Sunday, March 18, 2012


They say that Wednesdays are the hardest days. When I asked what that meant, everyone said the same thing: most people can make it to Wednesday and then the breakdown comes. Of course, I found myself crying at 6:00 AM on Monday in yoga, our first class of the first day. I laid on my back on the squishy blue mat, the lights were low and the trainer's voice was gentle. I was crying and thinking, How am I going to make it until Wednesday?

Duct tape: first class blister prevention and treatment

I just returned from a week-long fitness boot camp in Malibu, CA. You've heard of it. It's associated with a well-known U.S. television show, to the degree that other cars on the PCH rolled down their windows to take pictures of us in our vans because of the logo on the side. Six days of exercise and nutrition education, six days of gourmet food on a strict 1200-calorie diet, six days of exhaustion from the mental battles as much as the physical. This was the basic schedule, varying only by class type and order depending on the day:

5:30 Wake up
2.5-hour hike
Pool class
Nutrition class
Weights/cardio circuit
Cardio circuit
Nutrition class
7:15 End of day

All activities except for yoga were mandatory. (And it didn't take long to figure out you needed that one to survive. Most days it was far too painful to walk, much less hike, without extensive stretching first.) We were allowed 15 minutes between each activity to run back to our cabins to change clothes, and we were expected to be on time to all classes. Attendance was taken at the beginning of every class. I ended each day with a massage, a chiropractor treatment, or time in the hot tub, or sometimes all three, and I'm not sure how those who didn't were physically able to make it. There was a 10:00 PM lights out policy for porch lights because the cabins are close together, but by far the consensus was that lights were out long before 10:00. Most guests said they went back to their rooms after dinner and lecture with every intention of showering or watching TV, but immediately fell asleep. I found every possible way to cut corners in order to get as much sleep as possible - I only washed my hair twice during the week (yes, gross) and I never brushed my hair. Not even once. For fear of sprouting dreadlocks, I made an appointment at the salon for a shampoo and blow out on Saturday (yesterday) just prior to our graduation. That was the first time a brush touched my hair since last Sunday before I'd left my home in Portland.

Getting my hair did before graduation yesterday

I'm so full of thoughts and emotions about the experience; I don't even know what to write. Here are some of my feelings about the week:
  • I'm very proud of myself for getting through the week. I did it. 
  • I'm going to be forty-frickin-one tomorrow. This is a major fitness accomplishment at any age, but pretty damn great for 41.
  • I crossed paths with so many wonderful, interesting people. They were such kind, supportive, loving folks. I miss them a lot tonight, and I'm jealous of those who are continuing on at the ranch.
  • Two of my five hikes were beach hikes. Hiking while watching folks surf is about as good as it gets. (Surfing would be better, of course, but if you happen to need to burn 1500 calories in one activity, hiking while watching surfing is awesome.)
  • I hiked Backbone-Latigo for over 7 miles, and ran for a good portion of it. The Internets tell me that hike is rated "hard," and I couldn't agree more. I'm really proud of myself for that one. And then I came back to the ranch and did several more hours of exercise. 
  • This week puts that one-hour gym class or 30-minutes of jogging that I used to think was epic to shame. 
  • Having your schedule, your food, your days, your decisions out of your control is very difficult. I learned a lot from that part.
  • I wish I could bring the trainers, Chef, the spa staff, my favorite nutritionist, the life coach, and the chiropractor, whose nickname is Dr. Love, home with me. 
  • Especially the trainers. I love those guys. Even the one with the "I eat first weekers for lunch" t-shirt. Especially that one. 
  • This was a fantastic experience for me. I really am sad to be at home tonight. I miss my people.

At sea level during one of my favorite hikes

This is more like a book report than I had planned. I feel like I have a lot of crying to do, but this is what I can describe so far. At first, I hated it. Then I really liked it. Then I loved it. I grew a lot this week in terms of capacity to see myself, and I lost a little this week in terms of ass and back-fat. All in all, a pretty good trade. More, if I feel like it, later.

On a practical level, the resort (god, that word makes me laugh) specializes in weight management. If you need help kick starting yourself, or if you have any weight or health-related issues, and you've got a little cash to burn (I went on a GroupOn), I definitely recommend it. It's not like the TV show - there are a good number of thin people there just trying to train for marathons, increase endurance, maintain weight loss, etc. And there are plenty of people there with just weight loss goals. They accommodate all levels of health and weight issues. And the staff is amazingly supportive and encouraging.


  1. Anything that pushes your mind and body to that brink is going to make things churn up. And it sounds like overall it was a great experience. I'm so proud of you for pushing through and completing it. I exercised for 2 hours yesterday then had a headache for the rest of the day. I feel like I would curl into a ball with my head damn near exploding exercising as much as you did. I'm so impressed. Whatever gets us deeper into our true self, you know?

    Love you girlie- HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    And damn, you look tan in that that salon photo. :-)

  2. Having my schedule, my food, my days, my decisions out of my control sounds heavenly to me. I loathe decisions and make a terrific muddle of them. I long for someone to care sufficiently to give me guidance. All my life people have assumed I'm doing okay, but it just feels like negligence to me. I think I'd have loved your boot camp.

    Happy Birthday! x