Healthy Weight: Solving the Weight Loss Challenge One Guest at a Time
The Challenge: Most people who struggle with weight know what they should do – they need something more to get them going.
The Opportunity: Since it opened in 1988, The Life Enhancement Program® at Canyon Ranch in Tucson has been all about transforming “should” into “does.”
The Solution: In response to guests’ often-expressed desires, create a focused weight loss program at the Life Enhancement Center® and get the word out.
The Result: The Canyon Ranch Weight Loss Program at the Life Enhancement Center launched in February 2010 with a plan to offer four weeks during the year. When those weeks quickly filled and began spilling over into a waiting list, staff responded by adding more programs, for a total of 11.
This year, the Life Enhancement Center® is offering 25 Weight Loss weeks, with 35 planned for 2012. Nearly 600 people have experienced the Program.
Back to the Future of Canyon Ranch
“Focusing on weight loss is hardly something new here,” explains Program Director Jim Eastburn. “In fact, this has been a return to the Life Enhancement Program’s original impetus – bringing all the resources of Canyon Ranch to bear on an incredibly common lifestyle challenge – and doing it in a supportive, personalized, holistic way that’s not available anywhere else.
“But this was 20 years later, and we honestly didn’t know that the demand would be this strong. The new program has been an absolute joy both for the participants and for our professional team, who work together in a very satisfying way with folks who share a strong commonality of purpose from the moment they arrive.”
BY THE NUMBERS
25 Weight Loss weeks
35 Weight Loss weeks planned for 2012
Nearly 600 people have experienced the Program
Canyon Ranch Weight Loss Program at the life enhancement center®
Our experts will show you exactly what you need to do to lose weight and keep it off. You’ll come away with lasting, positive habits and a detailed, personalized plan that will change your life. This weeklong program is offered frequently throughout the year.
More information: Canyon Ranch Weight Loss Program
or call 800-742-9000.
Janet Freund: Canyon Ranch Weight Loss Program
When I returned to the Canyon Ranch Weight Loss Program at the Life Enhancement Center® in Tucson, 10 months after the first time, I wondered if I was making a mistake. I’d learned so much when I came in April 2010, and I wanted to refresh, retool and recalibrate – but I was concerned that it might just be a repetition. But the second time around, I heard things I hadn’t taken notice of before, because I was in a different place. That’s the beauty of the program; they meet you where you are.
I’ve tried almost all my adult life to lose weight. I’d lose a few pounds, then more would come back. It was depressing. Now I’m buying clothes two sizes smaller, and maintaining my weight.
I think I was finally able to maintain a healthy weight because the Ranch program is not a “one size fits all”; it’s individualized. They talk about the mental, emotional, intellectual and spiritual side of weight loss, not just the physical aspect. They’re making a “prescription” for you based on the whole person, not just on your height, weight and a predetermined number of calories.
Knowledge is power
Losing weight is hard, but doing it without tools is impossible. I find the knowledge here is so powerful – and when you know better, you can do better. I was exercising before, but I learned how to exercise. For instance, I found out that you need to engage different muscle groups, especially the larger ones, and that it’s more effective to do interval training than to always run at the same pace. Interval training even makes your body continue to burn fat longer throughout the day.
The first time I was here, a bone density test showed I had lower than normal bone density in my spine and hips. I’d been doing regular leg presses, but I learned that single-leg presses cause bone to form in the hip by adding a little stress. When I came back the second time, my osteopenia had almost completely reversed.
I had my resting and maximum metabolic rates tested, to find out the maximum and minimum number of calories I should eat. To lose weight, you eat somewhere between the two. That number was way more than I’d been told I should eat on other diets. Another exciting discovery was when I learned that if you eat less, your metabolism actually slows down and it gets harder to lose weight. When I came the second time, everything I’d learned was reinforced by the numbers; they showed that my metabolism got faster because I had gained muscle and lost fat. It really gave me confidence that I can keep going.
Creating new strategies
When I get stressed, I want to eat, but I learned to develop a list of “quick joymakers” that I can do instead, like calling a friend, reading a brand-new fashion magazine, browsing a bookstore or taking my computer to a coffee shop and sipping a cup of tea while I check my email. I also learned to ask myself, do I want this food? What does it mean to me? It’s the difference between mindful and mindless eating.
Before I did the weight loss program, I was tired and stressed and had no energy. I wanted to nap every afternoon. I’d got to where I thought I shouldn’t ski anymore, because it made me feel weak and tired. Six months after I first did the program, I skied with my family, and I was the last off the lift every day. Everything’s more fun now because I have more stamina. Even grocery shopping is fun. I look at labels and buy organic. It’s like a treasure hunt. Or I’ll look at a label on a less-healthy item and think, “This is what this food does to your body,” and it’s just not as exciting anymore.
Another thing I learned during the program is that it’s important to have a goal. I started running a couple of years ago, but I didn’t push myself. When I returned to the weight loss program, I set a goal to run an event – I did a 10K run at my daughter’s college this spring. I was nervous, but excited. I find it very motivating to have a goal – it keeps me on track.
Returning to the LEC really helped me hone and add to all that I’d learned before. I liked the feeling of familiarity with the practitioners, and I love the bonding that happens with the other people in the program; everyone’s there for the same reason. You’re discovering these things together. When I’m with people who are there for the first time, I get excited for them. I know that as long as they listen, it’s going to work for them.
Bob Murray: Canyon Ranch Weight Loss Program
Losing 50 pounds “wasn’t radical” says Bob Murray of Phoenix, Arizona, who happened upon the Canyon Ranch Weight Loss Program while browsing the Ranch website. “The program just helped me understand the things I was doing wrong and form new habits.”
He’d heard of Canyon Ranch as a resort and spa, he says, “Then I noticed the Life Enhancement Center in Tucson had a specialized week for weight loss. Since I live so close, I thought I’d give it a try.”
Bob says he lost most of “the 50-pound backpack I was carrying around” in the first six months after going through the weight loss program in May 2010. “Now I’m maintaining and consolidating.”
Learning about portion control helped him the most, he says. “I had pretty good eating habits, but a handful of almonds is six or seven normal portions – and I have big hands!” Overall, weight loss occurred mainly from “tweaking” his existing exercise regimen and putting into practice numerous small tips about diet and nutrition.
“Most people are aware of the obesity epidemic in the U.S.,” says Bob, “But it really strikes home when it’s well presented. It was good science – logical stuff that wasn’t hard to get on board with. There was no mumbo jumbo.”
A consultation with an exercise physiologist was useful, he says. “It gave me a good snapshot of where I was. For instance, I found I had a pretty high metabolism. We reviewed my current schedule, and he recommended some modifications. I already worked out for 45 minutes three days a week. I bumped that up to one hour, and increased the amount of cardio to 50 percent of my workout.”
Weight loss was incremental, he says – the result of numerous minor lifestyle changes. “I learned a lot of hints about restaurants. If I get a large portion, I send it back and ask to have half put in a doggy bag right away. Otherwise, even if I don’t really want it, I’ll eat ‘just a bite or two’ more because everyone else is still eating.”
He now eats more lightly, steering clear of rich foods and heavy sauces. In fact, he says, “The rich stuff I used to eat no longer appeals to me.” When it comes to dessert, he eats just a few forkfuls to enjoy the taste without overloading on calories. He limits snacking by buying dried fruit in individual, 100-calorie packs.
“I still eat good food, but I don’t eat a lot of it any more,” he says. “I haven’t found it’s been a lot of sacrifice; I still have chocolate and other treats from time to time.”
Having achieved his original goal to lose 20 percent of his body weight, he’s made a new goal “to crack 200 pounds and level off around there.” Rather than stepping onto the scale daily and stressing over the occasional pound gained, he weighs himself every month or so, when he can celebrate a measurable loss of several pounds.
Restoring his body to a fit 211 pounds wasn’t the result of any one strategy, he says. “It’s the whole package. It’s just a new way of looking at eating, and eating right – and being rational and reasonable about your diet.”
Best of all, says Bob, “I feel a lot better about myself. I have more energy; I can do more stuff. I ski a lot better now – and when I recently left something behind at the airport, I was able to run from one concourse to another to get it; I couldn’t do that before.”
He’s confident he can maintain his weight and new lifestyle habits. Apart from anything else, he says, shedding four inches from his waistline called for renewing his entire clothes collection.
“Once you dump your wardrobe, there’s no going back.”
Ralph Metzger: Canyon Ranch Weight Loss Program
Ralph Metzger’s transformation at Canyon Ranch began in the summer of 2010 when a friend asked – no, ordered – him to go to the Life Enhancement Center®.
“I hadn’t exercised since I got married 15 years ago and my weight had climbed to 267. I didn’t have any big health problems, but it was obvious that I needed to do something. My friend Steve Mizel, who’s been coming to Canyon Ranch in Tucson since the year it opened, told me that I was joining him.” Ralph laughs. “I’m really happy he did.”
Ralph, 53, spent a week at the Center in August of last year and was so impressed by the program – and, he felt, was so much in need of further education and inspiration – that he returned later that month for a Weight Loss Program stay.
The results have been impressive. In February, when he was back for a refresher, he was nearly 60 pounds lighter. This August, when he returned for another Weight Loss Program week to celebrate his one-year anniversary, he was down another 10. He’s stopped snoring, running to catch a plane is no longer a challenge, and he has committed to visiting Canyon Ranch in Tucson regularly by buying two memberships – one for summer and one for winter.
“My wife and I have cruised all over the world. We had a great time and I’m glad we did it, but I’ll never get on a cruise ship again. I’m a very focused person, and my focus is different now. Today, I went out and hiked 11 miles. Last year, that would have killed me. Now, it’s fun.”
Daily walks + healthy meals = 70 pounds
At home in Highland Beach, Florida, Ralph, who’s a semi-retired CPA and attorney, walks four miles each day with his wife, Katherine.
“I have an amazing support system. We walk together every single day, first thing in the morning. Even though it’s a flat, pretty boring walk along the Intracoastal Waterway – not like here – we’re out there, rain or shine. I learned the importance of regular daily exercise at Canyon Ranch – and I’ve watched the inches just peel off.”
He has also significantly changed the way he eats, with Katherine’s help.
“I’ve never been interested in formal weight loss programs, and I don’t consider the way I eat now a weight loss diet – it’s a sustainable way of eating. I eat food that’s good for me, and I eat balanced meals and reasonable portions. But if I want something special once in a while, I have it. I’m in no way deprived.”
A healthier future, together
Ironically, Katherine, a health-conscious vegetarian, had been trying to get him to exercise and eat better since they first met, but Ralph had steadily resisted.
“It was crazy,” he says “She’d patiently cook two meals – whole-wheat pasta for her, white pasta for me; egg whites for her, whole eggs for me. I’d insist! Now she only has to cook one – I needed Canyon Ranch to show me that her way was right all along.
“And I’m still learning. This time, I’ve started eating berries, which I never did before. They’re delicious. She’s been trying to get me to eat more fruit for years, and I wouldn’t! Unbelievable.”
Ralph is looking forward to bringing Katherine with him in the future and showing her all around, as she has only been able to join him for one brief visit to Canyon Ranch in Lenox. She too is excited to come to Canyon Ranch in Tucson, he says.
“It was beautiful there in October, but for me, Tucson is the mother ship. I can’t wait to bring her here – I know she’s going to love it. It’s like she’s already a native of the place!”