At The Body Camp, we could certainly feel our muscles – the morning is pretty much back-to-back fitness sessions, plus optional extra laps of the pool or grounds in the afternoon – but instead of moaning and groaning you’d hear: ‘I’m feeling really sexy today’, which made me think: ‘Hell yeah, I want sexy muscles too!’
Do It: Think positive. You’re not ‘starving’. You’re ‘ready to refuel’. You’re not ‘stressed’ you’re ‘blessed’. You get the picture.
#3 Compete – with yourself
At The Body Camp we began the week with the bleep test. A special kind of torture (I mean treat) that will haunt anyone in the police force or armed forces, who must reach a certain level to keep their job.
You must dash back and forth between two cones, keeping up with a bleep tone until you reach peak sprint. If you miss the bleep or skid and land on your bum as I did, rather elegantly, you’re out.
Knowing I’d scored level nine at the beginning of the retreat meant I made bloody sure I got to level 10 when I retook the test at the end of the week, nothing and nobody was going to stop me.
In case you’re wondering you need to be able to run for four shuttles at level five to be accepted into the police, level eight for a woman in the armed forces. For the SAS you’ll need hit level 14. (I have work to do, clearly).
I realise you probably won’t want to do the bleep test at home, but we also tested how many sit-ups, press-ups and burpees we could do in three minutes, which is something you could do at home.
It’s amazing how a simple competition can drive you to new heights – even when you’re only competing with yourself. I beat my first score on every exercise, even though I’d really ‘treated’ myself to a full-on workout the first time around, (notice I didn’t say ‘nearly killed myself’.)
Do It: Record your maximum reps in a fixed time. Repeat the test weekly or monthly. There’s nothing more satisfying than setting a new personal best.
#4 Mix it up – do a NEW class
There’s a lot to be said for a regular routine. If you head off to gym three mornings a week on automatic pilot, you’re already winning, but if you do the same class week-in week-out your body will soon adapt and you will reap diminishing returns, which is exactly what had happened to me before I arrived at The Body Camp.
I’d been coasting along doing the same three classes and after a year or so of doing more-or-less the same thing every week, my muscle gain and fat-loss had flatlined.
I’d convinced myself, ‘Oh well, that’s it now, I’m getting older after all’. But I was WRONG. The Body Camp put a real firecracker under my complacent butt (in the nicest possible way).
I was dashing between their Baywatch Watch Workout, the Gladiator Gauntlet, Rocky boxing sessions and Terminator circuits (they’re pretty creative with their classes) – new exercises every day, mixed up in different ways with the odd longer, more leisurely biking or hike (if 14km can ever be leisurely) thrown into the mix.
Thanks to this intense pic n’ mix approach, my muscles grew truly sexy. My body tightened up, to point where I lost two inches off my waist and 1.5 Kg in a week. Which goes to show you really can change your body in a week – I did.
One machine in my group lost seven kg in two weeks. Yes you read that right SEVEN KG.
Do it: Vary your routine. Try a new class or sport next week.
#5 Turn up the intensity
At The Body Camp I was exercising much more than I did at home, up to four hours a day, but felt less hungry. How can that be?
Apparently, it’s because exercise can influence your appetite hormone, grehlin. Studies show that appetite is suppressed after intense exercise. Hence the Body Camp’s trick of putting us through our paces, even before breakfast had a helpful knock-on effect.
Even without its appetite-suppressing effects, a high intensity workout really torches the calories and blitzes through body fat.
One brilliant high intensity workout we did at The Body Camp was fartlek training, where we switched between sprinting as fast as we could and running at a slower pace to recover.
Do it: Experiment with different intervals, say a ten second sprint, then a twenty second jog. Gradually increase the interval length as you get fitter.
#6 Strength in numbers
Exercise can feel like a punishment, when you’re pounding away on a treadmill on your own. But The Body Camp sessions were so much fun, if hadn’t been bright purple and dripping with sweat, I might not even have noticed that I was exercising.
I’ve tried to pick out the ingredients that made it all so jolly. Coach Ant’s multiple personalities and bonkers costumes – think uncannily accurate Richard Simmonds and Harpo Marks impersonations – certainly helped, but there’s also a lot to be said for exercising with a bunch of great people (that’s YOU my fellow Body Camp Rockstars).
There’s definitely some truth in that old adage: strength in numbers. The team spirit helped me stay motivated and this was something I could seek out in a gym or class at home.
Bear Grylls Be Military Fit classes are great for this reason. Their new their Special Ops classes are designed around team work (you’ll be sent on an imaginary mission behind enemy lines lugging a log or stretcher with your team mates, amongst other exercises, the point is you’re doing this as a team).
Not only is group exercise a great way to stay motivated, hanging out with other fit people will help you burn more fat, that’s according to a 2016 study in the Journal of Obesity, which found overweight people lose more weight if they spend more time with fit friends.
Do It: Find a workout buddy or choose a more community-focused gym like AMP in Marylebone or W10 Performance, who organise gym games and competitions alongside their usual classes.
#7 Do MORE
You know that 45-minute gym session you usually do? How much of it do you spend actually exercising, and how much do you spend chatting, checking your phone, checking yourself out in the mirror?
‘Most people will actually exercise for 30 minutes, in a 45 minute session,’ says coach Ant. ‘You can probably easily do two classes.’
Most people will actually exercise for 30 minutes, in a 45 minute session
You can do MORE. That’ something the Body Camp taught me, as we moved seamlessly from one session to the next, clearing four in a morning.
Now, when I’ve got time on a Saturday morning for example, I’ve started doing two classes back-to-back: an aerobic MyZone sweat class for example followed by an upper body weights class.
Do It: Do one class – then do another one straight after.
#8 Don’t drink your calories
I know alcohol is fattening, I’d always known that, but I hadn’t really taken the trouble to add up just how many calories I was drinking.
On day one of the retreat I sat down with pen and paper on day started totting up my intake and it was quickly obvious why I keep regaining the same five kilos.
It’s all too easy to glug back six oranges worth of juice in a single glass
Sorry to be boring, but a cocktailn or two can cost as many calories as a meal. A mojito contains 217 calories and 6.25 cm of sugar, according to MyFitnessPal. (No wonder it gives you a buzz.). And who has just one mojito?
A Pimms, surprisingly, is even worse, with eight teaspoons of sugar, and 256 calories. A Negroni is around 195 calories, so a slightly better bet.
And it’s not just the booze that’s tipping your calorie quota over your limiting, it’s all too easy to glug back six oranges worth of juice in a single glass.
One glass of juice (or an American cup) contains the equivalent of 5 teaspoons of sugar, so nearly as bad as a cocktail. And you’re missing the healthiest bit: the fibre.
Needless to say, The Body Camp don’t serve alcohol. I’ve been off the booze since and as a result I’ve kept the weight I lost off.
Do It: Save the Negronis for high days and holidays.
#9 Put your fork down after each mouthful
At The Body Camp we were encouraged to be mindful at the table. To really taste every mouthful and focus on our food and chew it properly (digestion begins in the mouth with your saliva) to extract the maximum, nutrients and feel more satisfied.
They don’t go so far as to ban conversation at the table, as they do at the Mayr clinic, where everyone sits in deathly silence, and thank God, because the mealtimes were like a fabulous dinner party every night, with plenty of lively conversation, but I did pay extra attention to the flavours and textures, which was hardly a chore as the food was so delicious.
It takes 20 minutes for your brain to twig that you’re full
We were also discouraged from using phones at the table, which certainly makes for better conversation (even having a phone on the table is a distraction according to research), but is this relevant to fat loss? YES according to a growing body of research which suggests that mindful eating can help you lose weight.
Probably because it takes 20 minutes for your brain to twig that you’re full. So if you eat too fast you’re more likely to over eat. But also because mindful eating can help prevent bingeing. Why? Probably because you’re less likely to binge if you’re enjoying your food, according to researchers at Harvard University.
And if you eat in a hurry, or while doing other things like driving, or checking your emails, stress hormones can kick in and interfere with digestion, so you don’t get the full nutritional benefits.
Do it: NO. PHONES. AT THE TABLE.
#10 Ask: ‘What is this doing for me?’
It’s amazing how often you put something in your mouth because it’s there (sorry, Ant’s talent for innuendo is rubbing off, clearly). But next time you’re about to eat something ask: ‘What will this do for me?’ If it’s stuffed full of e-numbers, sugar or saturated fat, that’s your cue to make a different choice.
Unfortunately, I tend towards mindless grazing when I’m bored or stressed, so this tip is a game changer for me. Simply pausing to ask this question has made a crazy big difference to my snack choices.
Instead of sneaking off to the biscuit tin I’ll grab a sachet of Pip n’ Nut almond butter, which is packed with vitamin E which can help lower cholesterol, magnesium and potassium for heart health, plus calcium and iron. AND it’s super-satisfying.
Do It: Pause and question before you eat anything.
#11 Go to bed by 10pm
At The Body Camp it’s lights out at 10pm. They don’t send matron around to check on you, but they do strongly encourage you to sleep and not just beccause it keeps you sane and happy, but also because sleep is a secret fat-loss ingredient.
This is actually proven by science. Not only does sleep deprivation make you feel hungrier, research shows that sleep helps your burn more fat. According to one study at the University of Chicago Medical Center, when dieters get a full night’s sleep half the weight they lost was fat, whereas when they cut back on sleep only a quarter of the weight they lost was fat.
Do it: Aim for seven to eight hours sleep a night minimum and go to bed at the same time every night, to impove the quality of your sleep.
Fancy a week at The Body Camp in Mallorca?
Body Camp Mallorca opens May 3, 2019. Prices for a week’s stay start from £950 (programme runs Friday-Friday), which includes the programme, accommodation and all food and drink.
Shorter stays of three nights (long weekend Fri – Mon) or four nights (midweek Mon – Fri) are start from £750. Day passes are also available for £150.
Both EasyJet and BA fly regularly to Ibiza and Mallorca.
- Accommodation in our lovely, rustic, country retreat
- Essentials body camp programme
- All delicious meals with 100% plant-based food
- Gorgeous country and coastal hikes
- Mindful, fun mixed training sessions
- Weight training & TRX
- Boxing & Body sculpt
- Disco Gym
- Hilarious mixed musical circuits
- Running, walking, fartlek, swimming
- Team games & musical gym sessions
- Island cycling options, team chase & half day borrow a bike
- Yoga, meditation, breathing, stretching
- 360 optional extra programme
- Essentials innercise mind training
- Snug seating areas
- Wifi & Netflix (limited speed, rural)
- Blankets and throws
- Filtered fruit water unlimited
- Optional additional classes, fitness & yoga
- Full Beauty and Holistic Treatments Selection
- Pool & Pool Towels & Sarongs
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