Sun. Sep 25th, 2022

To be honest, I was sorely in need of some R&R.

So I got myself to one of the world’s best spas — Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Mass., (in the Berkshires) to refresh my spirit and revive my body. Now, I work out every day for one hour, so in terms of getting into an exercise routine at the spa – well, you’re preaching to the choir. But I wanted to tweak my exercise routine, and I also wanted some spiritual solace. Lucky for me, I got the best of both worlds at Canyon Ranch – and so can you. (You should definitely keep this in mind for 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-fit to a specific wellness intention. I chose “Reconnect With Joy,” which is an excellent program to add a sense of happiness, wonder and meaning to everyday life. Other Pathways, which are part of the program, include a Lifestyle Reset for greater energy and purpose, and Build Resilience, which can prepare you with the skills and strength to conquer adversity and stress. (Three nights start at $2,850pp.)

My Pathways program began with the “Rx for Exercise,” in which I met with a fitness expert, to assess my current exercise program. My weekly routine is pretty intense: I walk on an inclined treadmill about five times a week, jumprope once a week, lift weights every other day, and still do a heavy-duty Jane Fonda routine (which I’ve been doing since the Eighties). The exercise physiologist applauded my program – especially the jumping rope – and we merely added some more abdominal exercises to my routine, along with some triceps work. Definitely worth the hour of time it took, and I came away excited about my new plan.

Next came a Sound Healing. Now, for the record, I need 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 banging 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 it all with an open mind, and guess what? My three-day headache went away, 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 that felt very uplifting and cleansing. I entered feeling somewhat blue, and exited in the pink.

One of the highlights of my visit was the Mental, Health & Wellness consultation with a licensed therapist. It was one 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. At the end, she recommended that I simply let go of my anger, and start every day with the acknowledgement that I am, indeed, a survivor – and she added, a survivor who is pretty amazing. It was a terrific experience and since coming home, I have utilized her soulful advice to great benefit to my heart, my head, and my spirit.

Of course, what is a visit to Canyon Ranch without a massage? Though I was scheduled for a Chakra Balancing Massage – I opted out because it tends to be very oily, and I don’t like oils– so instead I got a wonderful Swedish massage. I soaked up each effleurage, with warm lotion, like a sponge and emerged feeling recharged and rested.

I also had a manicure and pedicure, which were first-rate.

Now let’s talk about my favorite part of Canyon Ranch – the cuisine! The food is fantastic — delicious, nutritious, and low in calories. If you watch your weight – or simply want to watch your weight better – Canyon Ranch is the place for you. For starters, there is a Café called Culinary Rebel that has loads of snacks that you can partake of all day long. Here, you’ll find everything from the dee-lish homemade trail bars (130 calories), to the excellent nutmeg-pumpkin crunch (125 calories) to the 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-hummus wrap as a main course for lunch.

The main dining room is where you can indulge in a wealth of yummy food – all with the calories kicked out of them, so you can enjoy without guilt. For dinner, I typically started with the 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 nosh was the Roasted Artichoke And Grain Medley (vegetarian and 384 calories), containing a mix of kamut, buckwheat, quinoa flakes, flaxseed and more – and it made me fall in love with whole grains all the more. For dinner, I liked to order a grilled salmon filet (165 calories), that came with a maple sauce. I also typically ordered the Bulgur/Tomato Pesto, which was great. Clearly, I love the food at Canyon Ranch. For dessert, there was always a vanilla ice cream (70 calories for 2.5 oz.), perfectly paired with the spa’s homemade fat-free fudge sauce, which they ought to bottle and sell, it’s that good. (Made with cocoa powder and white-grape juice, it’s 97 calories per Tablespoon.) Please do 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 actually dine in Culinary Rebel, where you can order pizza, sandwiches and tacos. We had the chicken tacos – along with a lowfat “birthday surprise” carrot cake – made with lots of pineapple to keep the calorie count down. (Perhaps the real meaning of “spa” at Canyon Ranch is Skinny People Anonymous?)

If there is one takeaway that I’m sure of, after embracing the Pathways program at Canyon Ranch, it is that life can be filled with happiness and joy – no matter how much stress you are undergoing. This concept comes through loud and clear, as Canyon Ranch invites you to focus on your spirit and your well-being.

In fact, every time 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 humorist. Mr. Posner has been lecturing at Canyon Ranch for more than 25 years, and his lectures are all designed to uplift your spirit. They are wonderful lectures, and it is no wonder his seminars are wildly 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 conference speaker, and he presents engaging workshops, retreats and programs for a wide variety of businesses. I call him “Mr. Gratitude,” as one of his Canyon Ranch lectures is on this subject precisely. (Mr. Posner also presents other lectures, on miracles – one of my favorite topics — 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 daily. And it’s true. But he doesn’t stop there. He always distributes adorable little cards to help you uplift your spirit in your daily life. I keep some on my desk at all times, because they remind me as to how I can live my best life. (Oprah would approve.) In fact, to me, they are the ultimate souvenir of my time at the Canyon Ranch spa, because I can focus on the ideas on these cards every day and live a happier life.

If there was any downside to my visit, it is only this: It is very cold throughout the Canyon Ranch complex. I visited in April, and wished that I had brought warm sweaters, socks and pants with me, as there is a definite chill in the air in some of the public spaces. When my husband and I got back to our hotel room every night, we, gratefully, cranked up the heat.

But aside from that, it was a very excellent spa visit. For me – and perhaps for you too – Canyon Ranch just might be your “om”-away-from-home.

For more about me, please Follow me on Instagram at @DebbiKickham.

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