Last year we spent a glorious five days at Rancho La Puerta, an oasis of wellness for the mind, body and spirit in northern Mexico. We were there for a meeting of the Transformational Leadership Council, an organization founded by Jack Canfield and committed to supporting those whose careers are dedicated to the transformation of the planet.
Although we loved spending time with our friends and colleagues, we both agreed that perhaps the highlight of our trip was meeting Deborah Szekely, the iconic founder of Rancho La Puerta as well as the famous Golden Door Spa.
Watch the video below to get the full story or keep reading…
At 93 years young, Deborah exercises seven days a week, just bought a FitBit to make sure she got her steps in every day, and has been a vegetarian her entire life. In fact, her mother was the vice president of the New York Vegetarian Society in 1926, and, Deborah explains, she was so committed to healthy, simple, vegetarian food that during the Great Depression when fresh food was not available, she moved the family to Tahiti!
During Deborah’s nine decades of life, she’s run for Congress; served as a delegate for UNESCO; represented the United States as co-president of the U.S.-Mexico Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange; and founded Wellness Warrior, a non-profit organization that lobbies members of Congress to support wellness initiatives.
And she shows no signs of slowing down.
She said that she started Rancho La Puerta with her husband Edmond, who was also a proponent of simple, natural living, because they were “sort of refugees from World War II.”
She explained, “We were at the University in Romania, and all the men had to be part of the military reserves. When the reserves were called up to fight on the side of Hitler, my husband was ordered to return to Germany, which made no sense as he was a Jew. We ignored it, and his passport was cancelled. We also got a letter from U.S. Immigration saying that if he was found in the United States after June 1, 1940, he would be deported. So we went to Mexico and started a small health camp that was originally called the Essene School of Life. It cost $17.50 a week to stay there but you had to bring your own tent. Now it’s 3,000 acres – but the program was almost the same as it is today except back then, all the guests were required to work in the vegetable garden two hours a day. In some ways it was more like a commune.”
Although it’s definitely not like a commune today and is considered one of the top five health spas in the world (and we didn’t have to work in the garden), just like in 1940, there is only fresh organic food they grow on their own farm.
When we asked Deborah what advice she would give to anyone who would like to live healthfully until 93…
Here’s what she said:
1) Eat from the garden: Grow your own if you can but always eat fresh, eat organic, and eat as little meat as possible. Eat slowly and mindfully.
2) Enjoy getting physical: Deborah does pilates 3 times a week and has a Navy Seal trainer who comes to lead her in a regimen of strength training. And on three days. Sundays she hikes for several hours. Exercise, according to Deborah, has nothing to do with struggle and going for the burn – it’s about finding the joy of movement. Just do whatever makes you feel an appreciation for your body.
3) Avoid stress: “One of the good things about growing older is gaining more self knowledge,” Deborah shared. “By the time you turn 60, you’re old enough to feel comfortable making choices.” Part of this process of choice, she says, is to make health a priority. There will always be other demands on your time, but if you want to be hiking mountains at 93, you have to start making the right choices about your health now.
4) Have a reason to live longer: “You have to have a reason to live or you won’t have a long life. Me, I can’t stop making plans. And I’m so curious; I want to see what happens in the next five – ten years. We haven’t done very well with our world, but I’m optimistic and hopeful that these young people today will do better, and I want to be here to see it.”
5) And finally, if you want to be happy, alive, vibrant, and, may we add, Living in the Miracle Zone, take one of Deborah’s favorite quotes to heart. Having out-lived two husbands and a son, she didn’t have a life without its challenges, but she told us that she’s always lived by this adage: “Life isn’t about hiding from the storm, but about learning to dance in the rain.”
And then she added “It’s so fun to be 93. You should try it.” We’re planning on trying it. We hope you are too.
So, we’ll see you dancing in the rain – in the Miracle Zone.
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