A note from Sue & Alex

Hello Ranchers!

As the days cool and lengthen we can tend to push against the will of Mother Nature. We try to stay with our “schedules” instead of listening to the needs of our bodies and minds. Winter is a time to slow our pace, get more sleep, be gentle in our movements. Animals hibernate so that they come out rested and strong for the coming spring.

Be conscious of the need to go to bed earlier, leave some events off the schedule, change your exercise routine to reflect your body’s needs in the cooler weather and shorter days.

This will leave you ready to leap into Spring fully recharged and energized!!!!

– Sue and Alex


Don’t Miss Out on The Ranch Dolomites

Hike unparalleled peaks in Italy, as The Ranch Dolomites returns later this year. Following the same daily schedule and delicious meals as our California programs, our Ranch 4.0 team leads this unforgettable 7-day experience. The first week is already sold out with limited spots still available from September 1st – October 19th.


Spend Spring Break at 4.0!

Stay healthy and spend time with the family with a trip to 4.0 for spring break! Our long weekend reset is the perfect way to maintain January goals and recharge for spring. Even better you can share the experience with your family as kids 16 and older are welcome.

Recharge in Malibu!

While the 4.0 team heads to Italy, The Ranch Malibu is offered all year and is the ideal destination for a week devoted to your health. Our mountains are now a vibrant green and we are expecting a colorful spring and summer as new blooms are starting to sprout. If you haven’t experienced our new cold plunge pool, cryotherapy or infrared saunas, there’s no better time to book your Spring or Summer reboot and experience these therapies to maximize your results!


Ashley Gray,
Accounting Administrator

You may not meet Ashley during your stay with us, but she is a key part of the team and one who has developed a true passion for nutrition and healthy lifestyle habits. Having been on her own health journey, changing her diet and lifestyle to achieve a 50 pound weight loss, she deeply relates to the goals that bring you into our programs.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Ashley Gray is not only our Accounting Administrator, but she’s also a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist! She met Alex and Sue through their shared love of horses, while completing her dietetic internship in Santa Barbara through California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo. Since starting at The Ranch, she has received a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management and a Certificate of Training in Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management. She loves to workout daily and spends time horseback riding with friends on the weekend.


What are you grateful for?
– My health and ability to be active.

First thing you do when you wake up?
– Stretch

Favorite Ranch Meal?
– The Ranch Lasagna with Asparagus. Delicious!

Favorite Ranch product?
– Lemon Peel Plant Bar

Go-to snack?
– Apple with Almond Butter

Go-to workout?
– Pilates Reformer, Orangetheory, Kickboxing, Cycling, Yoga, Hiking. I love it all!

Favorite indulgence?
– Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies

Your favorite hike/place to walk in Los Angeles?
– Cheeseboro and Palo Comado Canyon, Solstice Canyon, and Sycamore Canyon Falls

Do you have a personal mantra or favorite quote?
– “When I was 5 years old, my mom always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down “happy.” They told me I didn’t understand the assignment and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – John Lennon

Last book you read?
– The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer


Grow Indoors!

While you may be limited by weather, space or simply time to keep your own garden, there are a number of ways to bring the healing benefits of plants into your home!  Keeping fresh, indoor plants purifies and humidifies the air, calms the mind, reduces stress and improves overall health.

How plants work their magic is simple. They absorb carbon dioxide and send it to the roots, which biodegrade the pollutants and then release water and phytochemicals into the air through a process known as transpiration. These chemical substances are one of our best defenses against chronic diseases. Studies have also shown that having plants around offers therapeutic benefits to your overall mood.

We highly encourage you to keep live plants in the home and these are a few of our favorite low-maintenance varieties:

Snake Plant

Why? You’ll find these all over The Ranch and you can easily add one at home – indoors or out. They are also known to be excellent air purifiers. They do much of their work converting carbon dioxide into oxygen at night, so be sure to put one in the bedroom to enjoy cleaner air as you sleep.

How to care for them: A great starter plant they are incredibly durable, can tolerate shade and only need to be watered once a week.


Why? Think of them as the modern Boston Fern. Easy to maintain, succulents are growing in popularity both indoors and outdoors. Keep one at your desk since these small wonders do a terrific job at absorbing radiation from the computer.

How to care for them: Plant them in a cactus mix or sandy soil and water sparingly. Give them an ice cube once a week to stimulate drip irrigation.


Why? Abundant at The Ranch, the aroma-therapeutic properties of eucalyptus cannot be understated. A well-known reliever of respiratory and sinus congestion, the scent of eucalyptus has also been shown to calm the nervous system and stimulate brain function.

How to care for them: You can put branches into a vessel with water, just make sure to trim stems and change the water every few days.

You can also turn your shower into the ultimate sensory experience. Before tying branches together with a natural twine, hammer the leaves to release the fragrant scent. Then hang them in the shower, away from the water, and enjoy a healing dose of eucalyptus every time you bathe!

Boston Ferns and Betel plants

Why? Known to absorb EMF radiation, these plants, are also excellent air purifiers for the home, removing toxins such as formaldehyde and benzene. In fact, NASA often uses these plants because they do such great work on creating air purification.

How to care for them: Plant in sandy soil in full sun and give them a spray of water from a spray bottle.


“Injury”… the scariest word in an athlete’s vocabulary. After recovering from a stress fracture in her hip nearly two years ago, Ranch Program Guide Ann Ongena competed and excelled in one of the world’s most prestigious trail running races last summer. At 54 years old Ann placed 7th in her age bracket for the 107 mile Ultra Tour de Mont Blanc! We asked her to share her keys to recovering from injury and returning to the things you love.

Read about her personal journey!

There is nothing worse than being laid off of all your favorite activities. It literally feels like being robbed of your identity. So … now what? There’s not much you can do about it right? Or is there???

About two years ago I ran a fun 50k race in the Santa Monica Mountains with my running buddy as part of our training. The trails were slippery but we pretended we were skating and all was going fine until about 5 miles before the finish. On a long downhill my right hip flexor starting hurting and with every step it became worse. Being the stubborn runner I am and not wanting to let my friend down I kept going downhill to the finish line, limping and pretending nothing was wrong and that tomorrow it would all be better.

I took a week off from hiking, heck I couldn’t even bear any weight on my leg, and rest had a miraculous effect. Every day it felt better. Not wanting to hear the word injured, I went back to hiking the following week with the help of my hiking poles. I believed it was getting better . . . until many weeks later I realized it was not. I had to face the dreaded state I was in, “injured.”

I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in the femoral neck of the hip, and because I had neglected this for so long, it had gotten bad. So bad my doctor wanted to insert pins so I wouldn’t make it any worse and risk damaging the joint for good and having a hip replacement.

There I was, in shock forced to face the fact I was injured badly and that it would take a long time before I was going to be up and running again. Crying I begged for no surgery and asked for the chance to heal on my own.

That day the runner in me became a patient and I was determined to be the best patient ever, carefully listening to my doctor, doing my research and with lots of rest, adjusted activity plus the ultimate nutrition (100% whole foods plant-based plus every day a smoothie with Ranch greens), my body became a healing machine powered by a positive mind set.

Fast forward: to the doctors surprise my fracture healed amazingly fast and after six months I was back hiking and running consistently.

So … I learned a couple things here, which I’d like to share with you.

Acceptance . . . and finding opportunity
It happens to all of us active people and it’s no shame. You make a plan and set new goals. For years I’d wanted to reset my entire kitchen but never had time to do it, now was the time. With the help of my husband I cleaned out all the cabinets, threw out all the old stuff and replaced it with new.

Rest…and feeding the mind and body
Then as my doctor ordered me lots of rest and a daily afternoon nap I started reading a lot. There were so many books I wanted to read for so long, but never found the time for it. I focused on plant-based nutrition books. I wanted to learn more, and educate myself on how to make my body healthy and strong again. I wanted to put only the best of the best into this precious figure of mine.

I even started an online WFPB cooking course from Forks Over Knives https://forksoverknives.rouxbe.com/. I learned so many new tricks in the kitchen!

Everyone was thinking I must go stir crazy, but I was not. I was actually enjoying this sudden different life, because it gave me all these new opportunities!

New Normal…finding different goals as the body healed
After the first two weeks of complete rest my doctor allowed me to go to the gym (on my crutches as I was prescribed non-weight bearing for two months) to do some core work while laying or sitting down.

Endurance athlete as I am, I entertained myself with my new Bluetooth headphones and a new music app (Fit music) for at least a minimum of 2 hours working my upper body with tons of repetitions – finally I would build some serious muscle in my back, core, shoulders and arms. I would master those pull-ups I could never do!

Transitioning…rebuilding my body through low impact activities
I was able to go on the spin bike in the next step of the healing progression. I started without resistance with easy “just spinning the legs” workouts and then progressing into intervals. I had fun mixing it up and working myself into a sweat again, while blaring loud crazy music through my headphones, rushing some endorphins through my body. I never knew spinning could be so fun!

Meantime I was alternating the “bike” days with “pool” days.

Deep Water Running…my new favorite activity

I had discovered something new, “deep water running”. Floating in the deep end of the pool with a flotation waist belt on, and tethered to the wall so I wouldn’t go anywhere and could focus on the technique, I learned how to pool run. I got waterproof headphones and ran in the water without ever touching the pool floor. Starting with 20 minute sessions and progressing into one hour workouts, mixing it up with intervals.

These were my favorite cardio sessions, I don’t like swimming but I loved this! It made my body feel so good after, because while I was running hard the water pressure and resistance was massaging my entire body. I became best friends with the seniors participating in the aqua fitness classes that were usually going on simultaneously. To prevent boredom I scheduled my pool running during these classes so I had some visual entertainment. The pool was big enough of for us all and of course I stayed out of the way and the instructor was okay with it.

Adding in weight…strengthening my core
All the while I was consistently weight training. This included anything I could safely do without setbacks. Building muscle, working on my mobility and especially making my core and glutes super strong were a priority. The core is the powerhouse of everything we do. The limbs move out of it and when that powerhouse is strong and balanced the legs and arms will move in unison, it’s necessary to prevent other injuries.

Walking…tracking my steps with a larger goal in mind
After two months wobbling on crutches I was ready for a real “walk.” First safely in the house, then to the mail box, then a short walk in the street, slowly adding distance and now appreciating every little incline. Keeping track of my daily steps and writing it down in my new training journal. My recovery journal that would go from zero steps to the day I would be running again around the Mont Blanc.

Returning to what I loved…with care and patience!
To my doctor’s surprise my fracture had healed within 6 months. I was walking, hiking and running again! Starting slow, I gradually challenged myself. Increasing intensity and distance, while also listening to my body and easing up when I needed to.

I was lucky to get an entry into the 107 mile race in the Alps. I had it done before and I was determined to heal and build back up to a strong mountain runner. Setbacks weren’t allowed, I had no time for that, so I took baby steps in my progression and patience was my mantra.

I made it!

Disclosure: I am not a medical expert. I’m only speaking out of my experience. Every injury is different, has a different cause and a different treatment. When you have an injury I strongly recommend you to consult a specialist.


Souper Food!

There is nothing more comforting on a cold winter’s day than a hot bowl of soup. This season we are featuring 3 soups from both The Ranch Malibu and 4.0 kitchens to warm and nourish the body.

Split Pea

Makes about 2 quarts

1 yellow onion
2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp oil
1 Yukon gold potato, peeled and diced (optional)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 pound dried split green peas, rinsed
8 cups water or vegetable stock
1/4 cup scallions, green parts only, finely chopped

In a large pot over medium heat, add the oil.

Add the onion and carrots and saute until onions are soft and translucent, about 12 minutes.

Add in the garlic, oregano and salt and pepper and saute another 3-4 minutes.

Add in the potato if using, nutritional yeast, water or stock, peas and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes – 1 hour until peas are very soft.

Remove from heat and remove the bay leaf.

If desired, carefully puree half of the soup.

Return the puree back to the pot and season to taste with salt and pepper. (I don’t usually find this step necessary).

Garnish with scallions.

Bean Chili

Makes 8 – 10 servings

Rice bran or another high heat oil,
to sauté the veggies
4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups carrot small dice
2 cups onion small dice
6 garlic cloves, minced
Red pepper flakes, to taste
1 T smoked paprika
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 bay leaf
1 T coconut amino
6 oz. tomato paste
1 T vinegar
1⁄2 cup pinto beans cooked
1 cup kidney beans cooked

Saute onion, carrot, garlic and celery until softened.

Add the red pepper flakes, paprika &cumin and cook for an additional 2 minutes, or until fragrant.

Add the oregano, bay leaf, tomatoes, aminos, vegetable stock, tomato paste, and vinegar, then bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the beans and simmer 15 minutes longer to heat through and blend flavors.

Add more stock if necessary, or cook longer to reach desired consistency.

Remove the bay leaf and serve!

Squash, Carrot & Ginger Soup

Serves 6 – 8

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 cups butternut or kabocha squash,
peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1” piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp Thai red curry paste
4 cups vegetable stock or water

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until shimmering.

Add the squash, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes.

Add the onion, carrot and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes.

Add the ginger, garlic and the curry paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the stock and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are soft. Puree the soup until smooth and season to taste with salt & pepper.