by Gina Hyams
My perennial New Year’s resolution to lose weight took on an urgency this year when a blood test revealed that I had a cholesterol level of 228 – borderline high, just 12 points away from being high risk for having a heart attack. I was 42-years-old and my middle-aged middle was officially spreading. A veteran dieter, I’d yo-yoed up and down the scale by following and then failing so many diets that I felt hopeless.
This feeling remained until I read about (and signed up for) The Canyon Ranch New Approaches to Weight Management retreat, which promises to “unlock the gateway to healthy weight loss, increased energy, and healthy aging.”
As part of the retreat, I met one-on-one with a doctor, a nutritionist, a behavioral therapist, and a physiologist for a series of consultations to assess my physical, mental, and spiritual condition and create a health action plan. Blood work was done to determine if I was insulin resistant. A full-body DEXA body composition scan (which was very high tech, but basically revealed that I was chubby), and a metabolic exercise assessment to pinpoint my aerobic fitness level were also performed.
I also attended cooking classes and inspirational lectures, met with a healer who specializes in “clearing energy blocks” (a mysterious procedure that was as emotionally wrenching as any therapy session), and took a “barefoot boogie” dance class.
By the end of my stay, my mind was spinning. Research has shown that it takes three to six months to own a new healthy behavior and just seventy-two hours to lose it. The advisers stressed that guests leave the Ranch fired up to change everything in their lives, but that it’s important to focus on a few simple first steps, otherwise odds were that one would lose all momentum within two weeks.
I decided to focus on eating whole foods and combining protein and carbohydrates to keep my blood sugar stable. I swore off diet sodas and frozen meals, and started reading nutrition labels. Anything that contained high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, artificial flavorings, or any complicated chemical ingredients went back on the shelf. I committed to eating quality foods for pleasure rather than obsessing about fat grams and calories.
After five months of mindful eating and getting my heart rate up a couple of times per week by hiking in the woods, my waist has reemerged and my cholesterol level has plummeted to 177. I crave sugar less often and when I do, have learned to take a breath to check in and see if the impulse is truly about culinary pleasure or if it’s about anesthetizing emotions. When it’s the latter, I now understand that I have a choice and that playing with my puppy is actually more comforting than a big bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream.
For more information call (800) 742-9000 or visit www.canyonranch.com