Rest Of Your Life Retreat
A Retreat where Your Health is Re-Built with a Foundation to Last.
Natural Hygiene Health
Since 1964

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Rest Of Your Life Health Retreat

Dr. Gregory & Tosca Haag
P.O. Box 1056
La Vernia, Texas 78121

Tel:  830-779-2655
Fax: 830-779-2655

Fasting at ROYL Retreat

by Kathryn Gale
Email: kgaleJSJ at

From Living Nutrition Magazine Vol. 13

I had reached the end of my rope. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually exhausted, there was only one thing left that I had not tried already: fasting and complete rest.

One year previously, I had read an article in Living Nutrition Magazine (volume 7) by Dr. Virginia Vetrano, wherein she emphasized the absolute necessity of profound rest on all levels, especially during a fast, in order to get well. At the time, a long fast and a few weeks of rest sounded heavenly, but, I ³didnıt have time² for such a luxury. Well, itıs amazing how we can find the time, and the money, when the need is critical enough. By Fall of 2001, I had reached that point.

Although I donıt typically subscribe to labels, for the purpose of this narrative, I will state that I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and severe systemic candida. In addition, I was chronically constipated and dependent on laxatives to function. I was hungry all the time, yet seriously underweight: at 5 feet 6 inches, I weighed 97 pounds. There was a persistent sore in one nostril, which refused to go away, and my face was broken out in a rosacea-type rash. I knew there was reason to be concerned.  I met all the criteria for colon cancer, and at 52 years of age, a lifetime of compulsive overeating and extremely stressful living habits had definitely caught up with me.

My commitment to heal actually began 16 months prior when I began following a raw/living food diet/lifestyle. This dietary change did indeed effect positive changes in the way I looked, felt and thought, but it was not addressing the deeper issues. I had reached a plateau where my body did not seem to be healing further.

Knowing I could not manage such an undertaking on my own given all the daily distractions, obligations, and the weakened state of my will, I researched health retreats of all kinds across the country. It was important to find the most suitable program possible. Most programs offered fairly rigorous daily schedules with classes, exercising, enemas, and various diet regimens. It was exhausting just thinking about  how busy I would be. What I longed for was fresh, clean air, warmth, TLC, peace and a supervised fast by qualified people.

At last, I discovered ROYL, Rest of Your Life, a health retreat in Texas. The facility is owned and run by Drs. Greg and Tosca Haag, two M.D.s practicing wholistic health based on Natural Hygiene principles. I was delighted to discover that Dr. Tosca Haag is the daughter of Dr. Virginia Vetrano, who was also available at the retreat for consultations. After speaking on the phone separately with each doctor, my questions were answered and my fears about fasting allayed. I knew I had found my resting spot.  As if to demonstrate how the universe works when we are in alignment with our highest good, within one day I secured a reservation at the retreat and obtained bargain airline tickets. In three days I was on my way to a remote area in the Hill Country of southwest Texas.

The ROYL retreat house sits perched on a bluff overlooking a sweeping expanse of valley below, complete with a sparkling river that runs through it, framed against a backdrop of rolling hills in the distance. As far as the eye can see, the pristine, rugged range-land is dotted with sage shrubs and hardy, dark green oak trees.  My body began relaxing into the serenity of the landscape and I was grateful for every breath of the pure air.

The ranch-style house where guests stay is charming and accommodates up to six guests. In the spacious, comfortably furnished living room, one can enjoy the view through the wall-sized picture window. On cool, high-desert nights you can cozy up in front of a fire in the massive stone fireplace. There are three double bedrooms and two baths. My bedroom was large and sunny, with two double beds, a private bath and a fabulous view.  Since the only other guest was a young man from Arizona, I had this room to myself. A couple weeks later, when another woman guest arrived, she was placed in the third available bedroom to allow each of us our own private space.

I felt at home immediately, due in no small way to the warm, hearty Texas welcome received from Drs. Greg and Tosca Haag, known as ³Dr. G.² and ³Dr. T,² respectively. Two more genuinely happy, loving people I donıt ever remember meeting. The congenial, informal atmosphere, combined with the Haagsı exceptional medical expertise, set the stage for a rewarding and safe health renewal adventure.

Drs. Greg and Tosca Haag are a unique couple. Committed to a wholistic lifestyle and work, they wanted to have the best knowledge available of human physiology, pathology and pharmacology in order to help people. Early on in their marriage they entered medical school together, but their foundation in wholistic healing was well established before that. Dr. G. had spent years researching and studying health and nutrition. During his eight years of working as Health Director with Dr. Herbert Shelton, one of the founding fathers of the Natural Hygiene movement, he saw thousands of cases of improved health through fasting and vegan diet. He gave lectures and was in charge of hundreds of water fasts. Dr. T. was raised ³hygienically² from the moment of conception--she has never eaten meat nor taken any medication whatsoever. A woman of amazing vitality, she managed to bear three
children while attending medical school. Both she and Dr. G were on the deanıs list all through school. Between the two of them, authoring books, running a superior health retreat, lecturing, consulting and raising a family keeps them constantly on the go. Remarkably, with all the responsibility they juggle, their heartfelt dedication is clearly evident in everything they do. For me, they unwittingly provided role modeling I had not experienced before as I watched these remarkable people sail through their busy days, always with love and laughter.

My retreat experience began the morning of the second day with an in-depth health evaluation and meetings with both Dr. G and Dr. T. It was determined that I could safely start a water fast and we would take it one day at a time. My fasting diet would consist of pure, distilled water. Because I had arrived in such a depleted state, the primary concern seemed to be my ability to safely handle the potential emotional cleansing that fasting can trigger.

The first three days were heaven, I slept like never before. It surprised all of us how readily I adapted to the fast. At the beginning of the fast, what I noticed right away was a sense of profound relief emanating from deep within my being. My soul seemed to be thanking me for this long overdue period of rest. On the third day, I had a consultation with Dr. Vivian Vetrano. It was a special treat to meet this vibrant, ageless woman I had heard so much about. I was particularly nervous over losing any more weight while fasting, since I was already too thin. Dr. V. explained that my underweight condition was one of the results of a seriously enervated nervous system, which also was the primary cause of the CFS. Also, decades of unhealthy eating had compromised my bodyıs ability to absorb and assimilate nutrients. Fasting would allow my nervous system to rejuvenate and my body to rest and repair. Staying with a ³clean² diet following the fast would facilitate continued cleansing and healing. Another concern was the constipation and dependence on laxatives. She answered firmly, ³If your bowels work with a laxative, theyıll work without it.² I had some doubts about this but somehow knew intuitively that she was speaking the truth.

By the fifth day, gnawing hunger pains set in. I figured this must surely signal the end of my first fast. Imagine my surprise when both Dr. T and Dr. V cheerfully informed me that what I was experiencing was not hunger, but appetite. There was a difference? My education on the difference between true hunger and appetite began. True hunger, they explained, is indicated by a pleasant feeling in the mouth and throat area with no discomfort. Appetite/habit is everything else. I wondered if I had ever known true hunger. I suspect not, as it didnıt sound familiar.

It was my decision as to when I would  stop fasting--the knowledge the doctors shared allowed me to make an educated choice in the matter. The application of a warmed hot water bottle soothed the stomach discomfort. In fact, the hot water bottle remained a close companion throughout most of the fast.

Days flowed lazily from one to another. The natural rhythms of life/Nature became apparent to me as I settled down into enjoying the glorious sunshine, the scenery, the peace and a continuing deep state of rest. My mind became clearer and senses heightened. Hearing was especially acute. Ordinary sounds of nature, the humming of honey bees outside my window, distant splashes of a deer navigating over stones in the river below, chirping crickets, all vibrated through my body. Reconnecting with nature was truly one of the highlights at ROYL. I was immersed in the essential oneness of all life. Late one evening, I padded in slippers and robe out to the veranda and snuggled up in blankets on a chaise lounge seeking the company of the starlit night sky. Several shooting stars zoomed across the sky almost too quickly for the eye to catch. Contemplating the breathtaking vastness and mystery of space freed me from my own smallness and self-absorption. It was delightful, too, listening to little night critters as they skittered about, chattering and calling to one another.

Journaling each day helped to keep things flowing, as held emotions and feelings were loosened along with the physical toxins. I saw how I had been channeling my passion into eating to avoid facing my fears of life. Most importantly, I realized how far I had strayed from what is real and meaningful in life, and how much and how easily time was frittered away. I envisioned a life of greater simplicity, slowing down and opening my heart more in relationships and work. At night, dreams were often vivid, (and bizarre) bizarre, or humorous. Iım glad now that I decided to record them along with regular journal entries.

When the morning of day 22 arrived, Dr. Tosca and my retreat-mates were ready and waiting with camera and celebratory smiles to occasion my ³first² meal, a whopping serving of 4 ounces of fresh watermelon. Surprisingly, I was not ravenous and had no desire to ³wolf down² the meal. A new, healthier relationship toward food had been born. Since the length of time and the process advised in transitioning off of a long fast is considered even more important than the fast itself, three weeks was called-for in my case. The menu was a variety of juicy fruits to start with, followed by fresh vegetables.  Eventually heavier foods are reintroduced. Although naturally weak and tired, I felt wonderful, Dr. T had to keep after me to continue resting as much as possible during the day.

At the end of seven weeks, I was back home, feeling revitalized, with my lifeıs priorities and direction realigned with Spirit. Although I was still a little weak, it was apparent that significant physical healing had occurred, as evidenced by daily elimination, clear skin and the disappearance of the nostril lesion. Considerable rest was necessary to support the healing process set in motion during my Texas sojourn. Fortunately, my raw lifestyle was already comfortably in place, making any transition back to everyday living effortless. In fact, itıs even easier now, thanks to the simplicity of Natural Hygiene. Today, six months later, my strength has returned and I have gained weight for the first time in over 12 years.

Taking the time out for this fasting retreat was one of the best decisions of my life. It was sacred time -- time spent slowing down, in deep reflection and communing with Spirit, as well as physical healing.

Fasting shape-shifted my life. It reconnected me with my heart, soul and spiritual Self. The experience produced incredible clarity regarding my life's purpose, direction, relationships and priorities. It gave me my health and my power back. I highly recommend a supervised fasting renewal retreat as a profound self-healing tool to anyone.

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