How I Led Community Members On A Transformative Journey To Improve Their Health
Recently, I was blessed to lead a group of seven wonderful community members on a health retreat at the Hippocrates Health Institute in Palm Beach, Florida. We devoted two weeks to detoxing our minds and bodies and committed ourselves to a healthier, more mindful lifestyle. The group's ages ranged from old enough to be my grandfather, to young enough to be my sister, and each guest had something to contribute to our success. I may have served as a leader on the retreat, but the truth is I learned so much from each and every mem¬ber who attended.
A Slow Start
We stepped off the plane in sunny Florida—many of us having just fin¬ished a harsh winter in New York—and schlepped to the car rental office. We were pale, sluggish, and unsure of what to expect from the coming weeks (after only five days, you could see a visible change in people's attitudes, complexion, and overall wellbeing).
I will be the first to admit that initially, things did not look like they were going in a positive direction. People cracked jokes, complained about the food, and some said they wanted to go home. But I'm happy to say everyone stuck it through and they were so thankful that they were able to complete the program. It was a transformative experience and—while much of it is difficult to put into words—I'd like to describe some of our journeys:
An Inspiring Setting
The staff at Hippocrates was prepared for our arrival and they made our experience wonderful. They accommodated us in every way, and even gave us our own private space for Shabbat, providing
Every day we woke up to bright sunshine in a beautiful atmosphere. I would open my door and take in the view and immediately feel great. The grounds were stunning and gentle animals roamed freely. On the first day, I stopped a raccoon from harassing a turtle and that turtle came back to see me almost every day of the retreat. The staff said they've never seen anything like that happen before—it was truly amazing!
A Healthy Regimen
We began each day drinking two big cups of lemon water, and then we would walk over to the wheatgrass hut, where we would make our own wheatgrass, and drink two to four ounces. At 10 am, we'd drink our green juice for breakfast. We would eat sprouts and vegetables, all kosher, for lunch and dinner.
Throughout the day, we would attend lectures on incredibly insightful, practical topics—ranging from organic cosmetics to the dangers of eating too much meat. We took physical fitness classes in a beautiful yurt. There were yoga classes, aquatic classes, tai chi classes and meditation. Each of us had appointments for different healing treatments that made our immune systems stronger and stimulated our cells and organs. This was helpful even for those of us who were already practicing healthy lifestyles—there's always room for maintaining and improving one's health.
There was also a cold plunge pool, a hot pool, and a saltwater pool. Going into each one really awakened the senses and the sensations were amazing. I felt like my body was energized and healing.
The feedback I received from the group was overwhelmingly positive. Many told me they would never have had the courage to come on their own, and could not have done it if I was not present. One guest sent me a lovely note, "Making the decision to leave my husband and family for two weeks was very difficult for me, but as the numbers on the scale kept creeping up my morale and confidence were dropping. I got off to a rocky start, but with your guidance and encouragement I quickly got acclimated to the program and became engrossed in the myriad lectures, treatments, and exercises. While I lost a significant amount of weight, for me the most important thing I took from this trip was a huge shift in attitude and mindset. I now think carefully about everything I put in my mouth and believe I can continue my weight loss journey successfully. Thanks to you and our whole group, my Hippocrates family."
Another guest joined us because she had dangerously high blood sugar and her doctor was concerned for her health. She committed to the retreat and I watched as her high blood sugar went to normal levels after the two weeks—all without medication. I spoke to her recently and she is continuing on this path, and she is now serving as a great example to others who want to get their diabetes under control.
Another guest was dealing with dizzy spells before the trip. After a few days at Hippocrates, I had him balancing on one leg. He hasn't complained of dizziness since.
Beyond those impressive stand-outs, every guest lost a noticeable amount of weight and felt better both mentally and physically. They were so thankful that they all wanted to share the experience with their communities—I've received 39 voicemail messages inquiring about our next retreat since I got back!
A two-week health retreat is challenging—we had to uproot ourselves and our lives—but just like the turtle and its shell, we brought our homes with us. We had the love and support of our families, as well as our trust in G-d, to see us through.
I've kept in touch with the group. Everyone is shopping organic and eating clean food. Some have hired personal trainers. We've been exchanging words of inspiration to keep each other going. While I am so happy everyone saw immediate benefits, I am even more excited about what the future will bring for them, as they continue to maintain their health, new lifestyles.
I'd like to thank everyone who trusted in me, and who came on the retreat and said they would have never done something like this if they had not been convinced to do so. I pray that they continue on their paths and they change their lives and the lives around them. It was a blessing, and I will always cherish the time we spent together. It truly was an incredible journey.
Norman Balassiano's company Angels of Debt helps people resolve the massive business debt. Angels of Health will try to accomplish the same with weight loss and stress control.