3 Steps to 10x your Goal Success Rate

Peeling a banana from the bottom up.

Using duct tape to open tough lids.

Putting bars of soap in clothing drawers to give undergarments etc. a pleasant smell.

I love a good hack–they increase productivity, and turn me into an efficient, well-oiled machine. The hacks we’re excited to share today relate to goal-setting. Specifically, how three simple acts can make you 10 times as likely to accomplish your goals and dreams.

First, let’s set the stage for goal-setting, and, count yourself warned, it’s not a pretty picture. According to a recent study, 92% of all New Year’s resolutions fail. While resolutions aren’t exactly goals, they’re close enough that this stat is alarming. What if only 8% of people who resolved to go to college actually enrolled? What if only 8% of businesses succeeded? That’s not a world we should want to live in.

On the flip side, let me give you a couple statistics that’ll drop your jaw to the floor, but in a good way: you immediately become 42% more likely to achieve your goals by simply writing them down on a regular basis. We’re not making this up; Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California, recently studied the art and science of goal-setting, and found this to be true, from a sample of one hundred and forty-nine participants. Further, Dr. Matthews found that once you’ve documented your goal, sharing it with a friend and sending weekly progress reports makes you 77% likely to accomplish that goal.

While a limited data set of 149 participants probably wouldn’t pass any honorable statistician’s  sniff test, there are other similar studies floating around the internet that give credence to the notion that documenting your goals ups your chances of achieving them. A study supposedly done by Harvard business school in 1979 that measured students prior to graduation and then again 10 years down the road found that, before graduating:

  • 84% of the entire class had set no goals at all
  • 13% of the class had set written goals but had no concrete plans
  • 3% of the class had both written goals and concrete plans

10 years later, the 13% of the class that had set written goals, but had not created plans, were making twice as much money as the 84% of the class that had set no goals at all.

What’s even more shocking is that the 3% of the class that had both written goals and a plan were making ten times as much money as the remaining 97% of the class! Or so the myth goes; to this day, not even Harvard psychologists can find the studies in their archives.

Myth or no myth, statistically significant or not, the fact is that dreaming about your goals is one thing, turning them into reality is another.

But let’s back it up a minute. Before you jump ahead and start frantically scribbling down your goals (to breed dragons, own a house with several secret passages, rule the world, live like a dog, you name it), you need to make sure you’re setting a good goal.

We’re not talking “good” in the sense of good vs bad, because who are we to judge the nature of your goal, but in the sense of making it SMART:

  • Specific
    • What exactly do you want to achieve and how will you get there? The more specific you are, the greater the chance you’ll accomplish your goal. If losing 10 lbs or running a marathon is your goal, break down what it is you need to do for this to happen. Ask yourself the “what, where, how, when, with whom, why” questions.
  • Measurable
    • Make sure your goal is concrete. “Being happier” doesn’t cut it; “Not downing 700 bars of chocolate a night because you’re eating well-rounded meals and balanced snacks five days per week” is.
  • Attainable
    • Go ahead and shoot for the stars–smart planning can make even the most impossible things possible–but also remember to weigh in your goal’s effort, time and other costs. If you don’t have the time or money, to name just two possible limiting factors, you may be unfairly setting yourself up for disappointment.
  • Realistic
    • Answer truthfully to the questions, “Why do you want to reach this goal? What is the objective behind the goal, and will this goal really achieve that?” You could think having five cats, 10 dogs and a school of fish will make you a more productive person, but will it really?
  • Timely
    • Pick a doable date for your goal, because deadlines instill action and accountability.

These days, we tend to set big goals that immediately become overwhelming, causing us to freeze. Setting SMART goals takes the intimidation factor away, helping us focus on manageable actions–actions we will actually stick to, and form habits out of. Mountain Trek has used SMART goal-setting for the last 18 years, which has helped thousands of guests achieve their health goals.

Here’s the thing: setting SMART goals is only part of the equation; we still need to “walk the walk”.

In “Stronger Than Circumstances: 3 Proven Ways to Overcome Fear, limitations, and Procrastination, to Achieve Your Dreams,” Mary Morrissey, Life Coach and Personal Development Expert, details that those who write down their goals and dreams on a regular basis achieve those desires at a significantly higher level than those who do not.

Why does writing down your goals and dreams strongly impact your chance of achieving them? Ask your brain. No, really. You see, it all boils down to the left and right hemispheres communicating. If you just think about a goal or dream, you’re using the right hemisphere (the imaginative center); when you write it down, you’re using the left hemisphere (the logic center), so you’re physically (well, chemically) transferring dream into reality!

Write down your goals to make them a reality

Since science wasn’t really my thing and I’m trying to make this as easy as possible to understand, the gist is that when you write your goal(s) down, you send your entire being a message saying, “I want this, and I mean it, and I’m going to get it.”

Morrissey emphasizes that writing down your goals opens your subconscious to “seeing” opportunities that simply can’t be observed if you’re tied up with thinking about your goals. To help you reach that subconscious level where the magic really happens, we at Mountain Trek hand out green reminder bracelets. When you tie the bracelet onto your wrist, we ask that you set an intention. The idea is that every time you glance at the bracelet or fiddle with it (like when you’re bored in a meeting or something), you’re empowered to continue on the path toward achieving your goal.

But that’s not all. According to Morrissey, “The likelihood that you’ll transform your desires into reality goes up even further if you share your written goals with a friend who believes in your ability to succeed.” It’s what she calls “partner in believing.” At Mountain Trek, we call this process “building your allies”.

SMART goal: check. Paper and pen: check. Reminder bracelet: check. All that remains on your quest to finally making your dream a reality is to send your weekly progress reports to a friend/ family member/ whoever you’d be excited to update on your progress. According to Deb Knobelman, a PhD Neuroscientist and self-proclaimed Recovering Nervous Nelly:

Knowing that you are accountable to someone outside of yourself can be a powerful psychological push to keep you going. The next time you think it would be easier not to do the thing, or that you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll remember that your accountability partner is waiting for your report, and that might be enough to get you over the hump and one step closer to making that dream a reality.

Long story short, if you want to succeed:

Set a SMART goal–something that’s smart, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.

Write your goal down–on paper, your phone, a sticky note, your forehead, you name it.

Share your progress with an ally–anyone from your grandma to a colleague.

In the name of no excuses, we went ahead and created an accountability tool so we can be that friend. It’s simple, yet powerful, and will let you set your goal and share it with the Mountain Trek staff, who will periodically check-in on your accomplishments. ..

Help yourself get unstuck! Join the Mountain Trek community in taking steps toward your dream. YOU are empowered. YOU can change your trajectory. Make a SMART goal, write it down, and submit it in our Goal Tracker. Next stop: results.

Creative Ways to Mother Yourself


Next Mother’s Day, we invite you to think of the word mother as a verb (“to mother”), versus a noun. Why? Mothering transcends the female–you’re mothered by anyone (or thing) who offers you acceptance, nourishment, instruction, and empowerment.

By detaching motherhood from any particular person, you’ll begin to notice where you could personally use more mothering. Ask yourself when you feel lovable or disgusting, empty or needy, stupid or ignorant, helpless or incapable. Clear answers hint you need to patch yourself together a new kind of mother that nurtures your unmet needs.

Mountain Trek does not have mammary glands, or any other physical feature of a stereotypic mother, but we mother regardless. We provide a safe and healthful environment, teach the important rules and roles of life through our lectures on stress, detox, sleep, nutrition and fitness, and we meet your emotional needs with our empathy.

The Mountain Trek program provides a space for you to not only feel deeply mothered, but to seek out the mothering you may be lacking. After my week in the program, I learned nature is my mother, and that hiking is the mothering I need; exploring trails enriches my soul in a way I’ve never before felt. The trees wake up my mind. The rivers refresh my soul.

This isn’t to say I won’t be celebrating my biological mother this weekend; rather, I’ll also be celebrating the many ways in which we are all uniquely mothered. I’ll be celebrating nourishing foods, the open spaces we play in, and the soft blankets we swaddle ourselves in with a book. I’ll be celebrating the fluidity of motherhood, and the gift we have to see mothering as more than a trait of female humans.

Kirkland Shave, Mountain Trek’s Program Director, says, “When we’re on the treadmill of life, we lose track of the wounded child in each of us, and we need to take a break to not only acknowledge our unmet needs, but to reflect on how we can self-care.” He continues, “The need to be mothered doesn’t disappear with age, and the real work is done when we learn how to parent ourselves.”

Kirkland’s top two ways of mothering oneself in adulthood are:

  1. Play and wonder. Open your senses through new tastes and activities. Experience what it’s like to try something for the first time again. Take a ballroom dancing class, or try that funky-colored fruit you always bypass.
  2. Free your emotions. Deeply connect with yourself by letting go of the notion that adults should always be strong and unaffected. The Stiff Upper Lip syndrome only leads to disconnection, and disconnection only leads to feeling lost and neglected. Laugh, cry, go in for energy-releasing body work treatments: do whatever you need to do to tap into your raw feelings.

As the grandfather of a toddler, Kirkland feels mothered when he’s playing with his grandson. Making forts out of pillows and towers out of blocks, he’s able to nurture his creativity and connect with his desire to live boundlessly.

Other ways to mother yourself are by:

  • Creating a comforting bedtime routine
  • Taking a break from social media (because the unfair comparisons are driving you nutso)
  • Getting fresh air daily
  • Eating nourishing foods
  • Meditating
  • Saying nice, encouraging things to yourself in the mirror
  • Doing puzzles, and other mind-challenging activities
  • Keeping cozy comforts easily-accessible, like a basket of fuzzy socks by the door for when you take your shoes off upon returning home
  • Journaling, in a free-flowing stream-of-consciousness style
  • Listening to uplifting music
  • Making yourself a nice drink (hot chocolate! ginger tea! sparkling lemonade!) and sipping it slowly
  • Planning a special one-on-one date with yourself
  • Building a cozy fort to relax in, equipped with a book, movie, snacks, you name it

I mother, you mother, he mothers, she mothers, we mother, they mother. The ocean mothers, and the mountains mother. Pets mother, and travel mothers. Look beyond the female who raised you to acknowledge all the different ways you are mothered, and can be mothered. Open yourself up to new perspectives and opportunities, and embrace the ability to meet your needs in a myriad of ways. Seek comfort in the potential. You are not alone. You are not stuck.

To realize a new kind of mothering, book your stay with Mountain Trek. Our program will uncover a new ability within you to grow, to heal, and to show up for your life as fully as you can.

Set Micro-Resolutions To Succeed In 2019

How doing less will help you achieve more

Ringing in the New Year is supposed to be exciting. The thing is, it’s often far from. While smearing trout atop countless cucumber rounds for the night’s festivities, we’re reminded how our New Year’s resolutions didn’t last more than a few, by which I mean maximum two, of the 52 weeks we were supposed to uphold them. We’re reminded we don’t have the willpower. We don’t have the discipline. We’re “failures”.

Just writing these words bum me out. Because in reality,we’re not powerless. we’re not negligent. we’re not a failure. If anything, we’re simply overachieving, and, in turn, we’re setting ourselves up for not accomplishing our goals.

We’ve looked at this problem long and hard (Learn the top 5 pitfalls of typical Resolutions). Let me introduce you to what will forever change not just your sentiment around the New Year, but your life: micro-resolutions. Micro-resolutions are simple, concrete actions that compound over time to achieve a goal. Tiny behavioral changes you can form into daily habits. These are the key to making lasting changes.  Micro-resolutions, even though the seem less impactful, are twice as likely to succeed as typical goals. These small wins will add up over time to be something far greater than any goal you have set in the past.

With that, I’d like to suggest that 2019 be about being less ambitious—about making intentions so doable they seem trivial. Because if it’s drastic, it’ll feel too foreign, and you won’t bake it into your routine. Chose a micro-resolution that can build upon an existing behavior;something specific and personal. The less abstract your goal, the easier it will be to enforce because you won’t be quite so resistant.

Here’s an example. Last year, I made the lofty New Year’s resolution to cut out all refined sugar, primarily because I thought it would bring my hormone levels into harmony. At first, the arbitrary line I drew was no desserts, cookies, doughnuts, chocolate, candy, waffles, ice cream and brownies. No sweetened yogurts, cakes, milkshakes, you name it, either. I was going cold turkey.

Not even one week later (yes, you have permission to laugh), I was tricking myself into chocolatey granola bars—they’re healthful and fibrous and good for the heart, no?—and jam-topped toast, because jam’s practically a fruit, right? My goal—no sugar, at all, ever—was too ambitious. It caused me to crumble, and quick.

This year, I’m tackling the same sugar-free resolution, but with a micro-resolution mindset. Instead of saying none, ever, my micro-resolution is: enjoy two desserts per week. Seems doable, right?  This means I can still enjoy a vanilla yogurt every now and then, and I won’t feel so painfully deprived. By moderating my sugar intake instead of ending it, hard and fast, I’ll be able to more-easily achieve  my ultimate goal of hormonal balance. Win, win.

Here are some more examples of how to turn over-ambitious resolutions into manageable micro-resolutions:

 

ResolutionMicro-resolution
To eat healthierTo cook one new healthy recipes per week
To sit for only four hours dailyTo stand at my standing desk every morning while I read my emails
To never use my electronic devices around my childrenTo leave my phone at the front door when I get home Monday through Friday
To lose 20lbsTo eat breakfast three times weekly
To exercise every dayTo go for an energizing hike, at least 60 minutes, four times monthly
To give up alcohol To only drink on the weekends, Friday included, after 5pm
To sleep moreTo get to bed at 10 pm on Tuesday of every week

 

As the author John Bytheway says, “Inch by inch, life’s a cinch. Yard by yard, life’s hard.” Setting concrete, actionable micro-resolutions will seem easy at first, because they are inch-big improvements, but over time will compound into dramatic, mile-sized changes.

We also discovered that actually writing down your micro-resolutions, instead of keeping your goals to yourself, dramatically improves your chances of success. This happens because once anyone else knows about your goal, it becomes more real than ever. You are no longer accountable to just yourself, but everyone who knows what you are trying to accomplish. To help you accomplish your goals this year, we’ve created a simple micro-resolution tracker. Using it will make you three times more likely to succeed!

I wish you the best of luck this year and hope to see you in British Columbia!

Micro Resolution Tracker

Micro-Resolution Tracker

Welcome to the Mountain Trek Micro-Resolution tracker!

Micro-resolutions are simple, concrete actions that compound over time to achieve a goal. Simply setting micro-resolutions makes you twice as likely to succeed compared to typical goal setting (learn more about that here). However, going one step further and actually writing down your micro-resolutions—vs leaving them in your head—makes you 3x as likely to accomplish your goals!

So list your micro-resolution(s) below to give yourself the best shot of success this year:

Improve your New Year’s resolutions

Avoid These 5 Resolution Pitfalls

 

Sorry to break it to you, but New Year’s resolutions don’t work. In fact, 92% of them fail. Don’t believe us? Think back to any of the ones you’ve made. Perhaps you vowed to read more, and ended up reading more of your eyelids. And maybe you said you’d eat more healthfully, and then found yourself with a salad, topped with bacon, too much cheddar and a mountain of croutons. We know because we’re in the same boat.

Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” By Einstein’s standards, we should all put on a straight-jacket before making this year’s resolutions. It’s time we break the cycle.

First, we must study our enemy. Why do our resolutions fail? What is so fundamentally flawed with setting goals on January 1st? Only once we have these answers can we give ourselves a fighting chance of success. Below are the top 5 reasons your resolutions are destined to fail, and how you can change your approach to dramatically improve your goal setting.

Pitfall #1: You have too many resolutions.

Sure, we’d all like to start 2019 with the hope of reading one book monthly, going to the gym every day of the week, only using foot-powered transportation, eating salads 90% of the time, and sleeping 12 hours nightly, but, call me a Debbie Downer, that’s just not doable. Pick one goal, find a small way you can bake that goal into your daily life, and go from there. For example, if your goal is to read more, set the intention to read for 30 minutes three times per week. Before you know it, those three times will feel so natural you’ll be able to add a fourth and fifth reading session, no sweat.

Pitfall #2: Your resolutions are too big.

Saying 2019 is going to be the year you drop four dress sizes is all fun and games until you find yourself in the same pair of pants at Thanksgiving. Keep it real by setting your goal to not eat desserts, including doughnuts, pancakes, muffins, and all the other sugary foods you try to disqualify as dessert because they fall outside of the post-dinner category, at least four times per week.

Pitfall #3: Your resolutions aren’t concrete.

Arbitrarily saying you’re going to lose weight isn’t enough. You need concrete steps to take to achieve your goal. Turn the resolution “to exercise more” into “to take one fitness class three times weekly.” Once you’ve bagged your 12 fitness classes for the month, treat yourself to something, be it a massage, or a night at the movies–anything that will help keep you motivated.

Pitfall #4: Your resolutions don’t fit into your routine.

If you’ve resolved to go for a lengthy hike in nature four times weekly, but you live in the city and don’t get off work until the sun has set, you’re doomed. Set a goal you can incorporate into your routine. Once it becomes “autopilot,” you’ll have accomplished your goal for life, and you’ll only keep improving upon it.

Pitfall #5: You keep it a secret.

Telling the world your goals may be scary, for fear of judgement and disappointment should you not reach them, but it’s one of the best ways to ensure staying on track. Sharing your micro-resolution with your family and friends holds you accountable, and therefore makes you more likely to succeed. Don’t be nervous–be confident.

What to do instead of setting lofty goals: Set “micro-resolutions”.

Micro-resolutions are simple, concrete actions that compound over time to achieve a goal. Simply setting micro-resolutions makes you twice as likely to succeed compared to typical goal setting. Learn more about micro-resolutions.

Bonus: Go one step further by writing down your micro-resolution. Writing your micro-resolution down, instead of leaving it in your head, makes you 3x as likely to accomplish your goal. Visit our micro-resolution tracker to give yourself the best shot of success this year.

Our Nutritionist’s Take On Keto, Whole30 + Intermittent Fasting

With 2019 rounding the corner, it’s time to think about New Year’s resolutions. Is this your time to try a new fitness class? Are you still thinking about that popular nutrition program everyone’s talking about? “Quick fixes” that jolt our systems are tempting to turn to, but we encourage lasting lifestyle changes; no program is worth doing if you can’t do it for the rest of your life.

In anticipation of the New Year influx of diets, we asked our resident nutritionist Jenn Keirstead to weigh in on a couple of popular wellness fads. She details how restrictive programs can lead to yo-yo dieting–rapid weight loss following by a rebound that sees you gaining everything, and sometimes even more, back–and why you should invest in long-term health.

Ring in the New Year successfully by setting fads aside and signing up for a week or two with Mountain Trek in South Carolina this February.

Ketogenic Diet

The Ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used primarily to treat epilepsy in children. The diet forces the body to burn fat rather than carbohydrates.

At its core, this is an extreme version of the low-carb diet. When you deprive your body of all carbohydrates, your body must use ketones as fuel. To put your body is a state of ketosis, around 80% of your diet must come from fat.

What we like:

  • Promotes healthy fats: In the 90s, fat got a bad rap, but it’s crucial to our bodies. Fats, (animal-sourced or otherwise) can offer an excellent variety of fat, protein, and vitamins. However, it’s extremely important to source the highest quality. Look for certified organic, grass-fed/pasture-raised, or visit your local Farmers’ Market and talk to people responsible for raising your food.

Besides promoting a diet ample in healthy fats, there’s not much else that is terribly healthy or sustainable about this highly restrictive eating style.

What we don’t like:

  • Cuts out key nutrients: The Ketogenic diet is one of the most restrictive diets on the market. Your diet is limited to 15-20 grams of carbohydrates/day — the equivalent of a small handful of baby carrots. This leaves out most fruits and vegetables, which can deliver crucial nutrients.
  • Unsustainable: This biggest issue with this diet is what will happen once the person adds carbohydrates back into their diets. Hint: you might gain some of that weight back.

Whole30 Diet

The Whole30 is a 30-day fad diet that emphasizes whole foods and during which participants eliminate sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy from their diets. The Whole30 is similar to but more restrictive than the paleo diet, as adherents may not eat natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.

Whole30 has gained popularity due to its “challenge program” style, which is designed to restart your body and change how you think about food. This diet is described as a whole foods approach to eating, and I’m certainly an advocate of eating real food.

What we like:

  • Introduces a variety of whole foods: An advantage to experimenting with a diet such as this is that you’re introduced to many new, healthful foods. Whole food types diets tend to involve more time spent in the kitchen. Cooking from home can be a wonderful way to gain more control over the quality of your food, which of course, is a fantastic advantage to your health.

What we don’t like:

  • Cuts out food groups we love: The challenge is not just to eliminate processed and packaged foods from your life for 30 days — You are also instructed to avoid beans/legumes, starchy vegetables, dairy, grains, sugar (including natural sweeteners), and alcohol. From our vantage point, moderate amounts of beans, legumes, dairy, and grains are good for your body — and unless you plan on never eating them again, you risk putting the weight right back on once you reintroduce them.
  • Too rigid: One of the common cautions you’ll hear related to Whole30 is how restrictive it is. It’s a diet based on highly rigid rules and “slip-ups” are unfortunately unacceptable. If you “slip” you start over. The rules may make it feel impossible to be successful on a diet like this, and like many challenges or diets, that can be detrimental to one’s self-esteem. Restrictive behaviors with food may also trigger disordered eating in susceptible individuals.

Intermittent Fasting:

Intermittent fasting, or intermittent calorie restriction, is an umbrella term for various diets that cycle between a period of fasting and non-fasting during a defined period.

Intermittent fasting includes everything from periodic multi-day fasts to skipping a meal or two on certain days of the week. The theory is that this type of diet will help decrease appetite by slowing the body’s metabolism.

What we like:

  • The body should take some breaks between eating: Fasting can be beneficial, however we believe it’s best done in the evening, continuing on throughout the night while you’re sleeping. An earlier dinner allows for 3-4 hours before bed without food, which helps support proper digestion and — as an added bonus —potentially a much deeper sleep.
  • You’ll feel hungry when you wake: Another benefit is you will feel hungry when you wake, and therefore be encouraged to eat during the earlier part of the day, when you’re more likely to burn the calories off. Studies also show that our hormones, enzymes, and digestive systems, are biologically best prepared for food intake in the morning and early afternoon.

What we don’t like:

  • Can cause overeating: There’s a strong biological push to overeat following fasting periods. Your appetite hormones and the hunger center in your brain go into overdrive when you are deprived of food.
  • Unbalances blood sugar levels: Skipping meals and restricting calories during the day, can lead to unbalanced blood sugar levels, which not only promotes low energy levels but the desire to overeat at the end of the day when the body is gearing down for sleep. The idea of “rest, not digest” is a concept that assists in the digestion of your food hours before bedtime, so that your body can fall into a deep, restful sleep, on an empty stomach. This also promotes hunger in the early morning, when your body needs the calories the most.

In a nutshell, fads deliver quick results – they don’t provide long-term solutions. Rapid health resets can be beneficial, but know what you’re getting into. Find a wellness approach you can commit to, if not for life, for the foreseeable future.

If you are looking for long-term change in your health and wellness, join us at Mountain Trek this winter or spring. In February, we’re bringing the program to the amazing Hotel Domestique in Greenville, South Carolina, and, starting in April, you can find us at The Lodge in gorgeous British Columbia. Book now to give yourself the gift of health and wellness.

5 Steps To A Merry, Healthful Holiday

The holidays are a time for family, warmth and indulging — but too often people go totally off-track and end up messing with their sleep habits, getting lax on their fitness regimen, or putting un a couple of unwanted pounds from holiday festivities.

However, with an empathetic attitude towards the self and a solid plan, you can enjoy the holidays without going overboard. Check out our top tips for a healthful holiday and go into the holiday season with confidence!

Step One: Make A Commitment To Be Kind To Yourself

Like we’ve discussed before — no major lifestyle change is successful without empathy for the self. When we set unrealistic expectations for ourselves (never having carbs again, exercising every single day), when we inevitably falter, our sense of failure and shame often results in giving up entirely. Smaller, incremental changes are the key to long-term success.

No one is perfect: creating space for your own imperfections will allow you to both enjoy the holidays to their fullest as well as stay conscientious about your health priorities.

Step Two: Map Out Your Holiday Season Events

Holiday parties? Check. Cookie swaps? Check. Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Christmas, New Years’ Eve, school parties, work parties, and more — get them all on your calendar. Then, take a step back and identify which events you really want to indulge in, and which you can approach with moderation in mind.

Make sure to prioritize in indulging in the things you really love: Do you make cookies as a family every year? Do you and your spouse adore the company holiday party each year? Don’t rob yourself of your favorites.

By that same token, don’t “waste” calories on events that aren’t a priority. Creating this balance will help manage holiday indulgences.

Step Three: Create + Stick To A Plan During The Week

In order to offset indulgences at events, be sure to stick to a nutrition, fitness, sleep and stress plan during the week. With whirlwind events and cold/flu season, it’s the perfect time to prioritize your health. Meal plan your weekday meals, schedule/make time for fitness, and create time for relaxation — whether it’s luxuriating in a bath or setting a goal for weekly meditation.

Step Four: Plan Health and Wellness Themed Activities With Loved Ones

Think about ways you can spend time with loved ones that involve treating your body, mind, and spirit. Go on a long walk or hike with a friend instead of a boozy brunch, a yoga class and a steam at a local gym instead of happy hour, snowy winter walks after dinner with your spouse instead of Netflix, and more.

Step Five: Develop A Strategy For Eating Out

It’s hard to stay on track while eating out! Check out our secrets for navigating restaurant menus. Our favorite tip: determine your simple carbohydrate priorities. Plan to pick either bread, dessert OR alcohol — this allows you to enjoy yourself without going overboard.

Want to go into the holiday season feeling really confident? Schedule your post-holiday reset and detox with Mountain Trek. Join us for a winter retreat in South Carolina in February 2019, or starting in April 2019 for our British Columbia season — book now and prioritize peace of mind for 2019.

Why There’s No Caffeine At Mountain Trek

The short answer? The Mountain Trek program seeks to balance your hormones for optimal health. For most people, caffeine increases cortisol — and cortisol negatively impacts your metabolism.

Cortisol is the body’s primary stress hormone, and it operates inversely to DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) — the “youth” or “rejuvenating hormone.” DHEA builds muscle, burns calories, and lowers inflammation. Cortisol is released when the body perceives that it needs to be in flight-or-fight mode, which results in muscle loss, bone density loss, calorie storage, and chronic inflammation (the body uses its own muscle stores to be ready for extreme exertion and stores as many calories as possible to prepare for any possible famine or lack of readily available nutrients).

The Mountain Trek Program is designed specifically to rebalance these two crucial metabolic hormones in order to get your body into a state of growth metabolism (burning calories, building muscle) as opposed to decay metabolism (muscle loss, calorie storage). If your hormones aren’t balanced, you won’t be able to get deep sleep or achieve your ideal body composition of muscle-to-fat. Unbalanced hormones are one of the core reasons that people can’t seem to lose those last 5-10 pounds (or “muffin top”).

Most North Americans are experiencing long-term, heightened levels of cortisol: between high work stress, lack of vacation time, inadequate sleep, and many more daily stressors, our systems are entirely overloaded. That’s why we cut out caffeine at Mountain Trek — not because caffeine is evil or bad, but because it’s one quick way to immediately reduce cortisol.
Eliminating caffeine is just part of our induction, and helps rebalance and reset the body’s hormones. We certainly don’t expect people to remove caffeine from their lives altogether — but for our induction phase, it’s important for resetting hormones to their ideal balance. During the program, you’ll learn about the best and healthiest ways to incorporate caffeine into your regimen.

If you’re ready for the full experience, join us at our health, wellness and stress retreat — we’ve just announced rates and dates for 2019! Click here to plan your trip.

Struggling With Your Fitness + Nutrition Regimen? Ask Yourself These 6 Questions.

Oftentimes conversations about health focus solely on physical needs, but in order to achieve true vitality, we must look beyond the basics of water, food, shelter, and sleep. Humans have mental needs (creativity, learning, meditation), emotional needs (relationship, sharing of feelings, feelings of belonging), and spiritual needs (need for inspiration, contemplation, beauty, and context). Checking in with the self to gauge whether your emotional, mental and spiritual needs are being met is a crucial step in achieving total wellness.

Without a solid emotional, mental and spiritual foundation, even the best, most well-organized nutritional and fitness regimens can become totally ineffective. If emotional, mental and spiritual needs are not being met, you’ll feel stress and a lowering of willpower. Anyone that struggles with emotional eating can attest to that!

If you have a stressful job and like to unwind with a glass (or three) of wine each night, you might be negatively impacting healthy sleep and healthy weight. However, if the mental and emotional stress of your job doesn’t change, how can you expect this pattern to? Often, people are too hard on themselves, and understand their coping mechanisms as failures. All humans use coping mechanisms to deal with stress. Getting to the source of those stressors is the key to unlocking true vitality.

If you’ve been struggling with “staying on track,” ask yourself the following questions.

Mental Health
Do you have a creative outlet of focus that brings joy to your daily work?
Are your ideas and talents welcome in your line of work?

Emotional Needs
Do you have people in your life with whom you feel close enough to share your dearest hopes and fears?
Human contact is incredibly important to wellbeing — are you getting touched, whether through intimacy or massage?

Spiritual Wellbeing
Do you set aside time regularly for solitude and contemplation?
Does your daily life contribute to a larger vision you have for your life?

If you want true change and balanced health and the journey towards transformation, it starts with this self-reflection. If you answered “no” to any of the above questions, take 20 minutes to journal about what you could do to create more time for yourself. Could you benefit from going to a painting or dance class? Taking more time to connect with loved ones? Thinking carefully about whether your work aligns with your personal values? If you want true change and transformation, begin this journey of introspection and self-reflection.

Much of Western culture teaches us that tending to the self shouldn’t be our priority. However, when we honor our own mental, emotional and spiritual needs, we unlock access to our wisest, truest selves. This self-acceptance and self-love is the most solid foundation available to us for a lifetime of health and wellbeing.

Time for a more immersive return to the self? Join us in gorgeous, vibrant fall for some of the best foliage views in the world at our health, wellness and stress retreat. Click here for rates and dates and to plan your trip!

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