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A retreat to top up your energy tank

Once a month in our Health Fix series, we try out a therapy, treatment or specialist retreat in a bid to solve an ongoing health issue – this month, Psychologies’ editor Suzy Greaves looks to balance her energy levels

by Suzy Walker

The Retreat at Split Farthing Hall

As a single parent, with a big job, I find myself relying on caffeine and sugar to get me through the day. I feel constantly knackered – on a rollercoaster ride to the next sugar and caffeine hit. So what can I do?

The retreat

Dr Claire Maguire has a PhD in medical biochemistry and runs an award-winning life coaching practice from a beautiful old house near Thirsk, North Yorkshire (see map). She combines life-coaching techniques ‘with the power of alkalising and energising food to bring clarity, focus and momentum’. Enhanced by daily Kundalini yoga, Claire’s methods claim to help you kickstart a healthier lifestyle.

The experience

Entering Split Farthing Hall feels like you’ve walked into a Brontë novel. I was on the two-day raw food and yoga retreat. I hate cooking and often turn to fast food, so I was thrilled to learn some simple ways to create healthy raw meals. The recipe demonstrations were so simple even I could manage them.

I’d never tried Kundalini yoga before either, and found it very different: we concentrated on breathing and meditation aspects rather than Downward Dog. Despite the difference, I felt incredibly energised after.

Two coaching sessions with Claire also got me asking big questions about how I fill my energy tank – I realised I often leave it empty. I get too focused on other people’s needs and don’t take the best care of myself.

The outcome

After eating a ‘clean’ diet for two days, I left the retreat, started to eat normally and had a huge realisation – as soon as I ate wheat, my stomach bloated and I wanted to fall asleep. Subsequent tests showed I had a wheat intolerance. This has been life-changing – I now know this was at the root of my energy problems. I ate wheat morning, noon and night – after every meal I’d want to sleep, then would drink coffee to counteract the effect.

I’ve always rolled my eyes at people who say they have a wheat intolerance but, for me, cutting out wheat has doubled my energy levels. I’ve had to eat very differently. I now plan my meals, and Claire’s cookery lessons continue to inspire me. I haven’t given up coffee completely, but have cut down.

The Kundalini practice reminded me how great meditation feels, so I’m trying that every morning again too – filling up my own tank on a daily basis. Eight months on, I feel calmer, with a more sustained energy that lasts the day rather than ending up an exhausted dribbling heap at 7pm!

Dr Claire Maguire will be running retreats in southeast England from April. Find more details at splitfarthinghall.co.uk