Archive for the ‘Health Beauty Fitness’ Category

Meditation On The Go

Thursday, October 8th, 2009
Urban Meditation

Urban Meditation

Just as exercise is good for the body, and laughter is good for the soul, to achieve a total balance of self, the mind needs something to chew on as well. And while I usually turn to my TiVo for the latest episode of Project Runway to give me my mental fix, I’ve come to realize that perhaps I need a little less reality television and a little more reality to give my brain the calmness it so desperately needs.

Now, I don’t know about you, but between my work life, home life, gym life, and social life (and, of course, Project Runway), there’s not a whole lot of time left to attend to my mental needs. And while a stay in the sauna or a massage never fails to bring my brain some inner peace, I needed to find another outlet – even when I wasn’t spa-bound – to soothe my mind. Meditation on-the-go, here I go!

Meditation is one of the world’s oldest spiritual practices – a proven source of mental and physical healing – and one that usually evokes images of cross-legged people sitting in incense-filled rooms, wearing leotards, and uttering “Ohmm”s to their hearts’ content. Not-so-much-anymore. While many who practice meditation do prefer a quiet, contemplative spot rife with sandalwood, meditation really has less to do with where you are than how you are. And achieving the how can be done even in the midst of a busy life. Are you ready to medi? Let’s do it!

Start off by identifying an activity in your life that brings you inner peace – when you feel calm, serene, unstressed. It could be mile five of your daily treadmill jaunt. Or while brushing your teeth or taking a shower. Are you the designated 10 p.m. dogwalker in your house? Otherwise known as “perfect time to meditate on-the-go”?

Once you’ve nailed down when you can meditate, here are some ways to achieve the how. Meditation revolves around a clearing of the mind and the senses, of finding balance in your thoughts (good and bad), and discovering a sense of peace. Repeating a mantra can help you concentrate your energy – even using something as simple as “I am” can keep you focused and get you in the right mood. Physicality is extremely important in meditation. Sitting is far from necessary, but whatever your position, try to be as attuned as possible to your posture. Walking or standing straight will increase your physical and mental balance. And don’t forget to breathe –deeply!

(Figured I’d give you a second to regain your mental self after your first meditation-on-the-go experience. Intense, I know.)

Meditation can be an amazing addition to your life – in the spa, or out. Try different techniques, times, and places, and see what works best for you. And best of all – when you meditate on-the-go, there’s still time for Project Runway.

Spa Basics – How to get the most from your Spa Experience

Monday, October 5th, 2009

In today’s hustle and bustle world some people feel the need to rush through their spa treatment. Unfortunately, this happens at all types of spas from the home spa to the day spa to the spa at your gym. Here are a few basic tips that will help you to enjoy your next spa treatment to the fullest:

  1. Make an appointment – If you are going to a day spa or resort, you should book your appointment in advance to avoid unnecessary stress. If you don’t book ahead of time, you might end up waiting hours for an appointment to open up or end up wasting your time because the appointment book is full. In addition, make sure you know where you’re going if you’re visiting a new spa. You don’t  want to miss your appointment because you got lost on your way there. If you are planning on giving yourself a treatment at home, the same can be said. Make sure that you have blocked out a good amount of time to fully enjoy yourself.
  2. Relax – It sounds like common sense, but with all the stress in the world – people can still be tense and anxious when they really should be relaxing. One relaxation technique I personally do is to close my eyes and begin relaxing every muscle in my body, starting at my toes and going all the way up to the top of my head. You can use this technique at any spa.
  3. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind – I recently went for a Thai massage and almost ruined my own experience because I was too shy to ask the masseuse to be gentler or even to avoid my knees all together. When the masseuse was pulling my legs while sitting on my knees I was experiencing a very uncomfortable pain, but didn’t speak up. If I had spoken up the experience would have been a 100% better, but because I didn’t ask the masseuse beforehand, or during the massage to avoid my knees, a portion of the massage was unpleasant. Don’t be afraid to tell the one providing your services what you like or dislike, just do so in a respectful and kind manner.
  4. Drink water – Make sure to drink water before, during and after your spa treatments. Drinking water is especially important when getting a massage, using a steam room or getting a facial. If your spa doesn’t provide water, then bring your own as you will have a much better and healthier experience.
  5. Ask questions – If you are unfamiliar with something or have a question about a treatment just ask. This will help you with tip #3 by speaking up if something makes you uncomfortable or if there’s another technique you would prefer.

Chinese Foot Massage

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Cfoot-bathhinese foot massage is a very popular massage technique that is also extremely affordable. At the not-so-adventurously named Chinese Foot Massage in Woodland Hills, California you can get a full body massage for an hour for just $25. Even though they refer to it is a foot massage, it is much more than that. They don’t tell you what you are getting and there is no menu of services, but it is well worth the mystery. The treatment begins with a foot bath in a warm mineral soak while the masseuse performs a shoulder massage. You then lie down on a recliner on your back, while you receive a scalp and face massage, and then a full body massage even down to of course – the feet. Chinese Foot Massage is certainly a hole in the wall, and in fact it is just one big room where clients are massaged on their own recliner. However, it is well worth the money given the pressure used during the massage as well as the duration. Clients stay fully clothed in whatever they wore in so dress lightly and causally.

Chinese foot massage originated in China over 5,000 years ago, and its concepts are based on healing by stimulating the acupuncture points based on the principle of reflexology. The treatment combines foot massage pressure points and Chinese herbal medicine. The Chinese believe that when a blockage of blood circulation occurs in the major nerve points, the flow of energy all through out the body is affected. Using this concept, strokes and methods of this foot massage aims to remove the blockage and stimulate the flow of energy. This type of massage is so popular in China now that the Chinese are starting to replace their traditional business meetings with a gathering at the “parlor” instead.


Some of the proposed benefits of Chinese foot massage include:
– Improved circulation in the limbs
– Reduced stiffness and improved flexibility
– Lowered stress and anxiety
– Improved sleep and less headaches
– Heightened immune system

The Steamshower Diet

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Steam Shower DietWhen people talk about weight loss, a few things usually come to mind. Healthy eating, naturally. Exercise – of course. But what about steam? Could your waistline really benefit from stepping inside a shower? As it turns out – absolutely. Welcome to the Steam Shower Diet.

Unlike other weight loss trends, the Steam Shower Diet (catchy name, huh?) doesn’t concentrate on intake or workout. Its focus is purely biological. Fancy that – a diet that works from the inside out, instead of the outside in! And there’s no counting, no scales, no calculators, or charts to maintain. In fact, if you have a home spa, you’re probably already on it! But if you’re still thinking about whether to add that steam shower to the mix, here’s something to ponder. Can you think of any other home fixture that can make you feel relaxed and help you lose weight? Yeah, I didn’t think so Sub-Zero.

The Steam Shower Diet works with two main components of your body’s biology: metabolism and stress. Anyone familiar with the chemistry of weight loss knows how essential metabolism is to shedding the pounds. Slow metabolism can substantially deter weight loss, even when you’re eating sensibly. What’s an antidote to slow metabolism? Steam. Steam has been shown to boost metabolism by opening pores in the skin, allowing increased circulation in cells. The heat of a steam shower has an effect on the body that’s similar to sweating, removing residue and dirt from the skin, and allowing the body to essentially “breathe,” speeding up metabolism. All that from a little evaporated hot water!

Stress can also have a tremendous impact on our weight. When our bodies are anxious, tired, and unrelaxed, we react to the tension by releasing higher levels of cortisol, a chemical usually responsible for that annoying accumulation of weight around our middles. Now this one isn’t rocket science, but it bears explanation. Taking a steam shower = relaxation. Relaxation = less cortisol released by our bodies. Less cortisol released by our bodies = a chance at weight loss! (And this is coming from someone who was never great at math.)

But that’s not all! The Steam Shower Diet also does little things, all of which can directly or indirectly assist in weight loss. Steam acts as a muscle relaxant, which, on top of alleviating stress on your body, can make exercise easier to tackle. And the respiratory benefits of steam can ease breathing, another important component of stress relief and exercise. Sorry, what was that, frozen meal in a box?

So if you’re looking for something a little different and a lot healthy, try the Steam Shower Diet. Ooh, I think I’m gonna diet right now.

The Benefits of Cold Spa Therapy

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Arctic Ice RoomAfter looking at some of the amenities spas offer, I noticed that cold spa treatments are on the rise. When I think of a spa I think of warmth and heat, being a native of Southern California I find anything below 60° F unbearable. Although it sends chills down my spine just thinking about it, cold spa therapies are becoming increasingly popular in the United States. The health benefits of these therapies range from alertness to increased circulation to a stronger immune system. Going from hot to cold is a shock to the nervous system. The initial shock causes blood vessels to constrict and then expand once the body reaches its normal temperature. The process helps to increase circulation, rid the body of toxins, and boost the immune system, which can help fight off colds and allergies. This type of treatment has also been used by athletes for some time now to help reduce swelling and ease aches and pains. Want to try it out for yourself? The Qua Spa in Las Vegas has a room that snows. It’s called the Arctic Ice Room (pictured left) and the temperature is set to a chilly 55° F and the air is infused with the scent of mint, which also has a cooling effect.

The Standard Spa is another spa that offers cold spa threapy. This spa is located in Miami offers Hot + Cold Stone Massage treatments, which helps bring balance to the body and relieve stress. If none of these treatments appeal to you, you can always take a cold shower at home to see if you will like it.

Making Scents – Instant Aromatherapy

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Homemade AromatherapyAromatherapy: the science of smells. It’s a word that’s become as common in spa vernacular as “sauna” or “facial.” But what does it really mean? And more importantly, how can you use it to attain instant relaxation?

While I consider closing my eyes and breathing in the intoxicating smell of maple-syrup-poured-over-a-warm-stack-of-pancakes a form of “aromatherapy,” the art of scents goes far beyond the notion of “smells that we like.” It’s a form of alternative medicine based in the healing and restorative power of essential oils, concentrated liquids extracted from plants, herbs, and flowers that we come in contact with on a daily basis. Basil, lemon, lavender, rose, thyme, cinnamon, citronella … the list is endless, but oh so familiar. Which actually makes everything about aromatherapy all the more appealing and all the more instant: there’s almost no plant, no herb, no essential oil whose primary ingredient you haven’t heard of. Who knew that aromatherapy could be as easy as a trip to your pantry?

Before leaving a world of non-scents for an olfactory nirvana, first figure out what type of oil or fragrant element you want to use (different scents for different gents). Every aroma has a unique and fantastic effect, from alleviating stress and fatigue, to relieving pain and elevating your mood. A quick cheat sheet:

  • For headaches: Basil, Lavender
  • As an aphrodisiac: Jasmine, Rose, Sandalwood
  • De-stressors: Lemon oil, Peppermint, Chamomile

With aromatherapy, the options are about as limitless as the fragrances! Purists say that using essential oils is the only true form of aromatherapy, but don’t limit yourself. Candles, incense, bath beads, infused lotions – even grated citrus zest in a bowl – can be part of your aromatherapy experience. Want real instant aromatherapy? Place sachets of herbs or flower petals in the pockets of your bathrobe, or dip cotton balls in your favorite herbal tea and leave them (inconspicuously!) around your bathroom. Doesn’t get much more instant than that.

Essential oils sound more intimidating, but I promise, they’re just as quick and easy to use. My favorite application is to infuse fragrance into my towels with essential oils; there’s nothing better than stepping out of a steam shower and wrapping yourself in terry cloth towel kissed with a hint of lavender. Before you dry your next load of laundry, put some drops of your favorite essential oil on a small washcloth and toss it in with your wet towels for instant aromatherapy! Or add a few drops to water in a spray bottle for the quickest air freshener you’ll ever find. And any unscented candle can become instant aromatherapy when you add a few drops to the hot wax as the candle burns. Just remember: with essential oils, less is more. You’re looking for the essence of rose, not a garden growing out of your steam shower.

Aromatherapy – it’s a big word for a really simple notion: fragrances with restorative powers. And in your home spa, there’s no easier way to make scents.

Spa Cuisine Goes Gourmet

Friday, August 21st, 2009

When it comes to a day at the spa, the last thing we’d ever want to do is deprive ourselves. And that carries through to cuisine. While most people associate carrot sticks, bean sprouts and fake cheese with spa food, these days spas are elevating the overall experience with delicious gourmet spreads.

Here are some delectable dishes that we found at a few choice spas:

–    The Westin Kierland Resort and Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona is famous for their Pacific Rim – a forbidden rice and Bhutanese relish, soy ginger braised chicken with fennel and tomatoes, grilled shrimp joined by peas in miso dressing, sweet figs and oranges glazed with ginger and sweet sake. They also offer fresh fruit smoothies made with agave nectar.

–    The chefs at Chiva-Som Luxury Health Resort in Thailand create daily menus to offer the widest range of dishes to suit a healthy lifestyle. They make sure all of their dishes can also be made at home, using ingredients that can be found anywhere. They offer spa cooking classes and an exclusive cookbook. Some of their favorites include Stir-Fried Lamb Chops with Oyster Sauce, Black Sticky Rice with Mango, and a Pomelo and Prawns Salad.
Sukko Cultural Spa

–    Sukko Cultural Spa, also in Thailand, presents the legend of the ancient food therapy through a specialized menu. They offer a course on Traditional Thai cuisine, which gives an overview of  Thai herbs and spices. They also prepare special menus for their guests depending on their blood type and earth sign. Some of their signature dishes include a spicy hot tofu soup with red chili paste, eggplant, basil leave, in coconut-milk, and a spicy salad of jelly noodles with fresh shrimp and minced pork.

–    As an American Plan Spa, The Oaks in Ojai, California provides a 1,000 plus calorie a day food plan that AHI AT THE OAKS AT OJAIconsists of three meals, snacks and beverages. The varied menus feature natural foods, fresh fish and poultry, locally-grown fruits and vegetables, homemade salad dressings and soups – all without a touch of additional salt or refined sugar used in the preparation. Many meals feature freshly-grown herbs from their gardens. Dishes include Chicken Thighs with Barley, Garlic and Chardonnay, fresh fruit soups and Ojai Winter Orange Salad (season permitting).

Here are 11 Key Components of Spa Lifestyle Cuisine (according to Road & Travel magazine):
1.    Promotes optimal health and well being through a sensible strategy for life long healthy eating habits.
2.    Exemplifies variety, moderation, and balance through the entire menu.
3.    Features seasonally fresh, clean, whole foods with high nutritive value and minimal processing such as:FRESH FRUIT SOUP FROM THE OAKS AT OJAI

i. Whole grains, legumes, and beans.
ii. Brightly colored fresh fruits & vegetables.
iii. Lean protein sources.
iv. Lean dairy or calcium-rich non-dairy sources.
v. Fresh herbs, minimize added salt.
vi. Clean water.
vii. Monounsaturated fats, omega-3 source, minimize saturated and trans-fats.
viii. Limit sugar and artificial sweeteners
4.    Uses natural and innovative substitutions to create healthier food options.
5.    Emphasizes mindful portion sizes and regularly patterned eating.
6.    Utilizes preparation and cooking methods that maximizes and enhances the beauty, flavor, texture and nutrition of the food.
7.    Exemplifies self sufficiency in the kitchen through practical cooking methods that can be replicated at home.
8.    Fulfills individual nutrition parameters and preferences.
9.    Pleasurable and satisfying to all senses.
10.    Embraces and incorporates credible nutrition.
11.    Incorporates and promotes the sustainability of agricultural resources.

“Addicted To Beauty” Medical Spa TV Show

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Addicted To BeautyThe Oxygen channel has debuted a new reality show which airs Tuesdays at 10pm titled “Addicted to Beauty“. The show features the staff of a medical spa in La Jolla, California Changes Plastic Surgery and Spa and has been dubbed a “dramedy”, part drama, part comedy, on the show’s website.

As the show chronicles the med spa we see this venture unfold between Dianne York-Goldman, a socialite and marketing guru who has teamed up with well-known plastic surgeon Dr. Gilbert Lee; an over-the-top group of employees including Gary, the flamboyant and outspoken receptionist; Ronnie, the eccentric concierge; Natasha, Dianne’s levelheaded assistant; and Shannyn, the whip-cracking spa manager and Dr. Lee’s no-nonsense office manager.

So far the show has not received high marks with its critics, such as the LA Times who is quoted bashing the show:

“Revolving around a La Jolla spa, the Oxygen series can seem less a reality show than an infomercial.”

“If American pop culture had a garage sale, it would look something like Oxygen’s “Addicted to Beauty.””

Negative reviews seem to be the norm for this show early on, but with Oxygen’s large audience of women maybe this type of show will be helpful to women who are looking for real life examples of a Medical Spa.

As we discussed in a previous entry, Medical Spas are a growing trend and yet many are unsure whether they should go to a Medical Spa or a Hospital for their treatment, how to research a Medi Spa, what services these spas provide and how these business are run. Maybe this TV show will answer some of these important questions for the community, while providing an inside look for an emerging industry.

Medical Spas – A Hot Trend in Spas

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Medical SpaLast month we touched on the topic of Medical Spas when a visitor asked us what was the state of the spa industry. One of our spa experts had pointed us to the findings of the third-annual Global Spa Summit that took place last month. At this summit they found overwhelmingly that the Medical Spa niche was expanding more than any other in the spa industry. In the past year  the number of medical spas has grown by 85 percent, which is a very large percentage for any industry in this economic climate.

Medical Spas provide services such as laser hair removal, hormone therapy, anti aging medicine, Botox, microdermabrasion, skin tightening treatments and more. This is a very exciting and interesting type of spa, but choosing the right medical spa is essential. Sometimes the doctor performing the procedures may be the actual owner of the spa, or they could be paid for their services provided at the medical spa. Plastic surgeons and dermatologists are typically the doctors that will treat you as well as dentists for teeth whitening treatments, so you should do your research on these facilities the same you would research a new doctor. You should also research the actual treatments you are considering having done, as there are many of these establishments that are only in the business of making money, and do not provide results with some treatments.

Other treatments that medical spas provide that do not need the oversight of a doctor include infrared saunas, facials, steam showers, and other treatments you might find at a day spa. Although a lot of medical spas provide the same services that a day spa might, don’t expect the ambience, decor or relaxing atmosphere that you usually see at a day spa. Medical Spas are much more clinical and will typically resemeble a doctors office more than a day spa.

Health Benefits of Aromatherapy

Thursday, July 9th, 2009
Lavendar Field

Lavender Field

Aromatherapy is actually known as a type of herbal medicine because it uses herbs as the base, but unlike other herbal treatments, Aromatherapy only uses the “essential oil” contained in the plants. Many different essential oils are used as fragrances for perfumes, fragrance oils, soaps, lotions and other bath and body products.

Essential oils are used for a number of different medicinal purposes, from everything to the oils used in Vicks VapoRub, to essential oils that are digested or applied to the skin. We are more familiar with the more popular form of aromatherapy of combining the oils with the steam from a steam bath. This form of aromatherapy has shown promising results when used to:

  • Help ease the agitation that patients with dementia may feel (Lavender)
  • Reduced need for pain medications following gastric banding surgery (Lavender)
  • Help with the symptoms of insomnia (Lavender)
  • Aid in respiratory problems (Eucalyptus)
  • Used as a mild sedative (Lavender)
  • Colds, sinus infections, and acute bronchitis (Eucalyptus)

Many aromatherapy oils are also used as oral herbal medicine. Some common uses of essential oils as oral medicine are used to:

  • Help aid with a variety of stomach pains (Peppermint, Caraway Oil)
  • Combating gingivitis and plaque (Eucalyptus)
  • Helping with the symptoms of Irritable Bowl Syndrome (Peppermint)

Many people also use essential oils topically to help treat and aid with a variety of symptoms. Some of the ways these oils are used are:

  • Various forms of viral infections (Tea Tree Oil)
  • Fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and fibromyalgia (Tea Tree Oil, Bitter Orange)
  • Hair loss (Thyme, Rosemary, Lavender, and Cedarwood)
  • Repelling mosquito bites (Eucalyptus)
  • Sun block (Coriander oil)
Essential Oils

Essential Oils

Aromatherapy, when inhaled is thought to work in a number of ways to relieve stress, depression, anxiety and insomnia. It is thought that the chemical ingredients from the plants are inhaled, causing these herbal chemicals to be absorbed by the body. The other way it can work is through the olfactory centers of the brain (smell), where a nice  soothing, refreshing, calming, stimulating smell will bring about the desired effects.

Be careful when using essential oils for the first time because they can cause an allergic reaction. Also, never digest any essential oils without first consulting a doctor or herbal specialist, as many can produce unpleasant and even deadly effects when ingested. Pregnant or nursing women, young children, or people with severe liver or kidney you should avoid the use of these oils because the potential negative effects are not known.

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