A note from Sue & Alex

Hello Ranch Alumni,

We have really GOOD NEWS! Spring is upon us working her magic to get us back outside and into nature. Put down your cell phone, close your lap top, turn off the TV and leap into nature feet first.

Here at The Ranch we rank Mother Nature #1 in the healing category. It’s easy to get caught up in the latest “trendy” solutions whether it’s an app, diet, pill, or laser. Most of us look for the quick fix, so if that is you, we recommend you look no further than nature. She is free, always available, and ready to share her endless gifts with you.

Here are just a few examples of her incredible abilities:

-Improving performance on creative and problem-solving tasks
-Lowering mental distress and incidence of death and disease
-Enhancing educational performance
-Decreasing blood pressure, heart rate and level of stress hormones
-Increasing short-term memory and other attention skills

Now go find some sunshine, freedom and that little flower to boost your life and health!

– Sue & Alex


Share your Ranchformation!

You, our dedicated Ranch Alums are an endless source of inspiration to our team. The most rewarding part of our job is seeing the amazing changes you have made in your own lives following a visit. Whether it’s kicking a major bad habit, transforming your approach to health, or making small tweaks in your lifestyle to improve the quality of your lives we love seeing these Ranchformations!

Now, we invite you to share your health journey with the Ranch community as we start highlighting alumni Ranchformations in our next newsletter.  If you are interested in being included please email melissaa@theranchmalibu.com with your Ranchformation story.  We would love to hear about the lifestyle changes you’ve made since your visit such as health and fitness accomplishments, weight loss, nutritional improvements, habit changes, career or personal developments and of course before and after photos are always welcome.   We look forward to hearing from you!

Happy Campers

Still searching for the perfect family vacation? If you have children over 16 a stay in one of our programs offers the perfect opportunity to spend quality time together while enjoying the benefits of a healthy getaway. Drop a few hints for Mother’s or Father’s Day or surprise your graduate with the ultimate experiential gift you can enjoy together.

For those with younger children away at camp, embrace your inner child and have your own version with us. Like summer camp for adults with plusher accommodations and daily massages, you’ll exercise, sweat and get a little dirty while returning rested and rejuvenated for the new school year. Contact melissan@theranchmalibu.com to book your stay!

Vote us to the Top!

We are thrilled to announce Conde Nast Traveler has nominated us for their annual Readers’ Choice Awards. We would be grateful if you helped us make the winners list by visiting https://www.cntraveler.com/rca/vote and following the steps below before June 30th. As a bonus you’ll be automatically entered to win a cruise for two!

1. Register or Sign In
2. Click on Hotel or Resort
3. Type in Malibu in location and The Ranch in Hotel and Resort
4. Follow the instructions and submit your vote‼


Nikki Thompson
Senior Program Guide, The Ranch 4.0

Loved by her colleagues and guests alike, Nikki truly embodies our Ranch culture with her warm and caring nature, positive energy and a lifelong passion for health and the outdoors. A vegetarian since 22 and a vegan for the last two years she is always learning about ways to improve the quality of her life through her health. When she’s not at our 4.0 program, Nikki can be found exploring more creative fields like music and photography along with physical pursuits including biking, camping, mountain climbing and of course going on fun adventures.

See how Nikki’s upbeat outlook shines through in our Spring Staff Chat.

What are you grateful for?
– My health, nature and to be able to share that with others.

Best/Funniest thing a guest has said to you?
– You helped save my life, and you helped change my life.

Most asked question from guests?
– How long have you done this and how old are you?

First thing you do when you wake up?
– I wake up with the intention of having a good day, to do my best and practice my back exercises.

Favorite Ranch Meal?
– Pesto pizza…I think! so many good meals!

Go-to workout?
– Lifting weights then a trail run or a tough bike ride.

Favorite indulgence?
– Crunchy stuff… probably chips and red organic vegan wine.

Your favorite hike/place to walk in Los Angeles?
– Ray Miller trail in Malibu

Do you have a personal mantra or favorite quote?
– Live Love, Love Life

Last book you read?
– I’m reading The Hidden Life of Trees



As Spring finally warms the air, days spent outside and immersed in nature become top priority. An easy way to get your fresh air fix at home is to start gardening. Whether you have a full yard, small terrace or simply a windowsill, Master Gardener Geri Miller shares her passion for her job and the overwhelming therapeutic qualities of the actual work involved in harvesting your own garden.

Learn more about the mental, physical and nutritional benefits of this subtle wellness practice.

Gardeners have always believed in the restorative benefits of gardening; the way it makes us feel psychologically and physically as well as the obvious nutritional benefits of growing your own food. Just being in a garden is already therapeutic, but actively connecting with nature through gardening is an added value. It’s a meditative practice for sure – a calm, quiet moment to get centered and mindfully present. Although here at The Ranch it is part of your wellness experience, meditation time isn’t usually something many of us prioritize as part of our routine, but has become increasingly important as our lives and schedules become more demanding and stressful. Gardening is also a way to unlock the nurturing side of ourselves and focus on caring for another living thing. After all, we’ve been agrarians since the beginning of our existence on this planet so no wonder it makes us feel good. The physicality involved can range from gentle exercise to a full body, cardio workout and the best thing about that is we gardeners don’t really think of it as exercise. It’s just a whole lot of fun and we older gardeners stay flexible and stronger longer in our lives. You can even say that gardening keeps you young!

All that isn’t making you pull on your Wellies and dungarees? What if I told you getting your hands in the dirt could actually change your brain chemistry? Some recent research has shown us that soil is even more amazing than we thought. It’s all about the soil. Or to be a little more specific, a strain of bacterium in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, has been found to trigger the release of serotonin. Serotonin is an important biochemical and neurotransmitter which elevates mood and decreases anxiety. Even more exciting, this “good guy” bacterium has been found to improve cognitive function and possibly even treat cancer and other diseases. So dirty hands = happy, healthy gardener.

Those of us who grew up in a household with a productive vegetable garden know how many more vegetables ended up on our plate, making our diets more plant-based long before it was touted by our medical professionals. We also know the extreme difference in taste of something picked out of the garden that morning versus something that was picked unripe and shipped hundreds, even thousands of miles.

Taste isn’t the only difference though. Studies have shown commercial agriculture’s need to harvest produce early interrupts the natural ripening process and limits the vegetable’s ability to develop its full nutrient density. For instance, tomatoes harvested green (to ensure stability during transport) have 31% less vitamin C than those allowed to ripen in the garden on the plant. In addition, vine ripened tomatoes contain more of the antioxidants beta carotene and lycopene than if picked early (Arias et al., 2000). Red peppers ripened on the plant have about 30% more vitamin C than their harvested-early counterparts (Howard et al.,1994). At The Ranch, our produce travels yards, not miles so we harvest at the peak of ripeness.

Storage also plays a part in impacting nutrient density too. Lettuce loses 46% of some key nutrients within seven days of cold storage. Spinach loses 22% of lutein and 18% of beta carotene content after just eight days of cold storage (Ramberg and McAnnelley, 2002). So if your food is traveling any distance it’s lost much of the health benefits of eating more vegetables. Here at The Ranch, the produce we grow is harvested that morning and served within just a few hours to a 72 hour time frame.

And there’s more! Using fresh herbs when cooking at home is another great source of significant antioxidants. Unfortunately, these antioxidants degrade quickly after harvest which means that the $3 tiny clamshell of “fresh” herbs you buy in the grocery store has retained only a fraction of the nutrients compared with herbs grown at home. Last season we gave you a “how-to” on creating a countertop herb garden. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to pull up the newsletter and give it a try! Whether it’s outside in your raised bed garden, on a terrace or balcony in pots or on your countertop, it’s time to get growing. It’s good for every body!


During our programs we fill your days with activity but make sure your muscles have time to recover through daily massages, yoga and stretching. While we can’t send the magic hands of our massage staff home with you it is important to maintain a stretching and self-mysfascial release (SMR) practice on your own to help improve flexibility, range of motion, recovery time and ward off injury and soreness. Jenni Dooley, Senior Program Guide at The Ranch Malibu knows just how important this type of recovery can be. A lifelong athlete with a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and NASM certifications as a trainer and corrective exercise specialist, Jenni regularly incorporates SMR into her own fitness regime. It offers a number of benefits including improvements in flexibility, muscle recovery, movement efficiency, inhibiting overactive muscles, and pain reduction with just a few minutes of regular application. She particularly likes foam rolling because it’s accessible, and most people can do it on their own after minimal instruction on form and technique.

Read on for everything you need to know about foam rolling, along with some exercises from Jenni to help release those major tension-holders to get you moving and feeling better.

What is SMR?
– SMR is a technique focusing on the neural and fascial system in the body (aka- the fibrous tissue surrounding and separating muscle tissue).

What type of equipment do I need?
– A variety of SMR tools exist to choose from depending on the intended area of focus, including foam rollers, handheld rollers, PVC pipes, medicine balls, or other trigger-point tools.

How does it work?
– By applying gentle pressure/force to an adhesion (a.k.a. knot, trigger-point, or tender spot) the muscle fibers are moved from their bundled position [which caused the adhesion] into a straighter alignment with the direction of the muscle or fascia. The pressure stimulates a neural response thereby decreasing muscle excitation and releasing the tension of underlying musculature.

What should I know before I start?
– Foam roll before static or dynamic stretching activities. It can also be used during the cool-down process.

Slowly roll (the slower the better) the desired area until the most tender spot is located. Hold pressure on the spot while relaxing the targeted area and discomfort is reduced, between 30-90 seconds, moving the roller about an inch every second. It’s crucial to note you must find a tender spot and sustain pressure on that spot for at least 20-30 seconds, or possibly longer depending on the ability to consciously relax.

Discomfort is an unfortunate part of the foam rolling process, but on a pain scale of 1-10, try not to go over 7 and avoid rolling on any area that produces any sensations like tingling, pulsing or numbing.

The breath can serve as a guide… aim for full deep rhythmic breaths with complete inhale/exhale and making sure not to hold your breath. If breathing becomes shallow or shortened at any point, reduce the pressure.

Where/How should I roll?

Upper Trapezius
– Lay the foam roller across the mat and place it in a position as a pillow, under the head and neck. Slowly and gently shake the head “no” and nod the head “yes” stopping on any tender spot for 30-90 seconds. Maintain relaxation in the face, forehead and jaw.

Thoracic Spine
– Lay down on the mat with the foam roller behind the middle to upper back. Cross arms to the opposite shoulders. Lift the hips off the mat and slowly roll back and forth to find the tender spot before holding 30-90 seconds.

Chest Opener
– Lay the foam roller down the long way, or parallel to the mat. Sit on the low point of the roller with the knees bent. Slowly walk the hands down to the mat, then elbows to the mat, and finally laying down on the foam roller with the spine fully supported, and no part of the head or neck off the roller. Focus on feet wider than
the hips, and try out various arm positions and movements including: a “Y” shape with the arms extended and thumbs pointing down toward the mat, a “T” shape with the arms wider and palms facing up, slight elbow bend if needed, or “Snow/Sand Angel” arms. Hold on the tender spot for 30-90 seconds.

– Sit on top of the foam roller, with it positioned on the back of the hip, crossing one foot over the opposite knee, into a “Figure 4” bend. Slowly roll on the posterior hip area to locate the tender spot. Hold 30-90 seconds until discomfort is reduced. Alternate sides and repeat.

– Place the foam roller under the mid-thigh. Cross the opposite leg over the top of the other to increase pressure, or roll a single leg at a time, with one hamstring on the roller, and the opposite knee bent and foot on the ground, if needed. Slowly roll the hamstring area to find the most tender spot. Directions to roll include
starting at the glute and moving toward the knee (and vice versa), or through internal and external rotation of the hip/knee/ankle. Hold 30-90 seconds until discomfort is reduced. Especially beneficial for those who regularly sit for extended periods of time. Switch legs and repeat.

Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL)
– Lie on one side with the foam roller just in front of the hip. Cross the top leg over the lower leg, placing that foot on the floor in front of the body, or stack the legs for additional
pressure. Think of placing your hand in your front pant pocket and starting to roll in that area (below the hip joint) and going down toward the knee until you find the most tender spot. Hold 30-90 seconds or until discomfort is reduced. Alternate sides (share the love) and repeat.

– Place the foam roller under the mid-calf. Cross the opposite leg over the top of the other to increase pressure, or roll a single leg at a time, with one calf on the roller, and the opposite knee bent and foot on the ground, if needed.

Slowly roll the calf area to find the most tender spot. Directions to roll include starting below the knee and moving toward the Achilles Tendon/heel (and vice versa), or through internal and external rotation of the knee/ankle, specifically on the thickest part of the calf muscle. Hold the tender spot for 30-90 seconds until discomfort is reduced. Especially beneficial for runners or those who regularly wear shoes with elevated heels. Switch legs and repeat.


Sweet Treats

During your time in one of our programs, you’ve enjoyed our Ranch Complete While you know our chefs take amazing care of you with delicious vegan meals in our programs, you may not be aware that they can also create some pretty incredible, yet easy-to-make vegan desserts. This Spring, The Ranch Malibu Chef Patti Bardales shares recipes for three of her favorite sweet treats:

Quinoa Tahini balls with chocolate chips!
– Packed with protein and a rich flavor these treats make for a great on-the-go-snack!

Makes about 20-25 balls

1 Cup Tahini
1/2 Cup Honey
2 1/2 Cup quinoa puffs
1 Cup Pumpkin Seeds
1/4 cup Enjoy chocolate chips
1/4 cup White sesame seeds
1/2 tsp Sea salt
1/2 teaspoon Coconut oil

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, things will get sticky but the coconut oil helps move things along.
Create small scoops (about 2 oz each) and set on pan and put in the refrigerator for about 1-2 hours or overnight for snacking!

Fresh Berry Crumble
– Offers an antioxidant boost and a light yet sweet finish to any meal.

Makes about 8-10 4 oz. ramekins or serve family style in an 8×8 inch pan

2 cups Frozen blueberries
1 cup Blackberries
1/2 cup Coconut sugar
1/2 cup Gluten free baking flour
1 – 2 tbsp Coconut oil (cold)

Mix berries with 1/4 cup coconut sugar and set aside.
In a bowl mix flour, 1/4 cup coconut sugar, and cold coconut oil until it comes together (it will resemble wet sand and form little balls) you want to cut the coconut oil into the flour and sugar.

Next assemble the berries into a baking bowl and top off sparingly with the Crumble.

Set into a pre-heated oven at 350 for about 12-15 min or you see the crumble golden brown and the berries are bubbling!


Adaptogenic Strawberry Milk
-Spice up your almond milk with fresh strawberries and mood boosting mushroom powder.

Makes about 32 oz.

2 cups Almond Milk
4 cups Ripe strawberries
2 scoops of Mushroom Heaven
1 teaspoon Honey and a pinch of salt

Put in high speed blender and mix!


Travel + Leisure
February 2018

Live the Process
February 2018

Vogue Australia
January / February 2018

February 2018

Elite Traveler
March / April 2018

Haute Living Online
March 2018


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