Hiking 10,000 steps before breakfast is certainly NOT a practical health and wellness solution to build into your everyday life, but when in Rome……
I love the morning hikes at Rancho La Puerta (I always call it my favorite place in the world). Rancho La Puerta is without a doubt my biggest influence for wanting to start The Healing Farm. Recently, I was inspired once again by a talk given by Professor Ludwig Max Fischer. He is passionate about what RLP is all about and seems to be the unofficial (or maybe the official) ranch historian. Max was at the ranch when I was here photographing last spring and shared with us the mini-documentary on the origins of RLP and Edmond ("The Professor") and Deborah Szekely (founders). Rancho La Puerta, just in case you didn't know, is the Godmother of all health retreats/spas and was founded in the mid-forties. It was thought of by some as a cult because the Professor's teaching about natural healing and meditation in Western culture was so ahead of it's time. During Max’s talk the other day, he brought up how influential RLP has been to so many modern day health gurus and how many of them are now coming to speak about natural and holistic healing at the ranch today.
I’ve been fortunate enough to come to the ranch once or twice a year to do their marketing photography and can honestly say the ranch has been so influential in my life that it has inspired my current career change journey. It was around the time I was working with Chris Kresser and in the process of treating all of my chronic health conditions that I came to photograph at the ranch for the first time. I had already been dreaming of a place called “The Healing Farm” where one could go to immerse themselves in learning about natural healing and realized when I walked onto the RLP property for the first time that it already exists! I was instantly an RLP disciple (or “cult” follower if I were here in the 40s and 50s), but I realized that places like RLP which have sprouted up all over the world are called “spas” and are unaffordable to most people. I would love to create a place with multiple levels of accommodation (think camping to cabins!) with a little more of a focus on serious healing of chronic conditions (think on-site functional medicine practitioners and nutritionists) to guide guests on a personal wellness journey. Learn how to prevent before the chronic conditions creep in or how to manage or even cure chronic conditions that already exist.
I recently wrote about my Fitbit fitness tracker and how enamored I am with how easy it is to use and how much it keeps me on track with my fitness and weight loss goals and was excited to have it at the ranch with me this time. It’s a HUGE property and requires a lot of walking, especially if you’re in one of the outer property accommodations (which I usually am). I had heard that if you were staying on the outskirts of the property by the end of the week you would walk about 20 miles – and that’s not including the morning hikes! I love the morning hikes at RLP and couldn’t wait to see how many steps I would take this week which is why I was inspired to do this post. Yesterday I did one of the mountain hikes. I didn’t want to get up at 5:30 in the morning, but the ranch makes it pretty easy. I naturally go to bed around 9:00 here so when the alarm rings at 5:30AM, I roll out of bed, throw on the clothes I laid out the night before, don’t even bother to brush my teeth and go out into the still starry early morning. When I get to the lounge, there’s usually a roaring fire going, coffee and tea prepared and some cut up grapefruit, oranges and bananas. I have snack and some coffee sitting in front of the fire chatting with all the other morning hikers and then off we go as the sun rises. Usually I start chatting with a fellow hiker or two and end up getting to know them throughout the hike. A great way to make friends at the ranch! Sometimes, I hike in solitude. I learned from this routine many visits ago that I could repeat this at home and build morning exercise into my routine. I could get up an hour earlier, make coffee and have a snack, read a little news and then workout before I start the day.
The ranch has also been my inspiration and teacher for my morning meditation practice. During their morning guided meditation classes, I have learned to not be intimidated by meditation and have built it into my morning routine by doing a ten-minute meditation while I brew my coffee!
I’ve been having a blast this week keeping informed through my Fitbit how many steps I’m taking during a day at RLP. I laughed out loud yesterday on the 5.5 mile mountain hike when my wrist started buzzing and I realized I had met my 10,000 steps a day goal before I even had breakfast. That’s what the ranch will do for you. Maybe you won’t put in 10,000 steps before breakfast every day (or maybe not even once a year!), but you get inspired and learn new things every day, take them and then figure out how to build them into your everyday life. You start making long-term changes a little at a time until eventually you have a regular ten minute a day meditation practice and a four day a week exercise routine that you naturally do because you’ve learned how to easily fit it into your routine.
Max said during his talk the other day that part of The Professor’s vision for RLP was sort of a grand real-life test for what he felt was the future of wellness. He was onto something so many years ago and I’m so lucky to have come here during my photography career to be inspired and rejuvenated in my midlife to make short and long-term changes in my own life. I want to do what The Professor has done. I want to go out into the world bringing health practitioners and educators together in a beautiful and affordable setting to change the course of healthcare.