Feel Good Fitness

Last week I did something unimaginable. Something that’s largely unheard of for moms with young children. 

I took a vacation.

Yes, a whole week just for myself. A week to recharge, reconnect, refocus on me as a person, in all the roles I play. I’ve been feeling run down with the daily grind of life lately. Always running on Bug’s schedule, the constant chores and not sleeping well have taken a toll. Three weeks ago I decided I needed a break ASAP. I knew of one place where I was guaranteed to get it.

Omega Institute is in upstate New York, two hours north of the City. It’s idyllic, with a wooded outdoor campus, lake with kayaks, cabins in the woods, and forest creatures so used to human company that they move to one side as you pass them on the outdoor stairways. I first, and last, went there in 2002 after finishing grad school at Duke and before starting my career in Washington, to learn yoga and chill. Omega offers several different workshops weekly all summer. I attended the Feel Good Fitness workshop.

This topic was timely and ideal, as I’m really holding steady with my fitness routine and lifestyle. Actually, Lifetime Fitness just published my blog post on how I changed my world through fitness.

Led by a vibrant trio of facilitators and other Omega staff, the session boasted a “fun and dynamic workshop of physical activity, play, creativity.” Here’s what I did daily:

  • Woke up to birds chirping, and then sometimes did an hour of yoga
  • Had delicious vegetarian meals outside, where I was joined by the Head Chef as a personal tutor on all things nutrition, cooking and eating (who knew it was good to eat miso soup for breakfast?)
  • Had an hour and a half lecture on nutrition and eating by the Head Chef or a local Naturopath doctor
  • Did 45 minutes of playful cardio, including running laps in the grass, bouncing balls, skipping and dancing
  • Did 45 minutes of strength training
  • Engaged in creative artistic expression, including making a group and individual mandala, experiencing dance and movement, making rhythms, and writing poetry
  • Learned about reclaiming personal energy

Other activities included kayaking, using the sauna and hearing a kora concert. Another workshop happening while I was there was with what’s called the International Council of the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, who carry a message of peace worldwide, and at Omega, held blessing ceremonies and teachings at Omega. One night I played a tambourine with some resident musicians and two of the Grandmothers! The women taught us a song about how love is like a Lucky Penny. Pretty darn cool.

I also took a tour of Omega’s amazing water reclamation facility – the Omega Center for Sustainable Living. A model for sustainability and education, Omega reclaims 99% of its sewage water through an ecosystem of plants that naturally and effectively cleans the water and returns it back into the water table.

My week was fantastic. I focused on being in the present. Was I relaxed once home? Not quite. The Zen quickly wore off. But, I have tried to keep some tools that I learned, like setting a daily intention and cooking more fresh and whole foods. In true Melanie style, though, I’ve gone off the deep end in cooking loads of foods. So I need to reign that in to something more manageable, despite the benefits of great food I’m making. Maybe I can hire a housekeeper??

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