Two months ago, Amy Levine felt the way many of us do: frustrated with lingering love handles and sick of squeezing into her jeans. “I was tired of having a little bit of extra weight on me, and I actually started snoring at night,” she says, noting that snoring is more common in people who are overweight and actually has dangerous health implications. “I was horrified at that!” At that point, Levine decided to make a change. She heard about Hacienda del Sol—a wellness retreat in Costa Rica—from her husband Jason’s colleague, who said his wife had a transformative experience during her visit there.
“We looked into the program and I was on board immediately,” Levine says of Hacienda del Sol’s wellness retreat. As a mom of three, the idea of going to Costa Rica—alone!—for a week was a dream. So she booked it. With six weeks to prepare, Levine says she wanted to feel physically and mentally ready to participate, so she decided to clean up her eating. “I committed to a much more conscious diet,” Levine says of her pre-trip prep. “I just didn’t eat anything that I shouldn’t eat.” That meant cutting out sugar (except fruit), switching to whole grains, and practicing good portion control. She also amped up her workout regimen, riding a stationary bike for 30 to 60 minutes, three times a week. “Within those six weeks I actually lost 10 pounds, ” she says. “I was really surprised because I didn’t think I was eating that badly.” But her week at Hacienda del Sol required further dietary changes. (Here are some surprising ways to kick your sugar habit.)