Like Kermit the frog says: “it’s tough being green” – or whatever falls outside the social norm. In today’s world, being portly – rotund – okay, fat – is practically a cardinal sin! Heavy people are the butt of insensitive jokes and they’re supposed to take it all with jolly good humour. And, people who are not necessarily perfect specimens themselves make all kinds of judgements about the “chubs” around them. ‘Overweight people are lazy couch potatoes’ or ‘they haven’t any restraint when it comes to food.’

Admittedly, in some cases, such harsh judgements may be warranted but they certainly do not apply to all who are obese. So what makes some people fat while others stay slim no matter what or how much they eat? Metabolism is a big factor. Some burn up every calorie they consume, while others – the fatties – save every single kilojoule for a rainy day that never comes. On the emotional side, people often bulk up with girth, using it as armour plating to protect themselves from “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” to quote Will Shakespeare. It’s done subconsciously but the result is excess weight and plenty of it!

Recently, my doctor told me I had to lose some serious tonnage otherwise I was destined for some nasty health problems in the not too distant future. He told me I was “morbidly obese.” Nobody wants to be described as morbidly anything, let alone obese! So with that motivation, I went to a dietician. I was assigned an eating plan rather than a diet and it was specifically tailored for me.

I stuck to my programme religiously for a week. Then I fell back into my sinful ways of eating foods not included in my personal plan like croissants and cheese. Am I guilty of lack of control? Possibly. But the truth is I’m more culpable of not exercising enough. Writing is a sedentary pursuit. I sit at a computer most days so I need a lot more assistance than just a list of items to create healthy meals!

And, to be completely honest, I’ve always had weight issues and have been engaged in the Battle of the Bulge for donkey’s years. Now, I’m losing not just the battle but the entire war! What I need is a serious adjustment in how I feel about myself in relation to food as well as getting motivated to exercise more. As the fates would have it, soon after my epiphany, I was assigned to write write this feature on Namaste Wellness Retreats. I was sent for Namasté’s Exclusive 10 Day Weight-loss Retreat at Fordoun, a five star hotel and spa in the Natal Midlands.

First of all, the retreat took place at Fordoun Hotel and Spa. This getaway venue has seventeen luxurious double suites with private verandas, underfloor heating and no two units are identical. Each has a dressing area, a spacious bathroom with a large tub and separate shower. There is even a double suite with wheelchair access and a specially adapted bathroom for those who need this kind of accommodation.

For the guests, the only things missing from typical five-star digs are lavish meals and flowing alcohol. In their place, guests partake in a personally exclusive weight-loss and detoxification programs, conceptualised and operated by some of the country’s top wellness specialists. The weight-loss programme includes juice fasting, comprehensive supplementation, colonic hydrotherapy, lymph drainage massages, daily exercise, yoga, one-on-one wellness coaching as well as several informative lectures to help one lose weight and break bad eating habits.

However, the new eating regimen actually begins at home, one week before arriving at the resort. To reduce the shock to your body, alcohol, sugar, artificial sweeteners, refined carbohydrates, caffeine, red meat, salt, butter, refined oils and as many food preservatives as possible must be removed from your diet. If you adhere to this restricted diet, you have already begun a slow gentle detox. This helps to ensure detox side-effects experienced on the retreat are minimised allowing you to spend your energy on more constructive activities such as enjoying the luxurious surroundings.

Upon arrival, each guest receives a physical assessment, lifestyle evaluation and weigh-in. I tipped the scales at a delicate 145.2kg. This routine is again repeated just before going home to track your progress and to be sure you are in tip-top condition. Wellness coaching sessions assist in revealing emotional and habitual barriers to weight-loss and everyone receives a personalised take-home eating, supplementation and exercise plans. In short, they make falling off the wagon as difficult as possible. In short, Namasté’s philosophy is aimed at empowering you to make lasting life changes.

At first, it felt very much like boot camp – a posh one – but boot camp nonetheless! Four cleansing juices and a bowl of broth were administered each day. The toughest part of the retreat is the release of physical and emotional toxins. The more unhealthy and toxic your body is, the greater the detox side effects you will experience as they are expelled. Toxins are ugly things and they do their worst as your body begins to expel them.

The “life food diet” plus nutritional supplements nourish, cleanse and detox your body so it will more readily shed weight. I honestly admit I never really felt hungry but by day four I was starting to miss solid food, this was only psychological and fortunately the delicious juice blends (which I had never ever considered ingesting before) kept me satisfied .This was the strict regimen for seven days.

On the evening of day eight, solid food was reintroduced into my life. I was so happy, I wanted to sacrifice a bull and eat it! Unfortunately, no porterhouse appeared on my plate. Instead I was presented with Namasté Life Foods. These specially designed meals involved a combination of brown rice, vegetable protein and organic fruits and vegetables. Everything served to us was very tasty and I could drink all the Happy Water™ I wanted. In case you haven’t heard of it, this elixir is also called structured or primordial water. It is a concentrated colloidal solution of original Himalayan Crystal Salt in ultra-purified, re-energised, revitalised and re-oxygenated water.

That was the food aspect of “taking the cure” but there was a whole lot more to the Namasté programme. To encode the proper mindset, daily activities included guided walks, guided meditation and yoga sessions. The five-star onsite Spa includes a world-class Bioenergy centre, a fully equipped gym, yoga studio, heated indoor pool, an outdoor pool and walking trails. Daily massages and monitoring by the nurse help to soothe one’s body and mind.

So, did my stay at the retreat work? Yes, absolutely! I detoxed my system, dropped a whopping 7.2 kilograms and 16 centimetres around the waist and learned how to begin taking care of my body for the long haul. A healthier, more active lifestyle is in my future. But in spite of all the pampering and luxurious surroundings, a lifestyle intervention is hard work. As programme director, Nadine Johnston says: “What you are prepared to put into it is exactly what you are going to get out of it. It’s all up to you.”