To be honest, I badly needed rest and rest.
So I went to one of the best spas in the world — Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Mass., (in the Berkshires) to refresh my mind and revive my body. Now I work out for an hour every day, so as for getting into a spa exercise routine – well, you preach to the choir. But I wanted to modify my exercise routine, and I also wanted some spiritual comfort. Luckily for me, I had the best of both worlds at Canyon Ranch – and you will too. (You should definitely keep this in mind for the month of May, which is National Mental Health Awareness Month.)
I found sweet salvation in the acclaimed spa’s new Pathways program, which are expertly composed services best suited to a specific wellness intent. I chose “Reconnect With Joy”, which is a great program for adding a sense of happiness, wonder and meaning to everyday life. Other pathways, which are part of the program, include a lifestyle reset for more energy and purpose, and Build Resilience, which can prepare you with the skills and strength to overcome adversity and stress. . (Three nights start at $2,850 per person.)
My Pathways program started with the “Rx for Exercise”, during which I met with a fitness expert to evaluate my current exercise program. My weekly routine is pretty intense: I walk on an incline treadmill about five times a week, jump rope once a week, lift weights every other day, and always do an intense Jane Fonda routine. (which I’ve been doing since the 80s). The exercise physiologist applauded my program – especially the jump rope – and we just added some extra abdominal exercises to my routine, as well as some triceps work. It was totally worth the hour it took, and I came away excited about my new plan.
Next comes sound healing. Now, for the record, I have to say that for the most part, these types of “out there” treatments never work for me. I’m too skeptical, and I don’t really understand why beating a gong, drumming, or how and why Tibetan singing bowls really comfort your soul. (I apologize if that’s your thing.) But you know what? I approached everything with an open mind, and guess what? My three-day headache disappeared and I felt soothed. So far, so good. Dan, the therapist, also gave me a Soul Journey on another day – and together we did a guided meditation which felt very uplifting and cleansing. I walked in feeling a little blue and walked out pink.
One of the highlights of my visit was the mental health and wellness consultation with a licensed therapist. It was an hour of talk therapy – and it was incredibly special. Beth, who is Polish (like me) and I formed a lovely bond, as I told her “my story” of barely surviving my excruciatingly painful childhood. In the end, she recommended that I just let go of my anger and start each day acknowledging that I am, indeed, a survivor – and she added, a pretty amazing survivor. It was a great experience and since returning home I have used his moving advice to the great benefit of my heart, mind and spirit.
Of course, what’s a visit to Canyon Ranch without a massage? Although I was scheduled for a chakra balancing massage – I chose not to as it tends to be very oily and I don’t like oils – so I received a wonderful Swedish massage in place. I soaked up each stroke, with a warm, sponge-like lotion, and came out feeling recharged and rested.
I also had a manicure and pedicure, which were top notch.
Now let’s talk about my favorite part of Canyon Ranch: the kitchen! The food is fantastic – delicious, nutritious and low in calories. If you’re watching your weight – or just want to watch your weight better – Canyon Ranch is the place for you. For starters, there’s a cafe called Culinary Rebel that has plenty of snacks you can enjoy all day. Here, you’ll find everything from delicious homemade bars (130 calories), to excellent nutmeg and pumpkin crunch (125 calories) to 130-calorie cherry brownies. You’ll also find fruit galore and specialty coffees here – and everything is listed with its nutritional value, calories and fat content. You can also get a chicken club sandwich or a pumpkin and hummus wrap as a main course for lunch.
The main dining room is where you can indulge in a host of delicious dishes, all calorie-free, so you can enjoy them guilt-free. For dinner, I usually started with soup – the potato-leek was my favorite – followed by a large salad with the spa’s special orange-citrus dressing. I could live on it.
After that, my favorite dish was the Roasted Artichoke And Grain Medley (vegetarian and 384 calories), containing a mixture of kamut, buckwheat, quinoa flakes, flax seeds and more – and it made me fall in love whole grains all the more so. For dinner, I liked to order a grilled salmon fillet (165 calories), accompanied by a maple sauce. I also usually ordered the bulgur/tomato pesto which was great. Obviously, I love the food at Canyon Ranch. For dessert, there was always vanilla ice cream (70 calories for 2.5 oz), perfectly matched with the spa’s fat-free homemade fudge sauce, which you would have to bottle and resell, it’s so good. (Made with cocoa powder and white grape juice, that’s 97 calories per tablespoon.) Please opt for the chocolate chip cookies, which are gooey and served warm – two weigh in at 167 calories.
Several nights a week, you can also dine at Culinary Rebel, where you can order pizzas, sandwiches, and tacos. We had the chicken tacos – with a low-fat “birthday surprise” carrot cake – made with lots of pineapple to keep the calorie count down. (Maybe the real meaning of “spa” at Canyon Ranch is Skinny People Anonymous?)
If there’s one conclusion I’m sure of after adopting the Pathways program at Canyon Ranch, it’s that life can be filled with happiness and joy, no matter how stressful you are. This concept imposes itself loud and clear, since Canyon Ranch invites you to focus on your mind and your well-being.
In fact, whenever I visit Canyon Ranch in Lenox, I make sure to attend the evening lectures of jerry posner, who is a dynamic motivational speaker and entertainer – and quite the comedian. Mr. Posner has been lecturing at Canyon Ranch for over 25 years and his lectures are all designed to uplift your spirit. They are wonderful lectures, and it’s no wonder his seminars are very popular with guests. I believe, in my humble opinion, in fact, that he is Canyon Ranch’s “secret weapon”.
Mr. Posner is also an author, consultant and speaker, and he presents interesting workshops, retreats and programs for a wide variety of companies. I call him “Mr. Gratitude,” as one of his talks at Canyon Ranch is on precisely this topic. (Mr. Posner also gives other talks on miracles – one of my favorite subjects – and the transformative power of daily reminders.) He uses neuroscience, behavioral psychology, and social science to explain, for example, how powerful it can be to express gratitude on a daily basis. Don’t stop there. He always hands out adorable little cards to help lift your spirits in your daily life. I always keep some on my desk because they remind me of how I can live my best life. (Oprah would approve.) fact, for me, they are the ultimate memory of my time at the Canyon Ranch spa, because I can focus on the ideas in these cards every day and live a happier life.
If there was one downside to my visit, it’s only this: It’s freezing cold throughout the Canyon Ranch complex. I visited in April and would have liked to bring warm sweaters, socks and pants with me as it is definitely chilly in the air in some public areas. When my husband and I returned to our hotel room each night, we gratefully turned up the heat.
But other than that, it was a really great visit to the spa. For me – and maybe for you too – Canyon Ranch just might be your “om” away from home.
To know more about me, please follow me on Instagram at @DebbiKickham.