Learn about the importance of relaxation as part of a healthy lifestyle. De-stress and improve your health by relaxing.
Learn about the importance of relaxation as part of a healthy lifestyle. De-stress and improve your health by relaxing.
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.
Did you know? Humans are the only mammals that don’t prioritize sleep above all else. This is the time when your body and brain rest and reboot, and healthy sleep is crucial for long-term health and vitality — it’s as important as nutrition and fitness, but is usually the first thing that falls off our priority list
Kirk predicts that within ten years, most North American workplaces will offer employees a dedicated place to sleep or nap during the work days — Companies like Google, Zappos and PricewaterhouseCoopers already offer their employees nap opportunities, whether in dedicated spaces are movable “nap pods.” Employers are getting more and more serious about optimizing work environments to get the most of their workforce, with good reason: the U.S. loses $411 billion per year due to lost productivity from sleep deprivation. Taking a nap sometime between noon and 4 p.m. lowers cortisol and improves focus — smart leaders understand that by creating an opportunity to nap, they’ll get more out of their employees than a 3 p.m. coffee could ever offer.
So, where do you start? Advice on what to change can be overwhelming: no TV at night, no devices in the bedroom, no more the one serving of alcohol, keep your room at 60 degrees Fahrenheit — it can feel impossible to implement all of that at once. Our easy, three-step process below will get you on a path to sustainable sleep health.
Step One: Evening Journal
Before you try to change anything, first you should observe your evening ritual. Journaling is beneficial for all sorts of reasons — in this instance, it will help you identify patterns you may not know you have. Every night for a week, jot down how you spent your evening: what time you arrived home from school, work, or errands, how you spent your evening, how long it took to cook and clean up dinner, and your evening leisure activities. Did you have a glass of wine or a beer? A big meal late in the evening? For one week, do nothing but log and reflect.
Step Two: Identify Lowest Hanging Fruit
The next step is to analyze the results of your sleep log. Do you spend more time watching Netflix than you’d have guessed? Is dinner an ordeal that takes 90 minutes when all is said and done? Identify which factors contribute to getting in bed later and write a solution for each. For example:
Step Three: Choose No More Than Two Evening Activities to Change + Adjust
One pitfall of habit formation is that people try to do too much too fast — which results in failure, feeling shame for that failure, and abandonment of the entire goal. Keep your habit formation goals simple, and make sure it’s something you know that you can commit to. We recommend choosing no more than two of the items are on your list to implement. If you can successfully change those actions, then great! Add another two on. However, to start, only choose two — two that you are 100% confident you can accomplish. Keep the journal you started in Step One, noticing how the 1-2 changes your making affects your mood, energy and appetite levels.
These three manageable steps to prioritize sleep help you make reasonable, long-lasting change. For most of us, the stress of our jobs, families, and lives can contribute to short and shallow sleep — but by being mindful about your evening activities, you can gradually make a big impact on your sleep health. If you’re looking for
Sleep is one of Mountain Trek’s core pillars of health. Need a whole body reset? Come join us this fall for gorgeous fall trekking, digital detox, and healthy, deep sleep. Click here to see rates and dates.
Solo wellness travel is growing in popularity, as individuals realize the value of recharging alone — without all the responsibilities of home to bring with them. This is something we’ve long known and treasured at Mountain Trek: the return to the self while spending time in deep nature. Check out the top three reasons why you should take your next wellness trip in blissful solitude.
Finally, A Real Vacation
We all know that a family vacation doesn’t always feel like vacation — especially if you’re generally the planner of your crew. Your mind, body and spirit crave (and deserve) true relaxation and release. With all the worry of getting everyone organized and on time, reservations and excursions, big dinners out and early mornings with the little ones, even exotic vacations can come with all the responsibility of being home — especially if you’re still “on the grid” and tempted to check email.
You deserve a real vacation, where you can gently let go of all your daily responsibilities and truly recharge. Find peace of mind, mental, digital and physical detox, and you’ll come back totally renewed.
Restorative Power of Time Spent Alone in Nature
Our busy, urban lives exhaust the body and mind, where we’re surrounded by noise, activity, and digital devices. You won’t believe the difference a week away, surrounded by fresh air, gorgeous scenery and lots of good physical activity can do to counteract that stress.
Time spent immersed in nature has been proven to lower blood pressure, blood glucose levels and stress hormones. This life philosophy is a cornerstone of our approach to wellness at Mountain Trek: in the program, we spend at least four hours per day outside (preferably more) in order to reap the maximum benefit of the soothing, restorative power of the outdoors. Most of this time is spent in relative quiet, as we hike around The Kootenays and focus on our personal experiences.
Self-Discovery + Contemplation
Removed from your responsibilities and able to devote a full week to yourself, you’ll find that Mountain Trek is a place for self-discovery and contemplation. Many guests join us specifically at a time in their lives when they need to focus on a next step, or process something that’s recently occurred. At The Lodge, you’ll find like-minded explorers and travelers on similar journeys (80% of our guests are solo travelers), and this invaluable time spent to take a step back often serves as a crucial turning point for people on their own wellness, emotional and spiritual journeys.
For women solo travelers, Mountain Trek can be an empowering, courageous act of self-care. Sometimes what we really need to grow is to experience something alone — something that might intimidate us.
Taking a solo wellness trip is the ultimate act of self-care and will recharge and refresh you in a truly life-changing way. Haven’t traveled solo yet? Make this year the year you add it to your annual self-care regimen and watch how your life unfolds with more clarity and intention. Ready to reinvigorate your life? Check out our 2018 rates and dates and book your stay at The Lodge today.
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.
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.
At Mountain Trek, we spend the bulk of each day outside, immersing ourselves in the unbelievably pristine mountains and lakes, and reveling in Mother Nature’s seasonal splendor. Our British Columbia program runs late April through late October and depending on which season you choose to join us, you’ll see slightly different sides of our beloved Kootenay Mountains. The guide below describes what natural beauty you’ll encounter — from temperature and greenery to the different hikes we take depending on the season. From temperate rainforests in the spring to the alpine rainbow meadows in summer, there is something to love each month at Mountain Trek.
May through June: An Explosion of Spring
In spring and early summer, Nelson, BC is warm, and we bear witness to the first blossoms in the forest. During this time, we hike mostly along the lakeshore and deep river canyons, and marvel as the melting snow off the mountain rushes down the valley, filling all the creeks to the brim. Spring explodes around us; a cacophony of birdsong, willful flowers bursting through the ground, and the rushing water off the mountain jolts everything to life.
July to mid-August: High Summer and a Spring Redux
As we approach high summer, the receding snows beckon us to hike higher into the alpine. For those dying to explore an alpine meadow, now is your time to come to Mountain Trek. In the mountains, we aren’t beholden to one climate — the range of altitudes provides changes in temperature. So in high summer, while we have low-humidity heat down at the Lodge, we relive spring when we hike into the mountains: alpine meadows covered in wildflowers provide a vibrant rainbow of flora, and mild temperatures imbue the area with a sense of spring. Moving from lakeshore hikes to alpine hikes, we constantly experience a state of spring-like coolness — perfect for those looking to escape the oppressive heat of summer.
Mid-August to September: Golden Indian Summer
As summer gives way to fall, the days are warm but not hot. July through September, we hike past tarns — alpine lakes formed through the melting of glaciers — and revel in the glacial views, as we bear witness to the last remnants of the ice age. This time of year is when the foliage begins to come alive — the perfect time for avid leaf peepers to come to Mountain Trek! We hike in the high country, where the meadows are now dotted with gold and needled trees take prominence in the forests.
October: Autumnal Vibrance
In October, the growing snows chase us out of the alpines, and in these weeks we watch the deciduous forests — maple, birch, aspen, cedar, hemlocks, and conifers — turn a vibrant, stunning gold, creating a glorious green- and gold quilted panorama. The shapes and smells of autumn take root, as the nights become cooler and fall mushrooms pop up on the forest floor.
The all-encompassing beauty of the Kootenays makes for a truly sublime experience. Come bask in the natural glory, as you breathe in the aromatics of the seasons and revel in the natural world as it reinvigorates your sense of vitality, rebalances your hormones, and brings you total peace and gratitude. Come to Mountain Trek to detox, relax, and completely revive your spirit. Click here to view all available dates.
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.”
“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.
One of the reasons we have difficulty sleeping at night is because we are over stimulated. Our brains are wired to process all incoming information from our five senses to predict the appropriate state for our body’s systems. "Should I be ready? Or should I rest?" These two autonomic nervous system states are called the sympathetic (fight or flight) and the parasympathetic (rest and digest).
Staring at screens and/or hearing loud noises automatically puts us into a state of readiness. This is why it's so important to shut off our digital devices at least 30 minutes before bed and to follow the other "insomnia busters" we've detailed in previous posts. Another way to calm your mind and prepare your body for sleep is to use such tools as relaxation breathing or restorative yoga to promote our parasympathetic system, the state we need to obtain in order to sleep deeply.
For this instructive video, we enlisted the help of Mountain Trek's yoga teacher and fitness instructor Katya Hayes, who's been teaching yoga for 15 years. When not at Mountain Trek, Katya practices at her own studio and she studies yoga, Buddhism, Iyengar, Ashtanga and Vinyasa.
Here are the four poses Katya recommends to do in order to prepare your body and mind for a perfect night's sleep.
Begin by sitting on the floor or the bed with one hip against the wall. Swing both of your legs up the wall as you lay down on your back; your body should form a 90-degree angle with the wall. For increased benefits, slide a firm pillow or yoga bolster beneath your hips. Relax and belly breathe for several minutes.
Sit on the floor and have a firm pillow or bolster nearby. Bend both knees and swing your feet to the left side of your body. Place the bolster to the outside of your right hip extending away from you. Lengthen your spine and twist to the right. Lay your torso along the bolster, resting on one cheek. Breath into the sides of your body for 10 deep breaths. Repeat rotating the opposite way.
Get onto all fours. Sit back on your heels, separating your knees so that they're about shoulder width apart. Place a firm pillow or bolster between your legs extending away from you. Fold forward from the hips, lengthening the belly along the bolster. Rest deeply as you breath into the back of your bbody for one minute.
Sit on the ground or the bed with several firm pillows or a bolster propped up behind you. Bring the soles of your feet together, allowing the knees to fall outwards. Support the knees if you like with pillows. Lay back on the pillows so that you are at a 45-degree angle. Place a folded towel beneath your neck for support. Place an eye bag over your eyes if you'd like and belly breath for several minutes.