My Trip to Lake Austin, aka How Stacy Got Her Groove Back
Sunday, July 25, 2010
I’m finishing up a week-long stay at the Lake Austin Spa Resort just outside of Austin, TX. I’m here thanks to my marvelous husband, who fronted me the money to go (I AM paying him back for about half of it—the rest is a 5th anniversary/finishing my Masters’ degree present). I signed up for Lake Austin’s “Power of 7” Program, which they describe as “a weeklong program of spa treatments, fitness classes, and special activities customized with your specific goals in mind.” I envisioned this program as a great opportunity to really jump-start a healthier lifestyle that would result in better nutrition, more physical activity, weight loss, and increased stress management.
As I sat on the plane waiting to take off from St. Louis, I saw it as an opportunity to leave the “Old Stacy” behind. However, as we got into the air, it became apparent that “Old Stacy” wasn’t going away that easily. There was some pretty intense turbulence—the worst I’ve ever experienced— as we climbed through some storm clouds for the first 10-15 minutes of the flight. The plane shook, lurched, and dropped several times. Babies cried, people gasped loudly, and the woman next to me grabbed onto me several times as a reflex. I pictured the spirit of “Old Stacy” trying to keep her grip on me, trying to keep me in my comfort zone of fast food, laziness, and emotional eating. Eventually, we rose above the clouds, and I felt a feeling of calm come over me. It was likely because the stress of the turbulence was behind me, but I also saw it as “Old Stacy” giving up.
The rest of the flight was uneventful, and I eventually arrived at the Lake Austin Spa Resort. I got settled in my spacious yet cozy room and set out to explore the rest of the campus. It is a very laid-back, calm place, which fit my personality perfectly. That being said, I had created a color-coded schedule to remind myself of what classes I wanted to attend and when I had scheduled fitness consultations and spa appointments.
• I took several yoga and stretching classes. As I said, a key area of focus for me this week has been learning ways to manage stress and tension. As a yoga virgin, I took some gentle, beginner-type classes. They were all enjoyable, even if I did realize that my arms really are shorter in proportion to my legs, which made some poses difficult. The foam roller classes were somewhat challenging, as I don’t really have the upper-body strength needed to roll my junk in the trunk along the roller. However, it did feel good to massage my hips and legs on a deeper level.
• I attended several “Discovery Classes” on topics ranging from improving my posture to creating a sleep hygiene routine to doing a tapping routine on various places on my body to stop ruminating, anxiety-inducing thoughts. I know, that sounds weird, but it seemed to work the couple of times I tried it throughout the week.
• I took a beading class, in which I made a bracelet. It was a very girly, anti-Stacy thing for me to do, but it was actually pretty cool. I made a bracelet with peace symbols and little charms that said things like “Balance,” “Follow your Heart,” and “Be Yourself.” I may not actually wear the bracelet, but it really does look pretty cool, so I’ll probably display it somewhere prominent so I can see it on a regular basis.
• I began with an assessment of my Resting Metabolic Rate, or the number of calories my body burns when I’m doing absolutely nothing. I’ve often worried that, given the thyroid issues in my family, I could have a problem myself, contributing to a slower metabolism and weight gain. Luckily, though, my numbers appeared to be just fine. I was given a target calorie range for reasonable weight loss, and I was really happy to see that the range is actually doable. I won’t have to starve or deny myself!
• I also consulted with a nutritionist who gave me some quick and easy meal ideas, but more importantly, some guidance and strategies to help me with my tendency to eat when I’m stressed, angry, depressed, bored, etc.
• I met with a personal trainer, Katherine, who helped me develop a strength-training workout I can easily do at home with my weights and stability ball. We even came up with weekly schedules and daily routines. Katherine and I also discussed some stress management techniques. I really enjoyed working with Katherine and made a point to take her stretching and foam roller classes throughout the week. She was very supportive and inspiring, not to mention stunningly beautiful! She looked just like Rebecca Hall, who played Vicky in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”
• I didn’t have a single meal that I didn’t enjoy! The first couple of meals involved some moments of shock as I looked at my plate and saw some small portions, but then I quickly realized that the portions were actually the nutritionally appropriate size. For instance, I actually had three ounces of steak, a cup of rice, etc. It really wasn’t that hard to adjust, especially since I had access to fruit whenever I wanted/needed it. I never really found myself hungry between meals or overly stuffed after eating. Each of my meals ranged between 300-400 calories.
• They served several yummy desserts, including two kinds of frozen yogurt that you could have after lunch and/or dinner. I enjoyed several different kinds of fro-yo, as well as some delicious banana-chocolate chip bread, chocolate cream pie, and lemon bars. Again, the portions were smaller than I may have served myself at home or than what I would expect at a “regular” restaurant,” but I was satisfied.
• The spa had a really nice “wet area” (hot tub, sauna, and steam room) that I utilized several times during the week.
• The “Blue Room” was the perfect place to relax while waiting for a treatment, and I even hung out there after treatments. I got some quality reading and napping done there.
• I had a massage that involved smearing Moor mud all over my back. Pretty awesome.
• During one massage, I told my therapist that she could practically beat me up to release some knots and areas of tension. Boy, did she! She found knots in my hands, feet, hamstrings, and glutes that I didn’t know I had. It felt amazing as she applied intense pressure—I could feel the knots dissolve. It was also somewhat emotional, as I knew exactly why those knots were there—work stress, grad school stress, and general stress from not taking good care of myself. The following day, I was quite sore, but more notably, I was in a funk. I think releasing some of the physical tension also released the emotional baggage enmeshed inside. I took it really easy that day—after some time in the steam room and after taking a long, luxurious shower, I felt my mood lift.
• I had an amazing foot and scalp massage. Those two areas tend to get overlooked in most other massages I’ve gotten, so it was nice to have time devoted to just those spots.
• I had my first facial as well. I was hesitant to have one, given the utter girliness of it, but it ended up being one of my favorite treatments. It was really relaxing to have someone massage my face, apply all sorts of different creams and cleansers, and then cover my face and neck with warm towels. This may be something I have to look into at home.
• I had a massage tailored in to my dosha (from Ayurveda) and my chakras. It sounds new-agey, but I thought I’d try it for funsies. It was all very soothing, to the point that afterward, I retreated to the Blue Room and napped for about an hour.
All in all, this has been an absolutely amazing experience, one that has set me on a path of better choices. It has felt good this week to eat healthy, exercise, pamper myself, and simply listen to my body (especially when it told me it was naptime). I have learned so many things about improving my life physically, emotionally, nutritionally, and even spiritually. I’m fairly certain that I won’t be seeing “Old Stacy” any time soon. In her place is a new and improved version. She’s still not “perfect,” but she’s making progress and knows what she wants.