I knew it was just a matter of time before I’d lose momentum trying to lose weight. A seasoned yo-yo dieter, I knew well the signs of self-sabotage: too tired to get to the gym. Too bored with vegetables to keep eating them. Too exhausted from counting calories, workouts and life’s pressures to care.
This yo-yo was about to drop down and roll clear off the string, out of the building and into rush-hour traffic. It was that time for me, especially when you consider I was eight months into my fitness plan. Instead of spiraling down the high-way without direction (like I usually do), I went to the Heartland Spa in Gilman, Ill. I hoped a five-day stay would rejuvenate my spirit and renew my motivation and enthusiasm.
Harried and frazzled, I drove to the spa accompanied by a grande skim latte and three angry Alanis Morrisette CDs. Two hours later, I arrived at The Heartland – a private health retreat on an estate in the country 90 miles south of Chicago. I was greeted by gravel and grass, a converted farm, a small lake, a few of the 20 or so guests checking in for the week, a beverage and fruit table, a name tag, sweat clothes and a room without a telephone or televisions. It’s going to be a long week, I thought. In retrospect, however, it was not long enough.
What happened between the time I arrived and departed was transforming. I enjoyed four massages, three salon services, 107 belly laughs and many tasty and moderately portioned meals. I participated in three exercise classes, four morning hikes and countless giddy bonding sessions reminiscent of my college days. I learned how to give a hand massage, meditate and belly-dance and that air-popped popcorn can taste good if you’re hungry enough.
I went the entire time without makeup or a bad attitude. I spent five luxurious days with mothers and daughters, best friends, a husband and wife, a boss and employee, executives, colleagues and strangers. I experienced the best service the world has to offer in just 120 short hours.
My only regret is that I forgot to bring my bathing suit. It would have been fun to swing from one wall over a warm blue pool to the other side like the participants did during an event called the “Heartland Adventure.”
But then again, that was just like me in the weeks prior to the trip – to skip the adventure part of life and move through each day passively. What I learned from watching others splash and dunk is that I wasn’t having enough fun. I was swinging to and from my own hard walls without paying attention. Moving from scale to scale, class to class and meal to meal without stopping to enjoy a little indulgence and frivolity.
No wonder I was starting to feel frustrated and stuck.
I vowed to make changes starting with the ride home, where I listened to a happy concerto by Mendelssohn. When I got to my condo, I dropped off my bags, grabbed a healthy snack and went straight to the gym for something new: a circuit step class replete with risers, Dyna-Bands and Resist-A-Balls. And just to be adventurous, underneath my workout clothes, I wore a bathing suit.