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

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

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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! 

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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

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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!

Dr. Josh on How To Eat Smarter & Lose Weight

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Mountain Trek recently started offering Lifestyle Performance Coaching via clinical physcologist Dr. Joshua Klapow, who's also an alumni of the program. It seems the good doctor is also adept at explaining matters of nutrition as well given an article that has appeared on beachbody.com. In it, Dr. Josh is asked to explain how to eat smarter through "mindful eating" (also known as "intuitive eating") and how it can influence your body shape.

In the article called "9 Mindfulness Tips For Losing Weight," Dr. Josh compares mindful eating to mindful existence: “It’s not unlike taking a minute to look at a flower or experience being in nature,” he says. “We can either rush through it with a passing appreciation, or we can spend several minutes and take the entire environment into our senses. Mindful eating is the exact same thing.” He goes on to explain that "By itself, mindful eating is not a weight-loss cure, but as part of an approach or tool it can catapult healthy eating and weight loss.

By being conscientious when you consume foods, you limit distractions, choose healthier options and become more in tune with your body. Here are the nine mindfulness tricks to help you eat smarter, be conscious of what you eat and, ultimately, make better decisions that will help you lose weight. 

  1. Pause before you eat to ask yourself why you're eating
  2. Chew each bite thoroughly and savour it
  3. Drink water before meals
  4. Eat vibrant, flavourful foods
  5. Eat without distractions
  6. Wait before getting seconds
  7. When you feel the urge to snack, make a cup of tea first
  8. Take note of your cravings
  9. Eat with joy, not judgement

All of these tips will help you take more pleasure in your food and to read more about Dr. Josh's take on "mindful eating," log on to beachbody.com.

For an even more well-rounded culinary experience, book a stay at Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat and Health Spa to enjoy the delicious spa cuisine prepared by our master chef Bonnie VanTassel. She's renowned for creating healthy, farm-fresh food that you can't help but savour. Book your stay at Mountain Trek now.

Staff Picks – Best Workout Music

Mountain Trek's Staff Workout Songs

It's no secret that music has a massive effect on our mood. If you're feeling low, an upbeat song can lift you right up. Or if you're feeling stressed, a relaxing tune can help soothe the soul. By coordinating the music you’re listening to with the mood you’d like to be in, you can train your brain to engage in positive vibes.

To that end, we asked the staff at Mountain Trek what kind of music they like to listen to when exercising. We all know it can be challenging to get up off the couch sometimes and what can help the process is cranking some tunes to get you motivated.

Here are our staff's picks for best workout music:

Jennifer Keirstead – Nutritionist and Guide Jennifer Keirstead, Nutritionist at Mountain Trek

"These are the songs I like to play when I wanted to get pumped up! LOL. That said, I know everyone's taste in music is different but I think a lot of people will agree these songs definitely inspire you to move around."

  1. "Sinnerman" – Felix da Housecat Mix feat. Nina Simone
  2. "A Song for Our Grandfathers" – Future Islands
  3. "Every Other Freckle" – Alt-J
  4. "Is This It" – Asaf Avidan **Kulkid Remix
  5. "I Don't Feel Like Dancing" – Scissor Sisters

Cathy Grierson – Head Guide & Fitness Director Guides, Chefs & Staff

"I like listening to music when I work out in the gym but it's a good idea to remind everyone to take the headphones off when hiking in nature so as to enjoy the sounds around you. Here are the songs I love best to workout to when indoors:"

  1. "In2ition and misirlou" – 2 Cellos 
  2. "Jai ho" – Mumbai Dolls
  3. "Running down a dream" – Tom Petty
  4. "Runaway" – Ed Sheehan

Kirkland Shave – Program Director & Lead Guide Guides, Chefs & Staff

"These are the songs that pump me up!"

  1. "Pump It Up" – Elvis Costello & The Attractions
  2. "Chuis Bo" – PZK (feat. Dogg Soso)
  3. "Jump In the Line" – Harry Belafonte
  4. "Pipeline" – The Piperiders
  5. "Eternal (Jusqu'au matin)" – Le Weekend
  6. "Gumboots" – Paul Simon (with The Boyoyo Boys)
  7. "Mr. Saxobeat" – Alexandra Stan
  8. "Whip It" – Devo
  9. "Mambo Con Dancehall" – Brooklyn Funk Essentials
  10. "Sweet and Dandy" – Toots & The Maytals

Krista Van Ee – Hiking Guide Guides, Chefs & Staff

"These are the songs I like to listen to when running or working out":

  1. "I've Got Your Fire" – Jenn Grant
  2. "Happy" – Pharrell Williams
  3. "Disperate Youth" – Santigold
  4. "Beings" – Madeon
  5. "Kamikaze" – MO
  6. "Famous" – Charli xcx

Simon Shave – Sleep Specialist & Hiking Guide Guides, Chefs & Staff

"There are so many songs out there that get me moving but these are definitely my top five favourites right now."

  1. "Move On Up" – Curtis Mayfield
  2. "Behind the Mask" – Micheal Jackson 
  3. "Lose Yourself to Dance" – Daft Punk
  4. "Runnin' (Bit Funk Remix)" – The Pharcyde 
  5. "Todd Terje" – Inspector Norse

And in case you want to have a listen for yourself. We put all these great songs into one easy playlist to help fuel your next workout.

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Bedtime Yoga

Bedtime Yoga

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.

Legs up the wall

Legs up the wall pose

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.

Supported forward twist

Supported Forward Twist

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.

Supported child's pose

Supported Child's Pose

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.

Reclined butterfly pose

Supported-Forward-Twist

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.

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