Winter Wellness Travel: Escape to Rancho Mirage

Wellness Travel | thewellnessscientist.com

Source: @WellnessScience

According to the experts, wellness travel is a fast-growing market with travelers realizing the need to rest and rejuvenate is key to living a happy, balanced life.

Wellness travel involves planning a trip with the purpose of improving your physical, emotional, and mental health, and an escape to the warm and dry southern California desert in the middle of a winter Bay Area rain storm sounded like just what the doctor ordered.

 

Where shall we stay?

As an AmEx Platinum card holder, I always check out the Fine Hotels and Resorts in the area to maximize on perks like resort credit to be used for dining, spa treatments, etc. during your stay, early check-in, late check-out, a daily breakfast credit, and a complimentary room upgrade when available.

We chose the Ritz Carlton at Rancho Mirage for our stay. The resort itself is nothing short of lovely. Upon check in, we were offered a glass of champagne as the layout of resort was explained to us. As a Marriott Gold Elite member, (another perk of the AmEx Platinum card if you haven’t achieved this status through actual stays) we were given daily access to the spa grounds to enjoy the plunge pools, steam rooms and other amenities.

Sunset in Rancho Mirage | thewellnessscientist.com

Sunset at the Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage – Source @WellnessScience

We did not receive the complimentary room upgrade to my knowledge. I had booked a desert view, and the room was on the second floor. Hindsight being 20/20, I would have requested a ground floor room which would have given us a private fire pit. I could tell that the people who had these rooms enjoyed using the fire pits, and we would have probably spent more time outside enjoying the property if we had been in one of these rooms.

 

Incorporating wellness into your trip

One of my goals during this trip was to shake of the blue feelings I was having from being trapped inside after weeks of rain and cold weather. My first mission was to scope out a decent hike in the sunshine to get the endorphins flowing.

Walking Path at the Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage | thewellnessscientist.com

Source: @WellnessScience

The resort itself was a lot smaller than I expected. While there was a beautiful walking path facing the desert side of the property, I had to actually exit the resort and head down the hill a bit to find walking trails.

Hiking in Rancho Mirage | thewellnessscientist.com

Source: @WellnessScience

The key to wellness travel is really just to focus on what you’ve been neglecting, so the sunshine and exercise did me a world of good. The beautiful desert views were a nice backdrop to connect with nature and really did make me feel grateful for the beauty around me.

 

The Spa

Massages were booked for day two. I booked a 50-minute Stress Relief massage, though again, in hindsight I should have booked either the 80 or 100-minute options. The spa attendants were very helpful upon arrival, and my massage therapist brought me a glass of champagne after my treatment to enjoy in the co-ed lounge area.

The spa had three AromaSense shower heads in the ladies locker room area. I found the Eucalyptus shower very relaxing, and the spa is equipped with hair dryers, flat irons, etc. to make it easy to get ready after showering if you don’t feel like rushing back to your guest room. There were also nice complimentary teas, fruit-infused waters and healthy snack mixes on offer in addition to a Spa Menu if you wanted to order lunch and enjoy it before or after your treatment.

The fitness center, located inside the spa, offered a daily group fitness class including sunset yoga, a barre class, and a stretch class.

 

The Food

Breakfast was my favorite time of the day. The views from the restaurant were serene, and since it was winter the heat lamps on the patio were fired up so you could enjoy dining outdoors if you wanted without being uncomfortable.

Breakfast at the Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage | thewellnessscientist.com

Source: @WellnessScience

Again, as an AmEx platinum member we were given a $65 breakfast credit daily. The buffet offerings on Saturday and Sunday were a treat with a made-to-order omelette station, options of pancakes and French toast along with healthier choices of yogurt, an array of fresh fruit, pastries and smoked fish. The coffee was strong (a major plus in my book) and tasty, so it was a nice way to start a relaxing day.

In addition to the spa, lunch was offered at the adult pool as well as the main restaurant, State Fare. My club sandwich with sweet potato fries was my favorite lunch of the entire stay.

State Fare at the Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage | thewellnessscientist.com

Source: @WellnessScience

We treated ourselves to room service on our last night, finishing off the meal with the signature Ritz Carlton Cake – a must for any chocolate lover.

 

Wellness Travel Essentials

All in all, it was a nice, relaxing stay and we headed back to the still stormy Bay Area happy to have soaked up the sun for a few days.

All you really need to make any trip a wellness getaway is the intention to focus on your wellness while you are away. A destination away from the hustle and bustle where you can disconnect from the day to day and connect with nature is ideal. But as long as you can find time to connect with yourself and treat yourself to relaxation and rejuvenation, you’ll come out on top.

Rancho Mirage | thewellnessscientist.com

Source: @WellnessScience

What are your thoughts about wellness travel? Do you have any favorite wellness destinations? Have you ever been to a wellness-focused resort or on a wellness retreat? Any plans to do so in the near future?

The Best Quotes About Life, Happiness, and Forgiveness

The end of the year always causes me to start reflecting. It is easy in those moments to start to think about the past. I don’t know about you, but I can sometimes obsess a little about wishing the past could be different. This is an exercise in futility, because of course there is nothing we can do except to move forward and let go of things that no longer serve us.

I hope these quotes about life, love, gratitude and forgiveness inspire you to focus on and enjoy the present. 

2016 has been a particularly difficult year for so many people that I talk to, so give yourself the kindness that you need to see it through to the end. If you don’t feel like doing something, don’t do it! Remember to take care of yourself. If you don’t, you won’t be able to continue caring for the others who need you.

Give-up-on-a-better-past | The Wellness Scientist

 

 

 

 

Five Things Friday: Fitness, Funnies, and Random Ramblings

Wow, Friday came along FAST this week! I’m linking up again this week with the DC Trifecta (Eat Pray Run DCMar on the Run, and You Signed up for What?!!) and their Friday Five Linkup! It looks like EVERYONE was busy this week!

Today is “Free Friday” with the Friday Five, so I’m sharing a little fitness update & randomness with you.

One:

First, I’m happy to say that since I listed a summer goal of kicking up my fitness a notch that I actually did some kind of exercise EVERY DAY this week! The weather has been SO nice this week for running/hiking/walking. I even logged a 2nd Pilates session this week. And, I’ll be taking my VERY FIRST class at Soulcycle in Palo Alto on Sunday! When I put my goals on paper, I really take them seriously! 🙂

Two:

Yesterday was a REALLY good day! I don’t know if it is because the past couple of weeks haven’t been that great, but all sorts of good things happened yesterday and I am GRATEFUL!

In addition to getting several new writing assignments (yay!!) I found out that I was chosen to be a new Sparkly Soul Ambassador! I’m so excited to be representing this awesome brand. Every girl deserves a little bling, right?

Today I Am Grateful | thewellnessscientist.com

 

Three:

Ok, were you one of the 10,000,000 people who saw the “Dear Kitten” video on YouTube this week? If you haven’t seen it, I am SO JEALOUS! You get to see it for the first time now! If you have cats, have ever had cats, or just like cats, you will CRACK up when you watch this video. Seriously, watch it now. If you are like me, you will watch it at least 20 more times. And still laugh. Every time. Seriously.

 

Four:

June is the month for peonies, and I LOVE PEONIES!!! If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen the beaucoup photos that I have posted of my peonies. I love the way they look, the way they smell! I can’t get enough!

Peonies | thewellnessscientist.com

Five:

Happy Father’s Day weekend to everyone, especially to my Daddy! Wish I could be there to spend it with you, but I will see you in August — Love you!!

Happy Friday, y’all!

Share your Friday Randomness below!!

 

 

5 Reasons Why Laughter is the Best Medicine

 

Does your best friend, partner, dad, or someone in your family make you laugh every time you talk to them?  If you said “YES,” then you may want to spend time with your favorite jokester.

Laughter Is The Best Medicine

I spent a couple of hours the other evening catching up with a group of friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in about a year.  I swear, I laughed so hard my cheeks were sore the next morning!  It was well worth it, though. And guess what? Research has shown that laughing boasts lots of health benefits.  Some of them include:

1) Calorie burner.  10-15 minutes of laughing burns off about 50 calories.  Nothing compared to running, but not bad for sitting around having a good time.

2) Immunity booster.  Stress takes a huge toll on our immune systems.  Some studies have shown that laughing may boost the number of antibodies and immune cells we produce.

3) Tension tamer. Laughter can also stimulate blood circulation and help our muscles relax.  Both help reduce stress symptoms!

4) Pain reliever.  Scientists at the University of Oxford found that a good laugh is linked with feeling less pain, likely because laughing causes a release of endorphins (which can also act as painkillers.)

5) Memory sharpener.  In a study at Johns Hopkins University Medical School in Maryland, humor during instruction led to increased test scores.

What makes you laugh? Got something funny to make us all crack up? Leave it in the comments!!

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10 Fun Things To Do This Summer

School may have started already, but we still have Labor Day to look forward to and a whole month of summer left.

Before summer’s end, try a few of these fun summer ideas.

10 Fun Things To Do This Summer | thewellnessscientist.com

Having fun makes us happy, and happiness is a part of good overall health and wellness.

Summer Fun

  1. Have a barbecue & eat outdoors
  2. Watch the sunset
  3. Go swimming
  4. Play mini-golf
  5. Go to the beach and build a sandcastle
  6. Buy produce at a Farmer’s market
  7. Ride a bike (or trike)
  8. Go for a hike
  9. Take a weekend road trip
  10. Turn off the AC and sleep with the windows open

I’m sure there are tons more summer fun ideas.  What would you add?

 

Live With Intention

When I woke up this morning, as many other mornings, the first thoughts I had were of course my to-do list.  While I was having my cup of coffee, I started thinking about how easy it is to let the day pass by while just living passively.

I decided that I wasn’t going to do that today!  Instead, I was going to make sure I was living with intention.

Live-With-Intention-sm

You’ve probably hear this saying before … it was made famous by Mary Anne Radmacher years ago.  Her entire quote is:

“Live with intention.
Walk to the edge.
Listen Hard.
Practice wellness.
Play with abandon.
Laugh.
Choose with no regret.
Appreciate your friends.
Continue to learn.
Do what you love.
Live as if this is all there is.”

Did you live with intention today?  If you did, that’s awesome!  If not, think about what living with intention means to you and what you can do differently tomorrow to really make it count

 

The 10 Best Quotes To Rev Your Motivation

 

No matter what your goal is, if you aren’t really motivated to achieve it then you probably won’t.  It’s that simple.

Who are the best motivators?  Great leaders, that’s who!

Here are some quotes guaranteed to get you off the couch and running towards any goal that is really your heart’s desire.

Tony Robbins Quotes

 

Steve Jobs Quotes

 

Thomas Edison Quotes

 

Winston Churchill Quotes

 

Benjamin Franklin Quote

 

Socrates Quotes

 

Abraham Lincoln Quote

 

Eisenhower Quotes

 

Aristotle quote excellence

Harriet Tubman Quote

If you liked these, check these out too:

10 Quotes When You Need a Boost of Motivation

 

 

 

An Intelligence Gene? High IQ May Be in Our DNA

 

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Always been the smarty pants in your group?  Awww, SNAP!  Chances are, it’s in your DNA.

Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org

Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org

A study of Dutch families (Gosso MF et al., 2006) found that Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) rs363050, located on the SNAP-25 gene is associated with “performance IQ” (i.e. non-verbal IQ).

Each copy of “A” at rs363050 in a person’s genotype increased the subjects’ performance IQ by an average of three points compared to those with no copies of “A”.The authors estimated that rs363050 accounts for 3.4% of the variation in performance IQ between people.

I learned this little tidbit while exploring my Health Traits on the 23andMe website.  A single user-posted question, “Is There Anyone Else with 2 Copies of the Gene for Intelligence?” sparked over 260 replies from users sharing their genotypes, those of their family members, as well as IQ scores, SAT/GRE scores, levels of degrees obtained, and much more to both support AND oppose the findings of this research.

When you get down to brass tacks, no one who fancies him/herself as intelligent wants to look at their own genotype & have it read otherwise … anymore than someone wants their Kindness Gene genotype to tell them they can’t be empathetic.

Of course for this and other similar discussions, there is the nature vs. nurture debate … it can be challenging to study heritability or genetic differences in intelligence due to the fact that it is difficult to rule out other factors such as environment and opportunities (Rowe et al., 1999; Turkheimer et al., 2003).

What are your thoughts re: intelligence and heritability vs. outside influences such as environment?

Have you been tested on 23andMe?  If yes, was your genotype what you expected?

 

 

 

 

Are You Making These 5 Dieting Mistakes?

 

Trouble losing weight or keeping it off?  Make sure you aren’t making one of these common dieting mistakes.

Are You Making These 5 Dieting Mistakes?

Setting Goals That Aren’t Realistic

Setting an unrealistic goal will almost guarantee failure.  Instead, set S.M.A.R.T. goals when it comes to weight loss.  Donald Hensrud, M.D., weight loss expert from the Mayo Clinic recommends 1-2 pounds per week.  If you lose weight at this pace, you are more likely to keep it off.

Choosing the Wrong Kind of Diet

A diet that doesn’t include any of the foods you like to eat may work in the very short term, but it is unlikely that you’ll achieve you longer-term weight loss goals.  Several studies have found that following a low-fat diet doesn’t make it any easier to lose weight or to keep weight off.   Study participants who followed moderate- or high-fat diets lost just as much weight as those who follow low-fat diets.  Successful weight loss depends largely on one thing — burn more calories than you consume.

Not Planning Ahead

If you don’t plan ahead, you’ll be reaching for the first thing you can get your hands on at lunch or dinner time to satisfy your hunger.  Take the time (maybe on a Sunday morning to plan for the coming week) to make a list of your favorite nutritious meals.  Shop for all of the ingredients and plan your meals for the week at one time.  Bring low-calorie snacks like an apple or a small Greek yogurt to the office to make hitting the vending machines less tempting.

Drink More Water

Drinking water aids weight loss and flushes out toxins from the body.  According to an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, obese participants in a six-month clinical trial both lost weight and reduced waist circumference by drinking water compared to participants who drank caloric beverages.

Skipping Meals

Meal skipping is not a successful way to lose weight.  Frequent meal skipping actually reduces your metabolic rate, making weight loss more challenging.  Eating regular meals keeps you energized throughout the day and makes it less likely that you’ll overeat at night to compensate.

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How To Be Your Best Self

 

How To Be Your Best Self

That particular week seemed more difficult than others.  I felt angrier and my patience was pretty much nonexistent.  I remember sitting in a team meeting and, for no reason, tears started to well up and I discreetly left the room so that no one would notice.

I was leading a very big project at work, and things were running as smoothly as one would expect, but I was literally on 24/7.  I couldn’t remember the last time I’d taken a day off.  A year or two maybe, with the exception of Christmas day.  For about two years, I had dreamed of going to a destination spa I’d discovered online.  I could practically feel the tranquility through the photos on the website.  In a minute of desperation, I called the spa & was told they had availability for the next week.

meditation-lake

1) TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF

The spa was usually booked weeks in advance, so I took their availability as a sign, booked the trip, and committed to taking the next week off.

The timing wasn’t great from a work perspective…in two week’s time, I was going to be hosting a conference with over 100 guests flying in from around the world.

But some crisis or extremely urgent work matter was always on the horizon…there was never a good time to take a day off, much less an entire week.

Sound familiar?

My colleague swore that she’d get in touch with me if there was any out-of-control emergency that should couldn’t handle herself.  I let out a big exhale, and a few days later I was off!  And you know what?  The office didn’t fall apart, the conference was a huge success, and I did a better job hosting because I was able to relax and recharge.  Anxiety gone.

Take time for yourself.  You deserve it.  Jobs come and go.  Bosses you admire move on to other jobs.  You are with yourself for the long haul … so give yourself the down time you need.

2) NURTURE YOURSELF

We’re all grown-ups with jobs, relationships, and maybe kids of our own, but there is an inner child in all of us that needs nurturing.  Instead of nurturing that inner child, we busy ourselves and/or pick up bad habits to avoid feeling alone, sad, or inadequate.

I used to be the queen of negative self-talk.  My diet was awful, I didn’t exercise, I drank coffee or soda all day, and I didn’t get enough sleep.  I was even going to therapy, but I wasn’t doing the work I needed to do outside of that hour/week, so it took a really long time to get where I needed to be.  That was my path.  I made it, but I wish I hadn’t suffered as long as I did for no good reason.

Take the time to take care of yourself physically.  Get a physical every year.  Have you blood drawn and check for things like high cholesterol on a regular basis.  Drink water, eat healthy foods, and get the amount of sleep that you need.  No job in the world is worth feeling miserable every single day.  If you don’t take care of yourself, who else will?  And what about the people you take care of?  If you can’t take care of them, who’s going to do that?

Make self-care a priority. You will never regret it.

3) LET GO OF YOUR CONTROL OBSESSION

When I arrived at the spa, the control freak in me was delighted to find that someone had carefully selected a full day of yoga & exercises classes, short wellness seminars, and body treatments for me based on my “pre-arrival interview,” and I had schedule waiting telling me what I’d be doing the next day.

Desperate for soul-nourishing, I had decided in advance that I was going to become a yoga devotee during my week away.  On my first morning at the spa, I showed up to the first yoga class on the schedule, just before 8 a.m.  I found myself a spot at the front of the class, little overachiever that I was.

Then something happened, instead of the instant bliss-fix that I had planned, all I could feel was the pain and tightness of my hamstrings and my hunched shoulders.  I started to feel defeated, like I had failed before I had started, and I couldn’t stop the negative thoughts spiraling in my mind.

The teacher invited the class to “open our hearts.”  (OK … I’m actually embarrassed to admit the first thought that popped into my mind, but if one person can resonate with this, then it’s worth it!)  The first thought I had when this teacher said “Open Your Heart” was “F-YOU!”  I was actually angered by this complete stranger’s suggestion that I trust her and allow myself to become vulnerable.  Inside I was screaming, “I’m here, aren’t I?  I’m trying!!!  What else do you want from me?”  Somehow I viewed her kindness as an intrusion — a criticism that I wasn’t trying hard enough.

I couldn’t get past it that week.  I wasn’t ready to give up control.  I toughed out that class until the end, but I never went to another yoga class the entire week.

Luckily, there was more than yoga planned to improve my wellness that week.  A couple of days later, I met with Sarah, my assigned personal trainer.  I was in my early thirties at the time, but I felt like I had the body of an 83-year-old!  Like on The Biggest Loser when they tell the contestants “Your body age is actually 79!”  That was what I felt like.

Sarah was nice, but she was there to prove a point.  She challenged me with “heavy” 10-lb hand weights and encouraged me during the interval training she had designed for my session.

That 1:1 experience was what I needed, along with a little positive reinforcement.  I was able to let go and be vulnerable.  I started running outside after that meeting with Sarah, and it was during those runs that I was able to feel a certain freedom.  Once I let go of the need to control any and every situation (which is impossible, by the way), I finally felt like the universe was on my side.

My advice here?  Just let go.  Sounds easier said than done, but it is incredibly powerful.  If you need to talk to a professional or a friend, coach, or mentor to get there, do it!  Once you stop fighting, it gets so much easier.  And you’ll be so much happier.

4) BE GRATEFUL.

One of the most popular items on the schedule that week was a one-hour wellness seminar called “How To Be Happy.”  I think every single person in attendance that week was packed in to the room for that message!

One of the big takeaways from that session was practicing gratitude.  We were asked to keep a gratitude journal for the rest of our stay.  Before bed each night, we were to write down five things that we were grateful for each day.  In doing so, we were creating a scenario where we were looking for positive things that happened during the day.  It could be something big like, “I’m grateful for the amazing personal trainer I met today and the way she encouraged me” or something as small as, “I’m grateful that we had cheesecake for dessert tonight — I love cheesecake!”

Keep a gratitude journal.  You’ll spend the day looking for things you can write about, making it harder to focus on negativity or problems!

5) TRUST YOURSELF

A few years later, I was rummaging through a closet and found the binder of resources I had taken home with me from the spa to continue working on my goals.  I found a little note that read:

“Great job this week! You can tell you feel refreshed.  Keep this feeling going by exercising daily.  You have to make yourself a priority — you deserve it!”

Wise words!  I made a risky decision and started a whole new career and chapter in my life.  Today I make my living writing about health, wellness, and self-care.  I also coach women who are looking to make healthy changes to their lives and improve their level of happiness.  I eat healthier, I get more rest, and I make exercise and my personal relationships a priority.  I’m happy to say that once I was able to silence my inner-critic, I also came to enjoy yoga and its many benefits!! 🙂

Trust yourself.  We deserve much more care and kindness than we tend to give ourselves.  And really, the only validation we need is our own.

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