Fat Camp vs Health Retreat

I’ve talked before about my experiences at Fat Camp (where I lost nearly 15kg in a month). My feelings about the time are mixed. I know eating 700-900 calories a day and doing 5hrs of exercise is not even vaguely sustainable. Or healthy. But sometimes now – when I feel really desperate to do something about my weight and my health quickly… I wonder whether I’d return there. I hated much about the place, but it achieved results. Briefly.

Fortunately I don’t spend long pondering because Iย can’t afford it anymore anyway.ย But the other day I was doing that thing we all do from time to time….

“If I won a million dollars I would….”ย 

And of course the one thing I’d want to do would be to address my weight. Or at least have someone else address it for me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

In all seriousness I wouldn’t return to Fat Camp. The one I attended was based on The Biggest Loser. Most of the exercise was far from fun and involved burpees, moving large tyres and logs, running hills and climbing gazillions of steps. Hardly the stuff of dreams.

Source: southparkstudios.com
Source: southparkstudios.com

I would however, return to a health retreat. Many moons ago when I was more financially flush (and working overseas) I spent three weeks at the (former) Golden Door Health Retreat in the Gold Coast Hinterland. I was very stressed, unhealthy and overworked at the time and the experience was life-changing. I returned a couple of years later for a week (less financially flush obviously) and still found the experience beneficial – but not as much so as my longer time there.

The second time I was there I came across a long-termer. A stupendously wealthy person who was there for a few months.

So if I won a million dollars that’s what I’d do now. I couldn’t return to the Golden Door near the Gold Coast as it’s now a Biggest Loser style camp. Blech! But I know there are others there – Camp Eden and Gwinganna. I can’t even afford a week there now but a girl can dream and if when I will those millions, I’ll be there – with bells on. Checking in for a couple of months.

Gwinganna - pic from perthnow.com
Gwinganna – pic from perthnow.com

Unlike the Fat Camp / Biggest Loser style places, a health retreat is more nurturing in nature. It’s not about breaking you down and building you up again. Health retreats aren’t meant to be demoralising. There’s generally as much focus on pampering and nourishing as there is on healthy food and exercise. One can actually enjoy being at a health retreat. It’s a pleasure not a punishment.

And that’s where my mindset’s changed a lot over recent years.

I (mostly) no longer believe I deserve to be punished because of my weight. Sure I need to make some changes, but I need to be supported to do that: not yelled at; not made to run up a hill when I can’t; and not starved.

So… if when I win that one million dollars you’ll know where to find me!

What would you do with $1m?ย 

Flogging my blog With Some Grace.


  1. Holy shit! 5 hours of exercise! How is that even sustainable in the real world? I mean, I love exercising but no way would I be doing 5 hours a day! I haven’t ever been to a health retreat…

    1 million — hmmm…I could do a lot. I’d probably pay off the unit, reduce my days at work to 3 or 4, travel a bit and write.

    Now to just go and buy that lotto ticket…

    • I know. I fantasise (occasionally) about winning money but don’t ever buy lotto tickets etc. (And no longer work in a way that I’m likely to earn it!!!)

  2. I investigated the Eden retreat once and seriously thought about it but stayed at my parents place instead. That’s like a health retreat as they don’t drink and only have healthy food and make you go on lots of walks sight seeing. It was much cheaper!

    • Oh I can imagine. Those health retreats are bloody expensive! (Which is why I chose Fat Camp for a month in 2009 and it still cost me a small fortune!)

    • PS. When I went to The Golden Door for 3wks in 2001 I used money I’d put aside for a month in Italy (as it was about the same amount – incl. flights). I decided I was too stressed and unhealthy to enjoy a ‘trip’ anywhere and needed to focus on my health instead!

  3. i think I would join you at that Health Retreat – I’ve been Googling a few related especially to focusing on Cancer and health.
    Then I’d hire a personal trainer to teach me the right running form.

    • Oh yes, you certainly deserve a break Trish. On my first visit to the Golden Door there was a guy who took private breathing lessons (Feldenkrais I think?) and everyone raved about him – how he helped with breathing and movement. There was also a swim coach to help with correct technique. Quite frankly I was happy with the basics – gym classes, some dance, fitball classes etc. (Not to mention the massages and facial included in the package!)

    • Absolutely! I think some allow you to do shorter stays nowadays but I’m not sure I’d benefit from 3 days of a ‘healthier’ me. No habits changed in that time!

  4. Yes being yelled at is not great. I have started group PT and our trainer doesn’t yell, she targets exercises for us. I have lost 10kg in 6 weeks, but it was for my wedding. It is not something that is sustainable in every day. I also had no children. Slow and steady wins the race I reckon. Can I come to that retreat with you? Now how do we get rich quick? Have a great weekend Deb x

    • The guy I mentioned at the Golden Door was in the midst of a 9mth stay – which was quite ridiculous really as he (apparently) often left for weekends and then returned. By the time I got there he barely participated in any group activities and I think he did some work during the day and private training sessions (add-ons) and just joined us all for meals.

  5. The health camp sounds great in THEORY, just not sure I’m disciplined enough to give up my vices for a good cause…

    BTW just tagged you in an award post Deb – http://bit.ly/1kbSfEs Don’t feel pressured to respond, just wanted to give you the ‘heads up’. Compliments are nice in any form! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Touch wood – I’ve actually not detoxed too badly (despite my love of diet coke and all-things-bad-for-me) but others there have struggled. At the health retreat I went to they also try to avoid medications to treat you…. I recall the dandelion tea was supposed to help. (PS. I didn’t touch the stuff!)

  6. I’m coveting that health retreat at Gwinganna too and it’s right on my doorstep (I live on the Gold Coast) just tempting me, if I won some sort of fortune. It’s yoga all the way for me right now – I have lost 5kg over the last few months, would like to lose another 5kg but the main things is how much I love what I do.

    • Oh wow, that’s great Kathy. I do yoga, but not as often as I should. Even when I wasn’t previously doing other (any cardio) exercise, I used to do pilates twice a week and generally felt quite strong (even if very overweight). I think yoga will give the same sensation if I can get there more than once a week or fortnight.

  7. It would be great to be rich enough to employ a cook who dished up healthy, delectable food.
    A million dollars? What a nice problem, what fun to trawl through the options… ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Oh I know – like celebrities who have trainers and cooks. Mind you, I guess some of them struggle with their weight (unless they have someone following them around slapping food out of their hands!).

  8. I’ve heard of Gwinganna and its inflated prices.
    If I had a million bucks, I’d head to Bali, buy my own place in Ubud among the rice fields and have my own health retreat. Eat clean, mediate every day and walk everywhere.

  9. I’d normally say travel, but right now what I need is quiet. I just had a couple of days in the bush with family & in the breaks between endless & loud re-runs of ninja turtle movies (played for my 3 year old nephew) & multiple meal sittings, I’d sit outside in the snow & the cold & let my mind just sit. That’s what I want- a whole week where I can get up & go to bed when I want, with no alarm clock, no decisions, no noise. Then I can miss the noise & come back home & start all over again.

  10. I can’t stand the biggest loser/yelling PT stereotype stuff. If that’s truly what works for you, then fine, but I don’t believe it would work for many. I’d rather be spoken to as an equal, not yelled at like a child…

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