Blumenthal: Making healthy changes for now |

Blumenthal: Making healthy changes for now

Mel Blumenthal
Second View
Mel Blumenthal

Having just completed our annual sojourn to Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico, I feel fully rejuvenated and ready to take on all that the summer has to offer this year.

The ranch, about an hour and a half south of San Diego, truly is a magical 3,000-acre desert oasis founded almost 75 years ago at the base of Mount Kuchumaa. It’s set amid a beautiful and peaceful mountain, garden and meadow landscape.

All the tension and stress one builds up during the year magically melts away during a week at the ranch spent in total harmony with its natural surroundings and nothing to occupy your mind except how to maximize the mind, body and soul trifecta that many of us talk about but often are unable to achieve.

Each morning promptly at 6:15 we were led on one of several four- to seven-mile mountain hikes heading toward the summit of Mount Kuchumaa. The trails are well-delineated, and although some are seriously aerobic in nature, they’re doable for those who adhere to a regular exercise regimen including a varied and somewhat intensive cardiovascular component.

For those a bit less adventurous or not in tip-top condition, there’s plenty of other hiking terrain of varying difficulty on more than 25 miles of the ranch’s wildland trails featuring lower elevations, shorter distances and more accommodating start times but all in the early-morning hours before breakfast in order to avoid the desert heat — and one of the highlight hikes not to be missed is the four-mile breakfast hike with a midway stop at the ranch’s La Cocina Que Canta for a home-cooked meal followed by a tour of the adjoining 6-acre organic farm where much of what we ate is grown.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are veritable feasts of everything your mother told you to eat but seldom did. As I’ve grown older I’ve come to appreciate the benefits and often the flavors of a semi-vegetarian diet. At the ranch, no meat is served, but there is occasional fish, assorted other seafood and at Friday’s lunch a healthy and decadent homemade cookie for dessert topped with a chocolate candy kiss.

Over the years I’ve aligned myself with the progressive wing of the vegetarian party whose followers are allowed periodic chicken and occasional fish, but other than that I try to adhere to a healthy, primarily plant-based diet. It takes a bit of adjustment and discipline, but it’s well worth the effort: You feel a whole lot better.

Between meals, the rest of the day is filled with a vast array of mind-, body- and soul-enriching classes. From a list of more than 70 classes, you can choose what you like, including spinning, abs, stretch, yoga, a vast array of water fitness, weight and other forms of resistance training, cardiovascular and interval training, dance, sand volleyball, basketball, tennis, etc. In addition, there’s a full menu of spa therapies featuring nine types of massage, body wraps and other touchy-feely therapies and spa treatments that one expects to find in an enlightened facility such as this.

Two of my favorite enrichment activities were a lecture on farting, which the programming staff more appropriately labeled “To Air Is Human” — very appropriate what with all the fiber they serve us daily — and Thursday night bingo, which I’m proud to say I won for the first time during this visit.

Best of all is reuniting with the cast of characters that reassemble at the same time each year. A strange mix we are. It’s amazing the varied backgrounds of old and new acquaintances and how well we all so quickly meld into a community of positive-thinking individuals seeking eternal youth. I haven’t found it yet, but I’ll likely keep searching.

Heading back over the border last Saturday, I began to form my annual manifesto for leading a healthy lifestyle for the rest of the year. If the past is any predictor of the future, I’ll likely do a pretty good job for the next few weeks, but I’ll hit a bump or two in the road of best intentions and slip back into some bad habits around mid-June when Jersey and I begin our 950-mile road trip back to Snowmass for the summer. But my head and heart are committed, so I’ll just keep on trying until next year — same time, same place.

I know I’m not as accomplished in writing lifestyle pieces as some of my editorial colleagues, so I thank you for bearing with me this week and promise to return to my normal grumpy and bitchy opinions next time, when I’ll likely have something unpleasant to say about Related and its new plans for the completion of Base Village, our lightning-rod town manager and our dysfunctional Town Council. Until then I plan to think only positive, life-enriching thoughts as hammered into me by the good folks at Rancho La Puerta.

Any healthful tips and encouraging words can be forwarded to me at

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