Get Tips and Advice from the guides at Mountain Trek. Nutrition, Hiking, Sleep, Detox and Fitness are just some of the topics we cover.

The Key To Self-Care: Deservedness

DeathtoStock_DesertSunrise-09

In conversations about wellness, you may have seen “self-care” pop up. We believe self-care is crucial to whole-self wellness and lifelong vitality — but what we don’t talk about when we talk about self-care is the underlying value that makes it possible.

First Things First: What Is Self-Care? 

Self-care is anything you do deliberately to feed your own personal mental, emotional and physical well-being. Self-care could be anything from a yoga class, a 10-minute meditation, an hour spent reading alone in a cozy spot, a massage, and much, much more. We do so many things for others: working, parenting, and being a good partner, friend and child. Self-care is meant to refuel and replenish your body, mind and spirit. If you don’t take enough care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else.

The Foundation of Self-Care: Deservedness

The concept of deservedness is the underlying principle that powers self-care. In order to take care of yourself, you must first know and believe that you deserve attention from yourself and that you deserve to invest in yourself. It’s the idea that self-care is not something you earn by being productive or successful — it’s something each and every human inherently deserves.

In terms of self-care, deservedness is the tool that will help you create healthy, sustainable boundaries. Recognizing and respecting your limits will help you be a better person, parent, friend, coworker, manager, decision-maker and much, much more. Burning yourself out or allowing yourself to become overworked doesn’t help anyone — despite the messages about productivity “doing it all” that we’re sent from media and culture.

At Mountain Trek, we believe deservedness is one of the core tenets of lifelong vitality — no health care program or protocol will truly work in the longterm without it. Ready to invest in yourself and unlearn unhealthy habits? Begin your trek to lifelong vitality with a week at Mountain Trek in our gorgeous British Columbia lodge. Click here to see our rates and dates and to learn more.

Kirk’s Top 3 Reasons Why Fad Diets Fail

Death_to_Stock_Food_2

This time of year, New Years’ Resolutions are weighing heavily on people’s minds, and some may already be given up. At Mountain Trek, we’re used to hearing all about fad diets that people have experimented with — and we don’t recommend any of them. The very definition of the verb “to diet” tells you exactly why this approach to achieve vitality fails: “to restrict oneself to small amounts of special kinds of food in order to lose weight.” Dieting is temporary, usually unsustainable, and focused solely on weight.

  1. Fad diets focus on one measure of health — weight. Weight is an excellent indicator of health but is not the only one! This laser-focus on weight is a product of a culture that largely results in an unhelpful pattern of guilt and shame and isn’t focused on real wellness. Our take? Weight loss is a byproduct of a return to natural health — a lifestyle change featuring whole fruits, vegetables, and nutritious protein sources.
  2. Fad diets erroneously focus on “miracle ingredients.” These are simply marketing gimmicks. Humans were perfectly capable of whole health before diets that heavily feature reishi mushrooms, matcha, ashwagandha and other trendy ingredients and supplements came on the scene!
  3. They’re often too restrictive, and unrealistic for long-term adoption. Anything you can’t keep doing isn’t really worth doing. That’s why we recommend a 5:2 system: Five days of a commitment to eating well, and two days to let yourself enjoy in moderation — whether it’s a scoop of your favorite ice cream or a drink (or two) of a delicious, indulgent wine.
  4. Diets often mimic famine. Go too long without food, or with too little food, and the body stores calories because it doesn’t know when next meal is. Smart snacking is important for the body’s metabolism! Small, nutrient-packed snacks keep your body burning energy.

Don’t be tempted by the gimmicks. Long-term health and wellness is achievable when you take a life-long, sustainable approach. The first step? Immerse yourself, and experience a fully optimal lifestyle, where we take a natural approach, treating food as fuel. Come to Mountain Trek for a week, where you’ll rediscover what it means to be whole: deep sleep, delicious, nurturing meals, restorative massages, and hours every day spent outside in deep nature.

Check out Mountain Trek’s nutritionist Jenn for a deeper dive into our food ethos:

 

The Real Commitment That Will Turn Your Health Around

DeathtoStock_Clementine18

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.

Jenn’s Favorite Pre- and Post-Workout Snacks

1970

We know how critical what we eat is in energy management: Making sure to plan snacks well will make sure you’re properly fueling your body and optimizing your nutrient intake! One of the questions we most often hear is when and how to snack, especially before and after workouts. Our head of nutrition, Jennifer Keirstead, offers some tips below for making the most of your workouts with strategically timed snacking.

Pre-Workout: Fruit + Protein Source

Says Jenn:Pairing a piece of fruit with a protein source is a fantastic pre-work snack. The sugars in the fruits act as a quick energy source, and since protein digests a little slower, combining these two helps stabilize blood sugar levels — this supports longing lasting energy (for example, an apple with almonds). Or try a homemade Coconut Apricot Bliss Ball — recipe below!

Do your best to consume a small snack within an hour pre-workout — this way you’ll be sure to have quick energy available to burn.”

Post-Workout: Fruit or Vegetable + Protein Source

Post-workout snack is similar to the pre-work snack. Either a fruit or veggie, paired with a source of protein. An excellent example would be a sugar snap peas with a hard-boiled egg. 

A smoothie is another great option for post-workout — try mixed berries with cashew butter. Eating every 3-4 hours will support energy not just for exercise, but for sustaining energy levels throughout the day.” Click here to learn more about our approach to nutrition

Coconut Apricot Bliss Balls

This protein-packed and calorie-conscious snack is great for pre- or post-workout fuel, and is the perfect replacement for highly processed, sugary “energy bars.”

Ingredients 

1/4 cup almond butter

2 tbsp hemp seed butter

1 cup chopped dried apricots

2 tbsp dried cranberries

½ tsp (scant) powdered ginger

1 pinch cardamon

1 pinch sea salt

1 zest small orange

Orange juice, to moisten

Directions

Using food processor, chop nuts and apricots finely. Add butters and remaining ingredients. Form into balls with small scoop and refrigerate or freeze.

Craving more nutrient-packed spa cuisine? Download the Mountain Trek Health Guide In Your Pocket App for a full library of amazing recipes — as well as help sustaining healthful habits and some of our favorite, high-impact workouts.

 

Mountain Trek Alumni Story: Sinead from Chicago

Welcome to Mountain Trek Alumni Stories, our newest blog feature!

Each month, we’ll sit down with a Mountain Trek Alumni to find out what they love about the program, what it’s done for their lives, and what keeps them coming back. Mountain Trek is a truly special place — but don’t take it from us alone. We’re humbled to have developed many “Mountain Trek Alumni” — people who come on the trip once a year to every couple of years. In order to hear from the people who’ve found the most value in our program, we interviewed a couple of regular alumni to understand their personal experience and just what makes Mountain Trek so special for them.

This month, we spoke with Sinead, a strategy consultant from Chicago, Illinois who makes Mountain Trek a regular part of her lifestyle in order to attain balance! 

Sinead_Mullen.jpg

What made you come to Mountain Trek?

I am a strategy consultant and though I love my job, a few years ago I found that I was not taking enough time for me. I started by searching on Google, trying to find week-long retreats. I was looking for something active and outside, and that’s when I found Mountain Trek. For my first trip, I went by myself, looking for a bit of an adventure. I absolutely loved the experience — it completely took me out of my element! I’m a social person and usually love going out with my friends, but being alone and getting in touch with my body was exactly what I needed.

 

What was your initial goal in attending the Mountain Trek Program?

I was at a crossroads with my job when I first went to Mountain Trek, and I needed some time to step away and reflect. I went for the opportunity to gain clarity and decide what path I wanted to go down. I have been every year since then, four years in a row now.

What did you love most about how the program affected you even after you left?

Every year I go and every year I get something different and new out of my time. I take the advice from the instructors really seriously and always try to pick a few good habits and focus on them. I honestly think that over the course of the last four years, how I approach life, my diet and how I sleep has genuinely started to change. The last two times I have been to Mountain Trek, I have brought friends with me just to have someone sharing in what I was learning. For my most recent trip, I went with three work colleagues and now I have incredible support systems at home. My coworkers loved it and I think we will do it again. The way I describe it, Mountain Trek is exactly the opposite of our day to day lives, and sometimes that’s what we need.

Was there anything about that you got out of the program that really surprised you, or that you weren’t expecting?

It seems easy while you are at the lodge (and shortly after you have come back to focus on eating right and exercising) but one of the lessons I have really tapped into is around taking care of my own emotional and intellectual state, particularly thinking about the arts and how to keep my stress level low. Since my first visit to Mountain Trek, I have picked up the ukulele and now one of the ways I love to unwind is playing it on my porch. Mountain Trek was inspiring, encouraging me to find that side of life and value it.

If you could tell someone one thing about Mountain Trek, what would that be?

Regardless of what your goals are — whether health, a break, getting active or just love of hiking — there are so many things you can get out of your week. Sometimes you don’t even know what you need until you get there but, by the end of the week or two, you and your body will feel so good and you will be in a better place.

Lake Kootenay as captured in the film “Snow Falling on Cedars”

Released in 1999, the Academy-Award nominated film “Snow Falling on Cedars” featured stunning exterior shots of what was supposed to be the fictional island, San Piedro Island, in the Puget Sound region of Washington state. Little did many know that the film’s shots on the water were captured at our very own Lake Kootenay. Take a look at how Lake Kootenay was dramatically represented in the film (left slide) compared to our daily view on the right.

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

2055

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.

Engaging Your Core For Fitness

Engaging your Core

As the name suggests, our core is integral to every movement we make. It's a complex series of muscles that extend well beyond your abs and include everything except for your arms and legs.

In this article, and in the video below, Mountain Trek's fitness director Cathy Grierson talks about how to engage your core for whatever it is you're doing, whether you're walking, working out at the gym or even just sitting at your office desk. This information goes hand-in-hand with our other article called "Cathy's Core Workout," which describes how to strengthen your core muscles. (You can see all of Cathy's videos and more by downloading our Health Guide in Your Pocket app.)

Before we begin, however, let's look at what exactly the core muscles are. Most of us believe they're the six-pack abs you'll find on male underwear models but that's the the case at all. Your core extends far beyond your abdomen and include two types of muscles: stabilizers and movers. To give you a sense of just how important they are: our stablizer and mover core muscles are integral to almost every movement of the human body! Many of the muscles that make up our core are hidden beneath the exterior musculature of our bodies and include the multifidus, transverse abdominals, diaphragm and the pelvic floor among others.

In this video Cathy explains how to engage your core, our stabilizer muscles no matter what activity you're involved in by using a sequence called "The Wave." 

Whether you're an athlete or someone who's interested in getting back in shape and engaging those core muscles again, we recommend you book Mountain Trek and enjoy Cathy's fitness direction in person as well as all the amenities our all-inclusive resort offers: complimentary massages, delicious boutique spa cuisine, natural hot springs, infrared sauna, outdoor hot tub and cold plunge pool, plus a luxurious lodge in a natural setting far away from urban stressors.

You're also guaranteed to reach your fitness goals with our program that's tailored to each individual. You can keep to your own pace but we'll make sure you get results. We hope to see you soon!