Category Archives: Health

The Power of Receiving

Fall on the Monterey Peninsula is beautiful. The lighting has a softer hue with a golden tint. A hush comes over nature as the wild things prepare for winter. The seals are fat and happy on the beaches and position themselves to absorb the maximum sunlight before the cold of winter descends. The humans too feel the change after the kids go back to school and families get back to our fall routines.

At the Spa there is also a shift. Our clients  are usually tired after a fun summer of family and adventure in which they were usually responsible for the planning, the organization and the serving for large family gatherings and oh yes the endless clean up. It is a bitter sweet time. Joyful but sometimes exhausting as there is little time for being alone or experiencing self reflection.

As a massage therapist I often see this fatigue and I witness the energetic transformation as my client slips into a position of receiving. This is a deep, nurturing place, rarely encountered in our busy, linear lives. At the Spa we recognize that this attention and deep focus have the ability to heal and it is for this very reason that most of us enter the profession.  The beautiful spa amenities, soft music, and artwork  gently hold the space as the therapist’ healing touch and deep listening take the client into an altered state of peace and tranquility.

With these thoughts in mind I designed several specialty Spa Packages promising to induce these deep states of relaxation.

Stressless Massage 80 min. 155.00

This relaxing massage focuses on stress points on the back, feet and neck. Steamy hot towels are applied and includes fine essential oils to alleviate tension.

LED/ Microcurrent Facial & Oxygen Therapy80 mins $175.00

Vitamin C&E Serum Concentrate Micro-current, LED infrared light and concentrated oxygen are a potent trio when it comes to revitalizing sun damaged skin cells .

4 Tips for Staying Young

Move your body. It’s not just about burning calories, it’s about changing your self image. Am I a sedentary person prone to weight gain or an active person with a healthy lifestyle? How we see ourselves determines what we do.  My rule of thumb is that it takes three months of daily exercise before your workout begins to be anticipated instead of dreaded.

Stay Green. Eat a  plant based diet. Vegetables, legumes, seeds and nuts are packed full of nutrients. When your body gets essential vitamins and minerals,  unhealthy cravings naturally begin to diminish. Add savory treats like avocado, olives, and smoked salmon to your salads to make them interesting and more satisfying. Carbohydrates, meat and fats shouldn’t comprise more than 30% of your diet! See the glow come back to your skin and watch your weight easily drop off if you choose these simple dietary choices.

Nature. Commune daily with nature.  Breathe the fresh air, hear the birds and feel the breeze. We literally become more grounded when we spend time in nature, unplugged from technology. The peace in nature allows time for reflection and cultivates discernment which is a key ingredient to a successful life. I call it a fifteen minute nature bath. Find your oasis and visit it daily.

Camille and The Whole Hearted Choir

Find a Passion. I recently heard a psychologist explain that humans are herd animals and our isolated lifestyle is unnatural to our species. It is important that we find an activity that connects us with community. For some, it is choir or dance, for others it might be volunteering, joining a local church or supporting a political or social cause. Choose an activity that creates a community of like-minded people who grow to become friends and eventually a support group. Find a passion and join. We are not meant to go through this life alone.

Oh yes and treat yourself to a massage or facial at Spa on the Plaza. It’s called self love and not only do you deserve it, we would love to have you.

 

 

Camille’s Gentle Cleanse

When was the last time you craved a salad? If you can’t remember, it might be time to realign your eating habits with a cleanse. One of the many benefits to a cleanse is that unhealthy cravings diminish afterwards. Even a short, 3 day cleanse is a reboot to your system and need not be difficult. Ready to take the challenge? Begin with stocking your house with the following ingredients:

Grocery List

  1. Kefir-Kefir is a fermented drink made with milk and grains. It has beneficial probiotic organisms that cleanse the intestine, balance the intestinal flora and destroy pathogens such as e-coli, and parasites.
  2. Flax seeds- Flax seeds are also excellent for cleansing. They absorb
    Golden Flax
    Golden Flax

    water and expand as they pass through the colon and literally scrub toxins.

  3.  Chickpeas (soaked over night)– Any legumes work and are perfect for a cleanse because they are filling and a savory alternative to meat. They are also an excellent source of protein, B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium and potassium.
  4. Miso-I use miso as broth flavoring. The nutrients found in miso include vitamin B2, vitamin E, vitamin K, calcium, iron, potassium, choline and lecithin. 

    Quinoa
    Nutty flavor and delicious.
  5. Quinoa-Quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids. Any gluten free grain can be substituted but choose organic.
  6. Vegetables of choice-for the soup.  Onion, parsley and celery are warming and aid digestion.
  7. Salad makings, lettuce, carrots, avocado, onion. Any favorite green choice is fine.
  8. Olive Oil & Balsamic vinegar & garlic for salad dressing.
  9. Cayenne, salt, pepper for flavor and to aid digestion.

Friday-Day One   Caution: Do not over eat in anticipation of the cleanse as the cleanse is short and you don’t want to spend the whole time recovering from a binge. 

Before bed. Mix the 1/3 cup of kefir with 2-3 Tbs. of freshly ground flax seeds. A coffee grinder works, or a pestle. 

Saturday Day Two

Breakfast. Start your day with a fruit salad of your choice. Whatever is in season. Add 7-12 almonds, 6-8 walnuts, 2 Tbs. of  dried coconut flakes and a sprinkle of freshly ground flax seeds. Pour the kefir over the fruit salad. You should be full when you are done but not stuffed.

Lunch. Lunch is your biggest meal and includes a delicious savory soup. Sauté diced onions and a head of celery in a small amount of olive oil until soft. (About 15 mins.)  Finally add 1/2 cup of chopped parsley, 3 cups chick peas, a quart of water, vegetables and seasonings to taste.

Dinner.  Salad and grain of your choice. I like a full avocado as it satiates my craving for fat. Other favorite salad fixings include onions, carrots, peppers, olives and anchovies.

Salad Dressing. Mix 3 Tbs.  of Olive Oil with 1 Tbs. of Balsamic Vinegar and 1 ground garlic clove. Pour over the grain and salad for a spicy flavoring.

Before Bed. Mix the 1/3 cup of kefir with 2-3 Tbs. of freshly ground flax seeds.

Sunday-Day 3 Repeat day 2!

Monday morning wake up and feel the difference.  Ease in to your week and listen to your body.

5 Beauty Industry Myths

camille 56 2
Camille Malcolm Spa Owner

Twenty-five years in the beauty and health industry have made me wary of promises made by manufacturers selling miracle cures for aging. The industry has very little regulation and in our pursuit of youth, we could be harming our skin and our health. At the very least we are wasting time and money. How to be a savvy buyer in an industry that is notorious for potions and lotions promising eternal youth?

These are just some of the things to watch out for when visiting a spa or esthetician.

Myth # 1 You get what you pay for. The more you spend, the better the results. This is simply not true. I have seen vendors come into Spa on the Plaza promising huge results if we buy their $25,000.00 machine. Upon closer inspection it was old technology, repackaged and rebranded at 8 times the cost! The same goes for product. The industry has tiers that have less to do about the product inside than the customer they are targeting. Caviar skincare anyone? Let’s put it in a glass jar and a gold top and charge $150.00 an ounce for the woman who has everything. A good esthetician and spa will steer you towards products that have results and will be considerate of your budget.

Myth # 2 Pigmentation. The promise that product will remove pigmentationFacial spots! After dozens of potions and peels, this is not my experience. In fact many of these treatments make your pigmentation worse. Unless you never let your face see the sun again, those dark spots come back and sometimes worse because the skin has been stripped of protection provided by its natural pigmentation. Instead, I recommend healing the cell with a micro-current treatment, an LED infrared light and an O2 infusion. Peels are over used and can make the skin thin and sensitive. Healing the skin with technological skincare, and healing touch is the focus of our estheticians at Spa on the Plaza.

Myth # 3 Facelifts are your only option. Not true! I recommend a monthly Micro-current Facial, which utilizes an electrical current to regenerate cellular activity. Used in the best spas for decades this is a very simple 5-minute treatment that is easily incorporated into a facial. Also, daily lymphatic drainage massage can make a huge improvement to your appearance. Facial massage is an ancient technique used by women for thousands of years because it works. Every facial at Spa on the Plaza includes lymphatic drainage massage but anybody can easily incorporate this into his or her daily routine. Finally, before you resort to surgery, I recommend Ultherapy. It is half the cost and has no down time. The results are remarkable and it looks more natural than most facelifts.

Myth # 4 Sun is bad for your skin. Not true! Early morning or late afternoon sun is excellent for our skin. It gives us our vitamin K and also a golden glow that signifies health and vibrancy. Get outside, move your body and you will emit a youthful appearance. The sun is good for us on many levels. Do not be afraid of it.

Myth # 5 Because it is natural, it is safe. Natural does not mean organic. Neither does it promise that the ingredients are safe. The ingredients in cosmetics are not regulated in the United States and yes, some are very dangerous for your health. Many ingredients used by the cosmetic industry have been proven to cause cancer and harm  the reproductive and endocrine systems. At Spa on the Plaza we do not sell or use any product unless it has been deemed safe by the highly reputable non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Be educated and informed with a healthy skepticsim and find an establishment you can trust.  We hope to see you soon at                     Spa on the Plaza.

Happiness Challenge-Cherry Picked

The 7-Day Happiness Challenge was profound. Writing about gratitude every morning for seven days increased my awareness of the negative chatter in my head and enabled me to more easily shift to positive thinking. It was a challenging week personally and professionally and yet this simple tool acted has a rudder while I navigated difficult waters. Because of this daily practice, I am a different person. Stronger,  wiser and oh yes, humbler.

Here is  a cherry picked version of my Happiness Journal.

I am grateful for:

My mom’s advice. “Eat healthy food, think happy thoughts and exercise regularly.” My sweet daughter Mira, who is full of ideas. For all the young people in my life who expand my percFullSizeRender (1)eptions and show me the future. 

For the abundant Huckleberries this fall. My home, my sweet home on top of a hill overlooking a blue bay where sometimes I see whales swimming. The Monterey Pines. Those gnarled, beautiful trees that give me so much joy when I walk in the woods.

The blueberries in my cereal. You dear reader, I am so thankful for your presence. The incredible joy of moving my body to music, my dad with his guitar and sweet voice and my mother’s dance.

I am thankful for this practice and how it is changing me. It teaches me to see the sacred in all life’s experiences and that love is not found in achievements but in celebrating others.

For this day and for every breath I take, I am grateful. It’s a great day to be alive!!

Namaste

 

Gourmet Backpacking in Big Sur

big sur coast
Looking South from Big Sur

We just got back from a gourmet backpacking trip in the Big Sur Wilderness  which was, in my expert opinion, the perfect spa vacation. It is low stress, great exercise and the solitude of the trail offers many opportunities for reflection. Why gourmet? You are rewarded for your exertion with two hot springs, delicious food, restorative yoga, 5-star views and excellent company!

The Pine Ridge Trail begins at the Big Sur Station just past the popular River Inn on Highway One. The destination is Tassajara, a Buddhist monastery deep in the Ventana Wilderness which offers lodging and sulphur hot springs. I recommend planning on taking four days, for although only 23 miles, the trail travels from river valleys to mountain peaks three times and can be very challenging depending on the weather and the conditions. Neck high brush and extreme temperatures are not uncommon on the eastern half the mountains. Also, it is nice to  relax in the afternoons and enjoy Sykes Hot Springs on the Big Sur River or have time to recover at Pine Ridge from what we laughingly call Agony Trail.

Tubs at Sykes Hot Springs

 

On day three we get up at  dawn in order to beat the heat as we climb a steep rocky faced path to Pine Ridge. Done in the early morning it is an easy three mile climb. If done in the afternoon, the brush, combined with the sun reflecting off the shale, can be agonizing. Hence the name, Agony Trail. This is when you begin to regret the extra granola you packed. Minimal is best when hiking this kind of terrain.

Wild flowers along the trail.
Wild flowers along the trail.
Pine Valley Overlook

There are rewards for at the end of this challenging hike however. The views and the wild flowers are spectacular from Pine Ridge and you can see vistas all the way to the Monterey. There is also a beautiful spring that comes right out of the mountain and is the sweetest water I have ever tasted. Restorative yoga, coffee and sweets are traditionally on the afternoon agenda.

Cave hands
Ancient Esalen Indian pictograhs

The next day is the trek to Pine Valley. An easy four miles that drops you into a low hanging valley covered in a field of lupine and poppies. Oak, Lucia Pines and Sugar Pines dominate the landscape and the sandstone cliffs harbor Indian caves where one can find mortars and ancient pictographs left by the Esalen indians.

The last day is a five mile run in order to make Tassajara by lunch. By day four a fresh salad and steamy bread are strong motivations to hike out early. Church Creek trail offers beautiful vistas of sandstone rock formations but is often poorly marked and brushy. No obstacles are great enough to slow down the pace as we imagine showers, hot springs and fresh food.

Monk crossing bridge.
Monk crossing bridge.

When entering Tassajara there is always a hush that comes over me. The monastery has a sacred energy due to the monks strong meditation practice. The lack of electricity and the constant gurgle of the river immediately soothes one’s soul. In the Japanese tradition the baths separate the sexes which leads to complete ease and fun conversations. The steam room is a testimony to the Zen aesthetic which combines beauty and simplicity. Lined in colorful river stones with solid redwood benches and a small window looking towards the river. It is by far the nicest sauna I have ever frequented.

I wanted to share this trip not only because it was so much fun but to remind people that a “spa vacation” can be inexpensive and free of the hassles of traveling in airports. We live in such an amazing state and have wilderness within short distances. The hiking equipment is lighter weight these days and the hike not only feels good at the end of the day but affords you privacy, a continual change of spectacular scenery and possible adventure!

 

Remembering a Dream

photo(1)As a young girl I was a voracious reader of historical novels. Gone with the WInd, Michener’s Hawaii,  I could  devour one a week. What came out of this love for epic historical novels was a secret desire to write. In college, after reading and loving Tolstoy’s War and Peace, I shared my dream with Brandon, my best friend and an aspiring writer. As if ashamed by my boldness, I tentatively told him “that someday I would like to write an historical novel but I would wait, until I was older, when I would actually have something to say.” Well, that dream like several others, was pushed aside in the dustbin of forgotten memories. I got on with my life, my career, marriage and motherhood.

Always surround yourself with people who believe in you. I have such an angel in my office at the spa. Alma, my CFO, and brain child read my last blog and told me I should write a book about my life. “No no, I said, I don’t want to write about myself but about one of Mother Jonesthe most fascinating women in history, Mother Jones.” Alma is from Romania and had never heard of Mother Jones and so I began an impassioned monologue of this great woman’s life. How she lived in the first Gilded Age, this being the second, and how she championed against child labor and for fair labor laws. I spoke of her wit, her charm and her tragic life. “Write the book, Alma exclaimed, it is a great gift if you do. You have the time now.” And she is right; I do!

I feel a renewal and a quickening in my soul as I write her story. A part of me that lie dormant begins to stir and I am excited by the vastness of life’s possibilities. It is never to late to dust off an old dream.