photo credit: Elizabeth Gilbert and Penquin Group

It’s no secret to anyone who has followed my site here that I am a special needs mom who has been on a wellness makeover for the past five months. So when I tell you that a few months ago when my husband and I went on a short jaunt for our 25th anniversary I was so moved after reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s, “Eat Pray Love.” That I just kept thinking and thinking of this woman and her personal crusade to change her life and how she came to that pivotal moment… I couldn’t wait until the movie came out and was curious to see it, not because Julia Roberts played Liz but because I was so moved by this story I just wanted to “experience” it in another form.

So, opening weekend I dragged my husband to see it and I had the most intense two and half hours watching it… I laughed, I cried… (And yes they did make a few changes to the story but for the most part it was pretty true to the book)… When we walked out of the movie with my beet red face my husband looked at me and said, “I don’t get it, that woman was the most self centered woman in the world. How could she have done that to her husband?” And all I kept thinking was how she could not…

Over the past few months during my healthy makeover I have been working on everything from my “insides out” I have changed my diet, exercise routine and started to work on my own “demons” so to speak. Rebecca, my nutritionist, gave me the lecture on how I need to work on all of my emotional issue and get rid of them so I can have a healthy mind, body and soul. At the beginning of my program I had my first “ah ha moment” which was when I came to the realization that I have been an emotional eater my whole life and as Rebecca taught me unless I get rid of the “excess baggage” which was not actual fat on my body but in my mind it would be a harder struggle for me. It was after reading Liz’s story that I had my second “ah ha moment.” I got it. No, it wasn’t just about unloading from my mouth; it had to come from my heart. I finally got it! Just like Liz did when she took her journey to change her life.

I didn’t have the luxury of going to Italy, India and Indonesia, to do it. (Although everyone knows I’m dying to go to Italy!) I was fortunate to spend a week at Canyon Ranch with my husband. I had mentioned going to Canyon Ranch a few times to Kenny but he always poo poo’d the idea; he thought it’s a spa where they have dance classes and wondered what would he do all day? It wasn’t until a colleague of his recommended that he go as it would be a wonderful place for him to “distress” and then yup he wanted to go. So I quickly made the reservations because that’s what I do, jump on things. And we were off…

I didn’t have any idea of what we were really in store for other then the fact that I have always heard wonderful things about the nutritional aspect of the ranch and the wonderful spa. (Maybe I would finally have that massage I have never had!)

From the moment we arrived. It was like we landed somewhere in another universe, the hotel in the middle of flashy Miami has the most peaceful and serene surroundings. We were greeted by what will call “the welcome committee” who walked us through our check in procedures and gave us the best bag equipped with our own personal water bottles and of course spring water. I knew I was going to love it! They went over the weekly schedule of all of the amazing classes and the use of the spa and the unbelievable “Aquavana.” (Which I will go into at a later point). We then went up to our room to unload our luggage.

The room was as calming as the lobby. The hotel is a contemporary design and although I am a pretty conservative designer I loved it! There were lots of natural elements used and the color purple and green were accented throughout the hotel. They had the most unusual sculptures made of wood and crystals in the lobby. Our spacious suite was a one bedroom although they do have 2 bedrooms available. There was a living room/kitchen area for those who I suppose wanted to cook for themselves, why I’m not sure this was not the place I was going to skimp on food! And a bedroom/bath.

After dropping off our luggage we were off and running in a very calming way; class itinerary in our hands and we stopped off at the café for a little bite to eat before literally “mapping out” our week. (In our Canyon Ranch gym bag of course was a highlighter to make it easy to map out the week.) Kenny had a few appointments with the folks in the health center who specialize in stress management so I knew I had some “Shelley time” to get in a few dance classes if possible.

I’m not going to go into a lot about the divine cuisine now because I plan on writing many more posts about this but aside from the portions looking petite they actually were the right amount nutritionally and left us filling “content” not overstuffed like we Americans think going out needs to be about. And the amazing flavor of everything made naturally and organically I felt like I was nourishing myself with food at its “purest” and best.

From the moment I left Kenny for his first appointment and went to my first class we realized this was the most tranquil experience in both of our lives. We spent the week going to lectures about various topics on health and well being, I danced and exercised, and we both learned meditation in a private session at Canyon Ranches suggestion; it was wonderful! Everything from the food to the spa to the classes and sessions are there to enrich your mind body and soul. It was like our own version of “Eat Pray Love.” I will never be able to thank the entire staff at Canyon Ranch for what they did for Kenny and me during our stay, but you can be sure that we will be back!

I know and understand that at this time with the economy as it is it might be very hard for a lot of folks to go to a place like Canyon Ranch, but if you can do it I highly recommend it. During the summer, Miami is “hot” and it is off season so it might be a time to look at going. All of the classes are included in your stay and do not cost any additional fees. And August is “Spa Month so any services like a massage (ohhh yes, I finally got my message and it was amazing!) are at a reduced rate. And the food is reasonable for a hotel of this quality.

As the week went on I could see a huge change in Kenny who has been under such unrelenting pressure for the last four years that it would be enough for anyone to just throw in the towel and give up! It was almost like watching an onion peel it’s layers one by one and as his wife and best friend it was amazing and I was so thankful that he allowed himself this experience.

When our time was coming to a close something unbelievable happened; for the first time in 25 years that we went on a vacation Kenny actually asked if we could “stay.” Wow! You just don’t know what kind of statement that is; this is a guy who traveled with a laptop and sidekick which were on and working 24 hours a day 7 days a week to serve everyone around him with no thought to his own health. To a guy who had to have his cell phone off most of the time (Canyon Ranch rules!) and only checked his email twice during the whole trip, to a guy who actually took the time to sit down and learned meditation to help him breathe through his daily stress. And as for me… I was just so happy to have experienced Canyon Ranch that I will continue to write about it under my Wellness Makeover; you can look for recipes that I picked up from the ranch and posts about other things I “learned along my journey.” The tools we took home with us will never be forgotten and will become part of our daily routine from this point forward!


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