Alumni Spotlight: Katie Arnoldi

Katie Arnoldi, a critically-acclaimed American author based in Southern California, experienced a week at Mountain Trek last July. She and I did the program together, and I was able to witness, first-hand, how much the program changed her. Almost a year later, I sat down with Katie to learn more about Mountain Trek’s effect on her daily outlook.

Mountain Trek attracts all sorts for all sorts of reason. I, for one, chose to do the program for hormonal imbalance reasons. What was your thought process in signing up for the retreat?

I signed up for Mountain Trek on a whim.  I’d been in France for three weeks, eating and drinking everything in sight, and I came home feeling fat, unmotivated and unhealthy.  Years ago, I’d been to the Ashram in California and I enjoyed my experience there.  I found Mountain Trek on the internet and saw that they ran a similar program, and so I decided to head up to Canada to lose five pounds.  That was my conscious motive for going.  In retrospect, there was a much deeper reason for my need to take a week off and just focus on myself.  2017-18 was a very tough year, both professionally and personally, and I had kind of lost the beat.  I was 59 and I really needed to get back in touch with my priorities and set some new goals. 

From the airplane to arriving at the lodge, what was the story going through your head when you started your journey to the lodge?  

It’s an easy flight from LA up to Spokane. The shuttle driver came and found me in the baggage claim area before I even had time to look for him. It was 100% stress-free. I expected a wide range of age and fitness levels, and that’s pretty much what I saw as I walked down the isle of the shuttle bus, sizing up my fellow campers.  No problem, I thought.  Piece of cake, I told myself. I was feeling pretty confident as I worked my way back, and maybe even smug, until I passed this glowing, uber-athletic, ultra-buff, couple in their 20s.  What the heck were they doing here?  They were perfectly fit and way, way too young.  I looked at them and my heart sank. How on earth could I keep up with a couple of specimens like that?  I found my seat at the back of the bus, looked out the window and tortured myself with worry on the entire beautiful drive to Mountain Trek.  What had I gotten myself into?  I was going to slow everybody down.  I didn’t belong here.  Maybe I should just head home now and save everyone a lot of trouble.  Silly, silly me. 

That “glowing” couple was my husband and me, which is ironic because I was a mess, hormonally, and my husband had recently come out of a 10-day stay in hospital after having surgery on his collapsed lung. I suppose this is a good reminder we all enter the Mountain Trek program for different reasons, and in different physical states. What was your experience during the program?

Mountain Trek is not a competitive program, and the instructors/guides are fabulous.  They split everyone into four groups for the hikes, so you can choose how hard you want to work on any given day, and you can change your mind, mid hike! You can start out in a fast group and drop back to a slow group and no one cares. If you need to take a break or skip a class, go for it.  You decide your own pace. It’s fantastic.  Of course they push you, but only within your personal limitations.  I never felt like I had to prove anything, and I was really grateful for that.  My experience was based on my needs.  The rooms are comfortable.  The food was fantastic, and I didn’t feel deprived.  I did get caffeine withdrawal headaches, so I plan to knock off the coffee a couple weeks prior to my next visit this summer, but that was my only negative. 

I thought I entered the program for nutrition, but sleep ended up being the biggest game-changer for me. Which of Mountain Trek’s pillars of balanced living–sleep, detox, nutrition, fitness, destress–did you gain the most from?

I was the 1992 Southern California Bodybuilding Champion, and I thought I knew everything about nutrition, detox and fitness, but I went into the program with an open mind and was surprised by how much I didn’t know.  I learned something important at every lecture.  Mountain Trek teaches a very commonsense approach to living with practical tools that are easy to incorporate into everyday life.  I came home with a new set of priorities about my sleep habits, and I started meditating as a way to destress.  It’s subtle, but I made some significant changes to the way I approach my overall health, and I feel a lot better as a result of my time at the retreat.  I’m happier.  And those five pounds are still gone. 

I still think about the fabulous post-hike foot soaks we all did while sitting in the living room. What’s your favorite memory of Mountain Trek?

I’m not going to lie: the massages are excellent and I loved the sauna, hot tub and cold plunge.  It felt great to relax after working hard all day.  The setting is beautiful and so peaceful.  The staff is incredible—smart, funny, and inspirational.  It’s all wonderful.

Has Mountain Trek changed the trajectory of your life?

I think that taking a week off to just focus on oneself—physical health, feelings, goals, relationships, expectations—is a great luxury.  For me, that week was hugely productive and therapeutic.  I plan to do an annual visit to Mountain Trek, and I’ve recommended the program to most of my friends. 

Katie will be returning to Mountain Trek this summer to continue on her path to optimal health. If you see her around the lodge, say hi, and ask her about living in Malibu with a famous painter of a husband, Charles Arnoldi.

Feel like your health is out of control? Try a morning routine

Call it a belligerent zeitgeist or pressure cooker–the bottom line is we’re living in a pretty testing time for mental and physical health. We’re raising kids of the “I want” generation, trying to navigate their begs for the latest consoles and phones; we’re swimming upstream in alienating workforces; we’re trying to be successful entrepreneurs, and also comparing ourselves to Olympic athletes and TV stars, wondering why we’re not it all. We’re hamsters on a wheel of doom.

Go take a minute to cry in the corner. I understand. But then I want you to come back, sit down, and finish reading these words. Because what you’re about to learn will stop that wheel. You’ll become you again. In just 5 minutes, I’ll show you how to change out of your hamster costume, rid yourself of the ‘sh*t-life syndrome,’ and regain the health you’ve lost.

The trick: try a morning routine.

Health experts and entrepreneurs from your smallest village in Brazil to your New York City metropolis can’t emphasize enough the importance of a structured start to your day. Barack Obama always wakes at 6:45AM. to exercise, read several newspapers, and eat breakfast with his family; Steve Jobs, late Apple CEO, would stand in front of the mirror every morning asking himself, “‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’

Morning routines don’t have to be long. They just have to be there. Here’s what you will benefit from by introducing one to your day:

 

Productivity:

Accomplishing your routine  every morning sets the foundation of productivity, and can be seen as an investment in the rest of your day. You’ll feel more confident, peaceful and positive, traits that’ll steer the direction of the rest of your day and result in getting more done.

 

Mental Strength:

Waking up early is no fun, but by gradually training yourself to do so, you’re inadvertently strengthening your mental fortitude, and if you’ve set a health goal for yourself, having accomplished your morning routine will help you stay on track. Book suggestion: Eat that Frog.

 

Stress Management:

Funny but when we don’t start our day feeling unprepared and haggard, our stress levels remain even keel. Without spiking our Cortisol levels right off the bat, we gain less weight, feel less anxious, and tend to respond vs. react to stressors.

 

You learned your ABCs, so it’s a no-brainer you can make, and stick to, a health-balancing morning routine. It doesn’t have to be 3300 steps long–it can be as simple as, “I’m going to wake at 7AM and make a healthy smoothie, like the ones served at Mountain Trek.” Pick the routine you want, try it out, and rinse and repeat until you’re happy with how it’s working. You’ve got this.


Unsure where to start with your morning routine? Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat & Health Spa in British Columbia, Canada, employs world class Nutritionists, Kinesiologists, Naturopathic doctors, Yoga Instructors, as well as experts on sleep, stress management, and detoxification (meet the team). Send us an email at info@mountaintrek.com with your questions, or visit our facebook page to join the conversation.

Mountain Trek Alumni Story: Sid from D.C.

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Welcome to Mountain Trek Alumni Stories, our newest blog feature! Each month, we’ll sit down with a Mountain Trek Alumni to find out what they love about the program, what it’s done for their lives, and what keeps them coming back.

Mountain Trek is a truly special place — but don’t take it from us alone. We’re humbled to have developed many “Mountain Trek Alumni” — people who come on the trip once a year to every couple of years. In order to hear from the people who’ve found the most value in our program, we interviewed a couple of regular alumni to understand their personal experience and just what makes Mountain Trek so special for them.

SID, WASHINGTON, D.C.

What made you come to Mountain Trek, and what was your initial goal?

I was there to support my partner — he did some Googling about weight loss vacations and I came along to be there for him. And if I could drop some weight while there, great! I quickly realized it was much more than a place for weight loss — from the moment I got there, I really subscribed to the entire program, from soup to nuts. I loved the bootcamp philosophy, where I didn’t have to personally make any big decisions — just had to follow the path.

What did you get out of the program?

I think of my body as a gas tank: at Mountain Trek, every day you fill it all the way up and completely drain it — and do it all again the next day. The staff’s talks helped me understand my body better and how it works. Lastly — the quality of sleep I get there, digital detox, and forest bathing make me feel amazing.

What made you decide to return to Mountain Trek, and what keeps you coming back?

I left feeling so great — higher energy, my skin looked better, and I felt more rested. People noticed! Whenever I return from Mountain Trek, I always hear people say, “Wow, you look great! Where have you been?”

While I was at Mountain Trek, I fully came to realize the impact of stress on my total wellbeing. Now when I go, I know I’m going to lose weight — that’s the easy part! The deep detox and de-stressing aspects center me. Now I go about once per year as a reboot.

If you could share one thing about Mountain Trek with someone, what would you say?

The Mountain Method is evidence- and science-based — the Mountain Trek team knows what they’re doing, have data to back their recommendations up, and the result is everyone has great outcomes.

Want to hear from more alumni? Read our blog post full of quick tidbits about why people love Mountain Trek, and check out our TripAdvisor page for more than 140 real-life alumni reviews! Ready to experience the life-changing program first-hand? Click here for this year’s rate and dates, and book today.