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Healthy Living

Learning New Ways…One Step at a Time

By Sheryl Kraft

Created: 06/07/2010
Last Updated: 08/14/2012

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Saturday, June 5: I'm working my way through the maze at Miami International airport, after a three-and a-half hour (very bumpy) flight from New York, looking for the signs to point me toward the baggage claim, where I can retrieve my suitcase packed with workout gear and sun block.  And somehow all I see – and smell - are coffee shops. Help! I'm besieged by a winding maze of Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Caffe Versailles, Caribou Coffee, Coffee Beanery. It's tempting to stop and grab a cup (especially since I didn't have my usual morning cup), but I force myself to keep on walking. Instead, I inhale deeply, planting the scent in my nostrils, knowing that this is the closest I'll come to a cup of coffee all week.

I can’t wait.

I needed more than a vacation when I planned this one-week trip to ; I needed a body detox.

Anyone who is familiar with me knows that I tout moderation, non-deprivation, treating yourself to an occasional piece of chocolate (dark, naturally) and even a glass or two of wine. So why, you might ask, would I be voluntarily enlisting myself in this type of program?

When researching Pritikin for another publication, I was really impressed with what I found. The program, founded in 1978, has a loyal following. It immerses you in nutrition, exercise, health and lifestyle. Its participants not only lose a good deal of weight, but many times get off their blood pressure and diabetic medications and see dramatic improvements in their cholesterol.

And somewhere between ages 40 and 50, my "naturally thin" status had done an abrupt about-face. What had worked for me for years was no longer working. Despite my healthy diet and lifestyle, the pounds were creeping up without provocation and my blood pressure and cholesterol numbers were looking a bit threatening. My attempt at optimal health was being sidetracked with each birthday, it seemed.

Maybe I was to blame; maybe I was doing something wrong. Despite being health-conscious and even being a health writer, I was feeling increasingly frustrated and naïve.

It was time to learn a new way.

Are you crazy? (my husband).

No, I really want to go. (me).

And eat nothing but vegetables and fruits? What about your coffee? What about your dessert? (I do have a pretty powerful sweet tooth)

You know that's how I like to eat, anyway. I'm willing to give up the coffee for a week and see how it goes. I can do it! I have willpower! And I know for a fact that they serve dessert. In fact, food is always available. It's just the right kind of food.

Sunday, June 6. I woke up early this morning and had to pee into a cup, then transfer it into a test tube. I was to bring it with me to the lab, where I would have blood drawn. Since I was concentrating so hard at not spilling a drop, I forgot all about the coffee (usually it's the first thing I reach for in the morning). 

So, I got through my first day without the caffeine or salt. The morning yoga was heavenly. The food? It was tasty and satisfying. I even stayed alert and awake enough to conquer a late-afternoon workout in the gym, followed by dinner with some very interesting dining companions. Stories of return "tune ups," pounds lost, health restored. And I never knew I liked pumpkin pie so much. 

I think there's something to this.

The maze of wellness is going to be a lot easier to navigate than Miami International Airport, I'm quite sure of that.


Oh, this is my dream come true! I cannot wait to hear more. I need a tune-up and may not be able to go to this spa, but perhaps can pick up some tips from your experience???

I'm excited to be able to share what I'm learning with everyone who can't make a trip here. There's a wealth of information for easy "tune ups..." More to come!

Good luck on the experiment. I'm curious to see how it works out for you.

Thanks, Frugal. I'll be sending updates and periodically sharing the wealth of information I'm learning.

I am really looking forward to hearing more about this- and finding out how much it costs!

This is fascinating stuff, Sheryl. I look forward to more posts and swear I'll keep my envy at bay.

I am so so jealous! I've always wanted to go to one of these retreats. You're going to have a great time. Go you!

Thanks, Stephanie. Already having a great time - don't want to leave!

Just can you keep it up when you are not there. That has always been my question about such places. Do you learn how to cook the food so you can prepare it at home?

Alisa, Great - and valid - question. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep it up; if not to this extent, with all the knowledge I'm gathering I can make some major changes to my lifestyle.

Yes, there are cooking classes, recipes available to take home and even a member's website where you can participate in live webcasts, ask questions, communicate with other members, etc.

And, you can also have their foods, prepared here, delivered to your home. They come next day, on ice. Now, that is really tempting...

Keep us posted! Sounds like you are learning a lot about your body - and will continue to.

Looking forward to hearing about your stay as it progresses. I'm especially interested in how this creates change for you longer term, especially at home. Since you seem to practice moderation and a healthy lifestyle already, I'm curious as to any "aha!" moments you may have!

Valid question. Well, for one thing, Jesaka, I always thought I was eating "healthy" but it wasn't all that healthy, after all. I learned today that each peanut has 5 calories. I love peanuts and shudder to think how many calories my daily handful (or two) added up to, not to mention salt content (although I buy low or no-salt). And I'm learning to fill up on fruits and vegetables instead of things like protein bars and other processed foods, which seem healthy but are really not. The proof evident: my blood pressure is so low (but not too low) and that change was evident after just 2 days of being here (and going off my medication).

Thanks so much for sharing this step by step. I know that a lot of people are curious and want to get beyond the brochures.

Please write every detail!! I'm living vicariously through you.

I want to hear more about the week..day by day..and the end results????

Nora, Though the week is not over yet, the results are fantastic. I've lost four pounds and my blood pressure (without medication) is lower than it's ever been (even on the medication).

I'm interested on reading more. Like Alisa, I wonder what happens once you get home. Can you still avoid the oh-so-satisfying sweet stuff? I don't know that I could.

Re. the sweet stuff - I wonder if the trick is not to start in the first place. Once I have it, I crave more and more. But I don't here. I'm anticipating it to be somewhat difficult when I get home, but if I can pick and choose some new healthy behaviors I'm learning here, I'm confident I can incorporate those into my "new" lifestyle.

In Costa Rica a couple of weeks ago I visited a new wellness center, Asclepios Healing Center, that offers this type of intense detoxification and rejuvenation program under the care of a naturopath. I just spent one night there interviewing the proprietor, but I was so impressed; I really want to spend a week focusing on getting back into a healthy state. Good for you!

Melanie, Sounds like a very interesting place. A week focusing on getting back to a healthy state is soooo eye-opening. It's an education in itself. I thought I was doing everything right, and am finding out that I was so wrong about so many things.

So worth it.

I'll be back to read every post. This is something that I know I need so maybe I can learn from you. Although, I'd really like to try one of these programs for myself. I hope you'll write more about the detox aspect.

Thanks, Donna. The detox aspect made my body feel so good and upped my energy level! I didn't even miss the salt, or the caffeine. I didn't get sleepy and had no problem jumping right out of bed each morning - even before my alarm rang. There's something to clean living!

Good for you, Sheryl, for taking control of your health! Can't wait to read more about this.

i could so do with a healing detox -- not to mention a trip to a spa -- so i look forward to more posts on these places so i can pick one that sounds right for me.

Oooh, hope you find a great one to go to. Enjoy!


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