Vacation for me usually involves me flopping onto a lounge chair/hammock/anything that involves flopping on, eating all the foods I normally don’t eat at home (read: sugar, desserts, lots and lots of french fries) and drinking beer.
I seem to never learn my lesson. I look down at my seemingly larger thighs, pants stretched tight, bloated on the plane ride home, wondering how I could’ve gained 3 pounds in 7 days (yes, it’s very possible) and cursing myself for not being more disciplined.
Well, once a year I take a break from that type of vacation and go a different route to a fitness resort/spa in Baja California, Mexico. I’ve been to Rancho la Puerta four times with my mother, and instead of coming home with a pot belly, I walk off the plane leaner, tighter, and waaaay happier. I’m convinved that the “Ranch” is in the magic making business, because that’s exactly what I experience each and every time.
I always come home refreshed and in a new state of mind, with my health and wellness as my new #1 priority. Here are 10 lessons I learned at the Ranch this year that you, too, can apply to your life (and very simply, I might add):
1. You can’t move too much. At the Ranch, I wake up at 6am for a 4 mile hike (sometimes a 5 or 7 miler), and then do 3 hours of intense cardio. I am AMAZED at how much both physical and mental activity my body craves. At home I work out for 45-60 min each day, which is fine and good, but I now know I can do much, much more. I can push myself to work a little harder, or maybe take that second class.
2. Listen to your body. Ok, so I moved each day for like 7 hours, but at the same time I had to listen to what my sore muscles were telling me (usually they just screamed “hot tub and massage, por favor!”). I devised a routine where I would be active in the morning and then rest in the afternoons. In past trips to the Ranch, I would get severe shin splints from hiking too soon on the mountain. So this time I eased into the hiking each day, and never experienced one crying shin. That’s obeying and respecting your body.
3. Switch it up! This isn’t novel advice, but never before has it been more true for me. I took classes that I couldn’t take at home like cardio drumming, latin dance classes, and my favorite, water aerobics. Nothing feels better than getting a workout AND laughing at the same time. And you know that laughing is a great abdominal workout! Taking this home with me, I’ve already tried some new classes at my gym.
4. Eat more vegetables. Seriously, just eat the color of the rainbow. And if you think you’ve eaten enough, eat more. Think of it this way: your dinner plate should be 1/4 protein, 1/4 grain, and 1/2 vegetables. If you’re really daring, go for 1/4 protein and 3/4 veggies. Vegetables are the fountain of youth.
5. Be social. What I love about the Ranch is meeting new, fascinating people. You eat your meals together, take classes and go hiking together, and share your life story a bazillion times. After being so isolated from being in school and having my head in the books, it felt incredibly nourishing to meet people from all over the world and be part of a community. Try volunteering at your local food co-op, find a meet up, or get your friends together and tell them how much you love them.
6. Ban the buzz. I used the phone twice to call Matt. I checked my email once. No TV for a week. Words can’t even begin to express how much I enjoyed that. How can you lighten the buzz in your life?
7. Get a massage or spa treatment. If you haven’t gotten a massage in the past month, I am giving you permission to RUN and get one. Like, now. I had some sort of spa treatment every day for 8 straight days. It felt good. Really good. If getting a massage is out of your budget, find a massage school, a partner, or a really nice friend to rub your shoulders for a few minutes.
8. Exercise the mind. Rancho la Puerta isn’t just about fitness, massages, amazing organic food and friendly people. I also spent each day studying Universal Laws (law of attraction, etc) and learning photography. A complete mind-body experience. What’s the last class you took? What’s the latest skill you’ve learned? Find a class (so many are FREE!) and learn a new concept.
9. Be grateful. Y’all know I’m huge on gratitude. But every morning when I opened my eyes, each day when I was hiking on the mountain, and every afternoon when I flopped onto my lounge chair, I was grateful. Grateful for how blessed I am, grateful for my life and everything in it. Have an attitude of gratitude every day, and write down 10 things you’re grateful for each day.
10. Make plans to return! If you liked something, whether it be a gym class, a spa treatment, a restaurant, or an activity with a friend, make plans right away to do it again! Procrastination can be the devil (it’s certainly my devil) and the sooner you book that next appointment, make that next date, the better off you’ll be.
Will I be returning to Rancho la Puerta next year? You betcha.