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

 

 

 

 

Motivation Monday: Take a Small Step in the Right Direction

Sometimes The Smallest Step | thewellnessscientist.com

Some Monday’s, you just need a little extra motivation. I’m finding that true today. How about you?

I love this quote for it’s ability to give just a gentle nudge in the right direction challenging you to tiptoe towards what you want in life.

So I’ll come right out with it. I’m a HUGE procrastinator. I have a couple of article deadlines this week that I need to work on today, and instead of working on those I decided to unload and reload the dishwasher, wash my hair, investigate something on the DMV’s website … you get my point. All sorts of things other than dealing with my deadline, which will of course lead me to feel more stress as Friday nears. 

This week, it is my goal to start taking small steps towards putting more structure around my time. It’s just too easy when you work from home to let distractions become so very distracting!

My “small step” of the day was to schedule time to write, as if it were a meeting that I needed to attend. That way, I’ll take that hour block of time to focus on my article and write. I’ll let you know how it goes!

SO TELL ME …

What small step will you take today to get you closer to your goal? 

Spring Superfoods You Need To Eat

Spring is in the air, and it is time to go green — literally!

Take a walk through the produce section, and you’ll see green everywhere. Seasonal eats available in spring go a long way to helping you detox from the cold winter months, provide you with many a nutritional boost, and lean you down in no time. Here are three greens to pile on your plate this spring.

Spring-Superfoods| www.thewellnessscientist.com

 

Asparagus

asparagus| thewellnessscientist.com

You can find asparagus almost all year-round thanks to the lengths grocers go to in order to keep these greens in stock, but nothing beats the flavor-rich freshness of locally-grown asparagus during the spring. A cup of asparagus boasts a healthy dose of vitamin K (essential for your bones to absorb calcium) and immune-boosting vitamin A.

Asparagus is also know to de-bloat your tummy, so eat up before you hit the beach for a lean & defined physique!

Artichokes

Artichoke | thewellnessscientist.com

Artichokes contain a compound called cynarin, which are not to stimulate your taste buds & make bland food taste better. They are also rich in inulin, which promotes growth of good bacteria in your gut.

Also a good source of antioxidants, fiber, and folate, these tasty veggies are a nutritional powerhouse that are hard to beat!

Ramps

Wild-Leeks

Ramps, also known as wild leeks are a spring delicacy available only for a few weeks in spring, beginning mid-April. If you haven’t tried ramps, hit the supermarket or farmer’s market for this delightful veg you can use in any recipe that calls for leeks.

In addition to vitamins A and C, you’ll get a dose of iron as well as immune-boosting selenium.

 

 

 

Five Foods You Need to Try This February

Five-Foods-You-Need-To-Try

If you are interested in getting the most nutritional bang for your buck, look no further than superfoods. What’s so super about them, you ask? Basicially, superfoods are simply those that are plentiful in multiple nutrients and have been shown through scientific research to offer health benefits.

You are no doubt already eating a superfood-rich diet — broccoli and blueberries to name a couple — but there are lots that you probably aren’t eating. Here are 5 healthy superfoods to get your hands on this February.

Chicory

Types of Lettuce | thewellnessscientist.com

Photo courtesy of keithcr

I grew up in Louisiana, and I was a huge fan of the local Community brand coffee with chicory. I couldn’t imagine that the same chicory I used to drink in my coffee was the same chicory I now see offered as a seasonal green in fancy restaurant salads — but it was (one was the root and the other was the leafy greens, but still the same plant!)

Chicory root is known to detoxify the liver, as well as to aid digestion — both of which would come in handy after a weekend in the Big Easy 🙂 

The greens, on the other hand, pack a punch of vitamin A, vitamin K, and choline to name a few.  Cruise by your favorite farmer’s markets in February and pick up a head of chicory to serve up in your salads or to saute and serve under your favorite protein.

Kumquats

Kumquats | thewellnessscientist.com

Photo courtesy of jeltovsk

This was not intended to be a post about Louisiana, but again I am struck by a memory of numerous kumquat trees that lined the neighboring fence of my elementary school’s playground. We had no idea what these little orange globes were until a teacher told us, but burned countless hours picking these sweet little beauties as kids.

The peak of the growing season is in the winter lasting until about March, so now is an ideal time to try this citrus fruit that is high in potassium, as well as vitamins C and A.

To eat, rinse & toss the whole thing in your mouth – be careful with the seeds!

Maca

Superfood Smoothie | thewellnessscientist.com

Photo courtesy of Alvimann

Maca is a root originating in South America which has been shown in clinical studies to boost libido. Maca is also known to improve stamina in athletes, regulate hormonal imbalances, and even help with fatigue.

Maca is available in powder form, which is great for adding to smoothies and protein shakes. Don’t go overboard, though … the powder can be quite bitter in large doses.

There are a variety of teas, energy bars, and even chocolates that contain maca — a super convenient way to taste test this superfood.

Parsnips

Parsnips | thewellnessscientist.com

Photo courtesy of MaxStraeten

I love parsnips and include them in one of my favorite winter comfort dishes, Winter Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie, a recipe I found in Food & Wine magazine. 

Parsnips are high in fiber, which we need to aid in the prevention of heart disease, and some types of cancer. They also contain a healthy dose of folate, a nutrient necessary in energy metabolism and essential for women planning to become pregnant.

When you go on a hunt for parsnips, they look like a big white carrot. They’ll probably be hiding next to the radishes and other root veggies in almost any produce section of a any supermarket during the winter months.

Passion fruit

Passion Fruit | thewellnessscientist.com

Last but not least … passion fruit … you can’t leave this seasonal fruit off the list in February because of its name alone!

Passion fruit is a great source of vitamins A and C, and don’t be afraid to eat the seeds for an extra dose of fiber.

These exotic beauties are also a good source of plant-based iron, a perfect healthy snack for vegetarians who may need an iron boost.

Instagram Challenge: Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of October! This is my favorite month of the year. I love it for many reasons … those first few crisp days when you realize need a sweater or a blanket, noticing the leaves changing colors, but mostly because it’s my BIRTHDAY MONTH!!!

Starting today and continuing through Thanksgiving, I’m setting a goal for myself each day to find one thing I’m thankful for. Scientists who study happiness have found that people who keep gratitude journals (daily or even several times per week) consider themselves happier than those who did not.

Think about it … Don’t you always feel good when you focus on something positive? What is more positive than recognizing something that you consider a blessing?

Attitude of Gratitude Instagram Challenge | thewellnessscientist.com

I’ll be posting my daily “Thank You’s” on my Instagram page & using the hashtag #attitudeofgratitude.

Join me and discover if this boosts your happiness quotient for the next month!!

 

 

Friday Five: Five Ways To Beat The Heat This Summer

How To Beat The Heat This Summer | thewellnessscientist.com

Happy Friday, peeps! I’m linking up again with the DC Trifecta (Eat Pray Run DCMar on the Run, and You Signed up for What?!!) and their Friday Five Linkup! This week is a fun theme — 5 Ways To Beat The Heat — and very timely! Yesterday, as I went on my walk at The Stanford Dish the sun was intense! And I didn’t leave the house until 5:45 pm!

But it was a clear day — I mean, look at this view!

Stanford Dish Trail | thewellnessscientist.com

 

So, here are a few ways to stay COOL this summer when the days heat up!

1) Exercise indoors – I know, this can be boring. And you won’t catch me running on a treadmill unless it is a last resort. I like to keep things interesting, so I included 10 pretty awesome workouts in this post — The Best 10 Workouts You Can Do At Home. Try these for awesome arms & abs, sculpted legs, and killer cardio!

2) SMOOTHIES!

Check out these 13.1 Smoothie Recipes for 13.1 Miles if you are training for a half-marathon this summer! You’ll find some tasty treats here chock full of nutrients to fuel your run. Did I mention they are also yummy? Which one is your favorite?

Smoothie Recipes to Run For | thewellnessscientist.com

Photo courtesy of WholeLiving.com

 

3) Get Outta That Kitchen!

Ok, not out entirely … but don’t turn that oven on when its scorching outside! Try a few light summer salads, like this Summer Coleslaw when temps are soaring. It’s a great chance to go meatless for a day if you haven’t tried it! Mucho benefits!

4) Take a Dip

Remember how you used to swim when you were a kid? Not just dipping your toes in or tip-toeing around so you don’t get your hair wet. Throw caution to the wind, hold your nose, and go under water! Its a lot more fun than you may remember. You’ll have FUN!!!! I have a new suit that I am dying to wear. Now I have to track down a pool!! 🙂

5) Drink Up!

Yes, I mean hydrate! It is especially important to drink more water when temps rise, especially if you are exercising. I bought one of those pitchers that has a fruit infuser in the middle a while back to add a little zest to my plain water. I used it religiously for a few weeks, then I put it away when I was tidying up the kitchen one night. Time to pull that thing out and make some cucumber lemon water!!

Make Your Own Spa Water | thewellnessscientist.com

SO TELL ME …

What are your tips for beating the heat? Any fun weekend plans to kickoff the summer?

 

 

 

Fitness Friday: Are You a First Generation Fitness Enthusiast?

Happy Friday everyone! I wanted to try something a little different for today’s #FitnessFriday post.

Until recently, I was one of the only people in my extended family that was really in to health & fitness. A little while back, my cousin Jill started kicking butt & taking names by ramping up her fitness & dropping a significant amount of weight (good job, girl!!) My “cousin-in-law” Beth also joined the party and despite having four young kids and a full-time job, she is up at 4:30 a.m. to hit the gym before the kids are up getting ready for school.

Then LOTS of other cousins and my sister started the 21-day Advocare challenge. My sister lost a whopping 40 pounds in 40 days!!! My cousins have all posted great results of their own on Facebook & continue to drop pounds each week.

We are all what I call First Generation Fitness Enthusiasts. By that, I mean we didn’t grow up with moms and dads who did Jane Fonda or mall-walking (at least as far as I know!!!)

At some point, we each came to the conclusion that we wanted it enough to BRING IT, despite the time, energy, effort it took or the fear of making a change.

Because change can be scary, right? Change brings up feelings from the past, maybe when we tried something that didn’t go so well. The image below says it all:  If You Change Nothing, Nothing Will Change!

nothing-will-change

Question: Are You a First Generation Fitness Enthusiast? What prompted you to embrace change and opt for a healthier lifestyle? Also, what motivates you to KEEP GOING when something comes up?

If you have a blog or Facebook page where you talk about your own fitness challenge & journey, I invite you to share your link below! It helps us all stay motivated when we realize how much we have in common with one another!

Have a great weekend!!

Fitness Friday: Do You Need a Power Nap?

 

Today, February 28th is National Public Sleeping Day! A perfect time to talk about fitting in a 20-minute power nap to boost your energy and thus your fitness abilities.

Remember hearing stories about how Europeans took these lovely long lunches & siestas mid-day & then returned to work? I always thought that sounded so relaxed, even glamorous compared to grabbing a sandwich in a box and running back to a cubicle for another 5 hours glued to an uncomfortable chair.

Nowadays, more & more office environments are instituting those cool sleep pods, sofas, and other comfy places for employees to catch a few winks during the day leading to a more productive afternoon of work. For most of us, the ideal environment is quiet, not too bright, and not too cold.

Here are a few products you may want to check out to make your next power nap a little bit nicer:

 

5 Products For a Better Power Nap

 

1. Cedrus Temple Soother from the Molton Brown Body Remedies Sleep range — dab these essential oils to dab on temples, breathe deep & unwind.

2. SleepPhones by AcousticSheep — a comfy headband containing thin speakers to play music, white noise, and block out external noise while you nap. Comes in three colors.

3. DreamTime Sweet Dreams Sleep Mask with Natural Lavender — eye mask blocks out light while natural lavender soothes & relaxes

4. Pzizz Energizer app — this iTunes music app creates a relaxing soundtrack to help you make the most of your power nap. Built-in alarm makes sure you don’t oversleep!

5. Ostrich Pillow — This crazy-looking contraption is not really a pillow, a garment or a cushion.  Don the ostrich pillow and make any desk/chair/bench a nap-friendly spot.

Are you a daytime napper? Does it give you that added energy boost to get through the rest of the day?

Fitness Friday: “Love Your Body” Stretches

Love-Your-Body-Stretches

Happy Valentine’s Day! Show your body a little love today by doing some of the stretches in this awesome roundup of “Love Your Body” Stretches

Stretching can help you: Avoid injury, Increase Range of Motion in Your Joints, Improve Circulation, and Increase Energy

For tight hamstrings, try the Modified Hurdler Stretch

Photo courtesy of fitsugar.com

Photo courtesy of fitsugar.com

  • Sit on the floor with your left leg straight out in front of you. Bend your right knee, placing the sole of your right foot against the inside of your left thigh. Hold for 30 seconds, and then switch legs.

 

On Your Side Quad Stretch

Photo courtesy of bodybuilding.com

Photo courtesy of bodybuilding.com

Photo courtesy of bodybuilding.com

Photo courtesy of bodybuilding.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1) Lie on your right side, with your right knee bent at a 90-degree angle resting on the floor in front of you (see photo on left).

2) As shown in right photo, bend your left knee behind you holding your left foot with your left hand.

3) Switch sides

Tight shoulders? Try the Eagle Arms Stretch

Photo courtesy of yourspineguide.com

Photo courtesy of yourspineguide.com

 

And lastly, for your back …

Seated Trunk Twist

 

Photo courtesy of self.com

Photo courtesy of self.com

This one will get your back, as well as your obliques!

1) Sit up tall on floor with your legs extended out in front of you.

2) Rotate just your ribcage to right (keep your butt on the mat & hips as still as you can). Keep your abs engaged!  Twist as far to the right as possible without allowing your butt to come off the mat.

3) Return to center & repeat on the other side for one rep. Do a total of 10 reps!