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22nd Annual Healthy Living
Retreat for Women

Get away to spectacular Fallen Leaf Lake, May 19-22, 2016 for a fun, educational and restorative weekend with Stanford and Bay Area health experts. Attend lectures and hands-on workshops to learn the latest on women's wellness, then head outdoors for a hike or sail, or simply kick back with a glass of wine. Presented by the Stanford Health Improvement Program and the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Spring 2016 Retreat

America’s Protein Obsession/Confusion: Facts, Myths, Trends
Americans are both obsessed with and confused about protein. How much do we need to eat? How much do we already eat? Do plant foods have protein and how much? All of these questions are very relevant to the recent advice of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee which made general recommendations in January of 2015 that included: 1) eat more plant-based foods and less animal-based foods, and 2) consider the environmental impact when choosing your foods (and this topic is particularly relevant to dietary protein sources). Those two issues have proven to be very politically sensitive issues; the livestock industry is vehemently opposed. Christopher Gardner, a nutrition scientist at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, will use an engaging blend of science and humor to present some facts, myths, and trends around this topic.

Presented by
Christopher Gardner, PhD


Being Better than “Busy”: Smart Juggling for Capable Women
It’s easy to fill a calendar. Beyond time allotments is the Big Question: Does your calendar really mean anything? That is, does your calendar reflect what gives you meaning?

In our time together, we’ll talk about ways to make smart decisions about time, juggling, and priorities. We’ll talk about saying Yes and No at the right time and solutions to competing imperatives. And we’ll have a great, productive time!

Presented by
Linda Hawes Clever, MD


The Science of Sustainable Happiness: Research and Practice
Happiness not only feels good; it is good. Happy people have more stable marriages, superior health, and higher incomes. Fortunately, experiments have shown that people can intentionally increase their happiness. In this presentation, Sonja Lyubomirsky will draw on her two decades of research with thousands of participants to introduce a program to boost health, productivity, and happiness in our day-to-day lives. She will introduce the positive activity model, which explains when and why such practices as gratitude, kindness, or savoring work “best.” In sum, this presentation will present new research on how small and simple activities can transform people into happier and more flourishing individuals. Her findings have significant implications for increasing happiness in the workplace, as well as in other life domains and settings.

Presented by
Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD

Workshops are offered twice concurrently, so participants choose two of the four to attend.

Authentic Courage for Decision and Conflict Coaching
How often do you feel tension, anxiety, and pressure due to internal or external conflict and decision making? Join us in a workshop to learn skills and frameworks for healthier choices and actions anchored in the clarity of your values. Strong personal decision making results in thoughtful, meaningful journeys and reduced stress.

Presented by
Sonoo Thadaney, MBA


Lighten Up: How to Not Be So Stressed About Stress
How can we utilize stress and harness its intense energy while keeping a clear, cool head? We know from experience (and cutting edge research) that trying to push stress away is a downright waste of energy. But we keep hearing how bad it is for us! Stress is not going to disappear, and yet recent research suggests that carrying a “stress is bad – must get rid of it” mindset may only compound the negative impact of chronic stress on our health. These studies indicate that we can learn a “stress-is-enhancing” mindset and see a real positive impact on our well-being. So, instead of the daily wrestling match, let’s elicit the vital role stress can play in living the lives we want to live. In this one-hour workshop we will learn to recognize stress for what it is, learn techniques that will help us stay calm in its midst, and learn ways to shift our mindset to activate the enhancing aspects of stress.

Presented by
Sarah Meyer, MA


Feeding your Friends – The Trillions of Bacteria in your Intestinal Tract (The Microbiome)
A rapidly growing body of evidence suggests that the composition and diversity of an individual’s gut bacteria (microbiome or microbiota) is associated with overall wellness and with various disease conditions. Recent studies indicate the quantity and variety of bacteria species in the human gut can be altered by nutritional and environmental factors. Sales of “probiotic” products (i.e., supplements or foods containing live “beneficial” bacteria) are rising rapidly, much faster than the science to support many of the exaggerated marketing claims being made. It is now possible to collect a stool sample and mail it to the “American Gut” (The Human Microbiome Project) with $99 to have your microbiome analyzed. Before you send your sample off to American Gut, or buy a probiotic supplement, come and join Professor Christopher Gardner for an update on this science. He and colleagues Drs Justin Sonnenburg and Julie Parsonnet have been studying this topic in their human research studies. Do you know the difference between “pre-biotics” and “pro-biotics”? Should you be stocking up on fermented foods and beverages like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchee, kefir, and kombucha? Should you be adding fiber supplements to your meals? These questions and topics and others that you bring to the discussion will be addressed in an informal open conversation for an enlightening Sierra Camp break-out session.

Presented by
Christopher Gardner, PhD


How Can I Help? Counseling for the Non-professional Helper
As daughters, parents, managers, and friends, we are often the trusted advisors that a colleague, family member or friend calls upon when he or she has a problem. Empathy is an important human characteristic, but many people feel at a loss when it comes to how to help a person they care about. Anna Ranieri has made it her goal to help people become better helpers – of others, and of themselves. She will provide a lively and reassuring discussion about the challenges of, and keys to, helping, as she has done in her writing on this topic; in her presentations to corporate, educational, and community service groups; and in her courses for Stanford Continuing Studies. Anna will review the importance of listening and the process of helping someone to clarify an issue, set a goal, and make a plan for change. She’ll emphasize the limits to helping, describe situations that require professional help, and recommend that positive confrontation take place when a friend’s denial or evasion is the biggest roadblock in the helping process. Anna will remind us to help ourselves too, so that we can be most effective in our helping roles at home, at work or beyond.

Presented by
Anna Ranieri, MBA, PhD

Demystifying the Core: Strengthening from the Center
Your core muscles are vital to your well-being and quality of life. They serve to stabilize the spine and support you in all you do.

This workshop will help to demystify “the core.” We will cover core anatomy and basic biomechanics, why it is so helpful to strengthen these muscles, and most importantly, how to do so safely. Learn simple exercises you can incorporate into your daily activities that will not only strengthen your core, but reduce the risk of back pain and improve balance and posture.

By the end of the workshop, you will have a specific goal to work on. The goal of this workshop is to provide the knowledge and hands on experience you need to give you stability and strength to fully enjoy your life activities now – and in the future!

Presented by
Jennifer Robinson & Kristin Strellis


Walking Anatomy
Walking in erect body alignment is highly beneficial exercise. Change the way you think about and use your body in this workshop. Correct postural collapse causes musculoskeletal pain, abdominal compression and body imbalance that affects health, performance, and safety. Walking properly promotes fluid circulation, hip mobility, and benefits the lower spine, hip, and knee joints. Breathing fuller sends more oxygen to your body and brain to increase metabolism and mental clarity. Stress levels decrease and torso muscles strengthen. Lose postural pounds carried in the buttocks, hips, and thighs – the last few pounds that will not go away no matter how much you diet or exercise. See and feel your body in better alignment and balance with a greater range of movement with less chance of injury.

Presented by
Diane Whitacre, Structural Anatomist, RT (Realignment Therapist)


Body UP/Liquid Flow!
Combining dance improvisation, yoga and Tai Chi to spring into full creative expression, participants will experience the joy of fluid, juicy movement and playful dancing, with freedom and ease.

Presented by
Aleta Hayes

Fitness Testing/ Body Composition Screening
A health & fitness coach will lead you one-on-one through the testing in a supportive, encouraging environment. At the end you will review results with your fitness coach and create a plan to make health behavior changes to meet your goals. If you have prior assessment results, you can compare current and past results.

Presented by
Julie Anderson


Taking Your Action Plan Home
In this interactive session at the close of the retreat, Joyce Hanna will help you make your plan to put the information you learned into action when you return home. She’ll also talk about research-based tools of behavior change that will help you incorporate your goals into your everyday life.

Presented by
Joyce Hanna

Jennifer's Pilates class focuses on the basics and how to get the most out of each exercise in the safest way possible. Beginners and advanced participants will be sure to get a great workout. Appropriate for any skill level.

Presented by
Jennifer Robinson


Sunrise Vinyassa Yoga
Begin your morning with Vinyasa, a style of yoga where asanas (postures) are linked with breath, creating beautiful movement and flow, from one posture to the next. The postures promote alignment, flexibility, strength and endurance. An active breath meditation will complete the class.

Gentle Morning Yoga Stretch
Stretch and relax your body prior to your travels home. Modifications will be offered for all levels.

Presented by
Kristin Strellis


Tai Chi
Join us for a relaxing introduction to the healing art of tai chi. In this hour, you will be introduced to, and practice, a set of continuous, slow movements using the principle of shifting one’s weight while keeping the body stable and the breath smooth and even. This graceful practice begins with intention (in the mind) and is expressed in the gentle, relaxing movements of the body. Dress comfortably and come ready for a refreshing “workout” of the mind and body.

Presented by
Katie Sutherland


Morning Meditation
Wake up with the sun and begin your day in quiet and stillness, allowing the body/mind to gently ease into the day ahead. This mindfulness meditation practice will begin with 5-10 minutes of instruction, followed by a 20 minute silent “sit”. Dress warmly and comfortably. You are welcome to sit in a chair or on the ground. All levels are welcome. Feel free to come for any or all of this restorative practice.

Presented by
Katie Sutherland

Your Dreams? Passions? & Purpose
What are they? What were they? Why do we care? Last year we discovered what is visually special about you on the outside — your VIDA Signature. (Visual IDentity Analysis). This year we’ll address the revolutionary process for creating authentic image for new participants, and go deeper for others. Your Dreams, Passions, and Purpose: what are they? What blocks, if any, keep you from attaining them? What next, after you’ve discovered your VIDA or authentic image? Carla Mathis shows us how to see others and ourselves as works of art.

Carla will be available for individual consultations regarding your VIDA Signature… all or any part of your best clothing styles, your best colors, and how to articulate your special gift of Being (your Identity).

 Presented by
Carla Mathis, AICI CIM

2016 Rates

The Healthy Living Retreat for Women is affiliated with the the Stanford Health Improvement Program and the Stanford Alumni Association (SAA). Applications are accepted from all interested parties, though Stanford alumnae have first priority; all applications are ranked by postmark. Additionally, SAA members receive a $100 discount. If you are sharing a lodging unit with non-alumnae family members and friends, one alumna gives the group priority reservation status.

Download the reservation form »

SAA Member Rate*Nonmember Rate
$790 $890

If you're interested in becoming a member, please visit our membership page.

The Thursday, May 19 — Sunday, May 22 retreat package includes:
•  Three nights' lodging in a private bedroom with shared bath
•  Healthy meals from our chef's inspired and delicious repertoire
•  On-site recreation
•  Lectures and workshops
•  Daily movement and relaxation sessions
•  Body composition screening and fitness testing
•  Program binder with lecture and workshop materials
•  Specially designed Healthy Living Retreat gift

If you wish to arrive early on Wednesday, May 18, please add $215 to the rates listed above. This optional pre-retreat date covers your lodging, three meals, Thursday morning workshop and recreational facilities. This is an opportunity to acclimate and enjoy Sierra Camp before the regular program begins.

Please note that rates do not include taxes on lodging and meals.


•  Simple yet comfortable accommodations in Sierra Camp's lakefront cabins and lodge
•  Private bedroom with shared bath
•  Linens, towels and daily housekeeping are provided
•  Attend with your favorite women: cabin assignments are based on requests. If you do not request a cabin mate, we will assign one.


Reservations require a $100 nonrefundable deposit with your reservation form. We accept checks only, and they should be made payable to "SAA Sierra Programs, LLC". Balance is due by April 22.


Payments will be refunded, less $100, only if we receive written notice of cancellation before April 22. No refunds for cancellations will be made after April 22. The cancellation policy also applies to Wednesday reservations.


For reservations, contact Liz Aiken at 530-542-5600 or For program questions, contact Morgan Marshall at

2016 Healthy Living Retreat for Women reservations forms are now being accepted.

It's not just lectures and workshops! Join us for:

  • Early morning meditation, Pilates, yoga and trail running!
  • Paddle boarding, kayaking and guided hikes
  • Star-gazing cruises
  • So much more!

Camper Testimonial

“The talks were excellent and I learned quite a bit. I had fun kayaking, doing Zumba, hula hooping, and fly fishing. The location is beautiful, the food was delicious, and the fitness evaluation is very useful — what's not to like!”

Caroline Caufield, MBA '88

Maps and Transportation

Take a peek at our gallery

Connect with the Healthy Living Retreat Group

Coordinate carpooling to Stanford Sierra Camp, and afterward, share memories/photos and discuss retreat topics with fellow attendees

Join the group »


Contact Liz Aiken at
(530) 542-5600
or send an email