By HELEN RAZER
There are not many things at which I excel but I’m an absolute boss at despair. It’s tricky to match my talent for feeling overworked, underappreciated and/or taken-for-granted. Or, at least, I thought it was until I spent a week in the oddly comforting company of others who felt just as trapped and exhausted by life’s obstacle race as I did.
Together, we found a way out of the maze. Together, we stopped whining and lightened our load.
Actually, together we also lightened our body mass index. After a week at Gwinganna, I was delighted to find I’d misplaced four kilos. And this, to be honest, is exactly why I’d first nagged Mia to send me to report on a retreat with a name that is whispered by beautiful actresses.
Unable to go on believing that ALL my clothing had shrunk by exactly one-and-a-half sizes in the wash, I committed my self-absorbed self to a week of springtime detox.
As it turned out, I lost a lot more than my fluffy winter coat. I lost my shit, for example, during an afternoon of gestalt therapy. “I LOVE YOU HELEN AND I FORGIVE YOU” I screamed to myself through tears as a lovely counsellor named Justine provided Kleenex and encouraging words. Was this the indulgent act of a middle-class, middle-aged toddler? Almost certainly. Did it help me grow the hell up? You betcha. You come here for the fat loss; you stay for the personal development.
Oh, yes. Get your airsick bag, my cynical friend, because I’m about to take you on a magical unicorn ride across a sky flecked with superfoods. Welcome to The Week That Changed My Life (and toned my abs).
Everyone was here to change; even if, like me, they were a little unaware of how desperately change was needed. Put fifty strangers in the same community for a week and strip them of makeup and everyday obligations and they’ll start telling each other everything. I knew my fellow guests were in need of urgent transformation because they told me. And, I knew because the act of taking a full week out of life and a little north of two grand out of the bank shows extraordinary commitment to change.
The first and most anticipated change revealed itself within hours of arrival. Having made our way from around the country and checked in to this luxe hub of health, we sat down to this Sunday evening dinner. It was impeccably presented and bursting with flavour. Perfectly formed as it was, “It’s very small,” I thought to myself. “It’s very small,” said the schoolteacher from Newcastle. “It makes a Lean Cuisine look like a pig on a spit,” said C, the woman who would become my confidante and detox-whisperer for much of the week.