The Oaks at Ojai: The Ultimate Weight Loss and Fitness Spa

Imagine a small town nestled in between rolling golden hills and tall, green mountains. Natural rock formations jut out of the scenery, and the land you’re in has a rich Indian heritage, with citrus groves dotting the scenery. This quaint little town is just an hour and 15 minutes north of Los Angeles; seemingly make believe, a peaceful respite away from sirens and smog, a stone’s throw from the glistening coast in Ventura. Welcome to Ojai!

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I had the pleasure of being invited to the Oaks at Ojai Spa for a long weekend, and I attend October 7 and 8th. Initially, I had some concerns about attending a “Weight loss spa” for the first time. I had visions of Biggest Loser style challenges, being surrounded by platters of junk food that I needed to psychologically resist, and carrying giant packs of heavy stuff up a 15-mile mountain. Thankfully, the Oaks at Ojai is not like any stereotype of a fitness or weight loss spa, and it is instead a safe haven of serenity for those looking to relax while improving their health.

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My childhood best friend Katelyn drove up from Sacramento be with me, and we checked into our adorable little casita. It has a private patio with lounge chairs and a table for outdoor dining. Inside the Spanish style door, the decoration was clean and classic, with a gigantic Talavera style bath tub that I couldn’t resist posing in a picture for. There are even organic bath soaps and shampoos! We settled in and then headed over to the dining room for our first health-conscious meal.

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I was super pleasantly surprised at the way the food was made. The Oaks at Ojai uses almost no salt, so if you’re a big salt user, you may at first feel like everything needs salt. I admit at first I wanted to grab a salt shaker, but there wasn’t one – and the home-grown spices helped. The Oaks uses herbs grown onsite for their blends. How’s that for farm to table? There are a variety of spice blends, including vinegar, so if you feel like flavor is lacking you can jazz things up to your liking. I especially liked the salsa that was served several times throughout the weekend; it just had the right touch to add a little heat.

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Let’s talk portion sizes. Of course, the portions must be made for someone the size of a mouse, right? Nope! The portions are generous yet healthful. You’ll never go hungry at the Oaks, and I felt like I ate more (but more healthfully) there than I did at my own home. Between meals, there are broth breaks, with potassium rich broth, set out between exercise sessions, and then a vegetable break, too. The veggie break was my favorite as there were three different types of dip, including a beet hummus and a garlic hummus. Yummy! I also was obsessed with the unsweetened iced teas that were constantly available, including this incredible Meyer lemon iced tea that I should have gotten the brand of, because it was so flavorful. There was also always spa water (Water with fruits or veggies), so I was always hydrated. You even got a popcorn break after dinner for a little post-dessert nosh!img_0501

Of course, health means more than just eating well, so the Oaks offers you a robust daily schedule of many different kinds of exercise. The best part is you get to choose what you want to do: so there’s no obligation, but if you wanted to do three or four classes a day, you could, but if you’d rather just relax and do yoga, you can do that too. There are literally classes for every fitness level here, from meditation and gentle yoga to endurance hikes and boot camp. I started my Saturday morning with a cardio bootcamp lead by Gloria. Gloria was funny and motivating, but also encouraged each person in the class to go at their own pace. This is so important in fitness as you really have to listen to your own body. As someone dealing with a heel spur, I knew I needed to go low impact on my left foot, and kick it up with the weights on the arms. Gloria helped me customize the plan when sections of the class just wouldn’t be a good choice for my foot.

 

I had a few hours of free time on Saturday and unfortunately Katelyn was under the weather, so I walked around downtown Ojai (just a few steps across the street from the spa) and bought myself some pottery. Downtown Ojai has a bunch of cute boutiques and there is something for everyone if you’re looking to bring home a sweet trinket for a loved one. After strolling around, I wanted to hit the pool. I was the only person out basking in the sun, and I lazily flipped through a magazine, waded through the pool, and admired the gorgeous scenery around me. It was the ultimate “me time” that I had been craving. I love my husband and kiddo, but it sure was nice to take a few hours to just be still, soaking up the sunshine. After my pool time, I headed back to the spa for some YOGA! I did an hour of a totally peacefully yoga-flow, and I left limber and inspired for our dinner of chicken with peanut sauce and broccoli. Thai inspired and oh so yum! In the spirit of not lying and maintaining authenticity, I will admit that in true Double Chin Diary fashion, I allowed for one indulgence I love, the unsweetened Starbucks Black Tea Lemonade. I admit it, I brought contraband back into a weight loss spa! Haha!

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Next up was SPA TIME! I chose to have a body wrap as I had never tried one before. The aesthetician helping me was fantastic about setting my mind at ease, as a body wrap requires full nudity. Say what?! Don’t worry, your parts are covered by a towel at all times, so you’re not just going commando for a show. My treatment began with a coffee bean scrub, helping to draw out impurities and bloat. After being slathered and rubbed with several different concoctions, I was swaddled in a wrap and cozy warm blanket where I snuggled for 15-20 minutes. After being wiped down and cleaned up, I received a wonderful scalp massage, and ended up leaving being TWO pounds lighter than when I had gone in. That’s two pounds of bloating and excess water weight, folks! It’s not uncommon for me (or other PCOS folks) to bloat up to 9 pounds overnight, so I’m not surprised. I felt svelte and slim! Katelyn also had a body wrap and raved about how her skin was unbelievably soft.

Speaking of skin — the Oaks is a Skin Authority Spa. I received some complimentary Skin Authority products, and because my skin is sensitive, my favorite product is the Vitamin C Serum. It fills in fine lines, rejuvenates cells, and sloughs off dead skin. In the week that I’ve been using it, I already feel like my skin is getting a gorgeous glow to it. Definitely ask at The Oaks how Skin Authority can work for you.

After our spa treatment, Katelyn and I headed back to our cozy casita, where we nestled up in our beds and drifted to sleep under a sky full of stars.

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I’m so grateful for my experience at the Oaks because it showed me that a vacation CAN be a trip without eating junk food, guzzling booze, and laying around like a slug. I also can now say that any preconceived notions of a weight loss spa being like a fat camp are totally not true. I felt at ease, rested, well-fed, and best, totally pampered and respected at my time at the Oaks. Though the Oaks will run you a bit more than your average hotel (starting at $250 a night), remember that all of your meals, snacks, and drinks are provided. In addition, the fitness classes, steam rooms, pool, and hot tubs are well worth that extra cost. Be sure to look into the specials they’re running – this would make an amazing romantic get away or weekend away with the girls.

So, if you’re looking for a total mind and body reset, the Oaks at Ojai is for you. Pamper yourself, work your body, calm your mind… you’ll do all of that and more at The Oaks. Learn about how you can experience the Oaks at Ojai now!   Also, November 1- 20, experience the BRING A FRIEND DISCOUNT!  It’s twice the fun and a 25% discount for both of you when you share a room!  Workout, chat poolside, explore Ojai and stay up late catching up!  Click here to learn more about this amazing bring a friend deal that Katelyn and I got to enjoy 🙂

 

I was gifted a stay at the Oaks Spa including a spa service and skin care products in exchange for my honest review. I am grateful to the Oaks for the awesome opportunity. It most certainly went above and beyond expectations. 🙂

Pot of Perfection: Petit Pot – Pot de Creme Review and Giveaway

Ever since I embarked on the journey of physical fitness, I knew that part of making an active, gym-rat lifestyle sustainable for myself would be to find balance between going 110% and sweating all day every day and eating nothing but kale, to finding space in life for little treats and little delicacies. It’s hard finding the sweet spot between using food as a reward and just enjoying good food, but I seem to be navigating okay in the last few months. I actually stumbled upon the Munchery, a meal delivery service, thanks to a friend (pssst you get $20 free if you try it out using the link), and couldn’t resist trying a dark chocolate petit pot for dessert — an adorable little jar with an orange lid, filled with organic dark chocolate ‘pudding’. I’m a sucker for dark chocolate, and I liked that they used all organic cream, and the adorable jar was just the “take my money” end factor.

Berries & Vanilla #potdecrème: lovely pairing! ?☁️❤️ #happymothersday

A photo posted by Petit Pot (@petit_pot) on

I ordered my meal with that as dessert, and when I had my first bite, holy shiskabob. It was like the creme de la creme of chocolate lava cakes blended into a smooth, rich pudding, dancing on my tongue with each bite. It was so good I promptly tweeted them and asked if they worked with bloggers… ‘cuz I wanted to share the goodness. It was my lucky day because in exchange for this review, I got one pot of each flavor and a cute orange hat. Here are my thoughts:

  • Dark Chocolate: Still my favorite. Rich and complex without being cloyingly sweet. Made with 70% cacao and the most traditionally French recipe.
  • Vanilla Bean: A close call to be my favorite. Loved the texture of real vanilla bean specks against the creamy, milky pudding.
  • Coffee: A very subtle coffee taste, would be delicious with a light biscuit and dessert coffee.
  • Salted Caramel: Perfect for butterscotch lovers, one of the more “noticeable” flavors
  • Lemon Curd Pot de Crème: is made with organic California lemon juice to create a zesty balance of tart and sweet.

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All of the pot de cremes are gluten-free, certified organic, and made with love by real French chefs Max and Pierre in San Francisco. This is the kind of “buy local, buy real” that I love: a quick visit to their website shows very clearly that this brand isn’t being made by MegaCorp Foods, Inc. in some grim warehouse in the middle of the country.

Now: for dieters, this isn’t a treat you’re going to be able to enjoy every day simply because it is made with all natural, all delicious, high-fat cream and sugar. However, this is the type of treat you save up for and then enjoy slowwwwwly, bite by bite, perhaps in a bubble bath? In fact, I suffered the wrath of my former trainer’s anger when she saw I ate one after a good workout on Twitter, but it was totally worth it. Sorry, trainer: your anger < delicious pudding. 

#fmsphotoaday: V is for Vanilla, found in this super yummy @petit_pot that you can win soon on the #DoubleChinDiary.

A photo posted by Alyssa Curran (@lyssacurran) on

Also, each pot de creme comes in an adorable little glass jar. I’m already imagining using the jars to re-plant some of my baby succulents, so they get high marks for creativity and efficiency in packaging. In fact, a recent email of theirs states they’ve saved over 230 pounds of plastic by using glass instead. Well done!

How would you like the chance to try your own little set of Pot de Creme? The kind folks at Petit Pot are offering one lucky Double Chinner a whole set of Petit Pots, 3 boxes of French mini cookies, and a Petit Pot t-shirt. Sounds pretty good to me! Use the rafflecopter to enter below. Giveaway will end on Friday, August 5th at 12:00 a.m. and is open to those 18+ in the lower 48. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wining and Dining with Grocery Outlet

I grew up going to the Grocery Outlet with my mom. As a kid, it was just another grocery store. Now, as an adult? It’s an awesomely priced grocery store that doesn’t “feel” like a discount store – it’s a nice, clean store with tons of well-known brands like Toms of Maine, Kind Bar, Mamma Chia, Land of Lakes, Horizon Organic, Chobani, Driscoll’s, Kelloggs, and more. When Grocery Outlet offered me a chance to check out their new store in Sun Valley, Calif. in exchange for a giftcard, I was in faster than a kitten with a laser pointer.

What are some of the deals we got? Chobani Vanilla Greek Yogurts, for .59c each. A pound of bacon for $2.99. A wheel of French brie for $2.99. Bagged caesar salad kits for $2.49. A pack of 15 Health Warrior Chia Bars for $7.99 (retails for $21!). I spent $100 and came out with a packed cart – and the best part was, we had three bottles of wine, one bottle of prosecco, and two craft beers. (My husband, a homebrewer and beer enthusiast, wanted me to add that he was “very impressed” by the craft beer section.) WineMeDineMeGrocery Outlet is having a wine sale from today through July 26th – and you’ll find deals on wine 50% to 80% off. That’s a huuuuge savings, and if you’re a vino fan like myself, you’ll want to get in on this. Here’s a few notes from sommelier Spreti Valenti on a couple of the wines I picked up:

  • Masquerade Prosecco: Sparkly wine with notes of peaches, yellow apples, and pears. Make a bellini with a spoonful of freshly pureed peaches, and top with prosecco. Cheers! (I’m going to have this on a Friday night while watching Mr. Robot on Netflix.) $7.99.
  • Ol’ Red: Supports local sourcing, with notes of blackberries, raspberries, plum, and leather. Excellent for bold red wine lovers and served with hamburgers or grilled sausages. We picked up some cajun style andouille, and I think serving this with those would make for an excellent Creole night. $3.99. (That’s cheaper than my preferred drink at Starbucks.)

I also picked up a merlot from Toad Hollow, one of my favorite Northern California wineries, and a garnacha called Layer Cake that’s oh so delectable. The hubby picked out some Lagunitas IPA (gotta represent our Petaluma home-base brewery) and a Stone IPA.

As a side note, while you’re stocking up your home bar, you probably want to check out the produce section, as there were some really great prices like 6 lemons for $1.00, and many organic choices, too. They also had Essie nail polishes for $2.99 (usually 8 bucks at Target), and Kiss My Face baby sunscreen for $3.99.

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So whadda ya say? Sounds like a good deal, right? Find out if there’s a Grocery Outlet near you, and go pick up some bubbly or grown-up grape juice today!

Disclosure: I received a gift card in exchange for sharing my thoughts about the upcoming Grocery Outlet Wine Sale and my shopping experience.

A Measured Effort: Weighing out my Weight Loss

Hello!

I love coming here to update when I have good news, and today I have good news. I lost 3.6 pounds last week! HOLLA!

I was thinking about the differences I made on the way home, and I felt like I wanted to write about it because it seems like two pretty simple changes, in the grand scheme of things…

  • I MEASURED nearly everything I ate, with a food scale and/or measuring cups and spoons.
  • I also WORKED OUT with my awesome trainer three times, in addition to two workouts on my own.

These two things were actually pretty easy to accomplish. In one way, yes, measuring out what you’re going to eat is a pain in the ass. But it was eye opening, because what I thought was one tablespoon of Peanut Butter was really two tablespoons. I’m also a chronic overpourer of cereal and several times poured a hefty one and a half cup serving that I would note as one cup. WRONG! Do it again.

And exercise? Before I signed up for personal training I kept thinking, “There’s no way I can exercise three to five times a week at the gym. I just can’t. I work full-time, I’m a wife, I’m a mom,” etc. But the truth is? Just like I make taking care of my daughter a priority, I can make taking care of myself a priority. So I use three lunch breaks a week to sweat it out, and I feel great afterwards – full of energy and ready to tackle my afternoon.

So this week, it seemed simple. I’m sure tomorrow it won’t be simple because some stuff really never is, and I hate it when people say “Weight loss is simple: just eat less and move more.” Though I guess that’s really what I just said I did. HA! Ok, I’m going to bed. Good night! 🙂

Infographic from FitFluential.com

Infographic from FitFluential.com

 

 

I suck at losing weight, but I kick ass at gaining it.

It’s become crystal clear to me that I can’t succeed at everything, and apparently losing weight is just one of those things. But you know what I do succeed at? Gaining weight. I’m so damn good at gaining it, I felt like it was time to write a blog post in my honor.

So you can fit into your jeans from high school? So what, I can fit into my earrings from junior high.

Nobody Cares

You crossfit, you box, you yoga, you run, you swim. I creak.

Sloth

 

You made Paleo pecan crusted salmon for dinner with a side of lemon scented broccolini and washed it all down with cucumber verbena spa water. I mashed my finger into the corner of a chip bag and licked off the salt.

You’re so full you couldn’t possibly eat dessert. I ate all of mine… and the rest of yours, too.

You cried at your Weight Watchers check in when the scale was two pounds higher than usual because you were bloated. I thought, “Oh good, now I won’t really have to lose weight for next week.”

You beamed when you went from a size 14 to an 8. I beamed when my leggings with the threadbare thighs made it another day.

Cheese Fries

You were inspired when Oprah decided to rep Weight Watchers. I wanted her to stay fat.

You were repulsed by the Double Down. I wanted to try it.

You get your dressing on the side. I get my salad as a side.

Pizza

“It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change,” you say. Nope, it’s a diet.

Bullshit

 

You have extra belt to spare when you buckle up. I suck it in and pray it clasps.

Have you checked your Vitamin D levels? Your B12? Your thyroid? All of those are fine, but apparently I’m super deficient in this thing called willpower.Food Delicious

You forgot to eat lunch today? I base my whole day around eating.

You can whistle with two fingers and your mouth? Well, I can do this.11808462_1464347487228092_159316067_n

You love it when your friends bring you wine. I love it when they bring me cupcakes.

Eats

 

Sure, a party sounds fun. *Heads right to the food table*

 

You’re in shape. I’m in shape, too. Round.

 

You breeze through turnstiles at the subway station. I do the hula.

 

So there you have it. You may rock at losing weight, but I’m awesome at gaining it.

 

Happy National Popcorn Day!

When someone asks me the “If you got stranded on a dessert island…” question, one of the foods in my top three foods I’d like to be stuck with is POPCORN. Besides being delicious, it would be kind of a useful thing; I mean, think about it, you could plant the seeds, use them as tiny bullets for a slingshot, and have something to do because you’d eternally be picking hulls out of your teeth. Win win win. Today is National Popcorn Day, and I wanted to celebrate this fine day by sharing a few of my favorite popcorny things.

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First of all, I’m a popcorn purist, meaning no microwave crap here unless I’m in a time crunch. (Heh, crunch. Get it?) I like to make my popcorn the unhealthy way; with one tablespoon of olive oil (or avocado oil if I’m feeling ritzy) in a sauce pan on high, with Orville Redenbacher seeds. I’ve tried so many gizmos and gadgets to make popcorn including air poppers, a borosilicate glass beaker thing, microwaveable bowls, and I keep going back to the old school method. It works for a reason. I find that air poppers make your popcorn have a stale sort of crunch to it, and I want that delicious, squeaky stryofoamy feeling that my teeth sink into.

Here are my favorite popcorn related things!

1) Morton’s Popcorn Salt.

It’s like .99 and super fine salt, ideal for making your own popcorn. The link goes to a big size which explains the $5.99 price tag, but this stuff is the ideal in popcornology.

2) THIS recipe for copycat Garret’s style popcorn. I had a wicked popcorn craving when I was pregnant, and you can only get this stuff in Chicago. Thankfully for me the kind lady at A Spicy Perspective had this recipe waiting.  (Side note: I purchased the cheese powder, and while real foodies among you might go “Cheese POWDER?!”, fear not, it’s actually real Wisconsin cheddar that’s been dehydrated and pulverized. This stuff is delicious for other recipes, like mac n’ cheese, cheesey broccoli, or anything else that would benefit from cheese. That’s most things in life.)

3) As for ready made popcorn, I’m a big fan of the Trader Joe’s Herb Popcorn and Gaslamp’s Cinnamon Caramel Popcorn. Gaslamp sent me a few bags to try, and I had some major problems keeping my hands out of the bag. I served it when some guests were over and we all agreed it had the perfect crunchiness, and the sweetness wasn’t overly cloying. I really liked it and now will be hunting it down. PS – It’s made in California and you can tell it comes to you FRESH. Holla! Give this popcorn a try when you’re in the mood for something sweet. Their white cheddar was also phenomenal! (Keep reading for a chance to try it yourself!)

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I also tried some Boom Chicka Pop Dark Chocolate Caramel Popcorn over Christmas, and man oh man, I can’t have that in the house. That just makes it like crack. As long as I don’t douse popcorn in tons of butter, I don’t feel too guilty having a reasonable serving size of it. (Cough… I mean, I would NEVER eat just a massive bowl of popcorn for dinner. I’m an ADULT! Cough)

Tell me how you feel about popcorn – one of my friends says it smells like feet to him! I almost stopped being his friend. Do you love, like, or loathe the miraculous corny goodness of popcorn? Want to win a three pack from my friends at Gaslamp? Comment with the type of their popcorn you’d like to try most! If you want extra entries, “Like” them on Facebook or Follow them on twitter. Be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry. Giveaway ends 1/26 at 10:00 p.m. 18+ and USA Only. Good luck!