The holidays are just one big ball of stress — out-of-towners invading your space, high-calorie comfort foods all around, entertaining visitors, kids out of school and an exercise routine pushed to the backburner. And though the holiday season is especially bad, the year is always full of life-changing events, family obligations, stressful work trips and the minutiae that can completely knock us off our game. But what if you could press the reset button?
I’ve gotten off my wellness routine for the last year. After sustaining a back injury (followed by immobility, rest, physical therapy and living with the fear of reinjury), plus a non-existent workout regimen and worrying about my family every minute of the day, I’ve given my own health the shaft. That’s why I decided it was time to cleanse my body and mind with the help of fitness expert/author/entrepreneur Tammy Stokes. Tammy, founder of Atlanta’s own West Coast Workout and Café West Express, offers an in-depth detox retreat with the Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta.
It’s a day focused only on you (or rather me, in the case of this article), open to a handful of participants who want to spend a few hours in the day working on themselves. Though much of the detox retreat centers on the physical — including a cardio/body sculpting fitness class and an in-depth discussion about proper nutrition (as well as cleansing with Tammy’s delicious Café West Express products) and a pampering session of your choice — it’s also about the metaphysical. Tammy discusses the poison that is stress and how to find our best selves free from the internal obstacles weighing us down.
My day started at 8:30 a.m. when I arrived in full workout regalia at the Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta. Located in the heart of Buckhead, this elegant hotel offers only the most luxurious amenities, including their world-famous spa, where most of the retreat took place. The hotel staff greeted me with utmost care and concern, then whisked me upstairs to the spa’s studio space. That’s where Tammy awaited all nine of us ladies to say hello, make a little small talk and ease us into the day’s health-conscious mindset.
So here’s when I knew the fall detox retreat was going to be something special, something more than a day of working out. Tammy went around and asked each of us (the nice part about having an intimate group) why we were at the retreat and what we wanted to get out of it. It’s this attention to individuality and detail that made me feel that this was going to be a life-changing day.
Upon entering the studio, we each took a swig of our Immunity enhanced water — featuring filtered water, orange juice, carrot juice, ginger juice, lemon juice, organic orange extract, zinc and the kickers, turmeric and black pepper. Created to help hydrate, protect and nourish, this enhanced water got me going for the cardio and body sculpting class. Cards on the table, I have previously taken two or three of Tammy’s classes at her West Coast Workout studio in Buckhead. Those classes are especially tough and Tammy is tough — but the detox retreat class is a bit more universal, and each student could increase or decrease the level of difficulty based on fitness level, injuries, etc. I’m still trepidatious of my own injury, and Tammy helped modify certain moves to protect my back.
After the full-body workout (which I still felt two days later), we went downstairs in one of the hotel’s meeting rooms for breakfast. Keep in mind that we’re detoxing throughout the day and your American idea of waffles and eggs in the morning isn’t what Tammy has in mind. We enjoyed her Longevity Lentil soup — an Ayurvedic traditional detox soup packed with nutrients, protein and fiber from ingredients like red lentils, sweet potato, coconut milk, Himalayan pink salt and many more natural items.
While we ate, Tammy started the mental part of the fall detox retreat — figuring out our individual stressors and ways of coping, or better yet, eliminating. Part of the talk focused on specific ways to have a better day, most notably, always start with gratitude. Giving thanks for your health and spot on earth is the first and easiest way to get the mind set on a good path. We practiced specific breathing exercises and techniques like using a few drops of soothing essential oils, like lavender, rubbing them between our hands to unlock the scent and cupping our hands around our noses and mouths as a way to temporarily regain focus and block surrounding stress. I have serious physical reactions to stress, so for me, I valued this hour the most and am now trying to institute Tammy’s recommendations on a daily basis.
After the sit-down and breakfast, we all went back upstairs to the studio for the spiritual part of the day — a meditation session with a chance to institute our newly learned skills. We each sat upon our own meditation pillow, sipped the Skinny water (with purified water, lemon juice, aloe vera and cayenne, to help hydrate, flush and soothe), and followed Tammy’s lead in an active meditation session. Meaning, we completed different moves (reminiscent of those from yoga) in a space to connect our minds and bodies. I think letting go is especially hard for busy women, and thus, is probably the most beneficial.
A quick break and we were back downstairs for lunch and an in-depth session regarding nutrition. We sipped the Secret Slimming soup, a low-calorie, nutrient-dense, spicy soup that helps in weight loss and is chock full of lycopene, antioxidants and packed with power herbs. The food talk can get a little overwhelming since that’s the Achilles’ heel for many of us. Tammy spoke about the importance of super foods that will help transform your body from the inside out (we’re looking at you algae, bee pollen and goji berries). Food could take up a retreat all on its own, so it’s best to learn more by reading Tammy’s book, Live Your Healthiest Life: A West Coast Approach to Balanced Living, which we received at the end of the retreat and includes her signature workouts, meal plans, recipes and lifestyle strategies.
At this point, we got to hold off on the instruction and go straight into the pampering. We each had a choice of getting a massage or facial at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta’s renowned spa. I went with the facial and learned even more about my skin and body (mind blown, I’ve mistaken my dry skin for combination skin for years). For 50 minutes, I was transported during my spa treatment to a place where kids, deadlines and wrinkles fail to exist. After that we could either leave or take advantage of The Spa’s facilities like sauna, steam room, vitality pool and lounges.
All in all, I am so glad that I could attend one of Tammy Stokes’ detox retreats at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta, especially before the holiday hustle threatens my very existence. I’m ready to push my reset button, change my thinking and increase my longevity.
In the past, the Mandarin Oriental and Tammy Stokes have joined forces to offer this detox retreat in the fall and spring. Keep checking back at westcoastworkout.com and mandarinoriental.com/atlanta for upcoming retreats and other year-round events.
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