Our New Executive Wellness Program Part 1

261259_234535953236558_3725739_nI want to introduce to you our new Executive Wellness Program we offer here at the Ranch.  It is the most thorough analysis of your health that you will ever be given.  Trust me, I just went through it.  The funny thing is that in the last couple months or so I’ve kept thinking of a health related checklist that I need to get done.  You know things like, “I should really get my cholesterol checked” or “I’m curious to know how my thyroid is doing” or “should I really be taking all of these supplements?”  Health can be confusing sometimes, right?  And if you’re anything like me, you try to be healthy even with an extremely busy schedule.  But at the end of the day, how do you know if you’re really doing what’s best for your body?

206894_202105079812979_1886312_nThis program was specifically designed for executive and working professionals to perform more optimally and those that don’t always have the time to do the research that’s required to stay hip to what’s healthy.  Not only that, but there’s so much conflicting information out there, how do you know what to believe or not?  Well, I can attest after going through this program that we’re each unique and the most important thing you can do for your health is to know exactly what your body needs.

One man’s food is another man’s poison.  Have you ever heard that phrase?

Each of our bodies have specific needs which is why this program is so important.  Accurate results and recommendations designed specifically for you based on extensive testing and analysis. Honestly, it’s pretty neat.  Seeing your exact bone density and body fat from a full body scan, watching live the health of your thyroid, liver and heart through an ultra sound and receiving a complete nutritional and exercise plan designed just for you?  Well, I’ve been wanting to do this for years!

527291_377262492297236_1446216803_nThe Executive Wellness Program is a partnership we’ve created with Lifewellness Institute here in San Diego.  Their facilities are beautiful with top of the line equipment and an amazing staff.  I have never felt so at ease and cared for in a medical facility (actually, it feels more like a serene Zen spa).  The program is a thorough analysis that lasts about six hours.  They really take the time to educate you throughout the testing as well as go over a complete review of their results.  I appreciated the time they spent talking to me and learning about my lifestyle so that they could create the best program for me.

After going through this program I truly believe it’s beneficial to anyone whether you’re an executive of a large business or the executive of your own household!

Your amazing week of wellness consists of:

  • A one-night stay at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina
  • A five-and-a-half hour comprehensive wellness exam that includes lunch with your assigned physician
  • A seven-night stay at Rancho La Puerta (Saturday to Saturday)
  • One-on-one follow-up meetings with your physician, dietician, and exercise physiologist, all conducted at Rancho La Puerta

Stay tuned for Part 2 for details of my personal experience with the Executive Wellness Program…

Yoga Backbend Workshop with Hazel

hazelI’ve been coming to the ranch for almost a year now and surprisingly I have never taken one of Hazel’s classes before. Not because I didn’t want to, but we always seem to be here on different days. Anyway, I need to get with be program because she was great!

The class was more of a workshop on yoga backbends, something that I’ve been struggling with (we’ll get to that later), but it surprised me in many different ways. First I’ve always thought of backbends as the wheel pose, but actually there are a lot of many gentle ways to stretch the back.

With the help of the blocks there are options for those of us that may not have flexibility on our side.  For example the “supported fish” where you place one block under your upper back and another under your head and let your arms flow back which is an amazing stretch.  The next was the “supported backbend” with the block under your sacrum (between your tailbone and waist) which felt equally amazing (“like heaven” is what one person said in class). You can build up the intensity by adding another block to add more height.

Lastly, it was time for the wheel pose. I’m not going to lie, I was nervous about it. I’ve attempted doing it before but number one it scares me and number two, I always feel like it hurts the middle of my back. Well, I learned a big lesson from Hazel. If you’re having any sort of pain in your back while you’re doing it, don’t push yourself. Focus on the beginner steps of squeezing your legs together as if there is a block in between them.  You will also need to increase flexibility in your shoulders and upper arms which I think is my problem.  Without the flexibility, it’s really hard for your arms to be able to support your upper body.  So now I know why I’ve always had trouble with backbends!  But my goal is to do it, so I’m currently working on creating more flexibility in my shoulders. I’ll keep you all posted on when I finally get it down!

Learning to Love your Looks with Vivian Diller Ph.D.

MORE_1_4167_Viv_LaughingRecently at The Ranch, I went to a very enlightening class about beauty and aging. Vivian Diller, a former model and ballet dancer, now a psychologist, spoke about our culture’s obsession with youth and attractiveness. The name of the class was “Replace Magic Potions with Cognitive Solutions” and I  have to say, it was one of the most interesting classes I’ve ever taken at The Ranch. Aging and beauty is something that most women, and even men, think about on a daily basis.  Especially when society places such a big emphasis on looking youthful, as opposed to aging gracefully.

Not only is this point of view affecting women as we get older, but it also has a huge affect on young girls who grow up with a skewed view of what it is to look beautiful. Mainly because the person we see on a billboard, in a magazine, and on television is really not that person at all. Thanks to photo editing, a model who is already beautiful, can be tweaked to look otherworldly. Take a look at the video below to see what I mean.

Vivian showed this video from back in 2006 during her class. Imagine what advertising campaigns can do now with the advances in technology. I think I actually remember seeing this video back then, but it was just as shocking to see it today. I’m glad to say that today, I don’t really pay much attention to advertising campaigns. But when I was younger, I was pretty obsessed with fashion magazines, comparing myself to models and thinking I had to look like them, which is pretty ridiculous when I think about it now. However, with young girls growing up today looking at these models in advertisements for inspiration, it’s no wonder that most girls and women have distorted views about their looks. Who can live up to these computer generated images? No one. Not even the models.

Vivian mentioned that eating disorders and plastic surgery are on the rise. Trying to be thin and look young has become a part of our culture. And it’s not just in the U.S., but also widespread across Europe and Asia. Vivian suggested that instead of trying to look permanently youthful, why not focus on taking care of yourself and try to look good for your age? This is something that has been on my mind now that I’m approaching my mid 30s as I’m realizing my 20s are really gone and that I’ll be in my 40s soon enough.  There is a part of me that doesn’t want to let go of my youth, but there’s another side of me that is exhausted by trying to look young. Thinking about it actually makes me look tired. All in all I’m pretty happy with the way I look now, but I can’t lie, aging scares me a little. I’ve found that the good thing about getting older is that I care less about the way I look and more about taking care of myself. The result has been that I look better (way better) now than I did in my early 20s.

Another interesting point that Vivian made is that our culture views aging as a disease. This is so true, isn’t it? The fact is that there is nothing we can do about aging. It’s going to happen no matter what, so we might as well accept it. Easier said than done, right? When we’re bombarded with ads and slogans all about anti-aging, it’s hard to feel good about aging. But it’s really all about perspective, which is the crux of what Vivian’s class was about. Confidence, treating your body well, how you carry yourself and how you treat people will make you more attractive, no matter what your age is. And I wholeheartedly agree with her about that.

Origins of the Ranch, Part IV

Purcell Weaver, Professor Edmond Szekely

Purcell Weaver (left) and Professor Edmond Szekely, circa 1940 …

Challenging treatments at Lake Elsinore continue…

In which Florence Mahon, a health refugee from England, and her friends continue their rigorous, ascetic exercise and diet program in search of cures for their various diseases and infirmities. The retreat took place in 1935 on the shore of Lake Elsinore in Riverside County, California—an area also attractive for its healing hot springs and year-round warm weather—and was hosted by Purcell Weaver and Edmond Szekely. Five years later Edmond and new bride Deborah opened the first summer health camp at Rancho La Puerta in Tecate; “$17.50 a week. Bring your own tent!” proclaimed the founders. 

[The following is from “Through the Cure with Professor Szekely” by Florence Mahon.  To read previous installments, see Origins of the Ranch:  Part I; Part II; Part III]

After the water exercises [in Lake Elsinore] came land exercises. There were two of them: one standing up with the trunk and arm movement, and the other lying down with an upward leg movement. These were designed by Szekely, and he emphasized that if they were done regularly combined with breathing, other exercises were superfluous. It was recommended to do the lying down exercises direct on the earth so as to get the earth’s radiations.

[Editor’s note: the latest trend in 2013 is known as “Earthing,” which emphasizes direct contact with the earth. Once again, Szekely was 80 years ahead in offering teachings that most spa leaders and guests today consider “new.”)

It was pointed out that all pain was due to an accumulation of morbid matter, so movement and respiration, not rest, were the best way to get rid of it.

The process of alternate sun-bathing, water-bathing, and land exercises went on all through the morning until noon, when we went back to the house to prepare our individual meal. More often than not, I felt that I would never reach the house—which was only a few yards away—for I was so weak.

We each had our own little food cupboard, and we each chose our food from the list of things that were allowed. Purcell used to do all the shopping, so as to keep temptation from us. The midday meal consisted chiefly of fresh fruit, with a very little oat flakes and dried fruits. The total was not more than one pound and a half, which we religiously weighed up every day.

The reason given for having juicy fruits at midday was that the body had absorbed liquid during the morning and that it was now ready for more liquid. The fresh fruit was recommended on the grounds that it was a means of absorbing internally the radiations of the sun, water, air, and earth in an accumulated form. We were advised to chop everything up very small and eat it slowly with a teaspoon from a bowl. We were to chew each mouthful fifty times to allow the saliva to mix with the food. Thus we would get the best possible benefit from the food and at the same time not put too much work on the digestive organs.

The washing-up and cooking problem was solved, as each prepared his own meal. The only crocks we had the whole of the time were a bowl, a knife for chopping up the food, and a teaspoon, and not more than three mixtures were advised, and these were put together in the bowl. On the kitchen wall was a chart of food-values and compatibility, so that at the same time as we prepared our food we were learning a good deal about dietetics. No cooking was done at all during these first three months. We had everything raw.

After lunch, instead of the usual five minutes’ rest, it was a quarter of an hour’s walk, so that the fresh air and bodily movement would make the job of the digestive system easier, and by avoiding congestion we also avoided the usual feeling of wanting to doze.

After the walk we again repeated the procedure of the morning until five p.m., when we came back and prepared supper. By the way, the Professor used to say it takes a quarter of an hour to prepare a meal but you take an hour to eat it.

The evening meal consisted of a salad with not more than three mixtures, for instance, tomatoes, lettuce and root vegetables such as carrots. The proportions were most of the juicy vegetables (tomatoes), less of the leafy, and still less of the root. The root was chopped finely and a dressing was made of finely chopped onion, lemon and oil. A little oat flakes was sprinkled on if wanted, and the whole dish weighed not more than one pound and a half. Less could be taken if desired.

This diet, with the variation of fruits and vegetables, continued for three months. Sour milk was available, but at the time none of us liked it. Again, after the evening meal, we all went out together for a walk by the mountain-side, which usually ended up by a few folk-songs and choruses. Every evening was devoted to lectures of some kind, and a question-book was kept in which we all put down any questions or subject for discussion, and these formed the basis for evening lectures and discussions.

Each of us kept a daily diary, in which we put down our innermost thoughts and feeling and our reaction to the cure and our observations and record of our experiences. By this method Szekely got a good picture of our progress. A regular time allotted each day for mental work was recommended.

We were encouraged to solve problems as they arose; to analyze them, do what we could about them, and then put them out of our mind. Detailed attention was given to put the mind in good order.

We studied Esperanto, for the Professor only spoke a little English. The lectures were given in Esperanto, and Purcell translated. Unless you could speak German or French (I could speak neither), it was up to you to learn Esperanto as quickly as possible.

The importance of mental work was stressed, to keep our minds off ailments, so the evenings were put aside for lectures and discussions. A great field was covered during the whole period—Therapies, Science, Music, Art, and all the subjects that interested the individuals going through the cure.

(Editor’s note: lectures were ALL by the Professor!)

Next month: Depression! But the “building up” period begins…

Spring Ayurvedic Tips

Looking to stay healthy and enjoy all that the beautiful Spring season has to offer?  Here are some Spring tips from our Auryvedic specialist, Carla Levy:

1) Wake up early (before 7am) and utilize the new-found seasonal vitality. As kapha is especially aggravated by sleeping in beyond 7am, rising early is a useful way to reduce kapha aggravations of fatigue, lethargy, mucus and  headaches.

2)  Practice skin brushing. This can be very valuable at this time of year for stimulating lymphatic circulation. Tradition suggests starting brushing at the feet and legs, then progressing to the arms and back and then to the chest and abdomen. This brings lymphatic fluid back to the heart for elimination via the blood where toxins and wastes are cleared by the liver and kidneys.

3) Follow with an oil massage (abhyanga) using warmed organic sesame or sunflower oil to reduce kapha from the skin.

4) Have a hot shower to refresh the body.

5) If you can have a sauna during the early part of spring it will help to dry the excessive secretions that occur at this time of year.

6) Take a cup of hot ginger and lemon water to stimulate digestion and cut through any mucus that has accumulated overnight.

7) The spring diet should emphasize the bitter, pungent and astringent foods that help to clear mucus and excess moisture from the body. The bitter and pungent flavors also help to open the channels of elimination. Conversely, avoid the sweet, sour and salty flavors that are heavy and cause water stagnation in the body. Your meals should be warm, light and very easy to digest. While the nature of most foods is sweet it is important to add these other recommended flavors into your diet.

8) Increase light grains such as quinoa, barley, millet, corn. As beans are considered to be astringent they can be emphasized at this time of year, with red lentils, adzuki beans and chickpeas good for clearing kapha.

To learn more about Carla, visit her website at http://www.carlalevy.org/.