Three spas that will help you manage the holidays

Instead of trying to lose weight and feel better after the holidays arm yourself with expert advice and a wellness plan at a destination spa

Thanksgiving is just the beginning of our annual holiday binge days
Thanksgiving is just the beginning of our annual holiday binge days

Of course the holidays practically shove yummy temptations in your face so what is a fun, food and party-loving person to do to not gain what feels like 100 pounds between Thanksgiving and January 2?

Well, aside from either feeling deprived when out or staying home, there are ways to curb the appetite such as eat a favorite raw fruit or protein snack before heading out the door.

However, another choice is to move your annual January SOS trips to fitness centers up a month or two to November or December.

But instead of merely thinking local work-out place, take it to the next level. Seek out a spa that does more than massages and facials. You need one that also has a nutritionist on staff and trainers or work-out gurus whom you can consult.

No Junk Food? Will I survive? A couple of days later the answer was a resounding yes!
No Junk Food? Will I survive? A couple of days later the answer was a resounding yes!

You may have a good place near you. But you have a better chance of listening and following nutrition and workout advice when away from home and away from familiar temptations and distractions

Here are three spas with very different atmospheres. Each of them is worth traveling to any time of year but they all take nutrition and individually tailored workouts, seriously.

Heartland Spa

The most casual of the three spas,  even  likened to an away camp, is The Heartland, about 90 minutes south of Chicago in Gilman, Ill.

Leave the designer clothes at home when coming here. You don’t even have to worry about bringing fresh workout clothes. Shorts, Ts, baggy sweats (top and bottom) are handed out upon arrival and replaced when left outside the room’s door after wearing.

A highly lauded destination spa since the mid1980’s, Heartland covers a range of healthy body and mind issues from lifestyle discussions and fitness classes to body assessments and diet consultations.

Inspiring messages accompanied healthy snacks.
Inspiring messages accompanied healthy snacks.

Situated on a former dairy farm, the spa is small so guests tend to get to know each other, particularly because they gather in the small dining room at the same time. Healthy snacks were always available in an inspiration-filled hallway.

Everyone gets the same meal unless there is a dietary restriction. However during a recent visit, lunch was a delicious Italian roasted chicken breast on top of roasted vegetables topped with golden melted mozzarella. Dinner was tomato lentil soup, a yummy grilled chili salmon with sweet pepper salsa, garlic mashed potatoes, delicate asparagus and a three berry crepe for desert.

Calories and fat content are listed on the side. Meals and snacks each day are vegetarian with an add-on of chicken or fish totaling 1400 calories for women and 1500 for men. Activities here are mostly in the spa’s facilities with a few hikes along the farm roads.

Lake Austin Spa

About 35 minutes from downtown Austin, Texas, Lake Austin Spa Resort was named the Number One Destination Spa in the United States in Conde Nast Traveler’s poll in 2010 and 2011.

Dress is whatever guests want to wear. Activities are on the resort’s 19 acre property but with additional choices along the lake and on the lake.

Meals are nutritious and offer several options that often include burgers, salmon, pork loin and sea scallops. Diners can eat alone or at a communal table. Calories and fat grams are listed but choices are up to the guests.

Nutritionist Terry Shaw will work with guests to design meal plans and holiday eating approaches to take home.


Desert, mountains, accommodations and philosophy make MiravaL a retreat
Desert, mountains, accommodations and philosophy make MiravaL a retreat

Spread across a desert landscape outside Tuscon, Ariz., Miraval is the SpaFinder Magazine Crystal Award winner for 2011. The spa ranked fourth in Travel + Leisure Magazine’s 2011 World’s Best List.

However, it is Miraval’s understanding of healthy eating, the right workout program and mind-body connections that makes the spa a popular destination.

The spa reflects the philosophy of Integrative Health and Healing Director Dr. Andrew Weil.

Dinner is sit-down but lunch is an attractive buffet with calorie and carbs listed. Guests can also have lunch with a registered dietician.

The spa’s desert location and meditation areas give Miraval a retreat atmosphere. Guests are comfortable wandering the grounds in robes or workout clothes.

Photos by Jodie Jacobs