Friday, January 11, 2008

Slimming Vacations...Who Knew

Forget the typical travel binge—these fitness spas will ensure you come home from your trip in better shape than you left.

We've blamed countless vacations for unexpected weight gain: too many plates of pasta in Rome, too many nights of tapas in Madrid. Our dream scenario would be to return from a fabulous trip without having gained a dress size—or even better, having lost one. Fitness vacations provide that chance, a rare opportunity both to experience a new place ... and to come back with a markedly improved outlook on life and, hopefully, some fabulously fitting jeans.

The Ashram (, in Southern California's Santa Monica Mountains, promises "a commitment of a week ... a change of a lifetime.” With Oprah Winfrey, Ashley Judd and Cindy Crawford all touted as past participants, it has the celebrity clientele to suggest that there's truth behind the marketing.

Despite the $4,000 price tag for a weeklong stay, the Ashram is no cushy, ultra-luxe spa. Full days begin at 6 a.m. and include three hours of yoga and self-improvement seminars in the evening—as well as long hikes, weight training and meditation sessions during the day. The Ashram suggests setting your weight-loss goals at around 10 pounds; carefully monitored diets featuring the locally produced, all-vegetarian organic food created by the Ashram’s kitchen make this target much easier to achieve.

The Hilton Head Health Institute ( wants to be clear: It's not a weight-loss boot camp. Unlike the institute, boot camps do not typically combine weight-loss programs with equally intensive spa amenities, such as deep tissue or hot stone massages. The institute’s allegiance to comfort also extends to its menus. Don't expect daily portions of organic gruel; the meals emphasize gourmet preparations of low-carb, low-fat and lean-protein dishes that include plenty of vegetables and fruit.

Overwhelmed, overworked, overstressed women looking for an opportunity to rethink their fitness choices may want to check out Green Mountain at Fox Run (, a weight-loss program in pretty Ludlow, Vt. The female-only environment promises a chance to discuss issues, such as emotional eating and body image, that specifically affect women who grapple with weight difficulties while attending to their families and time-consuming professional commitments. Eating strategies are taught alongside weight-training techniques, and daily hikes make use of the property's sprawling 26-acre grounds.

These are just few of the spa that will help you shed your winter weight.

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