I drink around eight cups of tea a day. I don't think I'm physically addicted, but it's definitely a habit – I feel incomplete without a builder's brew (herbal? No thanks) in my hands. I also eat dairy, gluten and sugar with reckless abandon. So when I was told I was going to be totally caffeine-free and clean eating for four days, it's safe to say I was apprehensive...
Inserting picture of myself drinking tea to illustrate above point
I was, however, excited to embark on my detox adventure – as my workload has mounted over the past year, my general health has been neglected. Plus, Christmas did a number on my waistline (not telling you how many extra pounds I amassed over the festive period. No way).
Yeotown is a detox retreat in a lush, rural setting in North Devon. I was visiting for four days with make-up brand Urban Decay, to learn about their new – and some existing – prep and prime products.
The Prep, Prime and Set products from Urban Decay - my favourites are the All-Nighter Spray (your make-up will.not.budge) and the B6 Vitamin-Infused Complexion Prep Priming Spray, which primes, evens out skin tone and reduces shine
Yeotown is billed as a complete wellbeing haven, a sustainable alternative to gruelling bootcamps where exercise is relentless and food is scarce (trust me – I did one. Hell). It's run by Sieff and fellow founder Mercedes, one of Britain's leading yoga teachers.
Pausing during the three-hour hike for a photo opp, naturally
The packing list had scared me. I saw walking boots, waterproof trousers, a camel-pak (sorry, what?), a water pack (you mean bottle?) and all sorts of other things that made my heart sink.
But once I was all kitted out* – shoutout to Mountain Warehouse – I decided to ignore the apprehension and throw myself into this adventure.
*all the gear, no idea
I'm not going to lie, it was a lot of exercise. Hours of fast walking along blustery coastal paths, lots of yoga and daily fitness classes amounted to more exercise in four days than the past year put together.
But the walks are stunningly beautiful – the views are jaw-dropping and it feels amazing to breath fresh air rather than the toxic London smog that recently put the capital on 'high alert'. The yoga classes allowed me to calm my usually racing mind for a few minutes while opening up my hunched-over-a-computer-all-day shoulders, and the fitness classes made me realise I had really been missing exercise.
The Devon coastline made for incredible views
Food-wise, the detox was easy. I think that a lot of us, without realising, hastily scoff our meals while continuing our daily tasks, paying little attention to what we're actually eating and why. But because the food was fairly limited at Yeotown (I estimate around 1,200 calories a day) I savoured every mouthful... All free from salt, added sugar or preservatives, the natural flavours were incredible and forced me to think about how I normally cook and the ingredients I use.
One of the lunches served during the detox - fish Thai green curry with black, sticky rice
The lack of tea proved *slightly* more difficult. Despite the vast array of herbal teas available for unlimited consumption at Yeotown, I just couldn't find one that didn't make me feel slightly nauseous and long for a PG Tips (my fave). Plus, I had a whopping caffeine withdrawl-induced headache on day two, cured only by two carefully administered ('are you sure you need them?' 'yes') Paracetamol capsules – caffeine-free, of course...
The 'sanctuary' - where we had our yoga lessons
The days ended with massages – amazing – and meditation sessions that forced me to put all niggling thoughts to one side and concentrate on, well, nothing. This was unbelievably relaxing, and I found myself transported to a place of calm usually very elusive to me. The only distraction was the chorus of snores from my fellow detox-ers!
I left Yeotown after four days feeling refreshed, re-energised and with a considerably flatter stomach (#winning). I was also armed with renewed determination to tackle certain bad habits... Despite being sure I was going to get on the train back to London and run straight to the buffet cart for an English Breakfast tea and a packet of crisps, I drank a green juice and snacked on the hummus and vegetables they'd packed us off with.
I'm not, however, a totally new woman – I had a few glasses of wine and a pizza the next night. Which was fine – I went to Yeotown with the hope of restoring the balance when it comes to eating and exercise, not to introduce strict rules and regulations. It's a concept that hasn't always come naturally to me, but I am a huge believer in moderation...
Which is why I am delighted to be down to four cups of tea a day, and also determined to keep up my thrice-weekly spin classes. Basically, I'm feeling a bit #smug – thanks Yeotown.