Love handles, spare tire, muffin top, beer belly…these don’t sound threatening, but belly fat actually represents a serious health threat beyond a larger waist size. There are two forms of belly fat: subcutaneous fat (the fat just below the skin) and visceral fat (the deeply embedded fat wrapped around the organs). The latter poses the most health risks. While it can feel hard to the touch, visceral fat produces inflammatory agents that can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, breast and colorectal cancers, sleep apnea and other degenerative diseases.
There is no quick fix solution, no spot reduction exercise or machine that will get rid of abdominal fat. The only solution is a properly designed exercise program.
I recommend 4-5 sessions a week of cardio exercise, 30-60 minutes each, plus two days a week of strength training. Be consistent, and combine this exercise routine with a nutritious diet of unprocessed foods and you can lose 1-2 pounds of fat a week.
Get on track with your diet and exercise and you’ll not only lose the belly fat, but you’ll improve your energy and mood as well.
At Mii amo spa in Sedona, our “intelligent” cuisine is eclectic, delicious, and healthy without a sense of deprivation. But eating healthy is easy when you are a guest at an all-inclusive spa resort. Dr. Jenna Blasi, a naturopathic doctor who works with Mii amo guests, offers readers a strategy for a holistic approach to a better diet.
By Jenna Blasi, ND
When I was in naturopathic medical school, people always asked me, “How do you have time to exercise and eat right?” My response was, “How do I have time not to?” Without proper diet and exercise, my work took me much longer and was much less productive, and I was more tired.
This is not about being hard on ourselves, it’s about finding what works for you. No one way of eating works for everyone, but this cardinal rule does apply to all:
Eat whole, unprocessed (preferably organic) food as much as possible. Here is a strategy you can use at home:
Develop a healthy outlook and a strong foundation for health
- Take a holistic view of nutrition by looking at all aspects of your life
- Explore Ayurvedic medicine’s four pillars of health—nourishment, movement, sleep and sacred space and find where balance is needed.
Discover what triggers poor food choices and address it
- Lack of sleep
- Stress or emotional issues
- Lack of movement
- Lack of joy and activities that nourish you
- Make a weekly meal plan
- Choose one day a week to prepare and freeze food, like soup
- Cut up fresh vegetables for snacks and quick salads
- Stock up on healthy snacks like vegetables with hummus, a handful of almonds or walnuts, a rice cake with almond butter, or fruit
- Bring a soft-sided cooler to work with healthy snacks and lunch
Start your day right
- Begin the day drinking pure water, and keep hydrated throughout the day
- Eat a breakfast of protein and healthy fats, or complex carbohydrates
Keep blood sugar balanced throughout the day
- Eating simple sugars set us up for low energy and more sugar cravings
- While it’s okay to feel some hunger, starving yourself throughout the day usually leads to overeating later
Eat Consciously When unhealthy food cravings arise, stop, check in with yourself, and try to understand the triggers:
- Are you dehydrated? Drink a glass of water.
- Are you just stressed? Take some deep breaths, move
- Delay gratification when a craving hits instead of immediately giving in. Allow yourself to occasionally indulge to avoid feelings of deprivation
- Eat mostly vegetables (at least half your plate should be vegetables) with small amounts of good quality protein and/or whole grains
- Eat whole, unprocessed (preferably organic) foods as much as possible
- Do your best to eliminate bread, pasta, potatoes and white rice from your diet
- Eliminate soda, including diet (evidence links diet soda with obesity)
- Eat healthy fats
Guests who want to learn how to make healthier lifestyle choices can schedule a meeting at Mii amo with Dr. Jenna Blasi, a naturopathic doctor who completed a residency in Integrative Medicine at Yale University’s Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center.
With the imminent arrival of spring, now is a good time to revisit New Year’s resolutions and take stock of what is and isn’t working. For many of us, regular exercise is a goal that could use a kick start. Jan Dibeler, an exercise physiologist and life coach at Mii amo Spa in Sedona, offers this advice…
In setting your intentions to jump start an exercise program, use these strategies and move boldly in the direction of your vision:
1. Choose an exercise you enjoy. This will keep you looking forward to each session without it feeling like hard work. Find an exercise partner if appropriate.
2. Assess your fitness level with benchmarks that measure progress:
- Take your pulse rate before and after walking one mile
- Time a one-mile walk
-Count the number of push-ups performed at one time
- Measure your reach while seated on the floor with legs stretched out in front
- Record your waist circumference just above the hip bone on a bare abdomen
-Take your BMI (body mass index)
3. Design your fitness program:
- Set your goals and write your plan down on paper to stay on track
- Create a balanced routine. Wear a pedometer; have a daily goal of 10,000 steps
- Allow for recovery time
4. Assemble all equipment needed and get started
- Start slowly and build up gradually
- Break up time to fit your schedule: if a 30-minute session doesn’t work, do two 15-minute segments
- Be creative. Mix it up! Try hiking with the family, boxing, or an evening of ballroom dancing
- Listen to your body and take a day off if not feeling well. Jump back in right away
5. Monitor your progress by taking new measurements 6 weeks after starting, then again every 3-6 months.
You may need to increase the amount of time spent exercising, or set your sights higher to keep progressing toward your goal. Reward yourself with a book, clothing item, day trip or spa service once you’ve reached a goal.
Say yes to your vision for yourself; this is the time, the moment, to make an investment in YOU!
Dawn Lay, Esthetician for Mii amo spa in Sedona, offers these tips for getting skin smooth, polished and ready for spring.
Winter weather, dry indoor air, and too many hot showers can leave skin dry and dull looking, but regular exfoliation — the sloughing off of old dead skin cells in order to bring out the new — is the key to smooth, silky skin.
Exfoliation is an important part of our body treatments and facials at Mii amo as it helps prepare the skin to absorb nourishing and healing products. The removal of the oldest skin cells also helps reduce fine lines, tones the skin, minimizes pores and lowers the chance of acne breakouts, revealing younger, glowing and healthy skin from head to toe. Here are some tips for exfoliating at home:
- Keep your facial and body “scrubs” in the shower. It’s convenient and you’re more likely to use them on a regular basis.
- Never use a body scrub on the face, as it is too harsh.
- Exfoliate once to twice a week only. Over-exfoliation can create dry skin!
- Let the scrub do the work, not the pressure of your hands or fingers. For the face, small circular motions are ideal, using a light touch.
- We recommend using a facial exfoliator on the décolleté and neck as well as the face. Always use ‘up’ motions. Think anti-gravity.
- Apply a good facial moisturizer and body lotion, butter and/or oil after exfoliating to re-hydrate the skin.
Begin now with regular exfoliation followed by hydration, and your skin will feel rejuvenated for spring.
Beads come in many shapes, stones and colors and are beautiful not only as adornment but for the ceremonial and spiritual roles they play in many cultures. We asked Arizona-based MiaLena Designs to create a signature prayer bead bracelet exclusively for Mii amo Spa in Sedona. The handcrafted beads, which MiaLena sources from all over the world, were selected to remind guests of their journey at Mii amo and their intentions for moving forward on their path in life.
Czech glass sets the stage symbolizing clarity. Labradorite, said to reveal one’s dharma or divine path in life, is joined by amber, moonstone, sandalwood, and turquoise representing courage, new beginnings, good luck and balance. Two beads on cording signify relationship, and a series of three beads together remind us that body, mind and spirit are dynamically interrelated.
The bracelet also includes a gold foil bead from Nepal, a silver bead from Bali, a silver button clasp from Thailand and our sterling silver “Mii amo” charm which means “continue one’s path, moving forward, or journey.” The beaded bracelet is a token to wear as you continue on your journey from Mii amo. Available in our online boutique.
What is your intention? Maybe it’s to enjoy an all-inclusive spa vacation at Mii amo this year. Whatever it is, the important thing is to set it and begin. This month, Leslee Vogal, M.A.,CH, CSH, NC, shows you how.
Setting intention is a liberating and powerful process. What exactly is intention? At the deepest level, intention is simply getting clear about what we value most in life and aligning our actions with those values in a dynamic and conscious way. In doing so, our life becomes a pure reflection of what we value. As a beloved teacher once told me, “Courageously gather your attention and energy into a unified force and direct it….this is intention at its most profound.”
The transformational gift of setting and aligning with intention cannot be over-emphasized. Clear intention with proper action creates a meaningful and enlivened life. Intention is not a linear or cerebral concept–at its best, it is vital energy that consistently flows through us as we attend to the daily business of our life.
How do we each go about creating our intentions and then follow through so that our intentions can be realized? Here are some basic guidelines:
~ Set aside reflective/contemplative time. True transformation can’t happen while we are running on the treadmill of life.
~ To discern what intention to create, ask yourself questions such as these: Where do I want to be in 3, 6, or 9 months? What do I want my life to look like now and moving forward? What do I want my life to feel like now and moving forward? How do I want the quality of my relationships to be now and moving forward? What do I value most right now?
~ Revisit your core values, like truth, authenticity, freedom, love, and health.
Once we know what our intention is, honest and consistent follow-through come next. We need to create actions that reflect our intention….remember attention and energy? For example, after spending time in reflection, we set an intention to finally be free of the crippling anxiety that has been with us for years. In support of that intention we might do the following:
~call our favorite therapist or counselor for weekly sessions
~make sure we get at least 7-8 hours of sleep as fatigue makes anxiety more brutal
~work with a naturopath/herbalist/acupuncturist for complementary solutions
~look at components in our lives that contribute to anxiety and renegotiate our relationship to them.
Finally, a consistent review of our intention is paramount. For some, a journaling practice keeps us on track. For others, creating a vision of the intention and meditating on it every day is helpful. Intention setting is not a journey of perfection but rather a journey of awakening.
Use the intention as a compassionate and abiding ‘guiding light’ and your life will be transformed.
You know the Christmas tradition of putting a fresh orange in each holiday stocking? The legend dates back to the time of Bishop Nicholas (not yet a saint) who tossed bags of gold coins down the chimney so a poor man’s daughters would have dowries and could marry. The coins fell into their stockings which were hung by the fire to dry.
With a wink at tradition, we suggest this sweet orange soap as a stocking stuffer. Handcrafted exclusively for Mii amo in Sedona, our 100% natural, Cedarwood Orange-Olive Oil Soap gets rave reviews from our spa guests and is one of the best-selling items in our boutique. “Guests are always asking, ‘What is that fabulous soap in our room?’ ” says Kelly Dunagan-Johnson, Retail Director at our spa in Sedona. “These soaps are so addictive, guests purchase them by the dozen to take home!”
- Locally made with natural ingredients like extra virgin olive oil and jojoba
- Gentle cleansing for face and body
- Soft, creamy lather. Men have told us they shave with it
- Less drying than regular soaps or gels
- Mildly scented with pure, essential oils of sweet orange, cedarwood and bay laurel
- Wrapped in a green silk pouch and ready to gift. A pleasingly chunky 3.5 oz. block is $7.
So far, we haven’t known anyone to re-gift this item. If you’re booked on one of our all-inclusive spa vacations, don’t bring them back a T-shirt, bring them this soap. It’s also available from our on-line boutique: http://shop.miiamo.com/servlet/Categories?category=Jojoba+Flower+%26+High+Desert
Tightness, inflexibility, body aches…not our vision for a happy life. Living pain-free and enjoying a vital and active lifestyle engaged in ways that create joy and fulfillment, especially as we age, is a reachable goal. Most of the restrictions we experience physically are related to connective tissue tightness rather than muscular limitations. Connective tissue, or fascia, is the 3-D intricate web of specialized tissue that envelopes, intertwines, and creates our body’s structure and support. It is the “cellophane” that wraps us into the package of our shape, making us uniquely who we are.
In its natural state, connective tissue is elastic and pliable. Adhesions develop due to trauma, physical and emotional issues, poor postural habits and repetitive movement patterns. Three things limit the function of our connective tissue: dehydration, surgery and emotional issues. For example, when we’re not drinking enough water so that our urine is running clear most of the day, our fascia becomes tight and compresses our physique, creating shortening and, ultimately, pain.
Structural Lengthening is a class designed specifically for learning how to lengthen the body’s connective tissue through reaching, pressing and pulling movements that create a release of the fascia, restoring length, reducing pain and increasing strength. Posture is improved and our body’s core is lengthened. Everyone, from athletes to those less active, can benefit from lengthening of the fascia. Age is not a limiting factor to learning these effective stretches.
If you’ve watched a professional basketball player stretch to dunk a shot or a dancer reach through her legs to complete a grand leap, you’ve watched elongation of the fascia in action. These are very active and engaging actions requiring all the body’s resources and focus.
We can all learn to move with ease, more fluently and with greater range of motion. Join us for a connective tissue lengthening experience at Mii amo and begin your journey towards a happy, productive and pain-free life.
We’re tapped in, plugged in, connected, and tapped out. From morning to night we’re hot-wired to our cell phones, iphones, laptops, smart phones and ipads. This constant connection keeps us so busy that it can impact our health in potentially stressful ways. Before we can connect to self, we need to disconnect from the technological devices that demand our attention from morning to night. Quieting the devices that connect us to the outer world allows us to hear our inner quiet voice of intuition.
Of the three energies that constantly affect us and our world — gravity that pulls down on all things, inspiration that lifts us up, and the energy of our being that we can connect to through mindfulness — it is the that most important connection to our center that can be the most fleeting. Taking time for silence, meditation, and living in the moment to balance out our responsibilities has been a life saver for many.
Many early mornings while sitting on my deck, gliding back and forth amongst the pine and fruit trees and watching the birds, I breathe deeply the cool morning air. Here I can center and recharge, and awaken and listen to the intuition that seeks to guide. Finding the inspiration that creates the foundation of all decisions ultimately creates a very satisfying, happy and balanced life.
Time passes whether life is wonderful or taxing, so explore new ideas and activities that complement your life and make it more enjoyable. Exercise regularly, especially in the fresh air if possible. It has been observed that our very DNA is less frayed and better preserved in people who engage in regular exercise.
Whether you are just setting out on your road to enhanced health, or whether you have already logged many miles, you can improve your life’s journey by signing up for Mii amo’s Exercise Physiology Consultation. In this 90-minute evaluative, testing and prescriptive session, you will discover your metabolic rate, cardiovascular fitness level and body composition, and will be given a detailed exercise program customized to fit your particular lifestyle.
Who said we could not have the fountain of youth!
I am proud to announce Mii amo now offers an innovative five-course tasting menu filled with my own personal style of Intelligent Cuisine—focusing on few, quality ingredients perfectly prepared to show their natural flavors. For me it’s about the combination of flavors and the savoring of great tastes and each dish on the menu was conceived with a particular wine in mind; each wine defines the dish, and vice versa.
The tasting menu is a unique opportunity for you to sample and enjoy selections from a five-course prix fixe menu with a focus on simplicity, true tastes and seasonal freshness, along with expertly chosen wines. Each course is paired with an exceptional wine from our organic/biodynamic or sustainable wine list; Nuevo Mundo Sauvignon Blanc, Tiamo Pinot Grigio, Barra Chardonnay; Barra Pinot Noir.
When I season a dish, or add a sauce, I’m thinking about combining flavors that taste good together so you can expect fresh flavors in artful combinations from the array of memorable starters, main courses and desserts. Organic ingredients from local sources, as well as our chef’s garden adjacent to the spa, are used whenever possible.