Five Things You Find Out When You Go to a Spa

Some people go to spas all the time. Other people wouldn’t be caught dead inside one. Whichever camp you fall into—or if you fall somewhere in between—here are some things I learned from my recent trip to the Lodge at Woodloch. I hope you’ll agree that they’re worth sharing, whether you ever go to a spa or not.

# 1: If you cut your normal portions of food in half—or even by 2/3—it’s possible to feel full and not go hungry.

I admit, when I would sit down to dinner, I’d be afraid I wouldn’t feel full afterwards. But by the time the miniature dessert was served, I was satisfied and didn’t feel hungry again until breakfast—which was, fortunately, a buffet. With bacon. Still, I found myself eating much less than usual. Perhaps because there was nothing made with white flour in sight, that burning hunger sensation never made an appearance.

# 2: You can’t change your whole life in three days, but you can press the reset button.

People don’t just go to spas to lose weight. Frankly, you’re not going to lose much in three days, anyway. Spas are filled with all different types and sizes of people looking for different things. Some for dieting advice, some for exercise, some for stress relief. This time there were actually quite a few pregnant couples enjoying their last moments of freedom. As for me, I was looking for rest and recovery from a stressful time. And I found it. I found it is possible to let go of the past and create a new future—but when you get back to the post-spa real world, you still have to make that happen for yourself.

# 3: In the quiet isolation of a spa, the greatest luxury is reconnecting with your inner self.

There are other ways to do this too—finding time in nature, traveling to new places—but I have found that for intense reconnecting with myself and my purpose, there is no better place than a spa. In the quiet, peaceful, stress-free spa world, I can focus on the little voice inside of me. Without daily interruptions, I can think far into my future and visualize where I want to go and what I need to do. For me, that’s priceless.

# 4: Never open up your eyes underwater in the pool.

I was so proud of the fact that I swam 30 laps in the beautiful indoor pool. It felt so good! I didn’t bring goggles, and I usually don’t wear them anyway. But by lunchtime, the world was all in soft focus. By dinner, the world was still in soft focus, and I was beginning to imagine myself living a life of blindness. It was scary. I realized just how much visual stimuli are important to me on so many levels. Fortunately, a good night’s sleep (12 hours!) restored my sight. But I thought you should know.

# 5: While massages and other bodywork might seem like pampering, they are important ways to learn about your body and prevent (or heal) pain.

Having someone else untangle the stress from your muscles can give you important insight into where you are holding on to your stress, so during stressful times, you can remind yourself to relax or stretch those areas. I have also had massages that unlock tightness that had been causing persistent pain. For me, a massage isn’t just a feel-good, fun-time experience; it’s like having a thorough checkup that actually leaves you feeling better when you’re done. And your only prescription is knowledge, understanding your body more.

Well, I’m back from the spa now, and back at work, trying to keep my portions small and to stay focused. Now that I’m 48, I can’t fool around too much anymore with procrastination about my health!  Whether you ever go to a spa or not, I hope you can benefit from my tips.

Oh, and here’s one more: Spa music is nice, but it can get grating after a while. Here are my recommendations for a spa soundtrack of your own—these are what I listened to while I was there last time:

Bon Iver: For Emma, Forever Ago. Dreamy, sweet acoustic songs that are very relaxing.

The Antlers: Hospice. This record is perfect for anyone who has just had someone die of cancer. You can enjoy it without having had that experience, of course. But I found the music captures the mixed emotions in an extremely quiet way, so that you don’t even realize what it’s about the first few times, it just sounds nice.

Sigur Ros: Takk… or ( ). An Icelandic band that really captures the dreamy magic of Iceland—which is, actually, a whole country that feels like a spa—except for all the nighttime drinking.


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6 Responses to Five Things You Find Out When You Go to a Spa

  1. Donna in Delaware February 8, 2010 at 10:25 am #

    Spas are great!

  2. Donna in Delaware February 8, 2010 at 10:45 am #

    Sorry, Spas are really great. My husband and I went to one in Austria in 2004. It wasn’t just a spa, but it was also medical. Not only did you get the massages,(I had the best male masseur ever, we are quite friendly still), but they taught you how to eat and what to eat, especially when you left there, homeward bound. You swam, got your vitamins and minerals, holistic health care, ate organically, ate little to nothing sweet, only a spelt flatbread was eaten, exercised in the early morning, allergies dealt with, manipulation of the the belly for elimination was done, lots of herbal teas drinked, nothing raw was eaten, you could swim in the beautiful pool, or the lake that the spa was built on, hot tubs, saunas, baths, seaweed mud baths, hair, nails, foot and skin care, facials, light therapy, beautiful surroundings, etc.
    With all of that, as Maria said, you connect to yourself in the peace and calm of your surroundings. No music was allowed there, or cell phones. You learned to listen to yourself and significant other, if not alone. You paid more attention to your surroundings, you had TIME, and that is the greatest gift.

  3. Sue February 8, 2010 at 10:53 am #

    My sisters and I just booked a getaway to Woodloch next month…never been…can’t wait! Thanks for these perfectly timed thoughts in preparation.

  4. Donna in Delaware February 8, 2010 at 10:59 am #

    By the way, we were at the spa for a month and my husband lost 20lbs, I, 12lbs(I did not need to lose that much weight!) but I felt like new money afterwards. My eyes were clearer, thoughts clearer and I had loads of energy, we both did.

  5. June February 8, 2010 at 11:48 am #

    If you had time for a short nap, I’m sure your eyes would have been fine! I have the same problem when there’s tooooo much chlorine in a pool. I also keep my eyes open underwater and have not tried goggles.

    Hmmmm….maybe I need to go to a spa for my next birthday! Thanks for the idea!

  6. carol February 8, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    Enjoyed the post. Connecting with yourself and ‘you have to make it for yourself’ stand out for me personally. I found myself snow bound at a hotel, unexpectedly…with the exception of being driven to and from the ER by a volunteer 4×4 driver to work shifts in ER of the hospital I thought I had escaped late Friday in northern Virginia.

    My weekend off was not to be denied. Despite warnings of “danger’, I left the ER Friday about 9pm….just as snowfall created blinding conditions on 95 north. After completing a harrowing 6 miles in 3 hours, i believe a higher power spared me from literally being thrown under the bus so to speak (wheels of a 16 wheeler) in my frenzy to get home to ‘relax’. Finally, I conceded. Became one of a half dozen guests in a 4 star hotel, spa not staffed,no cable, no functional restaurant, Called my husband and settled in.

    This weekend I reconnected at this spa destination. I reset. But it was a combination of events. I called the ER Saturday morning. Indeed they needed my services and sent a 33inch wheeled 4×4 vehicle to drive me back 6 miles to the hospital.

    Patients who braved/risked the weather needed care and reassurance. the mom of a 9 day old who believe her newborn was in respiratory distress, an elderly gentleman who was had acute urinary retention (unable to pass urine for more than 16 hours) were among my patients Saturday & Sunday. The practice of medicine is gratifying.

    But the quiet of two nights in a near desolate spa hotel gave me opportunity to gain perspective, reset, reconnect and create a plan.

    Your post help me crystalize my experience. thanks


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