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Mark's weight loss journey

Today we’ll take a break from my BodyAware journey. The BodyHoliday’s new General Manager, Mark Lyttelon-Frances, shares his personal weight loss success story with us:

Since starting at TBH on the 10th February I have to date lost 34 pounds, gained 10 pounds of muscle mass, reduced my waist from a tight size 38 to a comfortable 32 and reduced my bodyfat percentage from an obese 30% down to a normal 16%. Mostly I have done this on my own, but also by following interesting and basic snippets of information from Felix, Rob and the Bodyguards. I arrived on island fairly overweight after a diet in the UK that consisted of a lot of high fat, high carb food, and regular pints of lager. A sedentary lifestyle with a combination of fatty, salty food meant that my weight went only one way for four years. I learnt that I had a wheat intolerance a few years ago, but had never really done anything about my diet, and continuously felt bloated and fairly lethargic, a side effect of the wheat, and one that I never really took seriously. Having had a fairly organic diet in Africa, the over processed fats and carbs in the UK really fired up my taste buds, so to eat a full English breakfast (loved the sausages), Burgers for lunch and fish and chips at the Pub in the evening was a 3 day a week occurrence.

I arrived on island a hefty 220 pounds at only 5ft 7inches.

Getting going was tough I must admit, but quickly my gym sessions stretched beyond 30minutes. I found myself getting stronger and fitter daily, however, the weight was shifting slowly, and I hadn’t really adjusted my diet that much, and my water intake was still low. I was convinced by one of the team to ignite some high tempo cardio into my routine, and to concentrate on High Intensity Interval Training. Short bursts of high heart rate over a 30-40 minute session. Running was out, I was too heavy, and my knees are shot from years of rugby as a youngster. So I climbed on a spinning bike about two months ago. I nearly died, it was seriously tough going initially, but I persevered and the weight just fell off of me, as I revved up my heart rate and got my metabolism ticking over. A few test weeks with the old heart monitor, and we showed that I could burn 500+ calories in a 45 minutes session, and about 650 in an hour session. This was great, but not if I was eating badly. I had a chat with Felix and Rob, and got advice from both. Simply, to get my metabolism working properly I needed to up my food intake (5-6 small meals per day), and get some water into me. Simple, except that I needed to make a conscious effort to avoid fatty foods and to raise my veggie intake. Tough! It turned out not as tough as I thought it would be, as I actually enjoy all the fruit, fish, fibre, low carb rice and gluten free breads. I avoid sauce, salt and fat, but am fuller and less hungry than I used to be, but don’t let me miss a meal, as I get really hungry about every two/three hours and I am constantly looking for another glass of water as my metabolism is on fire.

All told, my weight has started to plateau slightly, but still coming off. I keep control over my diet, but still have a few drinks when I want to, and indulge in a burger or two every now and then. So I live quite normally and I am not a prisoner of my diet. In fact my diet is now my normal eating pattern, and I am happy to continue eating like this. I do cardio four times a week and do about 30 minutes of weight training every other day. I keep my lifestyle active, walk everywhere, and drink loads of water.

Good luck on the rest of your journey!

Fresh Tropical Fruits and Vegetables We Love at the BodyHoliday

St. Lucia is a very lush Caribbean island abundantly blessed with a plethora of fruits and vegetables. They’re all just as delicious as they are nutritious. Generations of locals have grown up enjoying the ‘offerings of the land’ and it continues to this day. The island has produced a number of centenarians who attribute their longevity to hard work and a diet highly consistent of local, organic fruits and vegetables.

The BodyHoliday takes nutrition very seriously and this is evident in the meals we serve day after day. Our chefs visit the local farmer’s market weekly to get their pick of organic fruits and vegetables from vendors. Herbs and spices like celery, parsley, nutmeg and cinnamon exude a beautiful fragrance and are always a must on the list! These create the base and add flavour to some of the sumptuous dishes they create for our guests.

If you can’t get to it, let it come to you! Farmers journey from the countryside to The BodyHoliday daily, bringing with them fruits of their labour – banana, soursop, coconut, guava, papaya, mango, grapefruit, pineapple, passion fruit, tamarind, carambola, watermelon, yam, dasheen, okra, pumpkin and the list goes on. If you’ve stayed at The BodyHoliday, you’ve seen some of these anywhere from the breakfast buffet at Cariblue to the dinners at TAO and the Clubhouse.

With so much available at our disposal, it’s easy to see how we can come up with these culinary masterpieces. Our chefs have a passion for food and the island feeds that passion. You too can enjoy these tasty Caribbean fruits and vegetables, as many of them are available in well assorted supermarkets and specialty ethnic food shops around the world. Working with this variety of fruits and vegetables is so easy. Simply let the rich and distinct flavours inspire you – as our chefs say: ‘be guided by flavours’. Substitute them for key ingredients in your favourite dishes or experiment with them to concoct your own gastronomic work of art. You can also look out for great recipes using these and other ingredients on this blog.

Bon appétit!

Getting Started with Yoga

Namaste! This is the customary Hindu greeting used when meeting and parting – traditionally done while holding the palms together in front of the bosom. If you’re saying to yourself: ‘hey I already knew this’, you’re already on the right track.

A recent study released by Yoga Journal reports that Americans spend $5.7 billion a year on yoga classes and products. The same study also indicates that 6.9% of U.S. adults or 15.8 million people practice yoga. Pretty impressive stats right? Put it on a global scale and you can add millions more to that figure.

If you’re already a seasoned yogi, then you can testify to the benefits of yoga which include but are certainly not limited to increased flexibility, muscle strengthening, increased relaxation and a powerful sense of calm. If you’ve been considering yoga, then you’re already half way there!

When you think of yoga what comes to mind? Perhaps visions of a slender and limber person contorting their bodies in the most difficult of poses. Conjuring these sorts of images is probably not the best way to begin your yogic journey. Yoga is just as much mental as it is physical. Clear up your mind of all the preconceived notions that yoga is difficult and only for the double-jointed. Yoga should primarily be about the journey. Set your mind to invite positivity and this will be the outcome.

There are just a few things which will come in handy for your first yoga session. A yoga mat (preferably a sticky or slip resistant rubber one) to set down on the normal hardwood floors of most yoga studios. These normally retail for $20 to $60 and can cost more if you want to get really fancy with it. A towel, this is a good idea for your first class because not all studios provide them. Straps help with stretching and holding various poses using the legs. Your studio might provide these, but at a cost of $10 it’s worth getting your own.

Your normal yoga class will run for just over an hour. It’ll start with warm-ups and breathing exercises to prepare you both physically and mentally for what’s ahead. The centre and main part of the session will be the asanas or poses. Your teacher will normally provide simplified variations to help beginners adapt until you are able to move like the pros! You’ll then close with a period of savasana or relaxation.

The BodyHoliday has daily dedicated yoga offerings. You can start your sessions from home and look like a complete pro or you can start with us and return home a pro! If you are deeply interested in yoga, my recommendations for the best times to visit The BodyHoliday are during our yoga themed months: Yoga June and Octoba Yoga.

Get started today! Namaste!

BodyAware Session – Day 2

Following up from my first BodyAware session with Rob, I was very eager to continue the programme. I wanted to meet the health goals that we had set up for me and knew that I would need some discipline to continue – coming from someone who does very little to no exercise!

My session for today was core conditioning and posture correction, and Rob said we would do lunch afterward. For the core correction session, we needed to work on my core – the abdominal muscles and obliques – (and I can hear you asking what are obliques…). We started by identifying my weak areas to decide where the most strengthening work would be needed – well all over really! Whoosh – now I feel much better – the back pain that was killing me has been reduced

The first exercise we did was the plank. I got into the ‘push up’ position on my forearms and held that position for 30 seconds to 1 minute at a time. I also did some rotational exercise with a resistance band. The bands were anchored under my feet and then I did some baseball swings (getting into a twisting motion). This exercise was essential at isolating and working my obliques. Next we did the reverse crunches. Lying on my back, I had to move my legs toward my chest repeatedly to work my lower abs.

We then moved to the posture correction session. This was especially important for me because I have developed a bit of poor posture from sitting at a computer all day! Rob explained to me that I needed to release the shoulder tension I had built up and stretch my chest in order to regain correct posture.

To do so, we started with an assisted stretch, where he aided me with resistance bands to pull in and out to work abs and obliques. He also taught me a self stretch so that I could continue on my own. This one was very simple. I stood in a doorway, hands in the doorframe and with my feet pivoted, and then I swayed my body back and forth. Simple yet so beneficial! The thing is I would do this sometimes just because I am tall enough, never realizing that there were such great health benefits to it!

We ended the session with lunch at Cariblue restaurant. He enquired again about my eating habits and made suggestions on quantities and choices for my lunch. He also gave me some points for improvement for the future. I’m already looking forward to my next session! So now that I know about my obliques, I shall spend the next week fine tuning them…

Date Cake

Today we’ve got an equally delicious and nutritious dessert recipe for you from the Pastry kitchen of The BodyHoliday.

So here it is: how to make the perfect Date Cake.

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 300g or 10oz sugar
  • 150g or 5oz flour
  • 75g or 2.5oz whole flour
  • 75g or 2.5oz dried dates
  • 5g or 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 200ml or 6.5fl oz vegetable oil
  • 2g or half teaspoon cinnamon powder

Icing:

  • 240g or 8oz cream cheese
  • 120g or 4oz softened butter
  • 200g or 7oz icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 16 – 20 dates for decoration

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175ᵒC or 350ᵒF
  2. Chop the dates and soak in hot water
  3. Mix the eggs and sugar. Add the baking powder, both kinds of flour and the cinnamon. Process until smooth. Add the vegetable oil and dates and mix well.
  4. Grease a 200mm or 8inch round cake pan. Pour the mixture into it.
  5. Bake it for 25 minutes in the preheated oven or until lightly brown on the top.
  6. Beat the cream cheese and butter together with the vanilla extract and slowly add the icing sugar. Keep refrigerated until use. Spread on cooled cake and add the dates for decoration.

Nutritional tip:

Did you know? Dates are high in iron and potassium and contain modest amounts of folate and a small amount of vitamins A and B. Dates are also useful treatments for anemia, constipation and fatigue.

Try it out today and enjoy!

The Benefits of Yoga

What is the main goal of yoga? It is important that we understand the benefits we can derive from yoga before embarking on our yogic journey.

According to Feuerstein, the traditional purpose of yoga has always been to bring about a profound transformation in a person through the transcendence of the ego. Look to Hinduism and the word yoga means spiritual discipline. Fast track to the present day and perhaps one of the most common answers to this question is – mastering postures.

Yoga is helpful in creating a union in body, mind and spirit:

  • Physically – it can lead to an increase in flexibility and strength, as well as a more toned body (something that’s highly coveted these days). At The BodyHoliday, our guests have reported physical benefits including improved respiration, increased energy and vitality. In some cases, guests have experienced relief of pain and mention feeling more limber.
  • Mentally – our guests (and I know this is potentially even further reaching) feel much more relaxed during and after a yoga session. It has very calming qualities. It is ideal for stressful lives and assists in quieting the mind. Yoga also encourages more positive thoughts and encourages self-acceptance.
  • Spiritually – it’s all about achieving oneness –balance and interdependence among mind, body and spirit. Yoga encourages awareness of the body, your feelings and those of others and your environment.

It is easy and advisable to let yoga become part of your daily life. Breathing is life; remembering the breathing exercises you learn in yoga can help immensely. The focus on breathing is absolutely calming. You can use your breathing exercises in stressful situations at work, at home or anywhere else. I use them every day on the job when I feel overwhelmed or just want to calm down and it works far better than counting to ten!

I love yoga because there truly is no age limit or fitness requirement for it. You can start and work at your own pace and develop through patience and discipline. We’re going to take full advantage of the benefits of yoga during our Yoga June event at The BodyHoliday. The offerings from our Masters will be tremendous!

Stress and Body Fat Talk with Rob

I haven’t quite started my BodyAware programme with Rob as yet…been quite busy (and stressed I dare say) with work! I did, however, get the opportunity to join in on his ‘Stress and Body Fat’ talk in the Piano Bar today. I love the fact that The BodyHoliday has sessions like these which provide benefits that you can take home with you!

The turnout for his session was good; we huddled comfortably to soak in what Rob was going to tell us. His first question was simple, yet able to bring meaning to the whole session: ‘how many of you are stressed?’ The hands shot up and it was clear that we all live stressful lives in one way or another.

“When we’re faced with stress”, he began, “our bodies release hormones. The first is adrenaline which gives us the energy to ‘fight’ or ‘fly’ and cortisol which kicks in after the stressful event and stimulates appetite”.

In today’s world, stress is a major issue and can come from a number of sources, both physical and emotional. Our jobs are highly stressful; then we go home to highly stressed families; nature has dealt us some serious life threatening blows lately; in fact some people think that to just be alive is to be stressed. Stress causes a hormonal response in the brain and as a result cortisol is released which stimulates appetite. Basically, when you’re stressed, Rob said, there’s a tendency to eat more.

When the body chooses fight or flight mode, energy lasts in muscles for five to ten seconds. When you’re stressed, sugar (carbohydrates) goes to working muscles. The body then releases insulin to control the sugar which gets stored in our fat cells when we are normally inactive.

The best way to deal with stress is exercise. We’ve seen that stress leads us to eat more and exercise burns those calories that we built up. Even more relaxation based exercises like yoga and meditation can help, because they de-stress and lower stress levels as well. What’s also key is always eating a balanced breakfast to start the day and eating regularly. Why? Leaving long gaps between meals causes a drop in the sugar level. Rob’s last piece of advice – we need a combination of relaxation, exercise and a balanced diet. Ultimately, we should try, where possible, to reduce stress and the causes of stress. Of course we could just plan to stay longer at LeSPORT…

The Man Behind the Dessert!

I’ll set the scene for you – it’s Friday night, and I’ve just enjoyed a very fun sunset cruise with some of our returning guests. We head back to Cariblue restaurant to enjoy an excellent dinner (all that dancing on the boat worked up an appetite). I started it off with a cocktail of seafood (a medley of shrimps, squid, mussels, fresh fish and crabmeat bound in a Marie Rose sauce, served on a bed of crisp vegetables) and followed it up with the fresh snapper (baked fresh snapper served on a bed of herbed potato puree, vegetables and a tangy coconut milk broth).

Just as I totally cleaned off my plate, one of the chefs walked by. I invited him to have a seat with me, as I always love chatting with The BodyHoliday team members about what they do. It’s part of my job, but I’m just a naturally curious person. What I knew of Chef Dulish Perera was that he is Sri Lankan and startedworking with the resort toward the latter part of last year.

We spent a bit of time talking about his roots in Sri Lanka and his extensive employment history with top hotels, including the Jumerai hotel chain of Dubai – pretty impressive resumé! He gladly recounted stories of different experiences he gained in his professional life and how those experiences helped make him a better chef. He was especially proud to let me know that he had won several awards across the span of his culinary career, including eight medals from the Dubai Culinary Awards.

Fast forward to the present day and he is the Pastry Chef at The BodyHoliday in St. Lucia, thousands of miles away from home. He now oversees the day to day operations of the pastry department and also has a hand in the creation of all of those wonderful international dishes for the themed lunches and dinners. He then says to me that it is important I understand that he incorporates local elements in his dishes to give them a local twist. He enjoys the fact that St. Lucia is a tropical garden and he has an abundance of fresh, organic herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables readily available. He tries as much as possible to sort them out on his own too!

What was merely supposed to be a passing conversation had spanned the length of a half hour. Cariblue was now closed and I did not get the chance to enjoy dessert. “No worries, I’ll prepare something special for you” he said to me. And the rest, as they say…or don’t say…was delicious!

Yoga with Abhishek

Rise & Shine Yoga! With the added stress of my day [and yours], yoga might just be the right way to start it up. I’ve always thought of yoga as a method of achieving balance physically and mentally – and balance is good!

I was particularly impressed with the instructor and the way he was able to make us flow from one position to the next with such grace. He seemed more focused on the journey than the destination. I’ll clarify – he ensured that we enjoyed the benefits of getting into the poses. He made it fun and not a competition among who was more limber. This inspired me because I had always thought that the major goal in yoga was being able to [literally] fold your body into tough poses. I decided to get a bit more information from Dr. Abhishek Jain (yoga instructor) over breakfast at Cariblue.

It turns out that he has an extensive background in yoga. As these stories often begin, he started yoga as a child, drawing inspiration from his father. He smiled as he recounted stories to me of how he copied his father’s yoga movements and poses as an eight year old. Another fond memory for him is of his time at the National Institute of Naturopathy in India. While studying at Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, he had to practice yoga daily at 5:30am – almost like a ‘no yoga no breakfast situation’ he joked. It’s this early start that grew into the passion he has for yoga today. We went on to speak about his extensive yoga related work history and his current job as the Senior Leader at the award winning wellness centre at The BodyHoliday. At that point, I decided to stop enquiring about his history, as he seemed to be getting very nostalgic! The main point he wanted to drive at me is that yoga has always been and still continues to be part of his work and he enjoys that.

To bring him back to St. Lucia and The BodyHoliday, I enquired about his approach to yoga. He tries not to compartmentalize yoga. He explained that he doesn’t conform to a particular style of yoga, but he simply teaches traditional Hatha, modern Hatha and Indian Meditative yoga. His traditional and modern Hatha yoga are done on two levels – beginner and intermediate. Indian Meditative is a lot deeper and more profound so he recommends it for advanced yogis. He then said to me ‘yoga has to be done at your own pace and should not be forced…there should be no compulsion’.

Moving forward, he is highly enthused about the release of The BodyHoliday’s yoga DVD series featuring him. The best part, he comments is that it is designed to facilitate self practice at home, in keeping with The BodyHoliday’s promise of being a lasting holiday.

‘Yogah Na Hathat Na Balat.’ – ‘Yoga neither by force nor compulsion.’

The BodyHoliday Lesport wins Conde Nast Travellers's coveted World's Leading Spa award

It unfolded at The Corinthia Hotel London, Whitehall Place, London. The BodyHoliday, LeSPORT receives a major award.

Condé Nast Traveller’s annual Readers’ Spa Awards 2011 highlight the finest spots to relax in the UK as well as around the globe including the best hotel spas, spa retreats, day spas and thermal spas, with the highest scorers then making it into the World’s top 25.

The 2011 Readers’ Spa Awards elected The BodyHoliday LeSPORT as the leading hotel spa in the overseas category. Particularly noted for its wellness centre, and its daily included treatments, it also makes it into The World’s Top 25 “best of the best” list, ranking 3rd .

The Readers’ Spa Awards are based on readers’ votes on criteria including spa facilities, individual approach, ambience/design, body and facial treatments, amenities and products, exercise programmes, cuisine, as well as quality of service and staff.

On receiving the award, Marketing Director Andrew Barnard acknowledges that this is a major victory for the team. While service delivery is a critical part of the team’s success, winning awards affirms what they already know. The BodyHoliday, LeSPORT continues to deliver on its promise – give us your body for a week and we’ll give you back your mind.

Spa Retreats:

Overseas

1. The BodyHoliday at LeSport, St Lucia
2. Vinotherapie Spa, Les Sources de Caudalie, Bordeaux, France
3. Monart Spa, County Wexford, Ireland

The World’s Top 25

1. Spa, La Mamounia, Marrakech, Morocco
2. The Spa, Four Seasons Hotel Geroge V Paris, France
3. The BodyHoliday at LeSport, St Lucia

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