Beauty Wednesday: Spa Time!

The Best Spa Treatments | CorporetteWhich are the best spa treatments to help busy women relax? We’ve talked about relaxation habits, laughter as medicine, the best magazines to read while you unwind, the best brain candy books — but we haven’t talked about spa treatments, and I’m curious what other people like.  So readers, speak up!

For my $.02, it’s all about the 60-minute Swedish massage.  (Longer if I can swing it!)  Sometimes I like a hot stone massage; sometimes I like a deep tissue massage… but for the most part, I’m just a simple massage girl.  Here in NYC my husband and I love Graceful Spa in Chelsea (they just had a Groupon — I think it’s still on), which is so not a bells and whistles kind of place (think more along the lines of “here’s a tupperware bin to put your clothes in, go lie down behind that curtain”) — but they have always delivered a solid massage and for a reasonable price.  (Surprisingly, some of the fancier places we’ve been to in the city have delivered far worse massages.)In general, the best massage experiences I’ve ever had were a combination of a peaceful, luxurious environment and a truly kickass massage — my top three would be the massages I got at the Mii Amo resort in Sedona, AZ (a friend threw her 30th birthday party here — this was my first ever experience with massages!), Canyon Ranch in Las Vegas (a girls weekend a few years ago), and, randomly, at The Biltmore Hotel in Miami with my husband (truly: so wonderful — we were there in the off season for a friend’s engagement party and got a sick deal on the hotel).  I also, of course, love a good blowout, but I usually just go to the cheapest place near me, so I don’t normally think of it as a spa experience.

My experience with other spa treatments is fairly limited.  I tried a facial once at a fancy spa in NYC and hated it.  I’ve had a full-body scrub twice (in Sedona and at Canyon Ranch) and, were my budget unlimited, would work this into my regular routine, but I can also live without them.  Finally, I’ve had one “vision quest” type experience, at Sedona — my friend’s mother treated us all to three treatments each, and for my third one I chose… well, I can’t exactly remember which one I chose because it was just kind of “meh.”   Reiki maybe? Some of the other girls at the (very small) party chose “vibrational massages” (I think someone was lightly banging a gong near them while they lay on a table?) and had these insane emotional experiences, like randomly bursting out sobbing.  I suppose mani/pedis count as spa treatments too — I enjoy them, but would generally rather spend my time and money elsewhere.

Update: I just realized I forgot about acupuncture — I went twice while pregnant and trying to get my overdue son out of my belly, and thought it was restful but not remarkable.  (I’m really squeamish around needles normally, too — I have to look away when I’m getting my blood drawn — but I didn’t have any issues with the acupuncture needles.)  I’ve heard amazing things from friends who did acupuncture for fertility issues, though.

Readers, which are your favorite spa treatments?  What is your favorite way to unwind, given an unlimited budget?  Which are your favorite spots in your city?

(Pictured above: Foundry Hot Stone Massage, originally uploaded to Flickr by FoundryParkInn.)


  1. It’s all about the Korean spa, ladies. Soaking tubs, dry sauna, nap room, funny spa-issued outfits, aggressive body scrubs from little old ladies? And an on-sight Korean restaurant? If you haven’t tried it, you don’t know what you’re missing.

    • Korean Spas Rock :

      +1 Korean Spas are fantastic! Especially after a hike, bike ride, or other outdoorsy activity. For those in the DC area, I highly recommend Spa World.

      • Kontraktor :

        Spa World has a monthly pass I would totally buy if I still lived out there. OMG. I would seriously go like every Saturday morning and never get anything done. Worse yet, I might cease to use the bathroom for bathing at my home.

      • Anonymous :

        Spa World also has an extensive history of discriminating against LBGTQ customers. As in kicking them out if they don’t look “traditionally feminine.” I no longer go there.

        • Anonymous :

          For what it’s worth, Spa World clarified that original statement was meant to convey that sexual acts or inappropriate behavior while at the spa would not be tolerated and they have since expressed that all are welcome at SpaWorld. Maybe their actions were just a PR move, but given that the original article also cites numerous examples of people from the LGBTQ community as using SpaWorld without incident, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

          • Anonymous :

            They are discriminating based on appearance, not on acts. That’s not ok with me.

          • Anonymous :

            The appearance that lead to the discrimination was somebody with male genitalia in the women’s only section of the facilities (soaking tubs where you are not allowed to wear clothing or swimsuits). Most people’s instinct in that type of situation would probably not be to think that the individual must be transgender.

          • Anonymous :

            Of course, everybody is entitled to their own decision about whether to patronize a business but I think it’s important that all the facts are presented.

    • +1000. King Spa in Palisades Park NJ is also great and offers shuttle service from Manhattan. I love their scrub + massage.

      Haven’t been to spa castle in Queens since it opened so don’t know if they’ve maintained their awesomeness, but it was pretty great when it first opened.

    • Kontraktor :

      I love the Korean spa more than life. So relaxing. I am lucky we don’t really have a huge/good one in the Bay area or that I live near one, else I’d go every weekend. I love Spa Word in northern VA and iSpa in SoCal.

      • Just wondering if you’ve tried any in the Bay … I see that they have a 6000sq ft one in Japantown. I’ve always wanted to try!

        • Kontraktor :

          Anonness, I think I accidentally may have flagged your comment instead of hitting reply. T_T Sorry if it gets taken away, I did not mean to press the button.

          Anyway, I haven’t tried any in the bay, but I hear the two potential ones to try are Imperial Health Spa and Kabuki Springs Spa. Neither of them though are quite the huge spa/jimjibangs that are Spa World or iSpa. Imperial Health is apparently close but I don’t think has as many poultice rooms/doesn’t have any and it just looks small and a little run down from Yelp pics. Kabuki is a more Japanese inspired spa, so not quite the same either, treatments there are expensive and I believe you have to book a treatment to use the spa facility though I am not 100% sure.

          Honestly I save my Korean spa fix for when I visit SoCal and I just go to iSpa. :-\

    • Atlanta Korean spa recommendation? :

      cbackson, aren’t you in Atlanta? Can you (or anyone) recommend a Korean spa there? I’ve been curious and eager to try one, but admittedly a little nervous!

      • Jaeju is the one I’ve been to here. It’s single-gender in the tub and scrub rooms, and co-ed in the rest of the facilities (dry saunas, restaurant, swimming pool, nap room, lounging rooms, etc.).

  2. Manis/pedis are my weakness, as well as the 10-15 add-on chair massages at the nail salon ( I go to one owned by a little old Korean lady, so they know what’s up). I’ve generally found myself comparatively disappointed by expensive full-body spa massage experiences.

    However, both Dermalogica and Aveda have academies in NYC, where you can get an awesome facial/relaxation experience for half the price. I wouldn’t pay full price for the same treatment, but I’ve tried both places and would recommend either. Dermologica in particular has a very nice, relaxing treatment room, but I think Aveda gives you more for the price.

    • Anonattorney :

      +1000 to pedicures. Ahhhh, the foot rub. And you walk away with pretty feet.

  3. I (don’t think) I am alone in saying this, but I don’t like spa treatments! I don’t like massages, facials, manis/pedis, etc. Maybe it’s because I feel as if I could use that hour doing something else, or maybe it’s because it feels too indulgent. The one caveat is that I don’t mind sitting for 2 hours every 8 weeks getting highlights and a cut!

    • I dislike spas as well – for me, there’s absolutely nothing relaxing about having a stranger in my personal space. Haircuts make me anxious too (especially the wash part) but I still get them because they serve their purpose (making my very thin, fine hair look less straggly) even if I don’t find them relaxing.

      • That’s exactly how I feel. There’s nothing relaxing about a stranger touching me all over. I have had one 20-minute massage in my life, after a 6-hour bike ride. It was nice but not something I would repeat on a regular basis. Being the center of attention makes me nervous.

    • I’m the reverse. I like spa treatments, but loathe getting my hair cut. I think my dislike of the latter stems from (a) the expectation of small talk (I always feel like I’m boring my hair dresser silly); and (b) the fact that hair dressers often seem to bring a lot of judginess to the proceeding that you don’t get with spa folks.

      • OMG yes. Plus, a bad spa experience is just a waste of money , generally–a bad haircut stays with you until it grows out!!

    • I do like massages, but I cannot stand mani/pedis. I’ve always hated the sound of nails being filed, and having my feet touched tickles. I cannot relax!

  4. I find massages wonderful for relaxing/destressing, but also really enjoy going for mani/pedis with my girlfriends, its recharging in a different fashion.

  5. Shoe TJ: I’m in need of some light tan, comfortable pumps, lowish heels (~ 2 inches). I quite like the Air Juliana

    I’m wondering how this brand/style fits. I’m usually a 6 medium, probably because there are so few 5.5 W shoes out there. In 6 M, lots of pumps squeeze my toes. The Air Juliana comes in 5.5 W so I’m asking those of you who have these shoes to weigh in. Advice is greatly appreciated!

    • I like the Rockport Hecia – very comfortable low heels for my usually non-heels wearing self!

      • The Hecia was the other option I was considering. I’m just wondering how either of these fits on my wide-ish foot. Thanks!

        • I also have wide-ish feet. Cole Haan is too narrow for me. Rockport’s are better.

        • My feet aren’t terribly wide, but I find Cole Haan shoes to be incredibly binding and uncomfortable.

    • Baconpancakes :

      Cole Haan is generally very narrow. The only shoes I own in a 10.5 is Cole Haan; every single other pair is a 9.5 M or 10 M. For the heels, I’d get a 6 W. The Juliana is a very nice shoe, though!

    • Lady Tetra :

      I have the Air Julianas. I usually wear 10 M but wear a 10.5 M in Cole Haan. The 10.5 M in these fits me well. They are not my most comfortable shoes, but it’s mostly because the patent leather has a hard edge around it that presses into my foot after a while. I love the height, and they look very professional.

    • My advice – it’s Zappos – just order both sizes and return the ones you don’t keep.

    • I was scared off from trying Cole Haan for a very long time because I kept hearing that they’re narrow. Then when I saw Air Violet’s on deep discount at DSW I finally tried for myself, and didn’t really find them to be narrower than average pumps. I ended up purchasing them in my usual size. Though it may help that the Violet’s don’t have pointy toe?

  6. TJ- Eating habits :

    Anon for this– I have had an incredibly hard time recently controlling my eating, and I feel like I’m almost at the point where my weight it out of control if I don’t do something about it. I’ve always had compulsive eating issues, where I eat if I’m bored/stressed/upset, but have usually been able to balance it. Now, I’m at my heaviest weight ever and am starting to feel hopeless.

    I’d like to leave exercise out of this discussion (I know it’s important, and I’m trying to get some in weekly, but last year I was on an intense workout regime and literally didn’t lose a pound)- so I think this is about diet for me. I feel a bit helpless because I really can’t afford to see a nutritionist/therapist right now, and wouldn’t feel comfortable spending the money unless I was positive it would work. When I’m not eating, I’m constantly telling myself I’m going to do better and plan to heat healthfully. But when I get an appetite (which usually isn’t actual hunger) those plans just go out the window.

    Does anyone have any recommendations/ways of thinking about this? I’m at my wits end and my weight is really starting to become a problem.

    • TJ- Eating habits :

      Ugh- sorry for all the typos!

    • new york associate :

      Have you tried Weight Watchers? I’d give that a try before spending money on a nutritionist or therapist (though you could also check to see if those are covered by insurance.) I’d do it in person – actually go to the meetings. Weight Watchers gives you a really great balance between structure and flexibility. Another choice might be Overeater’s Anonymous, though I don’t have personal experience with that program. Finally, you might look into books by Geneen Roth – she has been very helpful for friends who are trying to overcome emotional eating issues.

      I totally understand that compulsive eating feeling, and empathize with where you’re coming from. This is a difficult battle. I wish you luck and strength.

      • Lady Harriet :

        My parents met in OA! I think it worked pretty well for both of them–they still have somewhat disordered eating habits, but nowhere near the level they did before, by what my mom tells me. Supposedly OA has a very good success rate, and it’s free.

    • Weight watchers. It got me out of a similar rut. It does cost a little, but not nearly as much as a nutritionist/therapist, and I can’t recommend it enough. For me, I hated admitting that I needed “help” taking control of my eating, but it has been a really positive experience, and I love that I have data recorded to look back at.

      • TJ- Eating habits :

        Thank you both. My work even started offering a WW program with meetings here- I don’t know if I can handle going to meeting with my coworkers though. CJ, I think that it my main problem… it has been difficult admitting to myself that its enough of a problem that I need to do something so “drastic” (although I know this is an exaggeration). NYA, I may also check out one or two of her books– there are so many!

        I’m looking into WW (outside of work) now… I think I just needed someone else saying it!

        • I felt the same way when I started. It helps to think of it more as a tool to hone your eating habits rather than a “drastic” step towards weight loss. In fact, I do much better when I focus on eating right (or at least within my points) one day at a time than focusing on the weight loss itself. FWIW, I use the online system and it has worked for me, although I am sure going to meetings would be quite valuable.

        • WW was really eye-opening for me, esp the in-person meetings. Even though you “know” what you’re supposed to do to eat healthy, there’s just something about group support that really works. Plus, the whole idea of bonus points to account for the few things don’t fit in a meal plan when you just really need to indulge is wonderful. I would recommend going to meetings at different times so you can see how different team leaders are and attend meetings with your favorite one.

        • Miss Behaved :

          I did WW online about 10 years ago and it worked for me. You don’t have to go to meetings or see other people. You just need to track what you eat.

          Right now I’m doing MyFitnessPal because I just need to lose 10 pounds.

        • I understand the sentiment about not going to WW with your coworkers, but really if your organization is large enough to offer a WW, the people you see there are statistically very unlikely to be from your team/workgroup!
          I had a similar issue when my work offered lunchtime yoga (“do I really want my coworkers/boss to see me in downward dog, or even more awkward positions? And in workout attire, and in the locker room? What about showering? “). But I went and there was nobody there I knew, and it was actually a really supportive group of women, and everyone minds their own business anyway i.e. nobody can really look around when they’re upside down facing the mirror. I think WW would be similar.

    • I too am hesitant to spend money on professional services, so here are two book recommendations:

      Intuitive Eating (Tribole)
      The Beck Diet Solution (Beck)

      They have some contradictory messages between them, but I really valued both and have been doing a lot better (and losing weight) since implementing some of the ideas and doing some of the activities. I’d say their major common point is in helping you learn how to recognize cravings and desires to eat/overeat as being different from genuine hunger, how to truly enjoy food, and how to sense fullness accurately.

      I know the out-of-control feeling you’re talking about, and it doesn’t have to be this way. Good luck!

      • Anon for This :

        I second the recommendation for the Beck Diet Solution. You might also consider other books on cognitive therapy (the principles on which the Beck Diet Solution is based – but other books like Feeling Good could help you tackle whatever stress/anxiety/etc. is prompting you to want to eat – BDS is very focused on how you think about weight loss specifically, which for me is only effective if I’m in an OK place emotionally).

        I struggle with the same issues; there’s no magic solution, but if you can relax a bit about it and start thinking of it as just like any other challenge in life, rather than as something wrong with you, that should help.

    • Anon for this :

      a) You can join Weight Watchers community for free — there’s a binge eating group on, I think, the maintenance board — that might be helpful.

      b) Get a few books out of the library — Gary Taub’s Why We Get Fat, Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Body, maybe The Beck Diet Solution — and read them. (I also love Why French Women Don’t Get Fat and Bethenny Frankel’s Skinnygirl but they may not be right for you.) Try switching to a lower carb / lower glycemic diet for a while (or at least around your trigger hours) and see if that helps.

      c) Avocado/healthy fats — I just read a thing about how people who ate avocado at lunch were much fuller all day — try Googling that.

      d) See your doc — maybe it’s a thyroid issue?

      I’ve only been to see a nutritionist once, but I left the experience feeling like I could have just ripped a page out of Self magazine’s “sample diets” and saved myself the time/$/energy. Sweet potatoes/avocados good, chips/chemical crap bad. Veggies good, soda bad. YMMV.

      • There are helpful apps for that :

        I agree with your description of the nutritionist experience. I guess it wasn’t just the nutritionist that I went to.

    • For me, one of the biggest things is keeping binge inducing foods out of my house/space. For example, I can’t have sugary cereals because I will incorporate a bowl into every meal. Rather than make this a constant source of self-loathing about why can’t you just eat a single serving bowl like a normal person, it’s better for me to just abstain. I’m not like this for all foods.

      • Anonymous :

        Yes yes yes. This was the only way for me too. It’s terrible, but I just cannot go to a Mexican restaurant and not eat all. the. chips. So now I only go when it’s a splurge night. You have to take willpower out of the equation by taking away the splurge opportunities where you binge, at least at first.

        I’ll also say that what really helped me break the cycle was going on South Beach just for a few months. Once I broke the sugar/junk food cycle and got into the habit of making better food choices, it was a lot easier to go off the diet but stick with the healthier eating.

        • The way I deal with the chips is that we have one basket, with our two kids, and then we say that’s it– we tell the guy not to refill it. So it’s a somewhat normal amount. I know people around us probably think we’re freaks, but I don’t think it should be normal eating to just devour endless bowls of them.

      • Me too. I have some stuff I just don’t buy. But if I’m out somewhere, I’ll have it, no problem.

    • I might not have the best advice, but I used to obsess over food and now I’ve gotten to the point where I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m a 6 or 7 on the 1-10 full scale. This has actually shrunken my stomach capacity and I get full pretty quickly now after not eating much.

      Are you bored? Find a way to keep yourself busy and away from food. My dad eats a ton when he’s at work and he’s bored at work. That can be tough to tackle if you’re not able to get more work/find another job. Boredom was the #1 problem for me.

      Do you drink a lot of water? Drink a gallon a day! Seriously! Drink water before you eat something, drink it after. It will make you full. A whole can of Progresso soup is also very filling and can be under 300 calories (I like chicken & wild rice, chicken and potato dumpling, chickarina).

      Are you a vegetarian/do you get enough protein? I could not be a vegetarian because I would never get full and keep eating. I can’t finish a whole Chipotle burrito bowl in one sitting but I once got a vegetarian burrito bowl because they were out of chicken and I ate the whole thing. No animal protein to keep me full.

      When it comes to junk food: it might not seem like it, but lets be realistic, a cup of potato chips or two oreo cookies is ultimately just as satisfying as eating the whole bag. I also generally don’t keep junk in the house. If I want chips or ice cream, I’ll go to the convenience store/drugstore and get a single serving. Yes it’s more pricey but I make the effort to go to the store to get some, that must mean I really want it and the single serving size forces me to stop.

      • OH also, are you on any meds that might ramp up your appetite? AND finally do you get enough sleep??? Appetite stimulation due to not sleeping enough is very real and crappy.

    • My weight yo-yos a lot within a healthy range, but when I’m on the higher end I just cut out anything processed. Then I just eat literally whatever I want, all day long, with an emphasis on veggies and drinking lots of water. I’ve found that for me, anything focused too much on restriction (counting calories, weight watchers, atkins, etc.) doesn’t work. But this way, I’ve learned to redefine what “food” actually is (most of what you find the grocery store isn’t even food!) and don’t feel bad about eating because I’m focused on how much I can have instead of all the things I can’t have. Plus, after a day or two I feel better energy-wise so it gets easy to keep up.

      I also second mascot, you need to get food that is not serving your goals out of your house. Replace it with your favorite fruits, veggies, and meats and you’ll be surprised when you start to not miss that stuff anymore.

      And just one more rec: If you’re going to read any book, read Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food.” It’s pretty great (as are his other books!). Good luck! You can do this!

    • Anon for this :

      I felt like I was in the same boat at the end of 2013 — really — heaviest weight ever (in the 300s — total shame spiral), couldn’t stop thinking about food all.the.time. Would think about my next meal immediately after finishing my last (or even while still eating it). It was out of control. I took a different approach, since I suspected that any self-powered programs like Weight Watchers or SparkPeople (which I’d done in the past) weren’t going to work out well for me (I needed to be accountable to someone else, at least at the beginning).

      a) I got myself into talk therapy. I have a chronic illness, which depression goes hand in hand with, so this wasn’t a bad choice for me anyway. I chose a therapist from Psychology Today who specializes in eating disorders and is covered by my insurance. She helped me get my mood back on track and referred me to the next two providers. (Now in our sessions, we’re focusing on issues other than food, since I have these two other outlets.)

      b) A psychiatrist who’s specialty is food-related disorders. For the first time, I heard a professional say that it wasn’t my fault that food occupied every corner of my brain, that I had wirings that were making it that way, that medication could help, and if I worked with him, I could make change happen. It’s been three months, but I’m no longer feeling abjectly depressed, completely anxious 99% of the time (both great ways to overeat), and some of the meds he put me on help to curb hunger as a side effect.

      c) A nutritional therapist who has put together real, workable food plans that incorporate what I actually like to eat and in line with my lifestyle. She had me keep a food diary for a week or two, then she incorporated what I ate into a plan (albeit smaller portions) and has really helped me to reshape what I consider a “complete” meal and what is “filling” or not. I know I’ve lost weight because my pants are all looser and I feel better. The next big step is getting me on an exercise plan since after 8 weeks on this new meal “plan,” I’m feeling more confident and able.

      • That’s really amazing. Good for you! HIVE FIVE

        • Anon for this :

          Thanks :) I know I have a long way to go, but this weight didn’t get here overnight either.

    • There are helpful apps for that :

      I recently went to a nutritionist and didn’t find her to be all that helpful. It might have been more a reflection of the particular person rather than of nutritionists in general, but I’d say save your money.

      I have found logging my food intake with MyFitnessPal (free app for your phone) to be really helpful and even more helpful now that it is included as part of Pact (another app). With Pact, you set a number of times per week that you are going to commit to logging your food, working out, and number of servings of fruits and veggies you will eat a week and then for every activity you miss you are charged $5 (or more if you so choose). The flip side of this is that you are rewarded a small amount (a few dollars) each week that you successfully complete your Pact. While the reward is not substantial, it is a nice little extra incentive.

    • I also was an emotional eater, and did not find nutritionists or therapy particularly helpful, though I’d encourage you to at least try therapy if you can, because it really helps a lot of people.

      “Organized programs” like WW also didn’t help, and neither did things like making deals to reward myself for “good” behavior. I wasn’t confused about what to eat or not eat. The calories that were making me gain weight weren’t “hidden”, I knew exactly where they were, as I sat in the corner of a taco bell parking lot on my way home from work. I didn’t need someone to help me figure out “what’s healthy to eat” I needed to figure out how to STOP EATING ALL THE OTHER STUFF ANYWAY.

      What did help was the book Feeding the Hungry Heart by Geneen Roth. Some people don’t like her and that’s fine, she’s got a lot of newer books I haven’t read. I’m not religious and she is but that didn’t matter for me. But I was at a point where I literally would eat while I cried, crying about hating myself, and swallowing the pain with the food, whilst simultaneously hating myself for being weak, pathetic, and bad. I don’t know if you’re in a similar place or not. If you are, then you might just look at the book and see if it helps. The other options are all still there. When food is your coping mechanism for pain, much like an addict uses drugs or alcohol to numb pain, no amount of food journaling or point counting is going to help you with the pain you’re trying to bury with food. *hugs*, I wish you the best of luck.

    • I’m going to recommend Overeaters Anonymous. Their approach is pretty hard-core, but some people really just have to abstain from particular foods altogether in order to prevent binge-eating. I have abstained from sugar since mid-November and it feels so freeing not to have to think about it, or to engage in internal discussions about how much I can allow myself. I am not sure whether I want to abstain forever (Valentine’s Day, I’m looking at you), but so far so good. Here are the 15 questions they use to determine if you are compulsive overeater:
      The one that really got me was “Do I eat sensibly in front of others and then make up for it when I am alone?” Oh man, do I ever.

      Anyway, check it out. The people are friendly and they really understand!

      • Anonymous :

        By the way, I’m at a normal weight. I lost a ton of weight (130 pounds) through Weight Watchers (first 70 pounds) and then a trainer + My Fitness Pal (last 60 pounds), but discovered that I still had the same compulsive tendencies as before. I resisted the idea of abstinence for several months but kept going back to OA meetings, and it finally clicked. Honestly, it’s been way, way easier than I expected.

    • I’m an all or nothing kind of gal so I had to give up sugar and other sweeteners. I track my calories on my fitness pal. That’s worked. The giving up sugar (after a first hard week) really cut my cravings and binges. I also try to focus on the positive (eg eat 4 cups of veggies a day; eat 1/4 cup of nuts a day) rather than the negative (don’t put butter on my bread).
      Good luck.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      I had to drastically change my eating habits due to multiple medical issues that stemmed from food allergies/intolerances. Unlike some people, I didn’t get immediate bad reactions from the offending foods, so I could sometimes justify eating it and dealing with the pain “later.” Here is what helped me though I understand it might not be at all analogous to your situation:

      1. My husband does our grocery shopping and cooking. This way I don’t even get the opportunity to see the bad foods that I can’t eat but really really want. He makes delicious meals and I don’t feel deprived when eating someone else’s cooking. If I had been cooking, I would want to make the meals I knew and loved. I basically stayed out of the grocery store for awhile.

      2. We didn’t eat out for awhile. See number 1. I was eating what was put in front of me and really didn’t have other choices.

      3. No offending foods in the house. If my husband wanted a food I couldn’t have, he had it when I wasn’t home or when he was at work. This is just until my new lifestyle became a habit.

      4. I told people about it so that they would stop offering me food I couldn’t eat. This might be tougher in your situation but you can still say it is for medical reasons since weight is medical and you tie it to your mental health which is medical.

      5. I don’t know how long it took, but after not eating a certain food for a certain period of time, I no longer craved that food and was actually grossed out by it if I did eat it. I remember the first time I tried to eat clam chowder after being dairy free over a year. I could barely swallow the thick liquid and I had previously LOVED it.

      6. I didn’t read food magazines or watch food tv shows. I actually don’t even have cable so I didn’t see ads for all the unhealthy foods I used to love.

      Basically, I eliminated all opportunities to fail until I was comfortable enough that I wouldn’t cheat and would be okay ordering just what I could eat and ignoring all the things I wished I could eat.

      Social situations were and still are the hardest so I try to make sure I always have something I can eat with me, and I eat before so I’m not hungry there too. I also try to find ways to socialize that do not revolve around food.

    • Anonymous :

      I could have written this word-for-word. For those suggesting WW, does it work when it’s clearly emotional/stress binge eating that is causing the eating? (I eat well during the day and all hell breaks loose, in the form of simple carbs, at night).

      • Sort of? They definitely discuss it and work the whole “lifestyle change” approach, as opposed to a temporary diet. It might be a good starting point for you but you may need other forms of support. Go to a free meeting, see if you like it.

      • I think it depends on the severity of your stress eating. I was definitely stress eating before WW, and I found it helpful. It helps that the points reset each day, so if you have a bad day, you start over the next day. Meetings probably make a difference.

    • This isn’t exactly what you’re asking for, but I highly recommend the book Intuitive Eating. It’s written by two nutrition therapists who essentially encourage you to stop trying to restrict food and simply listen to your body because once forbidden foods are no longer forbidden, you will eventually not feel the need to binge on them. It’s been really helpful in readjusting my mindset regarding food.

      • Thanks everyone. I think I am going to try the in-person WW meetings. Hopefully they will help even though many of my issues are emotional. I don’t really have a bingeing issue, but as a poster said above, I do often start thinking about my next meal during (or even before) my current meal. I really, REALLY love food- cooking, eating, everything. Food Network is my favorite channel. I know how to eat a healthful meal, I just don’t a lot of the time. I try to but then I get super excited about a new recipe, which aren’t always healthful. I also work as an event planner (for not much longer, that’s a different story) and there is always free, delicious food, which I can’t resist. Eating is like entertainment, or maybe even a drug, to me (I know, horrible). I am also going to check out one of the books recommended above, and if none of this works probably admit that I need to see a therapist.

        • Therapy and meds did wonders for my compulsive eating which was stress/depression/anxiety related and led to a 20 pound weight gain over the course of 3 months when, as you said, I was no longer able to balance it, even though I was actually running a significant amount. I didn’t really have the money at the time either (i was in grad school and on an individual health insurance plan which barely covered any mental health care) but my parents were pretty helpful in pointing out that money spent on mental health care is important and the failure to spend that money could have serious long term consequences both personally and professionally. But after spending some time on therapy and getting onto meds, so much of the eating resolved itself. I still occasionally have issues with portion control and snacking when I am really stressed but I no longer open the fridge to realize that I have totally cleaned it out in the span of a few hours and I no longer think about food 24/7.

        • Clementine :

          Point of clarification: In no way are you horrible. Some of your choices are not the best ones you could be making.

          Love and forgive yourself. Part of this is taking care of your body because if not- where else are you going to live?

        • Anon for this :

          I feel/felt/still feel the same way about eating. Even though I’m working with the therapist/psychiatrist/nutritional therapist, there have been a few moments when the stress levels in my life threaten to overwhelm and food has ALWAYS been the best drug. Chocolate heals and ice cream soothes. I’ve said to my therapist that if there was a way to quit food cold turkey, I would do it because I read articles about addition and its symptoms and I see myself.

          Good luck to you. Even if you don’t see a therapist who’s specifically focused on food issues, it might help, especially if you’re feeling less than charitable about yourself in other ways.

    • I would strongly recommend Geneen Roth’s books. They can be cheesy in the way that self-help books are, but they were enormously helpful for me in recognizing and dealing with some of the thinking that was causing my food/weight (and frankly, relationship) issues. After I’d read the books (can’t remember which one — maybe Breaking Free from Emotional Eating?), I did Weight Watchers online and took up running/yoga on a semi-regular basis, and lost about 25 pounds, which have stayed off for about 7 years. I am not “cured” by any means – certainly I still eat because I am feeling down and have moments when I hate my body — but food/my weight now occupies my thoughts for 20 minutes a day instead of ervery waking moment.

      I think the suggestions above are good for losing weight when you’re ready, but if you’re like me addressing the emotional side of things first is key, otherwise WW or similar may just drive you deeper into compulsion.

    • Anonattorney :

      One thing that works for me is to make a different goal that is not about losing weight, but will have the same result. For example, right now I’m cutting way back on spending on food in order to try and save more money. One of the consequences of spending less on food is that I eat less. When I’m hungry at night and don’t have extra food in the fridge and I’m thinking about ordering some delivery or take-out, I don’t stop myself because I am trying to lose weight–instead, I say “no, I’m trying to save money this month and I should not spend that extra $20 on food.”

      Dieting and eating is entirely emotional for me, and I have a hard time cutting down on food just to lose weight. I’ve had too many failures on that front. But, I’m good at budgeting and saving money! Also, when you decide not to spend money on food, you have an immediate reward because that money is still in your bank account. Instead of feeling deprived, you feel like you’ve gained something.

      • Love this. too many extra calories and spare $$ spent on treats like icecream and macrons.

    • AttiredAttorney :

      The MyFitnessPal app. Track or enter everything BEFORE you put it in your mouth -that’s the trick to counting food intake for me.

    • I’m kind of (ok totally) a control freak so what has worked for me is a combination of the South Beach diet (which really just focuses on whole grains, lean protien and fresh veggies) and the myfitness pal app. I log every single thing I eat into the app. It has really helped me get a handle on portion control and figure out how to work “treats” into my diet without going over on my calories for the day. When I know I will have to log it later, it makes me think twice about eating so much.

    • Things that have worked for me: Deepak Chopra’s book What Are You Hungry For? and the Every Other Day Diet. I’d really recommend reading Deepak’s book before trying any particular kind of diet.

    • Ladymac25 :

      I’m going to tell you to try weight watchers also. and I’m going to say that you should think about doing it online because online is on 24/7. I’m 32 pounds lighter since May and no one is more surprised than I am. I’m 12 pounds from my goal. I have emotional eating issues too and some days I handle it better than others – but online you will find other people who will tell you how they solve things. I’m working on a series of permanent life style changes because I needed to change my relationship with food. I wish you every success.

    • I went to Mexico and had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy. Removes most of your stomach and hunger hormones. People thought it was crazy but it works amazingly well. You still have to diet and work out, but you get better results and more motivation.

  7. Happy to see the shoutout for acupuncture, but as the daughter of an acupuncturist formally trained in China, I feel obligated to say that acupuncture should NOT be seen as a “spa treatment.” It should be regarded as an alternative medical treatment for specific medical issues that have often not been cured by Western medicine (unexplained body aches, post-chemotherapy pain, long-term fertility problems). (Of course, feel free to debate the efficacy of such treatment on your own.)

    It endlessly annoys my mom when people call her asking for treatments like she’s the same as a manicurist and wanting to know if she’ll do parties.

    • Having visited an acupuncturist for pain management issues, I absolutely agree that it is not a spa-like experience. Yes, there is “forced relaxation” (not that you should be running around with a few dozen needles sticking out of you) and some light massage/manipulations depending on your particular issues but I view it as treatment, just the way you’ve described it.

  8. My most favorite spa experience ever was a Turkish hammam in Istanbul. So, I’d recommend that. I am curious about Korean massages, though. Any NYC recs?

    • See above. There is also Juvenex on 32nd but they are way pricier and more american than Korean (fewer tanks, people).

  9. I love love love massages. If I could afford it and have the foresight to schedule regular appointments, I’d get one at least every month if I could. They are just so relaxing and feel great after sitting at work all week and having my laptop bag tear my shoulders off. and +1 to what one commenter said.. the best massages I’ve gotten were not at ritzy spas with tons of amenities. They were at places that offered small massage rooms and no locker room. Worth it if it means it costs less and I can go more often.

    I really enjoy facials too, but I’m going to cut back as I’ve added a lot stuff to my skincare routine (hyaluronic acid serum, glycolic acid pads, masks, scrubs, clarisonic mia, pumpkin enzyme peels, sk II masks which I havent tried yet, facial oils). My skincare products as a whole still cost less than 2-3 facials and so far yield the same results. Every time I see a facialist they tell me I have great skin so there’s probably not much of a reason to go in for maintenance except for the relaxation and the extractions.

    While I enjoy mani pedis, I’ve declared them not worth it because my finger nail polish still chips in less than 24 hours. One day when I can commit the time, I’ll try a gel manicure. Pedicures feel great, but for the money, I’ll have them once in a while. When I paint my own toe nails, that stuff lasts a month.

    I’d love to try other spa services (body wraps?) but they seem so pricey. My cousin actually just mentioned how she’s experienced one or two spa services in a day but has never had a full on spa day. I’m not sure how to enjoy this without spending more than $300 or $400. Anyone have any recommendations in Chicago for a spa day? I should just keep telling myself to stop spending money on clothes and put it towards a spa day.

    • new york associate :

      Gel manicures seem faster to me than regular manicures because the drying time is part of the manicure. I am a huge fan of them – mine last at least two weeks and if you choose a neutral-enough color, I can go four weeks on the same manicure. For me (an inveterate lifelong nail biter), they are the one thing standing between me and raggedy hands.

    • I bought my SIL a gift certificate to Exhale Spa in Chicago. You can do exercise classes on top of spa treatments. I visited them to pick up the card and it seemed like a really nice and legitimate place.

      Also, gel manicures are where its at. My fingers do not hold onto polish, and the paint thinner they put in nail polish at nail salons does not help (unless you bring your own polish). I wouldn’t do it for my toes, but its worth it for the hands.

    • I’ve done spa days with only one or two services. For the trick is to pick somewhere that has really nice facilities and perhaps food service. In between services, I like to take steams and saunas, hang out in the whirlpools, read in the relaxation room, lay out by the pool, etc. That easily can take up most of a day and still keep the cost down. I found that “resort” based spas, think Grove Park Inn in Asheville and Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, have better amenities for this than some day spas or hotel spas.

    • TO Lawyer :

      +2 I love massages.

      I’ve never had a facial – my skin is pretty good and slightly sensitive so I figure it’s unnecessary.

      I get mani/pedis fairly frequently in the summer about every 3-4 weeks.

      Once or twice, I’ve had body wraps/scrubs – they’re expensive so I wouldn’t do it on a regular basis. I’ve only done it at a spa bachelor3tte party and on a birthday spa day. But it is a nice treat!

    • This post actually had me reviewing all the groupon/spa deals I bought. I’ve been so bad and let a few expire. I know I can still use them as a credit for the amount I originally paid it just sucks. I guess it hurts less when I pay for half a massage months ago and pay the difference after I get the massage. & then of course I find myself needing a massage/realizing I’m due for one just in time for Valentines Day weekend when I’m sure everything is booked.

  10. Random question here. I’ve been with my husband for 7 years, married for 2.5 years. Is it weird that he’s not into lingerie? He says it doesn’t do anything special for him that me being naked in the bed can’t do. I believe he’s been truthful but I dated a guy once that LOVED lingerie and I have to admit that I kind of miss it.

    • I don’t think it’s weird. The extent to which my boyfriend likes lingerie is a hot lacy pushup bra and matching underwear. He’d rather see me in underwear or naked.

    • I agree it is NOT wierd either. When I was dateing Alan, my freind gave me a very pretty nightie to entice Alan, but Alan would have NONE of it. I thought it was strange that he did not like the nightie and actueally prefered me in a burly flannel nightie, but rest assured he would promptley pull it off me as soon as he wanted to do anything. He said that frilley thing’s were not for him. Suprisingley, Alan also was NOT bashful about getting naked himself, either, even tho he was NOT very musculear or machoe. I never did figure him out sex-wize, b/c he kept telleing me what a great lover he was, but in the flesh, he really was pretty dull and ordinary. FOOEY!

    • Nope. Not weird at all. Mine is the same way – makes more sense if you think about it than him being really into lingerie.

      • +1 There is zero creep factor in him not being into lingerie and endless creep factor in the alternative.

    • At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with you being into wearing lingerie for your own jollies. I doubt he would object if you wore it when you felt like it.

  11. threadjack: How do people working regular business hours handle ovulation prediction kits in shared bathrooms? Is it really so bad to just test first thing in am? I know this seems obvious, but I can’t imagine sitting in a stall for 3 minutes during the ideal times of late am/early afternoon.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      Not in your boat but I have to do other medical related things in the bathroom and I just take a small pouch with me that has my supplies. After you pee on the stick could you put it in a ziplock bag or back in the box while it cooks and take it back to your desk with you? Then just peek into the pouch when it is ready? That way you can dispose of it back at home too and not have it in the public trash. For privacy reasons.

      Someone left a (negative) pregnancy test in the bathroom trash at a former place I worked and the place was abuzz with gossip about who it could have been.

    • I tested first thing in the morning and then right when I got home from work. But I was working a regular 9-5 job so that might be hard depending on your schedule. I found that if I didn’t test two times I would miss the surge. So what I’m saying is maybe switch to twice a day, so you don’t have to do it at the office at all! Otherwise, I’m not sure why you couldn’t just test in the morning? My instructions always said that was the best time.

    • I used the Clear Blue Easy Monitor which requires you to test first thing in the morning. However, I would also supplement that with the wodfros, which I would use at work. If I wanted to save my stick, I would place it back in the wrapper and put it in a ziplock that I would keep in my purse. Good luck!

  12. Any NYC recommendations for a reliable acupuncturist?

    • Anon in NYC :

      I just tried acupuncture for the first time last week, but was referred to Manhattan Sports Acupuncture by someone that I trust. I thought the experience was as good as acupuncture could possibly be – the guy Edd was really personable and explained how the process worked.

    • Acupuncture :

      Bianca at Sacred Space Acupuncture on 32nd St is wonderful. Unfortunately, she is only in Manhattan a few times a week so you have to schedule in advance but she is well worth it. She does sports medicine as well as fertility

  13. I love a good massage! I actually get sports massages regularly (I run and regular massages really help when I’m in training), but a relaxing massage is nice every once in a while. And of course a mani/pedi is always a treat.

    I have only ever gotten a facial in a medical-type setting, so mine wasn’t particularly relaxing but did make my skin feel fabulous afterwards! My sister gets them when we have a spa day, she doesn’t like massages.

    I think the biggest relaxation factor for me is the spa environment. When I really need to relax, I like to go to a day spa where I can spend time before/after my treatments in a quiet, relaxing environment.

  14. Any recommendations for a spa in West La/Santa Monica area?

    • I’d like to hear those too. I have a Spafinder gift card that needs using.

  15. I completely agree about the small, personal massage experience over the big, fancy spa (at least for regular massages). I had a wonderful place when I used to live outside of DC, but now that I’ve moved to NYC, I’m in need of a good recommendation. Does anyone have suggestions for UES/Midtown-East/Long Island City??

  16. These are really great! I have a hard time choosing spa treatments.

    For those who like massage, I highly recommend getting a regular massage therapist. My body freezes up after 8weeks of working at a desk so I have been getting regular massage for my entire professional career. Massage therapists are wonderful professionals who can really help in unexpected ways but only if they know your body. I have been going to my therapist for 3 years and she can tell me if I am working out wrong or if I eed to raise my desk or move my keyboard.