How I chickened out on a challenge course at a five-star spa

At first glance, this might look like a tame enough photo, boring even. But something enormous had just happened in my life: I had majorly chickened out on a challenge course I’d committed to. Of all of my trips in the past few years, of overcoming long-held fears such as riding a horse at Grand Canyon Ranch, embracing nerves, doing things like hypnotherapy that are way out of my comfort zone… I never thought that I would so disastrously wimp out on something.

At a spa.

Yes, I have traveled far and wide, and during a posh weekend at a five-star spa, I met my match on its challenge course.

And you know what? It was fine. The world did not end, and my ego survived not being able to call everyone I know and go, “Guess what I did today!!” I met a friend, Michelle, and she and I had a grand time helping others reach safety. Just look at us: having a ball!

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Low-calorie tricks from Miraval

low calorie recipes Miraval

Miraval: my kind of spa.

My trip to the personal growth-pushing Miraval spa included a three-hour class that I sort of glazed over in an earlier post: cooking. Now, if you know me, then you’ve already guessed that this was about as out of my comfort zone as you can get. (I’ve always been way more into my career than anything domestic.) I also don’t take great food photos. After digging through my notes, however, I ran across so many low calorie recipes and tricks that Chef Chad Luethje uses to cut calories in his foods, that I really wanted to include one actual recipe. Plus, the class rocked for another reason: We made friends! After our class, we headed straight to the bar for the first of many fun times with the friendly Canadians. Girls, did you ever cook your husbands the five-course dinner you promised?!

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Life Lessons from Elvis the Horse

life lessons from Wyatt Webb at Miraval

Life lessons from cleaning a hoof?

When I called Miraval a “summer camp for adults” I wasn’t kidding. It offers life lessons workshops via everything from zip-lining to primal drumming, plus more traditional activities like hiking and yoga. While I did make it to yoga, I also wanted to try some things way out of my comfort zone. I eased into that with a class called “It’s Not About the Horse,” by the world-renowned Wyatt Webb. Last fall, I overcame my fear of horses enough to ride a very tame one at the Grand Canyon Ranch. So I figured I could handle whatever they threw at me. Every single person I talked to about Miraval told me I had to take this class. So off I went.

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Five-course dinner? My kind of spa!

Miraval Arizona spas

Low-cal filet mignon.

Lest you think we deprived ourselves, Miraval is not that kind of spa. After a delicious three-course meal at the Cactus Flower restaurant the first night (yes, with wine), we opted for the “Cooking with the Chef” class on the second night. Five courses with wine pairings! Starting with an amazingly healthy, crisp and delicious Caesar salad, we were amazed at all of the things you can do to cut calories in the kitchen. The girls at our table diligently took notes, vowing to cook the whole shebang for their husbands when they returned home to Canada. But only the travel blogger took photos! Pictured here: angus beef filet mignon with roma tomato, basil and shallot salad, drizzled with vinegar reduction and topped with a goat cheese ball.

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Miraval: Different Kind of Arizona Spa

Aaron Rasmussen Abby Tegnelia Miraval Arizona spasMiraval Resort & Spa, outside of Tucson, Arizona, is an unusual place, sort of a hippy-dippy summer camp for adults. But I only wished this camp was a three-month, all-summer-long affair! Instead, I spent a relaxing long weekend there, soaking in the calming desert landscapes and melting away at the spa. Miraval stands out among Arizona spas; it is the type of place where everyone is either strolling the serene walkways in a robe on the way to and from the spa, or donning their cutest Sporty Spice wear to the gym, a hike, or one of the activities the retreat is famous for. But we’ll get to that.

First, I want to show you the grounds.

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