Meet Steve Paredes, our resident chiropractor who has been involved with the Ranch for over 30 years. His background in health and fitness is truly inspiring as you can see in this interview. Based in San Diego, Steve practices at the Ranch on a weekly basis in the Villas Health Center.
Kate Anas: What’s been your journey from the moment that you decided that you wanted wellness to be your career to ending up here at Rancho La Puerta?
Steve Paredes: I have always been interested in athletics and sports as I was growing up and through college, but I did not develop an interest in health and wellness until I started working at Rancho La Puerta in 1981 as a fitness instructor and had no idea this would change my life. This was a very special time, it was the beginning of the fitness craze and the epicenter was Rancho La Puerta.
Starting with the men’s program I learned to teach all the classes including aerobics, weights, toning and yoga until I left in 1989 for Chiropractic school. During this time I was introduced to many things that would broaden and change my life. My undergrad degree is in Soil Science from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and I was taking a sabbatical from work to help my Dad who lived in Tecate, California. Out of curiosity I went to the Ranch, met the right people and started working part-time as a fitness instructor and eventually became full-time.
Teaching fitness training was only part of it, I learned the health principles of Professor Szekely that were an integral part of the program and defined the Ranch experience as the “Essen lifestyle”; eating organic whole fresh foods, detoxifying with cleanses and treatments, vigorous exercise, internal spiritual quests, and stilling the mind with yoga and meditation. I was also taught massage by the Ranch massage instructor from San Diego who was teaching the Mexican massage staff. I fell in love with massage and developed a practice with patients in San Diego and the Ranch staff.
Up until that point, I was just having a good time teaching at this exciting spa and going on exotic trips on the “Golden Door Spa at Sea” cruises as a fitness instructor. I had no idea the accumulation of these experiences would turn into a new career. I always expected to return to my original training in Soil Science in San Diego and in the environmental field until I injured my back at work with my Dad’s business. I went through the gambit of health professions seeking understanding and resolution of my injury. After spending a lot of time and money seeking help, it was my yoga practice that ultimately healed my back problem.
By this time all my interests were in the health field and I realized my sense of significance was more connected to working with people then working in a lab. At that time Chiropractic was the only health profession that integrated all aspects of health; diet, exercise, lifestyle, and prevention. I was already impressed with the therapeutic abilities of massage and yoga as modalities of rehab, so it was back to school after 10 years. I have not looked back since.
I have always stayed connected to the Ranch. When in school, I taught as a guest instructor at every break and then upon returning to San Diego to start my practice, I developed the back care program and became the next massage instructor to the Mexican staff. From 2000 to the present I have been treating guests on a weekly basis as the Ranch Chiropractor. The Ranch experience is still changing and informing my life, professionally and personally. I derive much peace from my work here.
KA: What advice could you give a guest so that they get the maximum benefits from all the activities that the Ranch provides without “overdoing” it?
SP: An important aspect in developing overall health is the ability to “listen to” or observe and respect our bodies, whether in exercise, diet, work or stress reduction. The Ranch lends itself as an exercise in self-observation. Our body mentally and physically gives us feedback, although sometimes subtle and sometimes extreme. If we pay attention and become mindful, we can change our behavior to avoid overdoing it. This feedback is in the form of pain, discomfort, fatigue and low energy which are all indicators of overdoing it. Do not push through pain or soreness. Tiredness and fatigue both tell us to rest and allow the body to mend. I advise guests to organize their day to balance activities of aerobics, strengthening, stretching and relaxation.
KA: What is your exercise and wellness routine?
SB: I have evolved over the years to the point of being balanced in my exercise routine rather than the excessive routines that always led to injury and soreness. I now work out from home doing weight training with light 10-15 lbs weights and high repetitions of 20-30, three times a week. Cardio includes a varying combination of modalities that result in an hour workout. I mix elliptical, stationary bike, jump rope, running and hiking, depending on convenience and time to do an hour. For weight loss the key is a hour of continuous movement, this sets the body’s thermostat to fat burning that continues all day. Then for flexibility I do yoga stretches daily when I watch the news. Consistency is more important then intensity. The body prefers incremental inputs rather then kill me on the weekend.
KA: What are your other interests besides chiropractic medicine? Inquiring minds want to know!
SP: I enjoy outdoor sports and San Diego has great hiking, biking and ocean venues that are all close to home. I like to play the guitar and spend time with my wife and grandkids. I am handy with fixing things and enjoy working on the house, yard and tinkering in the garage.
KA: Any last words of advice about staying healthy for our readers?
SP: These are the basics: Stay hydrated, eliminate daily, and eat whole fresh foods. Avoid anything canned, in a box, fast food or with high fructose corn syrup. Exercise 3-4 times a week. Seek what gives you joy. Love yourself and one another.