Immersive Health and Longevity at Pritikin

Pritikin

I usually have breakfast in the company of my open laptop. Not today. Today is Sunday, the first morning of my week at Pritikin Wellness and Longevity Center and I’m loving my breakfast; living in the moment and appreciating all my food groups: eggs, toast, vegetables, fruit, and a foamy cappuccino. Looking around the calm, beautiful dining room, I think back to the countless times I have been here in the past decades, sometimes with a partner and sometimes alone. Can a dining room have a persona? There is a calmness, a palpable friendliness, a sense of security, as if I am in an invisible warm embrace that says, “I’m here, and everything’s going to be alright, baby.”

Earlier, I had my appointments with the Medical Department to make sure there was nothing that could dictate changes to my usual food-plan and exercise program: exercise tolerance test; Cardio; blood draw; history and physical. “Good to go,” they smile. I see a few old friends and begin to make new ones. A bonus is that the dress code is super-casual. Each one of us is here for our own reasons, and our personal eating and exercise strategy is set right at the start. Some guests are here for health reasons such as diabetes, cardiovascular or cholesterol problems, weight loss or gain, recuperation from an illness or emotional exhaustion, or like me, to recharge after work, work, work. At the core, we are all co-religionists, all knowing that we will walk out feeling one helluva lot better than when we walked in.

Dining at Pritikin
Dining at Pritikin

The Pritikin Longevity Center is a health and wellness resort known for its comprehensive programs focused on promoting healthy living and longevity. Opened in 1975 by Nathan Pritikin, a nutrition and longevity advocate, the centre offers programs designed to guide us to achieve optimal health through a combination of nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle changes. Another bonus is that the Center is set on the grounds of the world-renowned Doral Golf and Country Club.

I awaken at the crack of dawn, make my coffee, and from my terrace, watch the flock of white birds that come every morning to peck for food in the grass. They love it here too. Breakfast at 6:30 a.m. leads into the 15 min. Sunrise Stretch at 7:00, followed by Cardiovascular Exercise class, Core class, and Gentle Yoga which is a combination of postures, breathing and relaxation.

By mid-morning, we’re all looking forward to a snack to revive and refresh us. One of the scrumptious vegetable soups perks me right up. (And I have the recipes to take home.) Now, it’s time to relax. Today, there is a pre-lunch work-shop on how to smartly stock our kitchen pantry, evaluate products, and learn label-reading to avoid high sodium and hidden fats. This is a priceless tool for intelligent cooking and gives me an understanding of what all those numbers and percentages on labels actually mean. The Center emphasizes a whole-food, plant-based diet that is low in fat, cholesterol and sodium. We’re learning about healthy cooking techniques, meal planning, and the benefits of incorporating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes into our diets. It’s an attitude adjustment as well as a practical application. When we’re back in our own kitchens, following these protocols, we can maintain the Pritikin start-up. Don’t have time to cook? There is a delivery program in the U.S.

Pritikin Dining Room
Pritikin Dining Room

Lunch at tables for two or communal tables is a mid-day social scene, where all of us like-minded folks learn a bit about each other and often find that we have mutual friends in different parts of the world. Here, when someone asks, “How are you doing?” the answer is a non-judgmental conversation that may include emotional well-being, weight loss or examples of renewed energy. But mainly, we share our delight at discovering the deliciousness and abundance of the food we’re eating. Today, for example, I am enjoying every bite of my four-course lunch: Salad from the market-garden bar of veggies; creamy roasted fennel soup; grilled vegetable quesadilla; salmon and spinach stuffed mushrooms; ruby chocolate drizzled raspberries and a cappuccino. What’s not to love? Now, I am looking forward to the Cooking School and learning how to easily prepare these lovely dishes.

The Lectures are an integral part of this program. Today’s afternoon lecture: “How to Write Your Story” plays to a full-house. We all have a story, and a professional guest speaker shares with us many approaches to writing our life story. I took many notes here to use, so that my story, (should I write it) is as interesting to read as it was to experience. I got a lot out of the New Goals, New Life, New Mindset. We learned how to increase our motivation and readiness for change, overcome barriers to change, and change unhealthy habits. Another lecture of interest is Stress: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.  Stress can be good for you and there are techniques to lighten the load. The Dining Out lecture illustrates how to get what we really want in a restaurant without the server going ballistic. My daily big decision here, is whether to have an afternoon nap or an afternoon snack.

Double Double Room
Double Double Room

The moment of truth happens for me on Thursday. The physical change is obvious…small aches and pains I was hardly aware of have disappeared. I can walk around the golf course at a good clip and not be out of breath. And there is another surprise: my cell phone addiction has all but disappeared. The scale doesn’t lie. I have lost four pounds! At dinner we discuss our triumphs and enjoy our lovely four-course menu: Crunchy Thai chickpeas with curry tahini sauce, Japanese miso seafood, Crispy chicken with honey garlic sauce, and an apple turnover for dessert. The secret is the high flavour quotient. When it all tastes so good, it satisfies on every level. After dinner, there is an easy-going guided-walk to admire the sunset and head back to our Villas.

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The benefits are three-pronged. The gym with all the latest equipment and instructors who have clearly been hired for their friendly charm as well as their expertise. The variety of workouts are astounding, and never get boring. The daily menus astound, delight and fulfill our emotional and physical appetites. The lectures give us hope, understanding of ourselves and a guideline to longevity and a healthy life. All this, in quiet, natural surroundings, is truly transformational.

Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa
Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa

On Saturday, the last day, I treat my outer-woman. After an hour or so at the luxurious Spa with a sauna, massage, and a visit to the hair salon, I head back to my room for a well-earned nap before dinner. The schedule reads: Dancing After Dinner guided by one of the exceptional Pritikin dance instructors. Sounds like fun!

www.pritikin.com

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