March 12, 2008

Canyon Ranch in Arizona

After presenting my speech in Vancouver, I had the inviting pleasure of spending a couple of days at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, AZ.  If you’re regular viewers of my television show, you might remember when Dr. Richard Carmona, former United States Surgeon General and now the Vice Chairman of Canyon Ranch, was recently a guest.  On that episode, everyone in the audience was given 3 days at Canyon Ranch! – our attempt to make this, their healthiest year ever.  For this visit, I was joined by Dr. Brent Ridge, who is Vice President of Healthy Living at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

The stately beauty of the preserve with its army of ancient saguaro cactus - a really regal sight

Lovely Mel and Enid Zuckerman are the founders of Canyon Ranch and it has been their life-mission to help people become healthier.  Canyon Ranch may be a world-famous spa, but Mel and Enid think of it as a health resort.  They believe that the medical components of the Ranch are as important, if not more so, than the luxurious spa services.  What I find remarkable is that Mel and Enid have enlisted over 300 world-renowned health professionals who are experts of traditional, alternative, and complementary disciplines.  If you are so inclined, you can learn about better lifestyle, nutrition, fitness, preventative care, and spiritual vitality under their combined guidance. What a fantastic idea!

One of the things that was offered, and most fascinated me, was the Biophysical 250 – the most advanced health assessment available anywhere!  It’s a blood test that measures more than 250 different biomarkers with a single blood draw.  This test includes biomarkers from 12 medical specialties including cardiovascular disease and cancer, as well as immune, hormonal, gastrointestinal, and a number of other conditions.  I look forward to receiving my results in a couple of weeks.

Of course I was pampered unbelievably well, exercised vigorously, and ate the delicious and healthy cuisine that Canyon Ranch is famous for.  And I especially enjoyed the daily fitness hikes out into the desert each day.  There was so much beauty to capture and I left Arizona feeling so revitalized!

please visit for for information and more photos!

The following photos were taken using my fabulous Canon EOS-1D and my smaller Canon G9.

This is a beautiful cholla plant - a lovely lavender.

The prickly pear that grows here has very large leaves - this is an edible cactus and both the leaves and fruits are used.

This is one of the early blooms in the Sonoran Desert - the yellow primrose.

This is our guide, my assistant Liesl, and our own Dr. Brent Ridge on our first morning's hike.

The “group” hiking through part of the federal park - a wonderful preserve of saguaro cactus.

A mature saguaro - many arms, a few battle "scars" but still healthy and probably over 100 years old!

A baby saguaro cuddling in the safety of a “nursemaid” tree - a palo verde - this cactus is probably over sixty years old, and at maturity will have outlived its “nurse”.


Ocatillo - not a cactus, but a shrub - it turns green in early spring and its leaves are soft in great contrast  to its stiff upright branches.

A fishhook barrel cactus - legend has it that the “hooks” really were used for fishing - I found two loose ones - I will try them and let you know if they work.


a good closeup view of those very strong hooks

A palo verde with its yellowish green bark and the first hint of spring leaves is the state tree of Arizona.


a mutant double headed saguaro

a cactus called a hedgehog - beware of the prickles

another beautiful early spring flower

This is one of the most beautiful, pristine, protected specimens of the stately saguaro.


When an arm freezes it may droop like these.  This is a sign of decline as are the numerous dark holes in the cactus flesh - wounds made by birds and other creatures of the desert - such decline actually takes years.

The trunk of a saguaro is as hard as petrified wood - that anything could possibly penetrate the surface is surprising, but inevitable.