Ciao! I’ve just returned from a week in Italy, where I was helping out at a Pilates retreat run by the amazing Linda Farrell, who trained me as an instructor several years ago. We spent a few days in Florence and then traveled to La Locanda della Quercia Calante, a farm and retreat site in Umbria, which is called The Green Heart of Italy. If you know me, you know I was really tickled by that. Major heart chakra vibes 💚

We had an amazing time in Italy!

In addition to Pilates and other fitness-focused activities, we also enjoyed some group excursions and of course, delicious food, which was served buffet style outdoors under a patio shaded by a canopy of vines. Every meal was a chance to talk to different group members. I loved hearing about their lives and bonding over new memories. 


I posted a lot of highlights in my Instagram story while we were away. You can check out my Travel highlights to see the posts. 


Here are a few takeaways I wanted to share from the trip:


La Locanda della Quercia Calante

One of the many stunning views at La Locanda della Quercia Calante

Breaks from work are important. This is something I have gotten so wrong in the past, but I have noticed that when I do take a few days even to unplug, it really does help me come back feeling refreshed and focused. We wouldn’t run marathons without so much as a rest day in between, so why do we push ourselves beyond the max when it comes to work? Reminding myself of the benefits of taking a break helps quiet the little voice inside that always says I need to be doing more. 


Prioritize mobility and mindfulness. Highlighting the benefits of daily movement had long been part of my work, but one of my biggest “aha” moments was actually our morning qigong and mobility classes, which ended with a short meditation. Being intentional about moving energy through the body and mobilizing the joints sets you up for a more energized day, reduces injury risk, and has even been shown in research to be associated with improved mental wellbeing. And we also have tons of research on the many benefits of meditation. 


Since we got back I’ve been incorporating a 5-minute qigong routine plus a few extra stretches and mobility movements into my morning along with my pre-patient 5-minute meditation. 


We ate almost all our meals buffet-style outdoors with the group we were traveling with.



When it comes to healthy food, simple is good. When it comes to food and cooking, something I have always felt Italians do right is that they let the ingredients shine. Most of the meals we enjoyed as a group featured fresh vegetables, simple proteins like chicken and fish and occasional meat, always a salad, beans and whole grains, and of course, plenty of fresh herbs and extra virgin olive oil. No need to make yourself crazy with complicated recipes. 


Start with a simple preparation, like grilling or baking some chicken or fish, and make a marinade with some olive oil, lemon juice, and favorite herbs. Roast a sheet pan of some seasonal veggies tossed in olive oil, and while it all cooks, toss a quick salad with vinegar and, yes, more olive oil. Again, add your favorite herbs, maybe a little salt and pepper. Crusty bread, cooked whole grains, or roasted potato wedges pair nicely with this. 


Let yourself have experiences. In the nutrition part of the wellness world, it’s easy to get hyper-focused on the functionality of food, but it’s really important to take a step back and appreciate the bigger picture. Something I most loved about this trip was the act of connecting with others over meals and hearing their stories. I learned so much from others in the group. 


Letting yourself try new foods or foods that are unique to a particular area you travel to also broadens your horizon. And if you’re worried about “straying from your diet” on vacation, remember-a few days or even a few weeks out of your routine won’t have a lasting negative impact on your health. Unless you eat something you’re deathly allergic to or get hit by a bus while trying to get a perfect selfie with an ice cream cone or something. Yes, I ate lots of healthy food in this trip, but I also enjoyed gelato a few days, some prosciutto (delish with cantaloupe), a little alcohol here and there, and some other foods I wouldn’t normally eat in everyday life, and I was so glad I did! It was so satisfying to have that unique experience. 


I always tell my patients and clients to make a plan for getting back into their usual routine when they get home. I definitely take my own advice in this one. I placed a grocery delivery order as we were waiting to board our flight home. Sure, that $10 delivery fee makes it seem so much more expensive, but the time and energy you save not dragging your jet-lagged ass to the grocery store? Priceless. 

We enjoyed beautiful local produce and delicious desserts like gelato


Connection is Key. In so many ways during this trip, I was reminded of the value of relationships and the joy of listening to other people’s stories, the wisdom to be gained from others. It’s really easy to get sucked into work and responsibilities and isolate, but even us introverts can benefit from some human contact! Studies have even suggested that this connection is actually a key to longevity. 


I could go on and on (and in a past life, this would likely have been a whole blog series), but I don’t want to overwhelm you with Italy content! 


As a summary, travel can offer us a great opportunity to get perspective on factors that can improve or detract from our quality of health and life. Don’t be afraid to take a break and to step outside your daily routine. It helps you refresh and there’s a lot to learn when you do.

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