Our Secrets For Navigating Restaurant Menus


If there’s one challenge to maintaining a well-balanced, nutritious diet, it’s eating out. Whether for work, travel or convenience, restaurant food is incredibly high in calories and can derail even the best of diets. Check out our tips for navigating restaurant menus so you can stay on track.

Before You Arrive At The Restaurant, Determine Your Simple Carb Priorities
Plan to pick either bread, dessert or alcohol. Limiting yourself to just one of these simple carb categories will allow you to enjoy yourself and indulge a bit without going overboard.

Skip The Pre-Dinner Drink — But Be Sure To Have A Full Glass Of Water
While enjoying a cocktail, beer or glass of wine before a meal is customary, alcohol lowers your willpower, and you’ll be much more likely to overindulge after a drink or two. If you’re going to have a drink, plan to have it with your meal.

Additionally, before you even look at the menu, make sure to drink a full glass of water. This allows you to approach the menu feeling a little bit satiated, rather than with a cavernous growling stomach. This limits the “eyes are bigger than the stomach” effect!

Ask The Server Not To Bring Any Bread
Restaurant bread baskets are almost impossible to resist, and full of totally empty calories. Avoid the temptation entirely and just as you sit down to the table, kindly ask your server not to bring a bread basket or any pre-meal snacks.

Order All Dressings On The Side
Ordering a salad? Ask for the dressing on the side so that you can better control the portion. Better yet, ask if your salad can be served with a side of oil and vinegar — it’ll cut out extraneous sugars that often lurk in dressings.

Split A Meal With Another Guest (Or Save Half For Lunch Tomorrow!)
Many (but not all) restaurant serving sizes are well beyond recommended portion sizes. Do your research before the meal, and if it seems like a restaurant has larger or oversized portions, consider splitting a meal with another guest — or boxing up half and saving it for the next day!

Keep Your Plate 75% Vegetables, 25% Lean Protein
Just like when you’re cooking for yourself, plan to keep your plate three-quarters veggies and one-quarter protein! At most restaurants, you’ll still be able to find some nutrient-packed options. Look for lean proteins like fish and poultry, greens and beans.

By preparing yourself with the tips above when you eat out, you’ll maintain a healthy balance and stay on track. Happy menu navigating!

The Real Commitment That Will Turn Your Health Around


As a culture, we’re obsessed with quick fixes: the newest workout class craze, the buzziest new “superfood” ingredient, the shiny new supplements — we’re incredibly seduced by the idea that health and wellness is just one consumer decision away. The truth is, there is no pill for vitality. It’s not easy — as Kirk likes to say, “this is the warrior’s path.”

However, success is not a product of perfection. For the average busy, exhausted, overworked person, the first step to a lifestyle of health and wellness is getting used to prioritizing yourself.

No one “has” time: You have to make time

Our modern lifestyles demand much of us: time and energy are at a premium as we rush from workout to event, home to work and some quick shopping. For many people, the pressure causes them to deprioritize their own wellbeing. In order to maintain a healthful lifestyle that contributes to lifelong vitality, we have to create space for ourselves to exercise and eat nutritious foods, but we can’t do that if we are overextended. That’s why you must make time for yourself — to create and nurture the energy you need to make healthful decisions.

It’s in our nature — but not our own best interest — to put ourselves last.

There’s a reason that airlines ask you to secure your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else with theirs: You can’t be useful or helpful to people if you don’t take care of yourself. Unfortunately, when prioritizing, too many people put themselves last. The effects of this can end up hurting your other priorities, however. Part of caring for others is caring for yourself.

Start small: Make plans with yourself — to relax

Get in the habit of rewarding your desire to be kind to yourself. Once per week, even just for 30 minutes, do something that relaxes you and makes you happy. Go for a walk in your favorite neighborhood, go catch a movie solo, treat yourself to a pedicure, cozy up and read a book by the fire — anything that makes you feel like your spoiling yourself.

Embrace deservedness for better health results

You deserve time, care, and energy you devote solely to yourself. Once you’ve allowed yourself this time, and gotten comfortable with the feeling of expending precious time and energy solely on yourself, making healthful decisions will come easier. At Mountain Trek, we delve into why this is, the behavioral science behind habit formation, and how to adjust your framework of time to optimize your health.

We promise that in the end, taking time for yourself will actually make you a better team member, parent, friend, and more. There’s no better way to jumpstart a resolution than commit a full week to yourself: come retrain your mind and nurture your spirit at Mountain Trek. Click here to check out the 2018 schedule, or call Michelle or Mia at 1-800-661-5161.

Thriving During The Holidays

How to stay healthy throughout the holidays.

How to stay healthy throughout the holidays.

The Key To Surviving The Holidays? Kindness.

The holidays can be a fraught time for health goals. With an influx of food, family, and oftentimes stress, many people feel overwhelmed and powerless to maintain a healthy balance.

At Mountain Trek’s fitness retreat and health spa, we spend all week detoxing from what the body, mind and spirit don’t need (caffeine, empty calories, technology, stressful environments), and instead spend all of our time feeding our souls: with hale and hearty meals, 4-5 hours of cleansing physical activity in the pristine mountain air, and deep, restful sleep.

This lifestyle isn’t realistic for many — and is especially difficult around the holiday season — and towards the end of the week at Mountain Trek’s health and wellness retreat, we discuss the journey of goal-setting and habit formation, and how to take elements of what we experience in the program and apply it to your busy daily lives. Our biggest piece of advice tends to surprise people: The only thing you must do every day to make a serious change: Practice self-kindness. Being compassionate and understanding with oneself is the cornerstone of success.

A treat now and then or missed week of exercise won’t kill you — but the quest for perfection might.

Perfect is a myth. Perfection is the enemy of progress. Aspire to live healthfully 5 days a week, and give yourself 2 days off. One thing we see time and time again: People (Americans, especially) focus on perfection: They want to exercise 7 days a week, to journal every single day, and to never have a drop of wine ever again! This is not the successful path to meaningful change — by setting yourself up for failure, you sabotage your goals.

Your ultimate obstruction isn’t calories or sedentarism: It’s negative self-talk.

Keeping your thoughts and actions self-supportive is crucial in any long-term health goal. Creating a daily practice of self-care is the cornerstone of success. Too often, one setback sets people into a tailspin of guilt and shame, and the memory of guilt and shame stops them from pursuing the initial goal. You must create space for yourself to fall off track. You must give yourself permission to be human.

Reward your intention to do your best — whether you fulfill the goals, or not.

Navigating our modern world — replete with foods bereft of nutrition, stressful city environments, at the total mercy of our devices — is the warrior’s path. It’s not easy, and there’s no button or quick solution. Kale isn’t the answer — neither is the newest workout fad or the most expensive blender money can buy. You must respect, love, and honor yourself before you can truly make everything we teach at Mountain Trek truly work.

If you’re ready to commit to change, ready to grow and deepen your relationship to yourself, your truth, and the breathtaking outdoors, click here to view rates and dates at Mountain Trek for 2018. Shepherding people back to their essential selves is our life’s work — come to our mountain lodge in Nelson, BC, and find out what the mountain has to offer.

Mid-Year Check-In: 5 Wellness Questions To Ask Yourself


We’re almost halfway through 2017 — a natural time to check in with yourself on your fitness and wellness goals, whether it’s a New Year’s Resolution or even longer-term goals. Oftentimes at this midway point in the year, people find themselves disappointed with progress (or lack thereof), but these questions are designed to approach your wellness goals nonjudgmentally, so you can identify what it is you truly need to be whole and happy.

  • What has been working, and why?

If you’ve successfully made changes in your lifestyle, it’s important to note why those were successful: Did you invest time, or a specific tool? Did you have a support group along the way? Being aware of what has worked for you in the past will empower future decision-making. Consider adding to your health protocol arsenal, and download our Health Guide In Your Pocket app for delicious, nutritious spa cuisine recipes, learn about our pillars of vitality, set goals, and more!

  • What hasn’t been working, and what roadblocks have stood in your way?

Without judging yourself, consider what has been ineffective in your wellness goals, and start to contemplate why that might be. One of the most common roadblocks we observe is unrealistic expectation — far too often, we set ourselves up for disappointment by expecting the world or going cold-turkey. Even the smallest behavioral change can yield excellent results! Consider a more manageable goal structure: Click here for the Mountain Trek approach to habit building for wellness, where we break down a proven four-step approach to meaningfully achieving wellness.   

Need support in your habit-changing journey? Meet Dr. Josh Klapow, our health optimization coach who guides you — in real time via phone or video call — on the path to healthy, long-term behavioral change.

  • Do you achieve balance on a weekly basis?

Do you feel as though you juggle your family, career, friends, and personal growth well? It can often feel like balance is impossible, but we believe everyone is capable of achieving clarity — no matter how packed your schedule, no matter how incessant demands of you are. If you are looking for pathways to balance in your life, we recommend devoting a couple of minutes to mindfulness and meditation — click here for tips on getting started.

  • Do you feel connected to yourself, and your life’s purpose?

Life gets in the way our relationship with ourselves. While the relationship to the self strikes many people as a lower priority than caring for others, we whole-heartedly believe that you can’t fully take care of others until you’re taking care of yourself.

Part of taking care of yourself is honoring your life’s values and purpose: with time spent alone or in contemplation — even for just 5 minutes of journaling per day — you can gift yourself with clarity and sense of purpose.

  • Have you been kind to yourself?

This is perhaps the most important question of this group: so often, we deprioritize ourselves in service of our other responsibilities. If there’s one thing to take away from these questions, it’s that you deserve abundance: you deserve kindness, thoughtfulness, time, space and growth. One of the bravest things we do is decide to invest in ourselves.

Don’t forget to reward yourself for your intentions to make changes — whether it’s a body treatment, new workout clothes, massage, or tickets to an amazing event, incentives and rewards go a long way to motivate you to continue your health journey.

Come to Mountain Trek to care for the self, the body and soul: click here to read what alumni truly get out of the program, and learn about rates and dates to plan your trip.

More Than Just A Wellness Retreat: What Alumni Truly Take Away From Their Visit

Mountain Trek hikers


There’s a reason why we call guests “alumni” — Mountain Trek guests tend to want to return to our fitness retreat, and many are even 4-, 5-, or 6-time guests. While most people come to Mountain Trek for a well-deserved retreat, to refocus on a fitness journey, or to lose weight, most people take away something even deeper, sometimes even spiritual.

Immersion in the pristine, invigorating forests, breathtaking mountains, and idyllic alpine meadows is indescribably therapeutic. However, there’s no need to rely on our word for it — Read on for excerpts from Mountain Trek’s (glowing) reviews of their stay at our award-winning health spa. 

The Gift of Lifelong Vitality


“Doing something can change your life. Mountain Trek does change your life.”


The people behind Mountain Trek are amazing and truly inspirational, the lectures by Kirkland, Cathy and Jen will stay with me for a long time. Things we forgot about nature, nutrition, society, life. I had an amazing time and feel so much better after attending the retreat, I am also really inspired and have learnt so many new things I want to incorporate in my life to make myself healthier and better.

Making Real Changes For The Better


“Body, mind and spirit leave functioning at a higher capacity than you might ever expect possible. I returned home strong, healthy and ‘alive’ again. Something is missing and you don't know what it is…. Go find out on the most beautiful trails, in the most capable hands.”


"Mountain Trek is a journey that teaches you a lot about who you are as a person. It is not an easy trek but nothing in life worth doing is easy. The staff's insights, knowledge, and passion is second to none. The real-time community that you build with other trekkers makes the daily challenge fun and achievable."


“They helped me changed my state of mind, which is where it all starts. Practical and sustainable. I am thrilled I invested the time and money in myself — I feel a shift in myself and it feels good.”

Restoring Confidence + Reclaiming Your Life


“Thank you, Mountain Trek. You have given me back 3 years of my life, restored my confidence, and helped me find my way again. This is debt that can never be repaid, so I will just have to come back again next summer to show you how much the experience has enhanced my life.”


"Mountain Trek is amazing in so many ways: the staff, the facilities, the views! The most amazing thing MT did for me was to show me that I am strong and there's nothing I can't tackle with a little sweat, support and one tiny step at a time."


“Our last hike was nearly five hours long and I really thought it would break me. But as I realized we were near the trail end where we started, I powered through the fatigue, walking tall and strong. I have NEVER been more proud of myself. And that, my friend, is something everyone needs to experience. We are capable of so much more than we realize.”

Learning How To Healthfully Navigate The World


“Kirk and his team are knowledgeable, well trained, and fun to be with. Mountain Trek does a great job of teaching you simple steps to a healthier way of life. I've integrated several changes to my life and have seen the results last.”

Amy, Toronto:

“What you learn stays with you; simple tips you can take home and easily add to your routine. Eight months on and I still use lessons learned from the amazing cast of characters at Mountain Trek just about every day. And just so you know, I'm a naysayer by nature.

Mountain Trek isn’t just a place, or a retreat, or a distinct group of people: It’s a philosophy, a set of tools for reclaiming vitality in a world full of difficult choices, a retreat, a return to nature, and a return to the self. Eager to experience your own “aha” moment, and take a well-earned break? Ready to commit to lifelong vitality? Read more about the daily schedule at Mountain Trek, and book your trip today.


You Deserve To Reward Yourself – Seriously

Reward yourself

In our modern-day society it can be seen as selfish to reward yourself and yet this action is crucial to helping build healthy habits. To achieve your long-term wellness goals, it's imperative you treat yourself regularly. In fact, the behavioural psychologist we had help us build Mountain Trek's new Habits To Health app says we should all be rewarding ourselves at least once a week because, after all, we deserve it! 

Life isn't supposed to be all work and no play. At Mountain Trek we encourage everyone to let loose occasionally otherwise our day-to-day can become too stressful. Have that glass of wine on a Saturday night. Treat yourself to that 90-minute massage. As long as you ensure your "rewards" don't become unhealthy habits then indulge! In fact, we believe that as hard as you’re working to accomplish your health goals, it’s just as important to be rewarding yourself for your effort to do your best.

Treating yourself is important – even if you don’t achieve your health goals right away. The reason this is true is because we aren’t treating ourselves for having succeeded, we’re treating ourselves for the good intentions to do our best, even if it sometimes means we fail.
Building a new habit or breaking a bad habit can be hard. That’s why it’s important to keep perspective and to give yourself a little treat, a kind of pat on the back if you will, just for staying the course.

Rewards can be anything positive, as long as they don’t involve sweet or salty indulgences. Here are a few of our favorite types of rewards, but the sky's the limit!  

  • Get a massage
  • Visit a museum
  • Sleep in on Sunday
  • Treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure
  • Make a wildflower bouquet for yourself
  • Indulge in a hot bath with Epsom salts and essential oils
  • Attend a local art exhibition
  • Take a class in something you've always wanted to try

For more ideas and to learn how to incorporate rewards into an overall health and wellness strategy, be sure to download Mountain Trek’s Habits to Health app.

Download App



Build a Habit and Change Your Life

Good Habits

What are your health goals? Are they weight loss? Improved fitness? Stress relief? Detoxification? Deeper sleep?

Most of us can identify with at least one, if not more, of these health goals. Picking a goal is the easy part; the difficulty arises in figuring out the next steps.

The good news is that reaching your health goals is simpler than you think. It’s not the latest diet or health fad however. The answer lies in habit formation: making one small change reguarly that, after a while, becomes as natural as brushing your teeth. It's so intuitive you don’t even think about it anymore.

Whatever your health goals are, we’ve built an app to guide you along the way. Our brand new Habits to Health app helps you identify small changes you can make to your life each day that will, over time, bring you closer to your wellness goals.

Start building healthy habits today: download the Habits to Health App for iPhone now. 

Download App

5 Tips for Successful Habit Building

 5 Tips for Successful Habit Building

Building habits is hard work. If it were easy, I wouldn’t be writing this article. In fact, human beings are hard-wired to perform actions in a repetitive way. Rinse, wash, repeat. The challenge is getting yourself to get rid of the bad habits and replace them with the healthy, life-affirming ones.

We’ve had a lot of experience in the field of habit building, so we’ve decided to share with you our 5 most effective habit building tips.

Reward Yourself

Reward yourself

This comes as a surprise to most people – but just as important as adhering to your goals is rewarding yourself for your intention to do your best. That’s right – the reward comes whether or not you’ve successfully achieved your goal that week. That means that for every week you are setting out to build a habit, you should also be give yourself a treat. These treats can be anything – like getting a massage, visiting a museum, or sleeping in on Sunday.


Start small and realistic

Start small and realistic

Start with small and reasonable goals that you think you have a high likelihood of success. If this means only striving to do something once a week, that’s perfectly fine. It’s much better for you to succeed at making a change once a week then to set a goal of 5 times per week and only do it once. You’ll eventually start beating yourself up and may give up all together. Don’t strive for perfection; instead, do the best you can, and remember, tiny improvements quickly add up over time.


Focus on no more than two actions at a time

Focus on no more than two actions at a time

We strongly recommend that you focus on no more than two health actions at a time. Our extensive research and background in the field of habit building and wellness has shown us that most individuals can successfully incorporate a maximum of TWO new habits into their life at any time. Set yourself up for success and focus on one or a maximum of two habits at a time.


Be social

Be social

Get support from your friends and family. Tell them about what you’re doing and ask them to encourage you! And, if you’re feeling down or having trouble that particular week, seek support from your community.


If you are having trouble, change your goals

If you are having trouble, change your goals

Notice when things are becoming a bit too difficult and you are starting to feel frustrated. If you can’t achieve the action you set out for yourself, you have a few options:

  • First, reduce the target frequency. If your goal was to do something 5 times a week, try instead for 3 and see if you’re able to do that.
  • If changing the target frequency doesn’t work, go ahead and pick a different health action that you might be more likely to achieve.

Remember, success breeds success! Choose reasonable and realistic goals that you can actually achieve and grow from there.

For more tips and tricks related to habit-building for wellness, we suggest you download Mountain Trek’s brand new Habit-Building & Goal-Tracking App in which we guide you through the process of turning health actions into habits into lifestyle changes.


Building Health Habits in 6 Easy Steps

Overall health and wellness doesn’t come by following the latest diet or health fad. It’s about how you live your life on a day-to-day basis and the kind of daily choices you make.

We believe that health and vitality are achieved through habit formation. This means taking small steps on a day-to-day basis that ultimately lead to big changes.

But, what do we mean when we talk about habit building and what’s the best way to go about it?

To answer that, we’ve broken down the process into 6 easy steps:

Identify your health and wellness goals

Step 1: Identify your health and wellness goals.

The first step involved in building health habits is to identify what your larger wellness goal are. This could be as simple as “get healthy” or “get healthier”. That’s great, but I’m going to ask you to break this down even further. What does “getting healthy” mean for you? For example, do you want to lose weight, improve sleep, reduce stress, increase physical fitness, etc.?

It’s highly likely you will have multiple wellness goals, and that’s great. Start by writing down a list of all of your goals and then prioritize them by order of importance. What do you want to focus on first? What’s most important to you?

Identify health actions associated with each goal

Step 2: Identify health actions associated with each goal.

You’ve made your list. The next step will be to identify a series of health actions that will help you achieve each wellness goal.

For the purposes of this exercise, let’s say you want to focus on weight loss. We will now identify health actions that will help you to achieve this goal. Whether you have a small or large amount of weight to lose or, instead, are just focusing on reducing your fat to muscle ratio, the process is the same.

Now, choose a specific health action associated with this wellness goal. For example, for our guests at Mountain Trek interested in weight loss, we might recommend the following:

  • Eating breakfast within 30 minutes of waking.
  • Eating only half of the food on your plate every time you go to a restaurant.
  • Packing two healthy and portioned snacks each day.
  • Cooking for yourself at least 3 meals a week.

Come up with a list like the above for each wellness goal you have identified. Remember you can add to it or change it any time! Now pick a maximum of TWO actions (from either the same or separate wellness goals).

Why do we recommend only two? That’s because our experience shows us that it is only possible to incorporate one or two new habits into an average person’s lifestyle at a time. Choosing only two actions at a time maximizes your chances of success.

Set a weekly target.

Step 3: Set a weekly target.

You’ve now decided on which of your health actions to focus on, and let’s say it is eating breakfast within 30 minutes of waking. The next step is to decide how many times per week you are going to do this.

At Mountain Trek, we recommend setting a target goal for yourself of no more than 5 days per week for each habit. That’s because our experience shows us that setting realistic goals and taking a regular break make it far more likely a person will succeed in transforming an action into a habit.

If you end up repeating your action more than 5 days a week, that’s just extra credit and we praise you for it!

If you end up not meeting your weekly target, don’t sweat it. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint and missing your target every once in a while won’t impact your long term results. What’s important is to get back on track and not to beat yourself up for an occasional slip up.

Monitor your progress and adjust if needed

Step 4: Monitor your progress and adjust if needed.

You know what health action you are working on and how many days a week you are going to do it. The next step is to keep track of it.

Write it down in your journal. Keep a piece of paper handy with a tally. Track it using your online calendar. Or, you can use Mountain Trek’s new Health & Habit Building App, which will keep track of your progress for you.

Whatever tool you decide to use, it’s important to monitor your activity, notice when you’re falling behind and congratulate yourself when you are achieving your goals! If you notice, for example, that you are having trouble eating breakfast within 30 minutes of waking 5 days per week, then consider adjusting to 3 days per week. If that still doesn’t work and you find it impossibly hard to have breakfast – then simply pick a new action to focus on!

Reward progress

Step 5. Reward your intention.

Here’s one of the best parts about habit formation – whether you are successful or not, you still get to reward yourself for your intention to do your best!

Rewards can be small or big, simple or complex. Some examples:

  • Treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure.
  • Indulge in a hot stone massage.
  • Go to the local Humane society and spend the day playing and petting mankind’s favorite four-legged friends. Or simply borrow your neighbor’s dog for an hour!
  • Make the time to indulge in a hot bath with some therapeutic rock salts or candles.
  • Attend a local art exhibition or classical music concert.

The list goes on! You get the idea. Every week you should “reward” yourself for your intention to do your best with some kind of treat that is not associated with food.

Track your progress

Step 6: Do this for 6 months

The final step is to stay at this action for approximately 6 months. Yep, 6 months. That’s how long it takes to turn an action into a habit. Once you reach this point – you are done! The action of eating breakfast within 30 minutes of waking has now become ingrained in your system, and you don’t have to think about it anymore.

It may seem like a long time, but the longer you do it, the more second nature it will become. And, as you keep performing the action, you’ll start to notice the positive impact it is having on your life and overall health – and you may even start to enjoy or look forward to it!

What’s next….?

Once the six months are over, it’s time to pat yourself on your back and go back to your original list of wellness goals and health actions. It’s time to pick another action or two and repeat the whole process!

For more tips and tricks related to habit building for wellness, we suggest you download Mountain Trek’s brand new Habit-Building & Goal-Tracking App in which we guide you through the process of achieving your wellness goals through habit building.