I’m recapping my late January visit to The Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge in Ivins, Utah. Click on over to my first installments, if you haven’t read about my check-in and weigh-in, followed by Days 1 to 3.
Thursday: Day 4 at The Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge
So much for my vow to get up for 6 am stretch class every morning. After staying up late to finish some freelance-writing work Wednesday night, I slept in until 6:30 am Thursday morning. Rebel!
I did feel well rested for another stellar hike. Gunlock covered about 4.5 miles with varied, moderate terrain. My favorite part? A little trek through intricately carved slot canyons. Here’s a peek:
I’m surprisingly energized after this hike. Breathing the fresh air and taking in the desert landscapes feed my soul. I live in the mountains; hiking is an activity I love. I feel at home on the trail — any hiking trail, no matter where it is. I don’t think I could do a week-long “fitness camp” if it only focused on gym or indoor classes.
That said, the afternoon cardio and strength-training classes are great, too. They’re kicking my butt, yet I strangely look forward to them — especially intervals. Today’s interval workout is “treading,” where we go hard for five minutes, then low intensity for five minutes, hard for four minutes, then low for four and so on.
Once again, I’m a weepy mess afterwards. I ran at 7 miles an hour on the treadmill. I had never, ever, ever set the treadmill speed at 7.0. Ever. But with the encouragement of the trainer — and fellow guests — I pushed myself more in the gym than I ever had.
To the compassionate — likely bewildered trainer — I said (between tears): “I’ve never run that fast before. I forgot I could be an athlete. That I am an athlete.”
(Thank goodness for stretch class afterwards, where I could just get a handle on my emotions — sort of — accompanied by Enya.)
Thursday brings the Departing Guest Announcements (i.e. make sure to sign up for the departing weigh-in, er, fitness assessment; we’re to be out of our rooms by 10 am Sunday, but can linger around the pool and property as long as we want). But more importantly, Planning Strategies for returning to “real life.”
The emphasis of the tips for going home: setting goals that are actionable, reasonable and reachable. That is, instead of, say, pledging to exercise for 90 minutes a day 7 days a week (which is nearly impossible – events, sickness, life get in the way), shoot for 60 minutes 4 days a week. If you’re reaching that goal regularly, notch it up to 5 days.
I set one at-home goal: make my kids eggs and toast for breakfast three times a week. If there’s one thing we’ve learned (or have been reminded) at the resort, it’s the importance of balanced meals: carbs, protein and healthy fats are key at every meal. Too often my children eat only toast, cereal or homemade waffles my husband whips up from scratch (they’re delicious, but carb filled without any protein accompaniment). Three days a week, I can take the time to make eggs… for all of us.
Friday: Day 5 at The Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge
I can tell I’ve lost weight and inches. Glancing in the bathroom mirror (okay, staring in the mirror) reveals a diminishing muffin top. I see a defined waist.
Of course, there’s really no time to gaze in the mirror in the early morning. Even after bagging optional stretch class (again), I’ve got to make my contraband coffee, put on my blister-preventing band-aids, layer up with hiking clothes, eat breakfast and load in Van #1 for another trail. I’m definitely not tired of the hikes yet; I appreciate the variety of the terrain and the different guides’ personalities. I wonder if I stayed here for more than a week I’d start to dread the early mornings and two-hour treks. Only five days in, I definitely don’t feel that way.
Today we hit several local landmarks in and around Snow Canyon State Park: Johnson’s Arch, Jenny’s Canyon, Pioneer Names and Moss Trail. Another great adventure!
Friday afternoon brought an Open Forum for all guests. This was a time we could share any feedback with staff, ask questions or get more advice for how we can incorporate what we’ve learned at the resort once we’re back home. A trainer, the staff nutritionist and licensed clinical social worker — all of whom we’d spent time with over the week — were on hand.
I actually kicked off the session with the first question: “What’s so bad about zero calorie drinks like Diet Coke and Crystal Light?” In a nutshell, the dietician reminded me that it’s aspartame, sucralose and other fake sugars in those drinks that make them taste sweet; she noted that our body wasn’t built to break down fake stuff. That’s why the diet at The Biggest Loser Resort is all about natural ingredients: things found in nature.
She also pointed out that studies showed that people “on diets” and trying to lose weight who also drank aspartame-filled sodas lost less weight than their counterparts, who ate a similar diet and no aspartame drinks. Finally, she noted there’s no long-term studies on what aspartame (and similar faux sugars) can do to the body; giving aspartame to kids is especially not a good idea, for that reason alone. Who knows what it does to developing bodies?
On Friday night, I was so glad I’d pre-booked another spa treatment — this time a lomi-lomi massage. Hot towels and hot stones complemented the long strokes in this soothing-yet-therapeutic service. I am pretty sure I snored a little on the table. Perfect cap on my fifth full day at the resort.
Saturday: Day 6 at The Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge
For Saturday’s hike — the final one of the week — we got to choose among four different trails. I actually opted for… the killer stop sign hike. Yep, I wanted to conquer that incline again, attempting to beat my Monday time. I also, frankly, just wanted to listen to my iPod and power through it (versus stopping for photos and chatting with guests and guides).
Indeed, I completed the 8.6-mile round trip quicker than I did before… beating my time by a whopping 3 minutes. Hey, I’ll take it!
I chose the stop sign hike, even knowing that directly after I returned from the trail I’d be expected at our “Last Chance Workout.” Modeled after the Biggest Loser TV show’s final contestant workout before they weigh in for the week, this workout accommodates everyone (all 30 guests on property) and it’s rumored to be tough. Really tough.
We enter the Court to find different stations set up for circuit training. But it’s not like any circuit training I’ve ever done. Trainers take turn on the microphone guiding us through the stations, while surprising us with “I want to see 45 jumping jacks!” (one trainer celebrates her 45th birthday the next day), or telling us to take a lap (running or walking) on the paved path outside. There are a ton of high-fives and authentic encouragement.
We make teams of two, three or four. I team up with a woman close to my age (whom I adore because she welcomed me to the resort with a hug the first day I arrived) and one of the resort’s serving staff (employees can take classes with us). At one point during the workout we need to come up with a team name. When we’re asked our team name, we shout out, “Pow-HER!”
Ninety minutes after this crazy circuit — including mountain climbers, push-up planks, boxing, medicine ball lifts — I’m exhilarated. I finished my last workout at the Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge, and I survived. Better yet, I thrived.
The week officially ends with Graduation, at which we watch the awesome DVD that the resort compiled of our week. Video of our tough cardio intervals and kick boxing class accompany dozens and dozens of still photos of our hikes. There are all sorts of giggles and “ooohs” and “aaaahs” as we watch the short film.
Then it’s time for staff to wish us well and for us to share any final thoughts about the stay. I weep through the entire 30 minutes of sharing — not only when I explain to the staff how much I learned (namely about myself and my capabilities) in my short stay, but also when I listen to others’ tales.
Hardy, manly men, so moved by their experiences, break down in tears, too. People use terms like life changing to characterize their stints at The Biggest Loser Resort. Folks who had been there for four weeks share how they made lifelong friends — which I can totally understand: when you are hiking, working out and eating with the same small crowd for several days on end, all of you in the trenches, digging deep to perform (or commiserating about being hungry), it’s so easy to bond.
I went to bed Saturday night so grateful to have been able to spend a week with the other guests. And again, I felt so humbled by the commitment so many made to their health — taking time away from jobs and family to learn how to exercise and eat well with “food as fuel” in mind.
I also added up some numbers, to figure out just how much I did workout during the week. It’ll likely never be replicated — not when I have a house to run, a family to care for and work to do in “real life” — but it was pretty neat to compute:
- 33 miles on the hiking trails
- 12 45-minute fitness classes
- 10 45-minute stretch sessions
Also on my mind: what sort of numbers will that InBody body composition scale spit out tomorrow?! I had my fitness assessment (aka final weigh-in) scheduled first thing Sunday morning, and I, frankly, couldn’t wait to see if the numbers on that machine would reflect that I’d stuck to the prescribed Biggest Loser Resort diet to a T (minus the contraband coffee). That I attended every single “required” exercise class. That I felt leaner and healthy and even energetic (despite the crazy amount of working out I did).
I didn’t go to The Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge to “lose 5 pounds” or “go down a dress size.” I went to reprogram my head and get a handle on some unhealthy eating habits. I went to hike amid desert landscapes that are so different from my typical Rocky Mountain hiking trails. I went to take time away from my busy life and focus solely on me.
Still, it would be nice if the scale and tape measure did reflect how well I stuck to the prescribed program at the resort — minus that contraband coffee.