Tuesday, December 22, 2009
My grandfather shared his now legendary "A-Ha" moment he experienced while visiting the Oaks at Ojai in the late 70's. Mel experienced a transformation like no other, thanks to Karma Kientzler's encouragement and support during his stay. On the drive home from Ojai, Mel and Enid excitedly discussed the possibilities of starting a new business and opening a health resort, which was largely unheard of at the time. Searching for properties, they fell in love with the magic they felt at the Double U Ranch and opened escrow on Memorial Day, 1978. By Labor Day, the deal closed and they hurriedly began design and construction. Fourteen months later, when I was just a few weeks old, Canyon Ranch opened its doors to eight guests, only one of whom was paying.
Last week was the first time I heard the part of the story about my grandparents driving back from Ojai together, conferring on what seemed like a dream but transformed into a triumphant reality. I was reminded of the drive Kenny and I made from Phoenix to LA after a friend's wedding in April 2008. During most of the seven-hour drive back to LA, we conferred about a potential move back to Tucson, giving up our respective careers, and taking on a huge, new challenge. Just a few weeks later, we made our final decision, and here we are.
My grandparents made a huge leap of faith in 1978, and we are thrilled to be able to help carry on their inspirational vision of health, wellness, and longevity. Happy 30th, Canyon Ranch!
To Your Good Health!
For a little more Ranch history, check out: http://www.canyonranch.com/history/.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
After much pleading by Kenny, I finally acquiesced and and agreed to adopt two little Shiba Inu puppies. We welcomed Mocha and Saki into our home this month, introducing them to their new big sister, Peri, the Siamese cat.
Mocha and Saki definitely keep us on our toes. They have more energy than they know what to do with. They can chase a ball for hours in the yard, wrestle with each other all day long, and chase Peri relentlessly. Mocha is much bigger than his new “sister”, who is just two weeks younger, and bullies her a bit, but Saki is learning to stand up to her BIG “brother” and will be one tough cookie!
Our new pups have brought us much joy, laughter, and…stress! Potty-training and puppy-proofing the house has been tough, but the rewards far outweigh the challenges. Both of our moms, who conveniently live close by, have been so helpful puppysitting – I don’t think we could do it without them.
We’ve heard that owning a dog can help you live a longer, healthier life. I don’t know if this is true, but I’ve learned over the past few weeks that these little creatures can definitely bring you happiness! They've already made a few visits to Canyon Ranch, and everyone they meet falls in love with them instantly.
You may not know that because of the expansive and unique layout of the Tucson property, dogs are permitted to accompany their owners during their Canyon Ranch Tucson stay (subject to size and other restrictions, of course). We're hoping Mocha and Saki will make lots of new K-9 and human friends from all over the world. So if you see two mischievous looking "foxes" around the Ranch, stop and say hi, we'd love to introduce you.
To Your Good Health!
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Alison was born and raised in New York and met her now-husband Greg through friends at a Mexican restaurant. They were married at New York City’s Cipriani this past January (the wedding was beautiful – I saw pics!). Here’s what Alison had to say about her Canyon Ranch weekend:
How did you first hear of Canyon Ranch?
I grew up in New York and Canyon Ranch was always a well-known place with an excellent health and spa reputation. It's the type of place I always wanted to go to with my mom or friends. None of the girls had ever been to Canyon Ranch before but we all knew others who had been.
Why did you decide to come to Canyon Ranch for your Bachelorette Party?
I wasn't sure about going away for my bachelorette party and how it could work. I live in NYC and my friends and I were trying to think of a place within driving distance (even though I had friends coming from LA). My friends know that I love to do things health and wellness related and that a spa getaway could be perfect. Canyon Ranch seemed like a really luxurious option. Once we looked in to pricing and other information, it sounded very "me" and just perfect.
I was 31 at the time and had already done other "party locations" in the past. I had a great time then but my personality is less party girl. I really thought that a more relaxed weekend was fitting for me, and all of my friends came up with the idea of Canyon Ranch before I even suggested it! It felt like I could also have more quality time with my friends, since I had friends coming from LA, Boston, NYC and NJ.
Who planned your trip?
One of my very close friends organized the whole trip. She was amazing. I know it's a little easier when you don't have to make tons of meal reservations for a big group but finding a date that works for everyone, collecting money, organizing rooms, and arranging other fun things along the way was really special and fun.
What is your favorite memory of your weekend at the Ranch?
We stayed at the Ranch in the fall and loved our hike! It was a beautiful day and so scenic. Not something I get to do often living in the City. We were half-way through the hike and we took a break to take in the foliage and enjoy the sun. It had been a cool morning so we were all wearing sweatshirts. As it warmed up, the girls all of a sudden took off their sweatshirts and they were all wearing these hysterical red tank tops with a funny photo in honor of my bachelorette. I was in shock and cracking up because I'm an especially hard person to surprise. It was the perfect way for us to spend 2 hours together doing something fun as a group.
Well, we all still use the water bottles and t-shirt. And, I even brought home some chocolate chip cookies and granola because we were all obsessed with them! As far as more "emotionally", it was just an awesome weekend with my closest friends and I felt really lucky.
What is your most special memory from your wedding day?
Too many to count but one of my favorites was when we first saw each other for pictures, before the ceremony. There was just such a rush of excitement and anticipation and seeing him made me feel at ease and so happy. It was a freezing day in NYC but we managed to head out to fun areas of Wall Street and those are all of my favorite pictures!
Thanks so much to Alison for sharing her experiences with me!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Of course, we ate some fantastic food. Although many said we would probably come home 10 pounds heavier, the food generally did not seem all that unhealthy. Our first night in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, Philippos planned a dinner at a local taverna which consisted of a traditional meze dinner. I filled my plate up with salad, roasted eggplant and squash, pita, tahini, tzatziki and rice, only to find out that this was only Round One of many!
The following evening the groom’s family, the Savvides, hosted a dinner at their home. They pulled out all the stops – even roasting meat on a rotating spit in the driveway. As I savored the taste of my lemonade, Philippos told me his mother makes it using the whole lemon, rind and all. It was delicious! I had just read an article about the recent research on citrus peel oil in the University of Arizona Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health Dean’s Report (page 12) and thought that this is a great way to reap the cancer-fighting benefits of d-limonene. I chose lemonade over ouzo the whole trip!
After the wedding, we continued our journey to the Greek Islands of Mykonos and Santorini. Most of our meals were piled high with lots of locally grown veggies – tomatoes, arugula, cucumbers, kalamata olives, red onion and homemade feta cheese. One of my favorites was a lentil salad, which I ordered two days in a row poolside at our hotel in Santorini – served with a balsamic dressing, grilled onions, and a dollop of fresh yogurt. Of course, we had to taste the local wines made of grapes grown right in Santorini. I’d say Napa has some competition.
After all of our eating, we boldly attempted to run the infamous stairs of Santorini. Kenny did quite well, but my “run” turned into a much slower pace once I faced the uneven cobblestone steps. But I made it to the top – slowly. I have a new found respect for the mules that climb those stairs every day!
So in the end, the scales were not tipping when we returned home. It took a few days to recover from the 24 hours of travel back to Tucson, but we’re back at the Ranch, and believe it or not, still ordering Greek salad!
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
In my continuing quest to get back into shape and after the realization that Cyprus meant “beach” which means bathing suit(!), I booked a Metabolic Exercise Assessment to make sure my cardiovascular workouts were as efficient as possible. As silly as I looked during the assessment, the results really helped me maximize the results of my time in the gym. At our follow-up meeting, Mike, an exercise physiologist, went over my results with me, explaining how aerobic fitness level is really the ability to consume oxygen (VO2 Max) and what I can do to improve in that area. It’s really much more complicated than that, but Mike did such a thorough step-by-step analysis with me that I really understood the logic behind his recommendations. He even put together a 12-week cardio plan for me based on my personalized heart rate zones, which I have been following for weeks now and LOVE because I don’t have to think about what to do each day in the gym; I just bring my cheat sheet with me and do what it says.
With my regular routine at the gym, I’m feeling stronger and healthier by the day. I’m going to try my hardest to keep the workouts going while in the Mediterranean. I promise to post some photos from a real Big Fat Greek Wedding when we return. OPA!
Friday, June 5, 2009
When Nicole and I first joined Canyon Ranch, I wanted to know my body-fat percentage so I could then assess if my exercise and healthy eating was paying off. Of course, understanding your body-fat percentage is easier said than done. Apparently there are about 10 different ways to measure this body characteristic and none of them are as easy as stepping on a scale in your bathroom. You can hold onto a machine with your hands and it will give you an estimate, some places dunk you in water to see how much volume is displaced, there are calipers, and then there is the granddaddy of them all, the DEXA body scan. Eight months ago I opted for the quick, down and dirty estimate by the calipers, which should give you an estimate within 3% plus or minus of your true body fat percentage. From that reading and your weight, a personal trainer can then calculate your lean body weight (muscle and bone) and the amount of weight attributed to fat.
The DEXA body scan however, is supposed to be accurate to less than a 1% of your actual body fat percentage. Even better, the machine actually measures your bone density so you can see if you are above or below average for your peers or are at risk for osteoporosis. Now, before you start asking me what type of snake oil I sell, let me tell you a little bit more about the equipment. The DEXA machine is an industrial grade medical scanner built and manufactured by GE. The device measures your body composition, by scanning you with the equivalent of a low (emphasis on the low) powered x-ray. How low, you may ask? Dr. Param Dedhia, the newest addition to our elite medical staff, who came to us from Johns Hopkins Hospital, said it is less than a guest would receive in an airplane traveling from New York to Tucson for a visit to the Ranch. I’m fine with that, but I didn’t know I was subjected to any radiation while traveling in an airplane.
Anyway, for my troubles of lying down on a table for 5 minutes, I was provided with a great report on my body fat, lean muscle mass and bone content. The report actually shows you a scan of your skeleton! Although I absolutely refuse to share my results with the World Wide Web I will tell you I have lost a grand total of 16 pounds since I joined the Ranch 8 months ago (and that wasn’t even my goal!). The best part, though, is I have hard numbers that I can refer to when I do the scan again in 6 months, then a year, and a year after that to see whether I’ve gained more muscle or bone density and lost fat. Unlike the caliper numbers which unfortunately differ based on the person administering the test, these numbers don’t lie.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Nicole grew up at the Ranch – literally. Born just a few weeks before Canyon Ranch first opened its doors, she spent a lot of time on property with her grandparents, Enid and Mel. After graduating from Arizona State University with a degree in Economics, Nicole ventured to Los Angeles to attend law school at UCLA. While living and working as an attorney in LA, she met her husband, Ken Morris, who also grew up in Tucson. Nicole and Ken returned to Tucson in 2008 to officially join the Canyon Ranch family.
Ken was raised in Tucson and coincidentally worked at the Ranch in high school as a Men’s Locker Room Attendant. Ken graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a dual major in Finance and Accounting. After college, Ken worked for Deloitte and Touche as a Public Accountant, on Wall Street in Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities and as a Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch. Ken is currently a Certified Financial Planner and is looking forward to working with his wife Nicole in the Zuckerman family business.
To Your Good Health!
Ken and Nicole
Monday, April 13, 2009
Since I’ve been spending more time in the Canyon Ranch gym, I’ve noticed some familiar faces. Nancy McDonald, a corporate accountant for the Ranch, must be in that gym 7 days a week because I see her no matter when I’m there! She’s usually on the Precor when I arrive and lifting weights when I leave. It’s incredibly motivating to see someone work so hard! And one of our IT gurus, Mike Gravanda, is a staple in the weight room. It’s a little embarrassing when I’m struggling with my 5-lb lateral shoulder raises – but I keep going!
I know there are so many other Ranch employees who are in the gym at times I’m not – particularly early mornings, when I can’t drag myself out of bed, and lunch time when a tuna melt appeals to me much more than sweat! I commend everyone at the Ranch who is walking the walk and committed to living a healthy lifestyle!
To Your Good Health!
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
So far, some of the more interesting animals we have seen on property:
Javelina: Also known as peccaries, they look like a hairy pig with a bristly coat. You’ll also know if they’re near because they tend to smell like skunk. These guys love coming through the Ranch right around dusk to chomp on the acorns and other seeds on the ground. Last time I saw them, the herd consisted of about 8 adults and 3 babies.
Mule Deer: If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you’ll remember that the first time I ran the two-mile loop, I was startled by two mule deer about 15 feet from the trail. Since then, I have seen what I think to be those same two deer another one about five more times. Usually they’re munching on a well-manicured bush or tree as they make their rounds along the game trails throughout the Ranch and surrounding hills.
Bobcat: Although Nicole was the witness of this desert animal, due to the nature of this blog entry she gave me license to tell you about it. We live very close to the Ranch (also the location of some of our mule deer sightings) and one day Nicole let our Siamese cat, Peri, out to explore our yard. On that particular day, Peri decided to make friends with a bobcat who happened to be wandering by. Bobcats are the same as “wildcats” and usually weigh about 35 pounds. Much to Nicole’s horror, as bobcats tend not to turn down a meal of tasty Siamese cat, Nicole noticed a much bigger “cat” walk across our wall with Peri following close behind. Luckily, it seems the bobcat was full for the day and left our poor defenseless Peri alone.
Although bobcat sightings are rare anywhere in Tucson, there was one that had cubs on the second floor patio of Mel and Enid’s house on the Ranch.
Coyotes: The desert also has a thriving population of coyotes. They tend to stay away from humans and guests alike but occasionally they’ll remind you of their presence at night when they break into howls.
The list goes on and on of roadrunners, quail, cardinals, raccoons, great-horned owls, lizards and the like, but I think you get the idea. When you’re here at the Ranch, keep your eyes open and you’ll at least get a glimpse of the Sonoran wildlife, and possibly a rare treat!
One of the most helpful take-away points Kenny and I came home with after our week in the Life Enhancement Program was a simple one: most of us know what we need to do to live a healthier lifestyle, but oftentimes we don’t follow through.
I think I’ve lived a pretty healthy lifestyle, overall. I take my vitamins and use sunscreen daily, try to stay active and eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.
But my “healthy history” has had its peaks and valleys. Not surprisingly, I was incredibly motivated to eat right and work out almost daily the months before my wedding. My hard work and discipline paid off – I felt absolutely fabulous, inside and out, on my wedding day.
Moving back to
I must admit, the weeks I spent holed up at home studying should not win an award for “Healthy Living.” I only went to the gym a few times and often ended up reaching for any snack that was available in my somewhat stark pantry. I didn’t want to spare the hour it would take to change into my workout clothes, hop on the treadmill, and get my heart rate up.
When I was studying for the California Bar a few years ago it seemed easy to take a break and jump on my elliptical trainer. What had changed? Back then, I hadn’t started my job yet, I was unmarried, all my friends were studying for the bar too, and I didn’t have a house, a pool and a yard to take care of. I didn’t have excuses!
So, feeling guilty the Saturday before the Arizona Bar, I dragged myself to the Ranch for the Stride and Strength class at the encouragement (actually, insistence) of a friend who happened to be enjoying a Spa Day that day. I was huffing and puffing on the 10 percent treadmill incline. And besides facing how out of shape I had become over the past few “excuse” months, I realized how much better I felt after just 45 minutes in the class!
I’ve just finished the two-day Bar exam, and I’ve promised myself, no more excuses! I have scheduled personal training sessions twice a week – for me, it’s a really effective way to stay motivated and accountable to my workout plan – and plan to do cardio on my own. I know this is what I need to do, and it’s just a matter of sticking with it. It’s time to raise the bar.
To Your Good Health!
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Over the 24 months of our internship program, Nicole and I will have the privilege of visiting all the Canyon Ranch properties. As luck would have it, we joined just a few months before the opening of the first Canyon Ranch Living property in Miami Beach, Florida and let me tell you, it is amazing!
When Nicole and I first arrived in Miami, we were delighted by the beauty of Florida and could easily see the draw it held for winter-weary visitors. We were greeted by gorgeous water, a nice warm breeze and a Latin flare and culture that was completely different from that of Southern Arizona. Of course, this first impression was dwarfed by our introduction to the historic Carillon Hotel and the white and blue towers that were soon to be the latest offering from Canyon Ranch.
Our first morning, we were introduced to all the hardworking Canyon Ranch Miami Beach staff who were tirelessly putting the finishing touches on the operations, programming, and even construction details before the soft opening a few weeks away. Despite the stress and the endless task list, the team made it a point to come together every morning and spend 15 minutes as a group either meditating or practicing tai chi or some other form of mindfulness to start the day out right. Although this practice in itself is a great way to start a day, it didn’t hurt that you could see a never-ending green/blue ocean, hear the waves crash against the shore (as the entire property is only a stone’s throw away from the water), and feel the wind gently cleanse your soul before the day began.
After meditation, Nicole and I received our first tour of Canyon Ranch Miami Beach and for the first time I was truly sad to be an employee because all I wanted to do was stay there as a guest. The fitness area had the latest equipment from strength training machines that recorded your reps, sets, and weight used (to compare and record electronically your customized plan created by an exercise physiologist) to Expresso Bikes that allow you to race other people in different cities through a computer game that is displayed on a flat panel screen on your bike. If that doesn’t entice you to get into the gym, then maybe the unobstructed view of the Atlantic Ocean and Beach just might, where I often saw on windy days, Kiteboarders putting the ocean breeze to good use.
Then there’s the spa. I was like a kid in a candy store when I saw how many different offerings the spa provided. There was an herbal laconium, a Finnish sauna, crystal steam room, igloo room, hydrospas, experiential rains (think of a shower with different settings from monsoon to rain forest and accompanying light and sound effects), and heated lounges. The intent of these offerings is not only to pamper the guest, but to deliver the Aquavana experience. Aquavana is a process of enveloping your body in alternating treatments of hot and cold treatments, which has been shown to relax your muscles, enrich your blood with oxygen, and rid your body of toxins.
There’s so much more to talk about including the unbelievable cuisine offered in the Canyon Ranch Grill, leading edge technology for preventive medicine in our health and healing department, the seemingly hundreds of massages available, rock climbing, and everything else Canyon Ranch is known for, but I’ve simply run out of space.
All I can say is you’ll have to try it out for yourself to truly understand what I’m talking about and trust me, the trip will be worth it
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The efficiency and discipline of the culinary staff amazed me. In the morning and afternoon, the sous chef assigned each chef to his or her station, and the chefs got to work. The cucumbers were sliced for the cucumber salad, the eggplant roll-ups were stuffed and rolled, the banana-changas were baked and drizzled with chocolate sauce (just a little!), the Salicia flatbread was thrown on the pizza stone in the oven, and the polenta lasagna was baked and plated.
People often ask me how accurate those calorie, fiber, protein and fat numbers under each menu item really are. Having faith in the Ranch food development and culinary teams, I always replied, “oh, very accurate,” hoping that I was being truthful. I knew that every recipe endures a rigorous and exhaustive analysis for nutritional content, but are the portions really measured with that much accuracy?
After my time in the kitchen, I now know: YES! The portions really ARE measured accurately! For many components of a dish, the chefs use serving scoops with different colored handles. I caught a peek at a cheat sheet posted at a station that listed red handles as one ounce, blue as two ounces, green as four ounces, yellow as six ounces…my colors and measurements may be off – but you get the point. Of course, some items, like meats and other proteins, are weighed. And to cut the lasagna, a ruler, similar to the one I have at home in my desk drawer, was used to measure the exact dimensions of each piece! I was astounded at just how precise it all was.
After my early morning and late night shifts in the kitchen, I not only realized that 5:30 a.m. is a little too early for me to be at work, but I remembered how much I enjoy cooking, and cooking healthy. I made a big trip to Trader Joe’s the following Monday and stocked up on plenty of organic vegetables and healthy snacks for my kitchen at home. And I’ll keep my ruler close by!
To Your Good Health!