Canyon Ranch Lenox: Weekend Getaway

Mike and I had the greatest weekend. On Friday night we drove up to Lenox, MA to the gorgeous Canyon Ranch for a little pre-birthday celebrations! We arrived late, were greeted by the most friendly staff, had a quick dinner (they packed us gluten-free cookies to-go in our room), and we went to relax before a fun-filled day ahead.

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We woke up and explored this gorgeous place. It is so serene, quaint, friendly, and relaxing.

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We walked down, sat on some adirondack chairs overlooking the woods and rocked (in the words of Emily from Zivamind) a 15-minute meditation to kick start a day of fitness, relaxation, and wellness.

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We ate phenomenal food, took awesome fitness classes, got pampered in the spa, and got to take in the gorgeous views of Lenox. At night, they have quite the epic DVD collection filled with old and super new movies. Since the lovely staff always gave us soft, delicious gluten-free cookies to go, the nights were relaxing and filled with cookies and movies in bed, something we never ever get to do!  It was delightful.

All in all, it was truly a fantastic weekend getaway, and with all there was to do- over 40+ indoor and outdoor fitness activities daily, workshops, talks, treatments- I could totally have seen us staying for days and days! 

The Food

There are two main restaurants at Canyon Ranch. The Dining Room (where we ate dinner the first night and lunch the following day) and The Cafe (where we are breakfast both days and dinner Saturday night). The Cafe is new. It is farm-to-table style, and also where you can grab a snack throughout the day, a cappuccino, a smoothie, and so on. Of course, The Cafe was right up my alley and we loved loved loved it there. Especially Sunday brunch because… brunch!

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I’m merging together breakfast (Saturday) + brunch (Sunday), because they were both just so fantastic. I started each day with an almond milk cappuccino and went from there. The accommodations for gluten/grain/dairy-free were beyond amazing. I was greeted with a full ingredient list of every single food at CR upon arrival, down to the brand of tomato sauce they use! They had three different types of almond milk, local maple syrup, coconut water for the smoothies. Everything down to the T!

The breakfast you ordered, with the open bar to help yourself to other things, and the brunch was station buffet-style. 
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Everything was beyond delicious! We grabbed a quick lunch on Saturday, and then got right back into our day of fitness and the spa! 

Dinner at The Cafe was a highlight for sure. I loved seeing where a variety of the food I was eating came from. What is better than that? It is so apparent how much the chefs value their food and their expertise.  

Bravo to the CR Lenox chefs. It was truly amazing seeing your craft in action. 

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P.S. There is no alcohol served at Canyon Ranch. I actually really enjoyed this little detox aspect.

The Fitness  

CR Lenox is different then any spa I’ve been to. It is super focused on fitness, wellness, and health out of just the food and the spa. There were lectures on sleep, an integrative medicine practice where you could actually get tests done right there, and so much more. 

I took a circuit class, spin class, and a yoga class. Now I’m not the biggest Yogi but I am making an effort to get more into it, so I decided to take a class. Antoinette was the teacher and she was beyond amazing. I loved her nature, energy and the vibes of the class. I wish she was here in Boston! Mike took a meditation workshop, a yoga class (more intense than mine), and a kettlebell class which ended up being one-on-one since he was the only person who showed up! 

I really loved the classes, and also loved spending time in the Women’s Spa. Sauna, steam room, hot tub, relaxation area, and more. Total bliss.

Another highlight that we loved was the natural “sports drink” in the fitness area. Seeing the word Sports Drink you can imagine what I thought the ingredient list would look like, but I was in fact wrong! A blend of iced teas, orange juice, white grape juice, lemon oil, and sea salt. That’s it! We added a little to our waters to fuel us through the day. I think I’ll have to recreate this one for all of you 🙂

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 Next time, we’ll stay for longer and get outside for one of the hikes and other activities that we couldn’t fit into our stay! 

The Spa

Mike and I both got massages, mine an 80-minute deep tissue and his a 50-minute Swedish. I also got a deep cleansing facial which was phenomenal. I loved the spa area of CR and the awesome, knowledgeable staff there!

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Disclosure: I was not paid to write this post, but did receive complementary amenities. All opinions are 100% always my own! 

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My Gluten-Free (Amongst Other Things) Journey

I realize that many of you know what I don’t eat, but may not know why I changed my diet, the challenges I’ve faced in doing so, where I’m at now, or my top 5 tips (plus I’ll also share some reader favorites)! 

I’ve been eating gluten-free (amongst other things-free) for almost two years now.  In January of 2013, I was tired of the constant bloating, stomachaches, and major digestion issues that began affecting my day-to-day.  I literally didn’t want to go out some nights due to how uncomfortable I felt (gassy and constipated, to give you too much information). Probiotics did the opposite of what they were intended to do for me, along with basically everything else I had read to do (no prunes, nothing)! 

I knew I needed to make a change and decided to eliminate gluten and dairy from my diet.  I decided to regularly include exercise, focus on eating real foods and ditching the processed junk.  Mike was in shock when I actually didn’t reach for the bread basket at dinner, or put cheese in our eggs.  Literally, he was shocked, but I knew I needed to finally do this.  

 After a week or so I was already feeling so different, I couldn’t even believe it.  At the time it got me 85% there, or to where I’d hope to be, but I knew I could do better.  I’ve kept pushing to figure out what worked and what didn’t work for my body, and that’s what it is all about… listening to YOUR body.  

I think how I initially healed my leaky gut was by being strict.  I really didn’t eat gluten-free baked goods at the time, even moderately.  I was so focused, and with constant working at it (I still am), and different experimentation with various eliminations, and additions of supplements, etc., I’ve rid myself from all of those previous symptoms.   Now, I can have these things once in a while, but in the beginning I think it would have slowed down the healing process.  

I now avoid grains, refined sugars, soy, gluten, dairy, and often nuts. I also try and eat a low FODMAP diet. I buy local as much as possible, and rarely ever buy packaged, processed food.  I do this in response to listening to my body. I’ve found that this is what works best for me.  

What about present day? I have changed my life, but I am always still learning, adapting, and working towards optimal health. And I still have unanswered questions like: Why does my body react to bad oils when eating out? Why isn’t my skin awesome? What triggered my gut inflammation to begin with? I’ve recently started seeing a functional medicine practitioner to work on answering these questions.  You see, I’ve coped amazingly with everything thus far, but now it’s time to figure out some of the underlying causes! Where to Start

This journey for me has been incredible. I’ve met amazing people, I’ve changed my life, and I know I will only grow more and learn from here.

5 tips when adjusting your diet

Where are you on your journey? Remember, start slow and don’t drive yourself crazy with 1,000 new limitations off the bat.  It’s a process, and one you’ll want to do successfully and not feel stressed or overwhelmed about!

Learn more about living gluten free! Visit http://udisglutenfree.com/community 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Udi’s Gluten Free. The opinions and text are all mine.

 

Technology Break: 5 Things To Do Daily

When the lovely folks at smartwater told me about their upcoming #lookupsweepstakes on Instagram, I was immediately inspired. I place a huge importance on sleep and down time as part of my healthy lifestyle. Sleep, removing stress, and making time to do what you love are key. A stressed out life lacking sleep and relaxation is by no means healthy! Yet, I honestly can’t say I always put this into play.

My days are pretty jam packed, and while I am doing everything I love: teaching elementary art, exercising, cooking, photographing, and blogging; it rarely leaves time to sit, relax (without a smartphone, laptop, or tablet), and take in the world around me. For months now I’ve been telling Mike that I want to fit time in to relax and meditate, but the days roll into each other and that hasn’t quite happened yet.

This challenge was perfect for that. The idea is to take quick technology breaks throughout the day by getting up from your laptop or looking up from your cell phone to raise your gaze to the sky and the world around you. I did just that. School ended for the summer, and while my planner is just as packed, I got home I sat on my porch and then on my hammock and took in the trees, the sun, and the quiet sound of the wind. It was great, and is something I want to incorporate into my daily routine.

LOOKUPP.S. This is part of our new backyard pre-landscaping!)

Here are 5 ways to make time for you throughout the day, and take a technology break. This is one of my summer goals! Are you with me?

Technology Break

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by smartwater through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about smartwater, all opinions are my own.

You can share what you see by tagging #lookupsweepstakes and tagging @smartwater on Instagram!

What do you do daily to make time for a technology break?

5 Tips to Jumpstart Your Way to a Healthy Lifestyle + a HUGE Giveaway

Since we closed on our house we’ve been busy with cleaning and packing our old place, and moving/shopping/organizing/unpacking our new place. We are finally starting to really settle in and enjoy our space. Let me tell you, I’ll never take a driveway and a nice spacious yard for granted, ever. The past few weeks, going on a month now, have been a whirlwind. I thought I’d share how I’ve been keeping myself healthy despite my lack of working out.

5 Tips to Jumpstart Your Way to a Healthy Lifestyle + a HUGE Giveaway

Making time to MOVE: Recently on my Instagram account and on my Facebook page, I’ve shared my love for my Fitbit. We bought them about a month or so ago and I can’t begin to say enough great things about it (P.S. this is not sponsored by Fitbit). My Fitbit motivates me to take that extra 3-minutes during my bathroom break and walk around a bit, it motivates me to take the stairs, and it pushes me to reach my goal of steps each day; thus, walking and moving way more on a daily basis. I also use the silent alarms to wake me up in the morning (the days of arguing over my incessant snoozing are over). But my favorite favorite feature has to be the battery life. I am so impressed by it! I literally have not charged my Fitbit since before our move, and it is on medium as I type! If it was another gadget I had to charge daily, I could see myself ending up forgetting about doing it.

Snacking… I never leave the house without a snack on me. It’s seriously not worth it! For one, I get “hangry,” which is defined as anger caused by hunger. Get it? That word is fitting. But moreso because if I go into a meal starving I’m likely to want everything and anything, which could potentially ruin my goals. 

Getting a good night sleep, staying hydrated, and keeping up with my food shopping were essentials during this busy month. Lacking sleep is not healthy for us; we run way better with a good night sleep. So, winding down and going to bed early, despite the million things I want to finish, was a must. I also made sure to keep the fridge stocked with healthy foods as the month has been filled with quick dinners such as breakfast for dinner, BBQ, and crock-pot meals.

I am so excited to giveaway this package to one lucky reader. It has a $250 giftcard to Market Basket (keep that fridge stocked), a Fitbit flex (keep yourself MOVING), a Define water bottle (stay hydrated), and Orchard Valley Harvest packs (so you never go hungry).
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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Super Immune Smoothie

Turmeric is a spice that I don’t cook with often enough! It is a super spice loaded with anti-inflammatory health benefits. Turmeric is often used in Indian cooking and has a bold yellow color with warm flavor! Since we are focusing on food inspired by travel this month for Healthy Food Friday’s, I thought this super-spice would make the perfect addition!

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Turmeric is known to be a natural anti-inflammatory. So when my mom’s arthritis started acting up I knew I wanted to find some simple ways to incorporate Turmeric into meals. Adding it into smoothies, tossing with roasted veggies, and adding the spice into my egg scrambles or frittatas are my favorites! 

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To go along with this super-spice… a super smoothie!
Super Immune Smoothie

 

[yumprint-recipe id=’161′] 

Super Immune SmoothieAroundtheweb

Cleansing Garlicky Baby Bok Choy Soup from An Edible Mosaic

Turmeric Tea from The View from Great Island

Easy Curried Eggs from Seasonal and Savory

Turmeric and Honey Super Booster from With Food and Love

Homemade Lemon Thyme Musard from Wonky Wonderful

Grilled Turmeric Chicken from She Simmers/Serious Eats

Ginger Turmeric Spiced Carrot Soup from Gourmande in the Kitchen

Vitality Shots from Spabetty

I was selected by American Express to contribute to their Tumblr community. As such I was paid for my services, but all opinions in general and about American express are my own.

Do you incorporate Turmeric or other super-spices into your meals?

10 Ways to Stay Healthy, Happy, and Stress-free this Holiday Season

Family gatherings, office parties, travel and weekend get-togethers with friends and family are part of the fun of the holidays, but the pressure of gifts, time spent traveling and family tensions can also cause extra stress this time of year. Finding different way to de-stress and stay healthy this time of year can help you get through the hustle and bustle (and even enjoy it!)

Here are ten ways to stay healthy, happy, and stress-free as we bid goodbye to 2013.

10 Ways to Stay Healthy, Happy, & Stress-free

1. They may not mesh with your holiday décor, but leave vitamins out on the counter over the holidays so you’ll be sure to take them. Make a full night’s sleep and steady hydration a priority as well.

2. Know your holiday stress points & plan ahead: make lists, start your holiday shopping early and decide on your party menu’s in advance. Doing things at the last minute increases anxiety.

3. Schedule time to relax: make time to get a massage or even just to lounge around the house.

4. Snack wisely: If you’re heading to a party in the evening, make a snack plan. Hold off during the day, or decide not to indulge during the event.

5. Prevent overeating: don’t go hungry to a party! Have something to eat before you head out the door. You’ll be less likely to pig out at the buffet table when you get to the party.

6. Keep it movin’! Whether you are in a hotel, staying with friends or family, or spending the holidays at home; make being active a habit. Take advantage of hotel gyms and pools, suggest a post-lunch or halftime walk (particularly good when visiting friends and family: “show me your neighborhood!”), or stick to your weekly fitness classes at home.

7. Balance your holiday plate: At this time of year, simple carbs and high calorie foods rule the roost. Rebel! Come down heavy on the veggie and fruit side of things so you can earn a little taste of something from the desert platter. Also – go easy on the sauce (you never need as much as you think) and watch your portion size!

8. Bringing a holiday dessert to the party? Modify your recipes and cook up a healthier option with sugar alternatives like honey or coconut sugar – or opt for a non-food gift.

9. If you’re hitting the road, pack smart. Bring healthy snacks with you – the menu at the gas station is pretty heavy on salt and sugar – and don’t forget your running sneakers.

10. Indulge, but in moderation! Have your piece of cake…just don’t have five. Go in knowing you plan on indulging in one extra appetizer or a single helping of your favorite dessert and stick to it.

One final point on the dietary front: the confidence boost you’ll get from making a plan and sticking to it will far outweigh the momentary rush you get from downing that extra brownie and then dealing with the guilt afterwards. And you’ll establish a pattern that will set you up for a healthy year to come!

 I was selected by American Express as to help educate consumers about how to use Membership Rewards points. As such I was paid for my services, but all gift choices selected and opinions about the gifts and American Express are my own. http://t.cmp.ly/68ee5b1be62ebaeb5a

How do you stay healthy and stress-free during the holidays and going into the new year?