14 Slimming Secrets from America's Top Spas
From detox treatments to clean cuisine, five-star spas make shaping up feel like a holiday. Can't jet there in person? We got the top resorts to share their hush-hush strategies.
"Adding a hint of flavor to your water encourages you to drink more. And increasing the amount of water you have is one of the easiest habits you can adopt to help you lose weight. We set out pitchers of infused combinations. A few favorite pairs are cucumber and mint, strawberry and basil, lemon and ginger, or grapefruit and rosemary."
—Kimberly Dean, spa manager at Winvian resort in Litchfield Hills, Conn.
Dine in Your Gym Duds
"When you eat in workout clothes, it's a reminder that you put a lot of sweat into burning off calories, so you don't want to make unhealthy choices that counteract that. Also, because fitness clothes tend to be formfitting, you'll be more aware of your body—and notice when you're full."
—Danine Fruge, MD, women's health director at Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa in Miami
Question Your Hunger
"Losing weight isn't about dieting—it's about mindfulness. So you have to check in with your body to understand your level of hunger. Ask yourself two essential questions: How hungry am I right now? and then, if needed, Why would I eat if I'm not hungry? This lets you make a conscious decision: If you're hungry, eat—and if not, don't eat."
—Nina Smiley, PhD, director of mindfulness programming at the Mohonk Mountain House Resort and Spa in New Paltz, N.Y.
Opt for Herbal
"Put 1 teaspoon of powder ginseng or 2 or 3 drops of ginseng extract in fresh juice or your favorite smoothie. The herb helps boost energy levels, which can give you the push you need to work out—and may even help you burn more fat." (Check with your doc first if you're pregnant or breast-feeding.)
—Karen Ray, spa director at Calistoga Ranch in Napa, Calif.
Start with a Soup
"We always keep a nondairy vegetable-based soup on our menu, and not just because it's delicious. When you begin your meal with soup, you get fiber and fluid that fill you up, preventing you from overeating on your main course. And the practically calorie-free spices in it enhance the flavor, so it feels decadent."
—Cindy Geyer, MD, medical director at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Mass.
Quit the 'Can'ts'
"I always tell people to look at what is in the food they eat rather than what isn't. So many fad diets are centered on not eating certain things—don't eat carbs, don't eat fats—when in reality the most successful diets are the ones that encourage you to read labels, looking for ingredients that are found in nature."
—Junelle Lupiani, RD, nutritionist at Miraval Resort and Spa in Tucson, Ariz.
Have a Ball
"I sit on an exercise ball whenever I'm at my computer, and I recommend our spa guests do so as well at their homes or offices. It constantly forces you to focus on clenching your abs, making it a great opportunity to burn calories and tone your midsection when you otherwise wouldn't be."
—Maggy Dunphy, executive director of spa and wellness at Stowe Mountain Lodge in Stowe, Vt.
Make Use of Minerals
"Our spa offers an Ocean Dew Detox, and part of the treatment involves a soak in Dead Sea salt, one of the highest natural sources of magnesium. The mineral is crucial for maintaining muscle function and gives your body energy to keep active all day. The best part: You can soak in your tub at home using any Dead Sea salt variety and benefit from its perks."
—Michelle Frye, spa director at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif.
Beat Your Bloat
"Sometimes we have those days when we wake up and think, Yuck, why do I feel different today? When this happens, try a manual lymph drainage treatment, which helps de-bloat you and improves the circulation in your body. At the spa, we do a special drainage massage, but you can use a dry brush at home for a similar effect. Go over your body with light, vertical strokes, starting at your feet and working your way up toward your heart."
—Shana Ominsky, executive spa director and director of the Elements Wellness program at the Montage Deer Valley resort in Park City, Utah
Work Hard, Play Harder
"You should absolutely sink into a chaise lounge in front of the fireplace with a glass of bubbly and a delicious bite of chocolate if you want to. It's all about a balance of indulgences. We Aspenites love our crème brûlée and risotto, but we integrate a lot of activity into every day that allows us to do so—and we advise our guests to do the same!"
—Julie Oliff, spa director at the St. Regis Resort in Aspen, Colo.
Don't Forget Dumbbells
"I get looks of surprise and confusion when I tell women that it's important to do strength training to slim down. They're expecting me to say, 'Let's kick up the cardio!' Not that cardio isn't great, but strength training is the missing piece of the weight-loss puzzle because it helps burn calories more efficiently, thus helping you shed pounds faster."
—Sharon Rekieta, fitness director at Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin, Texas
"When we cut back on calories, our bodies try to do everything they can to fight deprivation—it's an evolutionary response—and that's why we start thinking about food all the time. If you're attempting to lose weight, it's key to find a distraction (a new favorite exercise class or hobby, for example) so your mind goes there instead of to filling your belly."
—Cindy Geyer, MD
Beauty Hack: A Cellulite Buster
"This coffee-grounds scrub helps increase circulation and can even reduce the appearance of cellulite," says Maggy Dunphy, of Stowe Mountain Lodge in Stowe, Vt.
Try it yourself in the shower:
4 parts coffee grounds +
1 part coconut oil
Want a Spa Smoothie?
"Guests love our green smoothies," says Junelle Lupiani, RD, of Miraval Resort and Spa in Tucson, Ariz. "They give tremendous nutrients and help you stay full because of all the fiber in the fruits and vegetables. This one is a quick, delicious and energizing option that's great any time of day."
Miraval's Green Smoothie
2 cups chopped cucumber, with skin on
1 cup chopped Granny Smith apple, stemmed and seeded
1 cup celery hearts
1 heart romaine lettuce
1/3 cup fresh pineapple
Combine ingredients in a heavy-duty blender and process until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and enjoy.
Recharge with a Twist
If you're feeling off or too tired to exercise, do this spin on a classic move from yoga guru Tara Stiles, which she created for guests of W hotels and spas.
W's Detox Pretzel
Come to a seated position and slide your right foot to the outside of your left hip. Lay your right leg on the floor as you swing your left leg over the right so your left foot is outside your right hip.
Inhale as you lift your right arm straight over your head, then exhale as you cross it over your left thigh. Bring your left hand behind you and twist to the left, looking over your left shoulder. Take deep breaths as you go further into the twist.
Unwind, then switch to the other side.