New Year's Resolutions 7

The Breakers Palm Beach offers the perfect recipe for wellness.

Too much food. Too much booze. Too many late nights. Overindulgence, the plague of the holidays… all cast a heavy shadow. So, it was with dark circles under my eyes and snug pants that I offered myself up to The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida for some fixing. What better place to surrender?

Founded by Henry Morrison Flagler during the Gilded Age, the resort remains the gold standard in one of the toniest enclaves in the country. It was here, amid the glamorous interiors with ceiling frescoes painted by Venetian artists, dramatic marble colonnades and ornate 19th century chandeliers, that I planned on transforming myself.

I’d heard The Breakers was serious about wellness, investing in a new ocean-front gym, creating a juice bar, adding healthy options on all the menus, and, best of all, introducing a wellness coach.

My goal was to work out twice a day, once at sunrise and once at sunset. I would steer clear of alcohol and dine upon lean protein and vegetables. Despite my very best intentions, within minutes of my arrival, temptation called. I made a beeline to The Seafood Bar for a pint of Native Brewing Company’s lager, crafted in Ft. Lauderdale, and a plate of tuna tartare at the whimsical aquarium bar.

Luckily, before indulgence became the theme of this trip, I had an appointment with Ashley Pearson, the wellness coach at The Breakers. If anyone radiates good health, it’s she. We first discussed my concerns: holiday excess combined with too little sleep and too much stress. Ashley guided me through exercises to alleviate stress, each one involving deep breaths, like a yoga cow and cat combo that I could do at my desk and stretching techniques I could do before bed to calm my mind. Guided imagery was next on the menu. I lay down on the massage table and closed my eyes, while Ashley whispered prompts that calmed me so much I had to be revived with a spritzing of peppermint oil.

After all this feel-good relaxation, Ashley’s suggested I get a read on the state of my body, courtesy of a machine called InBody 520. It would reveal not just my weight and BMI, but my flab content, the health of my organs (look out Champagne-soaked liver!) and even my water body balance. As she led me to the machine, I tensed up. She prompted me to “breathe, just breathe.” I stepped onto the dreaded InBody 520 and, within minutes–ready or not, my stats were printing out. It turns out that my BMI wasn’t bad, but I had less lean muscle than I’d have liked and I had some serious intercellular water issues. Who knew? Glancing at the data that suggested a weak core, Ashley suggested I start taking Pilates, using the Reformer, the instrument that looks like it could have been used for Medieval torture. I groaned; she smiled.

While at The Breakers, I incorporated Ashley’s suggestions for calming down in general and for ramping up my workout schedule. I ran each morning through downtown Palm Beach, charming and distinctive with its with narrow sidewalks lined with manicured green hedges and terraces that spill over with vibrant flowers. I also walked the beach, took a toning class and logged some time at the gym. And, I managed to scoop up a Lilly Pulitzer skirt at the Lilly boutique on property, because what better place to invest in your Palm Beach-inspired wardrobe than here?

I confess, I did indulge in a creamy morning quiche paired with a carafe of coffee at The Circle, a spectacular round dining room crowned with a 30-foot dome enlivened by murals of European landscapes and, later, in the evening, I sipped a vodka cocktail at the retro-hip HMF lounge, where a DJ, armed with a pair of laptops, set the mood with old-school jazz early on before building up to techno as the night progressed.

When I told Ashley about my transgressions, she smiled. “Change happens with small steps.” I’m not sure if that gave me license to spend my last night at Flagler Steakhouse, but I’m glad I did. I took a seat on the porch overlooking the golf course and indulged in a couple of glasses of Cotes de Rhone, branzino with romanesco sauce and grilled artichokes paired with a homemade honey-infused green goddess dressing. Walking back to my room, I realized I was relaxed, and I was able to breathe, and breathe deeply. And, didn’t Ashley say breath is the foundation of good health?

Now that I’m home, I’ve kick-started Ashley’s plan for me. I drink hot water and lemon in the morning before I brew my coffee. Most days I find 20 minutes to meditate. I stretch often. And, though I haven’t yet swapped out my wine budget for a pilates budget, I haven’t ruled it out. After all, I’m determined to mount the InBody 520 upon my return to The Breakers and see my numbers improve. And, if they haven’t improved by the time I get back to Palm Beach? Well, I can’t think of a more perfect perch to hole up and try again.