Aging is a topic that concerns us all. How best to counter it’s effects with these tips and ideas.


How to Take Better Care of Your Skin–Start Now!

a person applying sunscreen to their face

Our skin is our suit of armor against all the elements of the world and so it’s important to take care of it. It’s also the artistic canvas we present to those around us and so we tend to have a lot of guests at Mountain Trek asking how to improve theirs so they appear younger and healthier. Of course, the longer answer to this question is to be healthier and act younger by exercising, eating nutritious food, and taking care of yourself. However, there are other things you can do for your skin specifically that will help. This doesn’t mean slathering on lots of store-bought lotion, however, as many of those products contain hormones that affect our inner functions.

6 easy, no-nonsense tips that will help your skin retain its youthfulness

1. Protect yourself from the sun

It goes without saying that one of the most important ways to take care of your skin is to protect it from the sun. Not only will this prevent wrinkles from forming, it will also slow down the formation of age spots and other more serious problems such as skin cancer. For the most complete sun protection:

  • Seek shade. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest.
  • Wear protective clothing. Cover your skin with tightly woven long-sleeved shirts, long pants and wide-brimmed hats. Also consider wearing special sun-protective clothing, which is specifically designed to block ultraviolet rays.
  • Use sunscreen. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if you’re swimming or perspiring.

womens skin care

2. Don’t smoke

Aside from all the other negative effects of smoking, it also makes your skin look older and contributes to wrinkles. It narrows the tiny blood vessels in the outermost layers of skin, which decreases blood flow. This depletes the skin of oxygen and nutrients that are important to skin health. Smoking also damages collagen and elastin — the fibers that give your skin strength and elasticity. In addition, the repetitive facial expressions you make when smoking — such as pursing your lips when inhaling and squinting your eyes to keep out smoke — can contribute to wrinkles. If you smoke, the best way to protect your skin is to quit: ask your doctor for tips or treatments to help you stop smoking.

3. Treat your skin gently

Daily cleansing and shaving can take a toll on your skin. To keep it gentle:

  • Limit bath time – Hot water and long showers or baths remove oils from your skin. Limit your bath or shower time and use warm — rather than hot — water.
  • Avoid strong soaps – Strong soaps and detergents can strip oil from your skin. Instead, choose mild, natural cleansers.
  • Shave carefully – To protect and lubricate your skin, apply shaving cream, lotion or gel before shaving. For the closest shave, use a clean, sharp razor. Shave in the direction the hair grows, not against it.
  • Pat dry – After washing or bathing, gently pat or blot your skin dry with a towel so that some moisture remains on your skin.
  • Moisturize dry skin – If your skin is dry, use a moisturizer that fits your skin type but be wary of most of the brands on the shelves – they contain many additives and hormones that negatively impact your body. Sometimes the best moisturizer is natural food oils, such as coconut oil applied sparingly.

skin care

4. Eat a healthy diet

A healthy diet can help you look and feel your best. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. The association between diet and acne isn’t clear — but some research suggests that a diet rich in vitamin C and low in unhealthy fats and processed or refined carbohydrates might promote younger-looking skin.

5. Manage stress

Uncontrolled stress can make your skin more sensitive and trigger acne breakouts and other skin problems. To encourage healthy skin — and a healthy state of mind — take steps to manage your stress. Set reasonable limits, scale back your to-do list and make time to do the things you enjoy. The results might be more dramatic than you expect.

6. Smear food on your face

This can be fun! A lot of people, especially women, like to use masks to help rejuvenate the skin on their face and bodies but as will commercial moisturizes, a lot contain hormones and other additives that can be harmful over time. Here are four fun ideas for giving yourself a fancy spa facial at home:

  • Vinegar has been used as a skin toner by the Greeks and Romans for centuries. After you wash your face, mix 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar with 2 cups water as a finishing rinse to cleanse and tighten your skin
  • Mash up a ripe banana into a smooth paste and use that as a face mask and apply to your face and neck. Let it set for 10-20 minutes then rinse off with cold water. It’ll leave your skin looking and feeling softer.
  • Create a facial that both exfoliates and moisturizes by mixing the juice from 1 lemon with 1/4 cup olive oil or sweet almond oil.
  • If you don’t have an aversion to dairy, then make a mask by mixing 1/4 cup powdered milk with enough water to form a thick paste. Thoroughly coat your face with the mixture, let dry then rinse with warm water.

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at or reach out below:

Q&A with client Markeeta Brown

The Mountain Trek crew from this past May. Markeeta is front and centre in the black jacket

The Mountain Trek crew from this past May. Markeeta is front and centre in the black jacket

Welcome to the fourth installment of our Q&A series, which features guests who have visited Mountain Trek. Each person came to our fitness retreat and health spa for their own reasons and they all had different experiences. In this piece we speak with Markeeta Brown, a resident of Dallas, Texas, who works in real estate. She’s visited Mountain Trek’s BC lodge every year since 2010 as well as joined us for our programs at Rancho La Puerta in California. Markeeta says she’s been making the journey to Mountain Trek the past three years because it’s helped her work around a number of life changes she’s been going through recently. Here is Markeeta’s story.

Hi Markeeta. Thank you so much for speaking with us today. Firstly, how did you find out about Mountain Trek?

I’ve been going to Rancho La Puerta (RLP) off and on for about 30 years. It was kind of my summer camp but after I made the decision to separate from my husband I knew I had to go to the ranch and do some extended hiking. I went for two weeks in November 2010 and did the Mountain Trek program. I loved its structure and since then I’ve returned three times to the BC lodge and three times to Rancho.

Tell us about your expectations?

BC is a different type of hiking than the milder terrain at RLP but Mountain Trek’s overall program at both places is the same. I know I’ll always go home with much more energy and focus. The thing that keeps drawing me back is it’s a challenge but it’s not overwhelming or stressful. The after-effects are much more lasting that anything I can do on my own. I also like that (head guide) Kirkland emphasizes to try and take on only two new habits when we return home to keep things manageable, rather than try and alter everything about our lives. It’s a challenge but it’s doable.

What are some of the highlights of your time at Mountain Trek?

Anybody who attends Mountain Trek will take home about 18 things you can do to supercharge your energy. But the program emphasizes that you only concentrate on two things and overlay those good habits over your bad ones. For me it was about only eating three meals and two snacks max a day and doing cardio a minimum of four times a week.

RLP Group, Nov. 10-17

The Mountain Trek program at Rancho La Puerta last November. Markeeta is on the far right.

What’s a lowlight from your experiences at Mountain Trek?

They seem to be putting a lot more emphasis on using foam rollers in the stretch class and that’s challenging for me. (laughs) But between the yoga and stretching in the morning and the massages in the evening I don’t experience a lot of physical discomfort.

What’s it like every time you return home after visiting Mountain Trek?

People notice. They say, “Wow you look great and you must feel great.” And I do. I think it’s important though to clear the deck a week or two after you return. You need to come home with a plan and have a bit of time when your life isn’t totally crazy so you can incorporate some of the things you’ve learned.

So what draws you back to Mountain Trek every year?

Lately I’ve had one major life challenge after another and Mountain Trek allows me to focus – it gives me a better chance to continue with my momentum. Plus I like being active and I like the feeling I get when my metabolism is running at the rate of someone who is much younger.

What would be your advice to someone who is thinking about coming to Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek plays a really key role in getting through your life challenges: whether it’s dying parents, caring for elderly relatives, divorce…all that together can be so stressful and Mountain Trek gives you a way to fight some of the physical and emotional damage and helps you keep your head straight. Because, ultimately, it doesn’t matter how well you do when your life is going swimmingly; it’s how you do when challenges are thrown at you. You have to have a plan to go through those periods of your life and Kirkland and Cathy and the Mountain Trek program definitely helps with that.

Anything else you want to tell our readers about the Mountain Trek experience?

To me there’s no better self-intervention than taking yourself to Mountain Trek. It’s absolutely worth the money, especially when you take to heart what Kirkland says and when you land on the tarmac at home you can incorporate a simple plan to make it all work out.

Q&A with Client Phil Lanni

Phil Lanni_group in Peru

The group on the trip to Machu Picchu, Peru, last Spring. Phil Lanni is the second from left.

Welcome to the second installment of our Q&A series, which features guests who have visited Mountain Trek. Each person came to our fitness retreat for their own reasons and they all had different experiences. Last time we spoke with Debra Fordham, who’s visit to Mountain Trek last year was the catalyst for a 70-pound weight loss. In this piece we speak with Philip Lanni, a business owner living near Toronto, Ontario, who is “three-quarters retired” he says. He’s visited Mountain Trek every year since 2002 and he’s also joined us on a few of our global adventures including the hike to Everest base camp and this year’s trek to Macchu Piccu. Phil makes the journey to Mountain Trek every year because, “I like the adrenaline of pushing myself.” Pretty inspiring for a man who’s celebrating his 65th birthday this year. Here is Phil’s story.

Hi Phil. Thank you so much for agreeing to speak with us. Firstly, how did you find out about Mountain Trek?

On the internet. I’d done a lot of hiking before in the States but I wanted to find something in Canada. That was in 2002. And I’ve been coming back every year since. I brought my wife a few times and my kids. I also brought along my brother and my brother-in-law because they were both experiencing some health issues at the time. They all got something out of their visit.

Tell us about your expectations?

When I was 35, I smoked 70 cigarettes a day and was around 275 pounds. I had three small kids then and I knew I had to make some changes. I started eating better, walking and doing more healthy things and eventually got down to 230 pounds on my own. That was 30 years ago and since then I’ve attended many different resorts but they’re not in the same league as Mountain Trek in terms of what you get for you money…it may be a bit more expensive than other retreats but you really do get what you pay for.

What are some of the highlights of your time at Mountain Trek?

I like the adrenaline of pushing myself to the point where I feel I just can’t go any further – and then I do. I love that I’m competing against myself rather than anyone else. I find that really invigorating. To be able to do that in the kind of scenery Mountain Trek is located in, well, you just can’t replace it. Another highlight is the staff. They’re so great because they live the life. They walk the talk, which makes the program a lot easier to accept because they’re living proof that it works. And finally, I never did yoga before and Mountain Trek got me into it, which is great. I find as you get older, yoga definitely helps you to be more flexible.

What’s a “lowlight” from your experiences at Mountain Trek?

I once sprained my foot and wasn’t able to participate in the rest of the hikes that week. But even though I couldn’t go hiking I still managed to lose seven pounds just eating the food!

Phil Lanni 2_ group in Peru

Phil and the crew in Peru

For me Mountain Trek is just a continuation of my routine. I do two hours of exercise a day to stay healthy. Then, I’ll go to the lodge and maybe I’ll lose five or six pounds (the same I lose every time) but it’s just part of my routine now. I probably eat a little more when I come home because of going out to restaurants and things.

So what draws you back to Mountain Trek every year, Phil?

Again, it’s just part of my routine. I use it as a basis to steer my life in the right direction. Going to Mountain Trek helps me maintain a weight of around 200 pounds and 18% body fat. (Ed note: According to the Jackson & Pollock Body Fat Percentage Chart, 20% body fat is “ideal” for someone over 56 years of age. Phil is exceeding that.)

What would be your advice to someone who is thinking about coming to Mountain Trek?

Be prepared to get rid of your inhibitions. Some people say, “Oh I won’t be able to keep up with the rest” but it’s not about that. You’re not competing against anyone but yourself. It’s all about getting rid of your demons…It’s about your total health, not just weight loss.

Anything else you want to tell our readers about the Mountain Trek experience?

The yoga instructors, coaches and guides, they’re all excellent. And the quality of food is very good. I never get hungry when I’m there!


Brushing Your Skin for Detox & Weight Loss

Dry brushes on a wood background.

By Jennifer Keirstead, Holistic Nutritionist at Mountain Trek

 We’re told to brush our teeth, but what about our skin?

Healthy skin needs to breathe. Rid it regularly of dry skin cells and the body will react by producing new skin cells more rapidly. Your skin will immediately feel silkier and on the long term, will look healthier, loosing that dry, pasty appearance. –The Epicurean Table

Your body has a series of lymphatic vessels responsible for draining fluid (called lymph) from your tissues, then emptying them back into the bloodstream. It actually acts as a second circulatory system, which is responsible for transporting infection-fighting cells, removing foreign matter and cleaning up cell debris.

A dry brushing benefit is encouraging blood circulation and cell regeneration. Both of these actions promote internal detoxification which can aid in weight loss, cellulite reduction and the elimination of accumulated toxins.

Brushing your skin when it’s dry is the most important part. I’d always been scrubbing my skin in the shower with those scratchy, exfoliation gloves. This may be getting your skin clean but it just doesn’t have the same effect as brushing when your skin is dry. In fact, even after just three minutes of dry brushing, your skin will feel soft and as if it’s come alive.  You’ll be hooked!

Dry Brushing Benefits:

  • Accelerates toxin elimination
  • Stimulates blood flow and circulation
  • Aids in digestion
  • Reduces cellulite
  • Unplugs pores
  • Enhances lymphatic flow
  • Exfoliation and removal of dead skin cells
  • Anti-aging through cell regeneration
  • Polishes skin
  • Stimulating both the sweat and sebaceous glands

How to dry brush the skin:

  1. Brush your body before you shower or bathe, preferably in the morning. Use a skin brush, loofah or dry face cloth.
  2. Start at your feet and always brush toward your heart. Use brisk circular motions or long, even strokes.
  3. Brush all the way up your legs, buttocks, and back. Then in a circular motion at your abdomen.
  4. Brush lightly on sensitive areas like breasts and more firmly on areas like soles of the feet.
  5. When you reach your arms, begin at your fingers and brush up your arms, toward your heart. Brush your shoulders and chest down, always toward your heart.
  6. Avoid brushing anywhere the skin is broken.
  7. Finish by taking a shower and if you choose, use cold/hot therapy to further stimulate the lymphatic system and improve circulation.
  8. Pat dry and massage pure plant oils into your skin such as almond, sesame, avocado, coconut, olive or cocoa butter.

–Instructions via “The Whole Body Detox”

Other Ways to Encourage a Healthy Lymphatic System:

  • Drink plenty of clean, pure water (you can always use a filter).
  • Eat a diet rich in fresh, colorful vegetables; providing a full range of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
  • Use dry saunas to promote enhanced detoxification via the skin, and stimulate lymphatic circulation.
  • Get regular exercise. Start at the level you are at; do something you enjoy.
  • Try contrast hydrotherapy. This can be done in the shower by alternating hot (3 min) & cold (30 sec) water in the shower, always ending on cold.
  • The power of touch: Lymph drainage massage, self breast massage and dry skin brushing.
  • Avoid exposure to chemicals, pollutants and toxic substances.

Undertake stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation and exercise to promote overall wellness.  Simple practices such as deep breathing via intentional breathing exercises such as, “Alternate Nostril Breathing”.

Need a more in-depth skin detox? Join us for a week at Mountain Trek, where you’ll enjoy a daily detox in our infrared sauna and indulge in hydrotherapy to boost circulation and draining of toxins.

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at or reach out below:

Reinventing Aging – Part 1 – Inflammation

Years ago, I had a discussion with a medical doctor regarding what we thought contributed to cellular breakdown in the body. We both agreed it was chronic high blood sugar as well as constant inflammation in the body. Inflammation occurs as a response to something foreign or broken in the body. Think of your finger when you get a sliver, how immediately the body responds to the area by swelling. This is system is self regulated meaning the inflammatory response will start reactions to stop further inflammation. However, when our bodies are overwhelmed with “irritants” (creating by foods we eat, environments we are exposed to, stress, as well as the ability for our body to detox to name a few), our inflammatory response is continually “on”. It’s like your body is constantly on fire. This adds to tissue breakdown. Tissue breakdown (without adequate repair) can lead to an increase in the aging process ie. increase in wrinkles, longer recovery times, more illness.

Okay, now that we know, briefly, what inflammation is and the problem it can create, what’s the cure? Remember, the body has an amazing capacity to rejuvenate. Lessen inflammation in your body. There’s great references out there that discusses inflammation in great depth (ie. more science), however it comes down to a few simple steps…increase the amount of plants in your diet (colorful food is recommended), reduce processed foods, adopt stress busting strategies which work for you, and make sure you incorporate detox practices weekly.

Reinventing Aging

We have to thank the rock stars like Mick Jagger for continuing to push the limits of what we can do at any age (I know he sorta looks like a piece of grizzled chicken). And I can thank our guests who continually give us feedback on what the program has provided for them. From our turkey burn program, a woman who was in her early 60’s was with us for the two weeks. At the end of it, she believed we had “de-aged” her which is what we call vitality.

I won’t lie and say I haven’t thought about aging before but this woman’s comment to me stuck. What do we do here at Mountain Trek that people leave feeling uplifted, less heavy, and really, less wrinkles on their faces! Of course, I do know what we do (exercise, eat well, detox) but I wanted to go deeper into the whole “aging” thing.

This is the beginning of a series that I will explore aging, what it means, and what measures we can take to not necessarily stop it, but prevent it’s acceleration.

Stay tuned!