After decades of exploring and experiencing the latest fads in health and wellness, I have experienced the best of the best in leading edge wellness programs. One of my favorites is the California Health and Longevity Institute at the Four Seasons Westlake Village, California.
I attended the immersive four day wellness Signature Retreat, learning principles of optimal health and happiness to help reset your metabolism.
After adhering to a strict vegan lifestyle for several years, I decided to make some dietary changes. I had the opportunity to learn from Paulette Lambert, R.D., C.D.E., Director of Nutrition.
Not only was she exceptionally knowledgeable in her workshops, but helpful in explaining the latest studies in healthy nutrition facts. And her recipes were beyond delicious! She conducted cooking classes that were simple to prep, in their state of the art kitchen. As a self-proclaimed gourmet veggie chef, I must admit I was very impressed!
Each participant was presented with a personalized itinerary and schedule of workshops. There was even a couiple private fitness training with Scott who emphasized the necessity of high intensity interval training for at least 7 minutes per day.(HIIT). After decades of working out, I was pleasantly introduced to new ways of training, including resistance bands.
We also had meetings with mindfulness and food psychologist Alison Ross, MA, LMFT. Her wisdom and warmth was comforting as we were guided into deep and meaningful ways to get in touch with our feelings and manage cravings with mindfulness meditation.
After a couple of mindfulness training sessions, I began to notice the subtleties of what makes me happy and what doesn’t. Making a mental note each time when I experienced a positive feeling was a key element. It was especially noticeable while being attended to with the highest quality service.
When I was a guest at the retreat I felt as if I was treated like a ‘star’, as each person I came in contact had been trained to be coming from true service. I felt it immediately from the valet to the front desk to the attendants at the spa. Everyone had a welcoming and warm personality. Perhaps the main keys to a five star resort lie in the tenets of good manners, diplomacy, refinement, authentic, genuine oriented people who aim to please even with the smallest request or gestures.
From the morning meditations and yoga, to the workshops, the foundations of the retreat laid out the fundamentals of wellness. It set the bar for a holistic approach with the groundwork at the beginning of the weekend. Once we got the basics, we then transitioned into ‘moving forward’ to adapt to our personal lifestyle habits at home.
The sumptuous food options were a direct outcome of the cooking classes and the FUNdamentals of the course. Who would have thought that learning about optimum sustainable nutrition and recipes would have been so delicious? It was certainly more pleasurable in the ultra luxe, state of the art Wellness Kitchen.
Below some key points that I learned from the nutrition part of my four day Signature Retreat. It is based on the scientific research of the Mediterranean Diet. It is prescribed as a preventative measure for premature chronic diseases, especially heart disease in the elderly. This allows for a high level of anti-oxidants, fiber, and low caloric density to promote a sustainable healthy diet.
- Eating enough to stay in control, having a balanced eating regimen that favors mostly organic, plant based whole foods (low grains) is a must to achieve the mental clarity and vivacious energy we all seek.
- For me personally, eating a sufficient amount of protein, (whether animal or plant based) is also necessary, especially as we move into our ‘senior years’. (palm-sized is good)
- You must eat at least every 5 hours (three full meals) during the day and then stop before 8:00 PM.
- Stay away from junk food (especially processed) of course, but even wine/alcohol is not advised, if you are seeking to cut calories and have the most nutritious foods. (Wine is definitely a treat, so set limits).
- Seek an array of nutrient dense foods, with the highest levels of vitamins and minerals, including a variety of fruits. Don’t rely on supplements!
- Choose a sufficient amount dark green, leafy veggies, limit grains, and make sure to add a colorful combo of all kinds of low glycemic fresh and cooked foods.
- Choose the best quality oils (esp. olive oil) but be mindful of using very small amounts and keep the sodium down to a minimum (add more flavor with fresh seasonings)
- Plan AHEAD~We learned simple tips to transition into making the healthiest choices while considering the current lifestyle demands of every day life.
- It actually takes 66 days to break a habit (uh-oh) So break it down into smaller steps for the most success.
- Focus on a consistent daily routine that adheres to most of the behaviors (still working on that but Paulette’s voice is still in my head…..must eat enough, at least three meals so I don’t get tempted at the end of the day!)
There was so much more info to ‘ingest’ on the latest research in health and wellness, based upon scientific facts. We learned that often times, the latest breakthrough ‘studies’ out there may not be from reliable sources and have an agenda to sell products.
For an the optimum luxurious experience I chose to indulge in a couple of the ultimate spa treatments. The resort has the top rated spa in Los Angeles, and a must for real spa aficionados.
I had two body treatments that were in a spa suite replete with huge jacuzzi tub, an separate couples relaxation room for lounging on a huge bed with a TV and en suite bathroom. In fact, some guests rent this for the day as it is also a private retreat close to the large Olympic outdoor pool.
My first treatment was, Return To Balance. My masseuse personally escorted me from the relaxation lounge over the bright red Asian style bridge to the private spa treatment room. The first stage of this one hundred minute escape into luxury was a foot soak, a full body exfoliation with aromatherapy essential oils, and then an organic minerals bath soak. This full body extravaganza included a wellness formula custom signature massage with a head and scalp massage. There was also a hydrating mask to my face.
How does this sound for putting your body into total relaxation? Mine was pampered to perfection as I felt the healing balanced energy come alive!
The next day after a couple of hours of exercise, yoga and workshops, I chose to address my chronic insomnia with the THE DREAMKIT BEAUTY SLEEP RITUAL™. The highly trained practitioner utilized the protocol designed by Robert Michael deStefano, Sleep Wellness Entrepreneur, Longeva Managing Director. This is a customized eighty minute sleep wellness installation for in spa, which includes a relaxing bath soak with essential oils, as well as a sleep ritual massage treatment and stress-busting breathing remedies. In addition, you can take home a sleep kit.
This is truly the ultimate spa retreat to Relax, Breath, and AHHHH-Spa!