I was finally here: the competition of a lifetime. I’d been training for nearly a year for my shot at making a powerlifting world record at one of the most prestigious fitness events in the world, Mr. Olympia.
But oh, those s’mores.
I felt personally attacked by the s’mores kiosk that seemed to be winking at me from across the hotel lobby. I didn’t even know I wanted a chocolate-marshmallow sandwich until Vegas put one right in my face, and now it was all I could think about. I had a weigh-in tomorrow. I couldn’t throw it all away over melty, gooey, chocolatey, sweet—no! Stop! I’d have to lock myself in my hotel room for the next 24 hours.
I’d feared this. I mean, who sets a fitness competition in the most indulgent city in the world? It seemed cruel. Or maybe I was just uninformed. I decided to dig deep, deep, deep into the most mysterious side of Las Vegas, past the booze and flashing lights and greasy buffets and s’mores kiosks, and into the wild world of healthy, green goodness.
I wanted to explore a different type of abundance in Vegas, one that wouldn’t leave me feeling like I needed a detox and shower. One that would further and honor the healthy lifestyle that brought me here to begin with.
Home base had to be healthy, and the MGM Resorts had that covered. These properties offer StayWell rooms with special features such as air purification, aromatherapy with essential oils, vitamin C-infused showers, white room lighting (to suppress melatonin and help reduce jet lag), a dawn simulator alarm clock and long wave night lighting.
For a quieter hotel off The Strip, the Hilton Grand Vacations Paradise is casino-free (no slot machine ruckus), and the suites are equipped with full kitchens. Making your own meals is the easiest way to guarantee healthy dishes while traveling, especially if you have dietary restrictions.
I started the day with yoga with the dolphins at the Mirage, a private class in the underwater dolphin view area. The dolphins danced in front of the windows while we did dolphin pose (really, we did) and meditated. If you’re not a fan of captive dolphins, you can also do yoga at the Linq on the world’s tallest observation wheel 550 feet above the city or take a helicopter to the Valley of Fire for HeliYoga Limitless’s “most exclusive yoga class in the world.”
After finding my zen, I took a Presidential Limo (a great option if your feet are aching from getting in your steps and then 20,000 more) to Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas, which has the best, healthy weekend brunch at Veranda. Fill up on healthy, ever-changing options like breakfast salmon salad or mango pineapple chia in coconut milk for vegans.
After herbal tea by the pool, I clearly was exhausted from so much sipping, so I headed to the spa, my favorite way to add wellness into any vacation. Here’s where the city goes overboard in true Vegas style: The Strip has 45 different spas. Four are Forbes Five-Star spas and seven are Forbes Four-Stars.
Since I was already at the Four Seasons, I decided to try out its unique Warm Salt Stone Ritual. It was like a hot river rock massage, except with warm pink sea salt stones instead, which my therapist told me infused dozens of minerals into my skin, while melting my muscles at the same time. I woke myself up snoring, so it must have been good.
Turns out, Vegas is also packed with plenty of sober, active entertainment. My fave was the Marvel’s Avengers Station at Treasure Island, where you can see real costumes and props from the movies and do different challenges, like test your grip strength against the Hulk. (Shocker: He won.)
For dinner, the healthy, hip place is Harvest by Roy Ellamar at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino. Not only was everything so fresh that the herbs are literally growing on the table and walls throughout the dining room, but it was also the most delicious food I’ve tasted in Vegas. Stone oven-cooked seafood, grass-fed beef, market-driven sides and cold-pressed juice made me forget all about those s’mores. Harvest centers around local and sustainably sourced ingredients.
I wrapped up my regret-less Vegas itinerary at the Neon Museum, a quirky bucket-list destination off the main drag. The Brilliant! Experience brought tears to my eyes as it artistically shared Vegas’ history through music and projections onto abandoned neon signs.
I sat under the night sky in the glow of a dozen old signs brought back to life, and Elvis’s music filled the air. I was sober, energized and appreciative of the history and culture that I had previously overlooked. I was ready for my competition with no regrets and excited to share this softer side of Sin City when I got home. What happened in Vegas on this trip just could not stay in Vegas.