It’s not often that we allow ourselves the opportunity to escape the demands of our every-day lives, disconnecting from technology, work, responsibilities and our to-do lists. We live in a time where content consumption has reached a peak, information is coming at us constantly, and whether we know it or not, and our brains are constantly processing. If you’ve ever finished the day wondering how the hours passed so quickly and wishing you had just a couple more, I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say you’re not alone.
As someone who works full time, is multi-passionate and has a keen interest in entrepreneurship, that feeling of wishing I had more time is a very familiar one. There’s no end to the list of things I’d like to do in order to grow personally and professionally, and even if by some miracle, I manage to arrive at the weekend with no plans, you can bet I’ll find a way to fill every hour. For those of you who are bloggers, small business owners, type A personalities, high achievers or all of the above, perhaps your thought process is something like mine…
“I know rest and relaxation is an important part of my health, and I’m going to enjoy some downtime this weekend as soon as I finish this project. Oh, and after I respond to those emails. Wait, there’s this really cool new opportunity that could help me gain exposure for my business… let’s look into that and find out how to contribute. It looks like I need to have content ready for Monday, and I should design some social media images to support it. If I take photos and write the content on Saturday, I could edit it and select images to submit on Sunday, then schedule the social media posts….”
…and before you know it, that weekend you’d planned to use to relax is full. You head to bed on Sunday night feeling like you need a weekend to recover from the weekend.
I fall victim to this time and time again. I know I’ll feel better and more refreshed after a break, yet it’s still so hard to do. However, I’m also learning through continuous trial and error that always chugging along at full speed isn’t the most effective – or healthy – way to go about reaching goals that I set for myself. Just like riding a bike with no resistance, not taking time to disconnect from the demands of every day life can result in spinning wheels and going absolutely nowhere.
Timing is an interesting thing, because a lot of what I’ve just described is how I’ve been operating lately. Coincidentally (or perhaps conveniently) about a month ago an email landed in my inbox from Banff & Lake Louise Tourism. They asked if I’d be interested in taking a weekend trip out to Banff to experience all of the health and wellness activities the area has to offer. My hometown is Edmonton (about 4 hours north) and I’ve been to Banff a few times as a kid, but barely remember it. I was really excited to see this stunning part of my home province again as an adult, and of course, happily accepted.
Guys. This trip was amazing. It was only two days, but they were two days of extreme self care and I loved it all.
On Friday night I landed at the Calgary airport, picked up my rental car and made the ~1.5 hour drive to Banff National Park. Banff & Lake Louise Tourism arranged for me to stay at The Rimrock Resort Hotel, a gorgeous and very well-known spot in Banff with gorgeous rooms, amazing staff and top-notch amenities.
When I arrived and opened the door to my room, this beauty was waiting on the table:
Because it was so late, my curtains were shut and it was dark outside. But the next morning when I rolled out of bed and opened them up……
… and the photo doesn’t even do the view justice – my jaw was pretty much on the floor!
Saturday was a 7am start, with my first activity being a private yoga session with an absolutely lovely instructor named Tara. We met downtown and she drove us out to the docks at Vermillion Lakes, a stunning setting that had me wishing I could sit out there and look at the mountains all day! Aside from a couple of stand-up paddleboarders, we were the only ones there.
Tara took me through a bunch of poses to help open up my tight hamstrings and hips, then we had a fabulous chat about chakras, the yoga scene in Banff, and the upcoming Banff Yoga Festival on May 27th-29th at The Fenlands Recreation Center.
This year is the festival’s debut and the organizers have SO much cool stuff planned. Yoga instructors from the area will be teaching a diverse lineup of classes, but there’s also cooking lessons, creative workshops, meditation sessions, sweaty workouts, dance classes and social events. It reminds me a lot of a Wanderlust festival, only featuring local talent which I think is a great idea. If you’re interested you can read all about the event here, and follow along with Twitter updates here.
After yoga it was back to the hotel for a spa pedicure, something my feet were very much in need of. The Rimrock Resort’s spa has all sorts of super relaxing treatments – everything from mani/pedis to facials, massages and body wraps. The area where I got my pedicure faced large floor-to-ceiling windows, and directly outside was a patio, garden and mountains in the background. Cameras aren’t allowed in the spa, but I think you get the idea – it was stunning! As for the treatment itself, I don’t think my feet have ever been so clean. ?
I spent my afternoon eating lunch and chatting with chefs at local restaurants, and you’ll hear much more about that on Wednesday. Between those visits was a trip to Canada House Gallery, a downtown art gallery featuring the work of exceptionally talented Canadian artists. I have to admit that the spa and fitness components of this trip had me more excited initially than the gallery, but the paintings were so beautiful and unique that I found myself standing in front of them in awe.
One artist in particular whose work I loved was Sheila Kernan. She’s based in Calgary and her cityscape painting above at Canada House Gallery was the same one you’ll see in the closing frames of this video. Check it out to see Sheila’s work in progress!
Sunday was equally as awesome as Saturday. After admiring the view yet again from my hotel room window at The Rimrock (seriously, it will never get old), it was time for a run along the Bow River. I had Mark from Banff & Lake Louise Tourism as my running buddy/tour guide that morning, and he’s currently training for the Banff Half Marathon on June 19th. If I wasn’t running the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon the weekend afterwards, I’d seriously consider returning for it.
Along our route we passed Bow Falls…
…ran up to a lookout point over the Banff Springs Hotel, which looks like a castle…
… and saw at least 10 deer, literally just 2-3 metres away from us. This is apparently something that is as common to Banff residents as seeing dogs is to city dwellers, but I still thought it was cool and made Mark stop so I could take pictures. Unfortunately they didn’t turn out so well, so I’ll spare you the Where’s Waldo experience of trying to spot deer amongst a sea of greenery and just tell you we saw lots of them. ?
We had a quick post-run breakfast before I walked over to Cedar & Sage, a spa (or holistic lounge as they say) that offers massage therapy, acupuncture, nutrition programs, reiki, infra red saunas and small group yoga sessions. Banff & Lake Louise Tourism had me booked in for a 1-hour deep tissue massage, and this was something I’d been looking forward to ever since seeing it on the first draft of the trip itinerary!
Cedar & Sage has a beautiful, extremely tranquil and serene atmosphere with a fireplace and lovely decor that gives it a very Alberta cabin-like feel. The massage was amazing and it certainly wasn’t easy to force myself up off the table at the end of the hour! The staff were lovely, super attentive and committed to making sure I left feeling fantastic.
My check-out time at The Rimrock was noon, but I had a bit of time to spare afterwards before hopping in the car and heading back to the airport. It was a nice sunny day, so I spent the rest of it browsing the shops in Banff’s downtown area and walking along some of the nearby trails. It was a really nice way to end the weekend and the feeling of relaxation that I noticed throughout my entire body at that time reminded me once again how important disconnecting – even for just a little while – is to helping me be at my best in all aspects of life.
Now you may be thinking, “But Angela, you’re a food blogger! Where’s the food?!?” Don’t you worry, there was plenty of that. But this is getting to be a long post, so meet me back here on Wednesday and we’ll chat about all sorts of tasty things! In the meantime, tell me…
- If you could build an itinerary for your ideal wellness weekend, what would it look like?