by Erin Davis
If your 2024 goal is to be more mindful of what you put into your body and to reignite your focus on your fitness goals, MyFitnessPal can help. The the nutrition and food-tracking app is perfect for the travel-loving set of wellness seekers.
Swapping my typical sunny escape for a snowy one, I recently joined the MyFitnessPal team on a wellness-packed escape to Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada. Sitting about an hour’s drive west from the bustling city of Calgary, Kananaskis Country is known for being a year-round playground for adventure-enthusiasts and lovers of the great outdoors. Once you find yourself surrounded by the dramatic Canadian Rockies and towering pines, a visit to Kananaskis can involve everything from dog sledding, snowshoeing and skiing, to hiking, fishing, horseback riding and mountain biking.
In Kananaskis Country, the mountains are the star of the show (if you haven’t guessed that already). Naturally, there’s no shortage of inspiration for the photographers in the group, especially if an unforgettable sunset is part of the experience.
You’ll know you’ve almost arrived in Kananaskis Country once the stunning snow-capped mountains begin to pierce the sky, and the turquoise streams and lakes that dot the landscape start to make an appearance from the roadway. All at once, the stage is set for the magnificently scenic and rejuvenating retreat that awaits.
On a late December afternoon, the Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge – a sprawling but cozy hotel located in the Kananaskis Valley – is decked out for the holiday season, complete with Christmas trees, festive greenery, and perpetually-blazing fireplaces both indoors and out. A warm and fuzzy atmosphere – one that invites guests to play a board game fireside or enjoy a magical sleigh ride – adds to this distinct ‘Hallmark movie’ vibe. So does the thick blanket of snow that covers the region.
That’s not to say that the hotel isn’t undoubtedly equally as enjoyable during other times of the year. Year-round, wellness-seekers will appreciate the lodge’s famous spa – a major draw for both hotel guests and day trippers. Spanning 50,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor space, the Kananaskis Nordic Spa features a relaxation lodge, five outdoor pools, five steam and sauna cabins, an exfoliation cabin, and fireside lounging areas – all backed by mountainous views. Guests may also book relaxing massage treatments, and refuel at an onsite bistro.
If it sounds dreamy, it is. The steam and exfoliation cabins are set at a perfect temperature for the body to immediately start to sweat upon entry into the thick (nearly opaque) fog of steam that awaits. The spa’s strict no phone/no photos policy (unless its with special permission during media hours) invites guests to live in the moment and thoroughly soak in the full-body wellness experience. As a cute added bonus, the spa robes are purple and green plaid and feature a cozy hood.
While the hotel feels (refreshingly) rather isolated – you’re not exactly within walking distance to any wining and dining spots – its culinary program offers all the reason to stay right where you are. The lodge features a handful of restaurants that cater to everyone from families and large groups, to individuals looking for a healthy “grab-and-go” fix.
At Forte Restaurant, breakfast included the option of a fully stocked buffet or stand-alone crowd-pleasers like eggs benedict with smoked salmon, a vegan banana split breakfast bowl, or fresh omelettes. Meanwhile, things such as homestyle pastas or handmade pizza (courtesy of two top-of-the-line wood-fire ovens) made for satisfying meals come dinner. Another restaurant, Cedar Room, serves up quality Canadian steaks, east coast oysters and escargot.
For a simpler meal, guests can opt for the bar or lounge area at the fireside Blacktail Bar. The modern mountain lounge makes for a nice spot to either warm up post-hike or enjoy a more casual meal. Finally, for those looking for something quick and easy, the lodge’s Market Café offers an assortment of grab-and-go items and snacks, including coffee, smoothies and lunches that are light and healthy to fuel up before heading out to enjoy the incredible scenery.
A walking trail circles the lodge and thermal spa, leading to sweeping panoramic views of the unforgettable mountain range and valley below. Multiple lookout points and seating areas line this path which offers prime photo-snapping opportunities.
In between relaxing at the spa, hiking in the crisp air (there’s nothing quite like it when you live in downtown Toronto), clocking in a few quick workouts in the hotel’s gym, and indulging in some comforting gourmet goodness, we learned a little more about MyFitnessPal and why people can’t get enough of it.
For those not familiar with MyFitnessPal, it is a nutrition and health tracking app for achieving health and fitness goals. The app encourages and empowers its millions of users globally to log their food intake, record exercise activity and weight, and track their wellness habits. Offering a tailored experience through data-led insights, guidance and support, MyFitnessPal offers one of the largest food databases in the world. This means over 18 million foods, access to over 500 recipes, over 50 workout routines, 80 exercise demos and over 35 connected fitness partners.
By easily tracking calories through a scan of a bar code or photo of a food item via a cell phone, the app lets users better control their daily intake in order to meet their weight-loss and fitness goals. The app also offers features like hydration tracking, nutritional analysis, even a new sleep tracking component. MyFitnessPal also easily synchs with a range of third-party apps and wearables.
While the MyFitnessPal had to remain tight-lipped during our getaway, they were in the know about some exciting news. Earlier this month, the brand announced a partnership with award-winning actress, author, author, and entrepreneur Kate Hudson – a long-time MyFitnessPal user – who has teamed up with the brand for their free(!), one-week Small Steps Big Wins Plan. Designed to create sustainable, lifelong habits, the Plan introduces seven small changes that can have a big impact on health goals long-term across topics such as protein, sugar, hydration and more.
Hudson and her personal fitness trainer, Brian Nguyen are partnering on the challenge to provide everything from tips, tricks, and food swaps, to inspirational affirmations for users to reach their personal health goals. Based on the idea that these small steps add up over time, the Small Steps Big Win plan is the perfect place to start if ambitiously unrealistic New Year’s resolutions aren’t your thing (and there’s nothing wrong with that).
As I discovered, the app is particularly useful when traveling can mean less control of the types of food consumed. We also discovered the beauty of Kananaskis, a region that’s sometimes overshadowed by the famous resort town of Banff, Alberta. With that said, Banff – and the world-famous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise – is always a good idea, especially if you find yourself already enveloped in the dramatic scenery of nearby Kananaskis Country.
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Erin Davis is a Toronto-based writer and long-time contributor to Travel To Wellness