While it doesn’t define itself as a spa, Green Mountain’s 40 years as a treasured destination for women seeking healthy solutions to weight loss make it an essential pioneer for our list. Their caring program of mindful meditation, nutrition, and fitness has helped thousands of women break the cycle of yo-yo dieting in a healthy, life-affirming way.
Since its founding in 1972, when it began as a four-week summer program on the campus of Green Mountain College, Green Mountain Spa at Fox Run has been pioneering the non-diet approach to weight management and changing the lives of thousands of women.
It is, in fact, one of the oldest all-women’s health and weight-loss destinations in the world. Guided by the belief that dieting can make things worse, not better, when it comes to long-term weight loss, Green Mountain employs and supports a program of permission-based eating, steering people away from the idea that some foods are good and will make you thin while others are bad and will make you fat. “We’re interested in empowering the individual as opposed to empowering the food,” says Green Mountain Executive Director Alan Wayler, PhD, “by educating people on healthy eating habits and control, but also on the emotional issues that many women have in relationship to food.”
It’s a multilayered approach that is human and forgiving. “Nobody is a perfect eater, and if you are trying to achieve this, it can lead to other disordered eating,” says Wayler. “You have to learn how to eat your brownie, whatever your brownie is.”
Weight Loss and Stress Reduction for a New Era
Green Mountain is also a center that views weight loss as a part of a larger wellness lifestyle, understanding that taking care of your weight will help take care of your health. As Green Mountain’s clients have moved from the home into the workplace and their lives have become busier and more stressful, time for exercise, self-care and self-nurturing is at a premium. As a response to this, Green Mountain has implemented the practice of mindfulness-based stress reduction, a philosophy created by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, long considered a father of meditation, self-healing and the capacity to face stress, pain and illness across the lifespan. With this foundation, Green Mountain educates women about their emotional relationship with food and exercise.
As more people are becoming aware of preventative wellness’ benefits, they are finding it easier to immerse themselves in the theories that Green Mountain was founded on so many years ago. Ten years down the road, the staff at Green Mountain expects that this notion will be ubiquitous, that people will no longer abdicate responsibility for their health, and that spa and wellness facilities like theirs will be at the forefront of helping people achieve a healthy balance that can be maintained in the long term.
Reporting by Erika Allen
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