Weight-loss secrets from a $4,000 spa

Try these slim-down secrets from a proven (and expensive) weight-loss program

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weight loss retreat

A weight-loss retreat

Tucked in the majestic Selkirk Mountains, B.C.’s Mountain Trek has all the trappings of a luxury wellness retreat. At the rustic lodge overlooking Kootenay Lake, guests dine on organic cuisine, detox in saunas and enjoy three weekly massages at the only hiking spa in North America.

But this is no ordinary pamper-fest-it’s a proven weight-loss program. Mountain Trek promises a week of delicious food, invigorating exercise and fast weight loss: most women drop four to six pounds a week, and men shed eight to 10.

Thanks to classes in sleep, diet, exercise and stress, guests learn simple formulas to take their newfound vitality home. “We want people to walk out having fallen back in love with their body,” says program director Kirkland Shave. Here are Mountain Trek’s best weight-loss tips.

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yoga mountains vacation relax

Rise, dine and strike a pose

Guests begin their day with a protein smoothie and an hour of yoga. Eating breakfast within 30 minutes of rising kick-starts your metabolism and keeps the liver out of starvation mode. When you skip meals, the body responds by slowing down the metabolism and storing fat.

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breakfast granola fruit

Breakfast like a queen, lunch like a princess, supper like a peasant

Many dieters are calorie martyrs to save up for a big meal at dinner. Instead, eat two-thirds of your food in the first nine hours of your day when you’re most active. This reduces evening blood sugars and insulin spikes, so your body won’t have to store the excess food energy as fat. Get moving after dinner to use up some fuel before you turn in.

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hiking water break

Eat every three hours

Calories are controlled at Mountain Trek (1,200 daily for women; 1,400 for men), but guests get steady fuel from eating six times a day: smoothie, breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner. The gourmet food is enough to power guests through an hour of yoga, three-plus hours of hiking and an hour in the gym. “We give those snacks to help keep blood sugar even through the day,” says program director Kirkland Shave.

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peanut butter

Count food groups, not calories

Mix food groups to create a longer, slower release of insulin and fuel an active metabolism. Here’s how:

Lots of veggies: Fill your breakfast bowl with 1/3 fruit or veg; boost to ¾ veg at lunch and dinner.
Six servings of protein: Aim for 20 to 30 grams at meals: 1/3 of your plate at breakfast and ¼ of your plate at lunch and dinner. For three snacks, try a fruit with a tablespoon of nut butter or legume dip, or ¼ cup of nuts or seeds. At meals, choose vegetable proteins or wild, organic, free-range meats and fish.
Complex carbs: 1/3 of your breakfast. Skip refined grains, such as bread and pasta, and go for quinoa, oats, millet, brown rice or buckwheat. Whole foods contain more fibre, phytochemicals, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins.
Healthy fats: Choose avocado, nuts and seeds, plus omega-rich flaxseed oil or olive oil.

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woman arm muscle fit

Build muscle to stay young

Aging and a sedentary lifestyle make our metabolism sluggish, shrink muscle mass and slow the production of human growth hormone, which is our body’s own fountain of youth. Mountain Trek shows people how to reverse the damage and burn more calories by switching the metabolism from decay into growth mode. Here’s the formula:

Twice a week, start lifting, pushing and pulling your body (or weights).
Work large muscles (chest, back) first, then small muscles (biceps, triceps).
Pick a weight you need to work hard to push/lift eight to 12 times.
Repeat each exercise twice before starting the next. Eventually add more weight and/or a third set.

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biking nature

Flush fat with cardio

It doesn’t matter if you walk, cycle or hike, there are two ways to burn fat:

Option 1: Exercise continuously at a leisurely pace for 90 minutes.

Option 2: Exercise continuously for 40 minutes at a higher intensity. For this option, you need to be breathing hard enough that you can speak, but not in full sentences.

You’ll get bonus points for using the outdoors as your gym. “Start walking in nature and your cortisol immediately drops,” says Shave.

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hot yoga

Sweat out the bad stuff

The kidneys, liver, lungs and skin are constantly working to flush harmful substances-from bacteria and viruses to chemicals found in cosmetics, food and cleaners-to protect vital organs. If we can’t detoxify fast enough, our fat cells enlarge to keep toxins away from sensitive tissue.

Hydrate well: Drink enough water so your urine looks clear.
Eat fibre: 25 to 40 grams per day keeps the intestines moving.
Sweat often: Exercise, saunas and steams release stored toxins.

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