Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

I raise a glass to the mess that is you.
and drink til I unbreak.
I want to glue you back together
'cause we're birds of a feather.
And leave destruction in our wake.
If we've got to go.
This is the way I want go.
Oh I'm going to die for your love...for your love.
Ingrid Michaelson
Just wanted to wish everyone the happiest of New Years and New Decades. I hope 2010 is an even better year for all of us. Here are some of my many memories of 2009.
My top 5 movies of 2009
5. It's Complicated. Very Funny, well acted, not much of a story
4. State of Play. A nice thriller
3. UP. Really cute and probably my favorite animated movie since Jungle Book
2. 500 days of Summer. Quirky Fun and different. Amazing story of lost love
1. Up In The Air. I loved this movie and would put it near the top of my decade list. The actors are brilliant. The story so timely and well told. Flawless in my mind. Pure Genius.
My Top cd's of 2009
When I started to write this list I was hoping that I could come up with 5 I came up with 2 and a half.
1. Ingrid Michaelson Everybody. Fabulous, well written, and well she was in my car so that's a huge bonus :)
2. Jenny Lewis Acid Tongue. I really liked this cd and loved her live show
3. Glee vol 2 The show is fun, the music really fun
4. Jim Vol. 1 Nothing makes me happier than when people make me cd's of music I will like.. Thanks Allison
5. Peace, Love, and Volleyball. Thanks Jaime....and thanks to Marissa as well
My top concerts of 2009.
It may not have been a great year for new music but it was a really great year for concerts.
5. Jenny Lewis @ The Barrymore My top show in a small Madison venue. Lively and much better than I imagined going in
4. Steely Dan Palms/Riverside Saw these guys twice and they were fabulous
3. Sara Bareilles at Schuba's in Chicago. My favorite singer, front row, in a 200 person venue. Never would have thought that day that I would have seen 3 better shows this year
2. Bruce Springsteen at the Bradley Center. The Boss is simply the greatest performer ever. This concert was fun and eye opening to the power of music
1. Billy Joel and Elton John at the Kohl Center/Wrigley Field. Raved after the first one, got amazing tickets to the second show and sang along to every song. Two consummate performers playing to their fans. Wasn't cheap but it was worth every damn penny, and then some :)
My Favorite moments of 2009
5. Having a serious bulky gym dude look amazed as I did 100 sit ups with the medicine ball followed by my trainer quitting after doing ten.
4. Ingrid Michaelson in my car.
3. Finding my old picture of me and Gary Williams and comparing it with the one this year
2. Scaling Camelback and heading into the vortex in Utah. A long ass way from my first "hike" at the Ridge.
1. Winning the Monday Night Volleyball championship. It had been decades since I had felt on a sports court as joyous as I did that night. Just an improbable comeback when we were beaten. I was so proud and still am of my teammates that night. It made me very very very HAPPY.
That's my wrap up. I had a wonderful year. Look forward to another great year in 2010. I made so many new and wonderful friends this year. I have so much to be thankful for. And that includes my return to Fitness Ridge on January 31st. I will be there 6 weeks thru March 14th, get to spend a week in Vegas with some of my life long friends and then March 21st thru April 4th back at the Ridge with my first triathlon on April 3rd. I am excited. Peace Love and Auld Lang Syne, Jim

Friday, December 25, 2009


Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.

Through the years
We all will be together,
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself A merry little Christmas now.

Blane and Martin

Christmases come quicker and quicker each year. I can remember sitting here last Christmas' morning and writing an entry while Jacky and the dogs slept. And now one quick year later I am doing the exact same thing:) 2009 has been a fabulous year for me. These last two years have been without a doubt the best two years of the decade for me. Part of it is some of the changes I have gone through but the biggest part of it is the friends I have and the new friends I have made over these last two years. I'm still a work in progress. I'm still a big hunk of clay that needs to be chipped and sanded and buffed. I am, however, starting to grasp that if nothing else I get a whole lot of joy out of making people smile. I used to use it as an overcompensation for things I felt I lacked, and maybe I still do to an extent, but deep inside it is who I am.

It wouldn't be a Christmas post without me complaining about winter. It has a chilling effect on me both literally and figuratively. Our weather has just been bizarre as can be these last few weeks. A foot and a half of snow, followed by arctic temperatures, and now Christmas rain and freezing rain. It makes a greyhound unhappy :)
I really like to spend this time of year thanking the people who have had a big impact on my life this year. I don't want to leave anyone out so let me start by saying. Thank You to everyone. Everyone who reads this, Everyone who stepped out onto the sand with me and everyone who stepped onto the sand on the other side of the net. Everyone who went and saw live music with me and, everyone who took the time to make, copy, or recommend some music for me. Thank you to everyone who watched some sports with me, dragged me to a game, cheered for Rachel Alexandra, or consoled me after a Terp loss. Thank you to everyone who inspired me this year and believe me that is all of you. Every single person with whom I interacted at the Ridge. You people are truly unbelievable. You inspire me in your actions and your words. I see you do things I can't imagine and then I revel as you make me do them with you. The world is a much better place because of the people at Fitness Ridge, of that I am sure. Thank you to all my friends in Madison you just make my life so much more fun. My best friend used to be my TV and while I still like the guy you guys blow him away. Thank you to my family, my two dogs and most importantly my wife. She has put up with me being gone for a ton of time these last two years and is nothing but supportive as can be. Meli Kalikimaka to you and enjoy your trip to the Kokua Festival in Honolulu. There should be a joyous scream when she reads this :)
I do need to give some extra special shout outs. To my volleyball teammates I can not wait to climb back into the sand with you guys. To the people I share my trivia travails with Paul, Sara, Jon, and Allison thanks for the brain exercise each week I love it. To my workout partner Karen who opens up her gym to me and sweats with me. To the staff at Fitness Ridge you guys make me feel like family and I can't wait to see you. To a few special people who have not only inspired me to try this sprint triathlon but who promise to push me so that I don't completely embarrass myself. Thanks Jen, Linda, Sharon, Paige, John, Nancy, Matthew and especially my Utah workout partner Eric.
Speaking of the sprint-tri. Now would be a good time to invite all of you to join me in the race. The race is Saturday April 3rd in St George Utah. a short two hour drive north from Vegas.If you are going to be at the ridge that week sign up. If you want to come to Vegas and watch the final four which is that weekend sign up. If you have always wanted to try something like this but were afraid you'd finish last sign up..... you wont finish last in this event. If you have had a few too many of these or a few dozen too many( seriously those things of which there are only one on the plate, chow mein noodles, butterscotch, cashews and chocolate are like crack) sign up this will motivate you to get rid of those holiday lbs. You guys are all welcome and I would love to have as many people as possible join me in this adventure. If I am doing this there is no reason not to join in the "fun".
Peace to everyone. Here's to an amazing next decade. I will be starting to 2010 by once again buying Powerball lottery tickets for the first drawing of the year to share with my readers. Anyone who leaves a comment gets to join in the festivities. I will split all the winnings with anyone who leaves a comment between now and the end of the year. You know you are going to feel awfully silly if for some reason we win and you didn't leave a comment :) Merry Christmas, thanks for being a part of my life. I love all of you and wish you nothing but Peace, Love, Great Music, Lots of Wins, Endless Fun, the Warmth of the Sun, and Joy in the coming year, JIMMY T.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Snow, Freezing Rain, and Negative Temperatures

Let's enjoy it while we can
Won't you help me shed my load
From the dark end of the street
To the bright side of the road
Van Morrison

Wanted to start this week off with a couple birthday wishes to two really good friends. Paul Schwartz who had a milestone birthday, and Sara Hanson who has quite a few birthdays ahead of her before she catches up to me. We spent Paul's birthday watching John Sebastion of The Lovin' Spoonful perform, however one wouldn't know he was a member of Lovin' Spoonful because he chose not to do any of those songs. Please old performers, we pay the money for the memories, not to hear what new irrelevant music you have conjured up. Spent late night celebrating Sara's birthday in downtown at the Great Dane Brew Pub. The party happened to coincide with the last day of the semester at UW. The bar was packed with crazy Christmas sweaters, binge drinking students and of course one old dude. He went from feeling young and spritely at Jon Sebastion to feeling old as dirt at the Dane.

Well lets face it I complain a lot about the Madison winter weather. And now it has apparently made me insane. I have convinced my workout partner that we needed a new goal to motivate us when I return to Utah. So, and to be honest he really needed no convincing, Eric and I will be competing in the April 3rd St. George Sprint Triathlon. Just so there is no misunderstanding what this entails it's not exactly the Hawai'ian ironman. It is a .5k swim, a 16k bike, and a 5k run. I have no fear of the swimming part of it. Have a great fear of the biking seeing as the last time I was on a bike that actually moved the first George Bush was in office. And I'm not afraid of the run/walk because I will most likely have wrecked my bike prior to that so I won't have to do it. I have run one 5k race and that was in 1984 as a junior in college. I think I finished last unless you count the one person so disgusted they were behind me they dropped out. We have enlisted the fabulous triathlon trainer Ms. Paige Corley to be our coach and principle motivator for this undertaking. My only instruction to her being try to make it so neither of us die on the course, especially me. So I will be trying to do something that I have never attempted before, never thought of doing to til yesterday, and can't imagine I will want to do again. Special thanks to Linda M. who suggested that I try this and to Jen M. who inspired me by doing this same race this fall.

Here was my first day of triathlon prepping. I don't foresee doing bike work before Utah and certainly not outside on the roads where I need to do it.

For the record my 1st day of tri prep:

30 minutes treadmill at 3.0 1.5 miles

1 Hour personal training
5 minutes treadmill
30 side medicine ball lunge/squats
50 up and down on the box with the medicine ball
2 4 minute heavy bag sessions
reverse crunches and sit ups to opposite raised foot These suck
40 medicine ball sit ups
4 trips up/down 20 stairs with medicine ball above my head
41 Medicine ball sit ups
4 trips up/down 20 stairs with medicine ball above my head
back forth over 1 foot hurdles in the sand hitting the volleyball

Don't forget only 9 days of Christmas shopping left and Beatles Tshirts, posters, blankets and mugs make wonderful gifts. This is my good friend and
volleyball teammate Tanya who truly dressed the part for her Christmas party. I am all about Christmas cheer and she personified it. Tis the Season and its the only thing getting me through December, well that and the chance to be the the biggest loser/finisher at this year's St George Triathlon. Peace, Love, and Happy Chanukah. jim

Friday, December 11, 2009


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Soon the bells will start
And the thing that will make them ring
Is the carol that you sing
Right within your heart
Meredith Wilson
It seems just a week ago I was writing about how temperate November had been and how maybe this winter wouldn't be so bad after all. Well a funny thing happened on the way to my moderate winter. Blizzard came to town and not the kind with pieces of candy and cookies in them you get at Dairy Queen. Madison had its biggest snowfall in 29 years as 19 inches of the powder blanketed the city on Wednesday. I'm not exactly sure when I became a giant wuss when it comes to snow fall and especially driving in the snow but it certainly has happened over the years here. I hate driving in snow, and the roads here have not begun to clear after this massive snow. Today my 12 minute drive to my new gym took me a little over half an hour. It was the first time I had been out of the house since Tuesday and my first decent sweat of the week. And just to be cute Mother Nature after pounding us with snow thought it would be fun to drop our temperatures below zero. The plows can't get the ice off the roads and the salt does nothing to melt the 3 inch thick layer of ice that is now on most every secondary road.

Here is State Street in downtown Madison, home to Sunshine Daydream. Just the kind of weather you want to get out in a walk around and do some Christmas shopping :( You can always take a bus, well if the bus can stay on the road. Speaking of buses. My wife and her friend flew back into Chicago Wednesday evening after five days in Puerto Rico where she was nice enough to complain of the heat causing her to sweat. I had planned to make the drive to Chicago to pick her up but instead I thought I would give her an early Christmas gift of a one way bus ticket back to Madison. I am Mr. Thoughtful.
Is there any good weather news. Of course, I get to spend about half the winter in Utah having booked my next trip to Fitness Ridge for the last day of January thru the middle of March. Lord knows I need the help. I am so different in the winter than I am in the summer. I'm not sure if it is seasonal depression or seasonal boredom but I have been unproductive for the last month. I need sunshine, I need to be outside, and I need sand volleyball. I have watched more TV in the last month than in the previous 6 months combined. That being said I did enjoy Mad Men season one that I wiped out this week thanks to the blizzard.
I got to see Colbie Caillat in concert last weekend. A small venue and a special shout out to Stephanie who was at the Ridge with me in September for making the trip up to see the show with me. Now Colbie I know you have only two cds of music to choose from, but 1 hour and 20 minutes of playing time is an embarrassment to people that know how to entertain a crowd. Oh well everyone can't be The Boss.
Two weeks until Christmas. Still time to have a productive December. My personal trainer kicked my butt today. Basketball, lunges, running up stairs, and just 'cause he loves me a new 18lb medicine ball for my sit ups. Who knew 6lbs could make such a huge difference, that ball is heavy. I hope the weather is nice where you are. And as always tie-dye makes an excellent Christmas gift. Peace, Love and NO SNOW..please, jim

Thursday, December 3, 2009

On Wisconsin

I'm singing this note 'cause it fits in well
With the chords I'm playing
I can't pretend there's any meaning here
Or in the things I'm saying
But I'm in tune
Right in tune

I spent the last couple days taking in some fabulous college basketball. Drove 6.5 hours from Madison to Bloomington, Indiana on Tuesday morning to see my beloved Terps defeat the Indiaina Hoosiers. Got in town in the afternoon and got a chance to say hi to some old friends at the team hotel, and got to thank Eric Hayes for the tickets to that night's game. Dragged along my good friend Paul for the journey and he responded by taking me to the Wisconsin Duke game on Wednesday. A couple things about the trip. Assembly Hall is a historic college basketball arena. It is also the most poorly designed arena I have ever been in. Concrete walls, a balcony that overhangs blocking the view of the scoreboard, and almost no seats behind the baskets. The architect might I have drawn his plans in crayon.
Here is the before and after scene at the Kohl Center, which happens to be a wonderfully designed arena :) The atmosphere was really good, slightly short of great. Mainly because Wisconsin made a money grabbing decision and put all the student seating behind one basket. When the students are on the sidelines they make the rest of the crowd more intense. But congrats to the Badgers on what many were calling the biggest win in the history of the arena.

Thought I would throw these two pictures up side by side. The first is from 2005 and the other is from Tuesday. Gary Williams head coach of the Terps has aged gracefully although the stress of coaching seems to have made him slightly shorter. :) We are, as I type, getting our first real snow of the season. 3-5 inches of wet, moist, crash inducing, depression causing, pain in the ass snow. Jacky heads to Puerto Rico tomorrow where she will see Adrianna whom I met at the Ridge in 2008. We Fitness Ridgers are everywhere!!! I am certain they will laugh, and share a large tropical rum filled toast to me and the snow. Hope all's well, Jim

Monday, November 30, 2009

Bloomington or Bust

She grew up in an Indiana town,
Had a good-lookin' mama who never was around.
But she grew up tall and she grew up right
With them Indiana boys on them Indiana nights.

Tom Petty
I had this dream this year that I would attend the Maui Classic basketball tournament in Hawaii. It featured my Terps and Wisconsin and 6 other college teams in a 3 day 12 game tournament. It took place just days before Thanksgiving and I watched it from my couch. Which turned out to be good in that the Terps played poorly, finished 4th, and lost two games including one to Wisconsin. So why did I pass up this opportunity? Because this week the Terps are in an even more exotic and tropical locale and this time I am headed to the game. Nothing says palm trees, beaches, light breezes and tropical drinks like an excursion to Bloomington, Indiana. And that's where I will be Tuesday night to watch the Terps play the Indiana Hoosiers in basketball at Assembly Hall.
I really don't ask much of you readers but I do have a slight favor to ask. It's time for the sweatbabyjames blog to adopt a favorite college basketball player and for us that is Eric Hayes of the University of Maryland. What did he do to earn such an "honor" ? Well, he is a great shooting, hard nosed player for my beloved Terps. But there's lots of players that fall into that category. His mom and dad can be seen at most games, Mom in her #5 jersey. I met them a few years ago at a game in Illinois. Between Mom and son they have made it possible for me to have extraordinary seats tomorrow night in Indiana and for that I am thankful. For that reason you are going to get a lot of Eric Hayes stats on the blog :)
It's about a 6.5 hour drive to Bloomington from Madison and I happily have a co-pilot for the trip. My good friend and former English teacher Paul Schwartz will be along for the ride and he is making it possible for me to attend the Wisconsin-Duke game the following night in Madison. 4 storied NCAA basketball programs in two nights. Should be fun, but only if Maryland wins of course...please...please..please
So one long basketball story that I am sure is not of much interest to many of the people that have stumbled onto this blog. How does it relate to what this blog is mostly about? Well I probably wouldn't have done this two years ago and if I had I would have spent all 6.5 hours worrying about how far a walk it was from the parking lot to the arena, how small the turnstile I would have to walk through was, and how miserable I would be wedging my ass into a small stadium seat. And while I'm still often miserable wedging my ass into that seat I don't let it bother me and I don't give the other two a parting thought. Unless it's really cold then I want no part of that long walk.
December starts tomorrow, still no snow yet in Madison, and fairly temperate for this time of year. No complaints from me. Ready for Christmas, the new year, more fun, more music, and more adventures. Peace, Jim

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Show me a smile then,
Don't be unhappy, can't remember
When I last saw you laughing
If this world makes you crazy
And you've taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I'll be there

Cyndi Lauper

I certainly have so much to be grateful for, it's been an amazing year filled with new friends, new adventures, a few volleyball championships, so much great music, and lots of love. No complaints from Jimbo.

Spent Thanksgiving morning in the gym under the tutelage of my new personal trainer who made certain I would remember the work out all day by absolutely pummeling me. Started with some 3 on 3 full court basketball and finished with me running receiving routes around well spaced cones and catching footballs. In between was running up some steps, chest presses with 50lb dumb bells, seated and standing rows, some treadmill work, and of course over a 100 sit ups with the 15 pound medicine ball. After hoops he asked me if I would rather do more conventional work and I said the main reason I work out at all is so I can do things like play basketball.

Have spent such time in the sand pit they have at the gym. We all know I love being in the sand however doing the tires and running the ins and outs of ladder carrying the orange heavy bag is a very long way from from playing volleyball. I really love the so called cross training routine of this gym. I don't love treadmills, will never love pressing iron, or moving machines. But I really loved playing hoops and catching footballs brought me back to my playing days. Not that I ever touched the ball back then except for a fumble recovery or two. It's still fun and gets the heart rate going without tedium.

There were a good amount of people working out at the gym Thanksgiving morning. Funny thing is they all had one thing in common. They were all in pretty decent shape. My guess is they realize that holidays aren't excuses to skip workouts and they knew that they were going to eat more than normal that day.

I hope everyone had a great fun filled holiday. Sorry Canadian readers ( Sabine). I spent today at my shop ringing some black friday sales. I don't really get this phenomena that really seems to have grown in the last few years. I don't for a second believe that most of these people are using today to shop for anyone but themselves. But long lines at the big box stores around the area seem to say some people are willing to spend. Does it help small local businesses? In a word No, but if you want to line up to save a few bucks on some stuff..... have at it. Used a Cyndi Lauper quote to honor the very first celebrity shopper to spend time in my store. Cynthia Lauper on her credit card. We have seen a few others over the years mostly musicians like Chris Robinson shopping for then wife Kate Hudson, Boyd Tinsley of the Dave Matthews Band who spent a few hundred dollars and passed on a handful of backstage passes for the show, All of the Goo Goo Dolls, and Michael Franti. However one of my favorite celebrity shoppers, who makes a yearly stop to buy Phish merchandise for his children, is Senator Russ Feingold.
I hope everyone is ready for the 28 remaining shopping days til Christmas and remember tie-dye makes an awesome Christmas gift. Peace, Love and still no real snow, jim

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Boss

I ain't here on business baby, I'm only here for fun
Bruce Springsteen
This week has been a whole lot better. It started with an amazing weekend of live music and finished with me extraordinarily sore this morning from the toughest workout my body has seen in at least a decade. Let's start with music :)

Jacky and I went to see Steely Dan Saturday night at The Riverside Theater in Milwaukee. They put on a great show and played a full hour longer than when I saw them in Vegas. We were 20 rows back center stage. They just sound fabulous and have an exceptional band. I real nice appetizer to the main course I was going to get Sunday night and believe me that turned out to be an epic banquet of music and energy.

Let me preface all this by saying I understand the impact Bruce Springsteen has had on music. I like his music just fine. My favorite workout song is Rosalita and I often use it as the initial leg when do interval training and have used it to help me up the stop sign hill as well. I'm not a huge fan and it has been almost a quarter century since I last saw him live in the Orange Bowl in Miami in 1985. I didn't have a ticket, and I couldn't talk any of my friends into making the trip to Milwaukee for the Sunday night show. And I just wanted to say to all of those friends that passed up the chance to be part of this evening. Your mistake was epic because I have never in my life seen a show like the one I saw Sunday night.

I walked up to the window an hour and a half before show time and picked up a seat in the upper level for $50. I was a long way from the stage but there were quite a few empties around so I moved closer to the stage but still pretty high up. The band came on at about 8:20 and started with Cadillac Ranch. Two songs later possibly the biggest rock star in America was out in the crowd and doing a "Lambeau Leap" into the crowd which then passed him overhead back the 50 yards to the stage. This 60 year old in amazing shape had the crowd enthralled and in a frenzy like state.

They played the entire Born to Run album from start to finish. It sounded flawless. Took requests from the fans who were prepared with all sorts of posters naming songs. Played a song that hadn't been heard on tour since 2003. And gave in to the crowd's pleading and broke out the seasonal classic Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Bruce also joked about his faux pas when he talked about Ohio while on stage in Detroit. I have never seen a band of this magnitude have so much fun. I used to think that the Stones were the hardest working band around but they can not hold a candle to the E Street Band. It takes a lot to blow me away and this show was untouched in my mind. A copy of this show should be required viewing for any touring artist and any aspiring musician because this is how you get it done. Congrats to The Boss I feel as if I wasted the last 24 years by not partaking in more of these shows.

And just to cap off the perfect concert night Bruce and the band broke out a stirring rendition of Rosalita in their encore. A little over 3 hours after they started the sweaty, and spent band said goodnight and no one who was there will ever forget it.

I signed up at a new gym and had my first supervised session. I was greeted by a personal trainer that looked like he was made of stone. He asked if I had worked out at all. I was able to push down that feeling that said maybe I should say I was a novice. I should have said I was a cripple because when I was done that was how I felt. Lunges with medicine balls, steps with the medicine balls, swinging a fitness ball filled with water, sprints at increasing speed on the treadmill, sit ups, crunches, weights. I think he stepped it up when he caught me checking the clock with 20 minutes left in the session. I was happy with my level of fitness even though at one point I was looking for the nearest trash can just in case. Got back on the treadmill this morning in an effort to stretch out those sore muscles and joints. Going to do laps tomorrow. Get to personal train again Friday where he casually added at the end of our time that now that he knows I can take it he will really push me next time. It was nice knowing you guys :) Seriously bring it on!! Hope everyone is doing well, getting ready for Thanksgiving a holiday dedicated to two of my favorite things food and football. However whomever scheduled these crappy games for the NFL should be shot. Don't forget to add some music to your day, and if Springsteen is anywhere near you make a point to go see him, he is one of kind. Peace, jim

Thursday, November 12, 2009


You take my hand,
I'll take your hand
Together we may get away
This much madness
is too much sorrow
It's impossible
to make it today.
Neil Young
Happy Veteran's Day. I wish I could report happiness and success since coming back but the truth is I have struggled. I really miss the structure I get at the Ridge. I miss the weather. I miss the lift I get from the other campers. But mostly I miss the healthy, calorie counted food. Everyone has their struggles and most are much tougher than what I view as my nemesis. It seems hollow for sure that on Veteran's Day I continue to bemoan that fact that I can't seem to conquer my food issues. I'm Oprah but without the money, responsibilities, and stress. What can you do? Change and try to be better. I was going to say smarter, but screw that, I'm smart enough to figure this out, yet I seem destined to repeat my mistakes. I had originally chosen the fall to return to the ridge because I know that it is the beginning of my hardest period. Spring and summer I have been successful. I have been successful at the Ridge. I have yet to get the sitting on the couch, watching every football game, snacking dummy out of my system. I am trying to make some changes. I signed up for some cross training boot camp classes and joined another local gym. I want to amp up my workouts because that always seems to help with my ability to control eating. But what it comes down to is exercising restraint, which for the silly hedonist from Wisconsin shall forever be a challenge. Give me a hard time, I deserve it. That being said it has only been a couple weeks and what I view as failure this year I probably would have been viewed as success two short years ago. Anyway, confessing my sins to you guys isn't easy but I do try hard to be accountable and I am trying to be better. So let's do some more questions because I did get a few from people that I want to answer.
What do you eat when you are at home?
For the last couple weeks you can envision a tailgate party and that was me. However going forward I really rely on chicken breasts for the bulk of my proteins. I'll put them on low calorie buns, dress them up with hot sauce or mustard, mix them in salads. I'm not really a sweet guy, although you may not have guessed that if you saw me Halloween night :( I have a wife who tries very hard to prepare healthy and fabulous meals. We do tend to eat out more than we should but I have really taken home from the Ridge the lessons Paige taught us at the restaurants. I know how easy it is to out eat your workouts. Especially when for many years my workouts were walking to the Fridge. That, at least, is not the case anymore, and while I admit my food issues I should as well admit that exercise is a regular part of my week. I have tried with success to eliminate anything fried with the exception of my 100 calorie bags of chips that tend to soothe the salty, crunchy I crave the most. I don't eat a ton of red meat, mostly 95% lean burgers on the grill. I like shrimp and have that once a week. I do not eat enough fruits or vegetables but I am better. And Emily will kick my ass for this for sure. I am rarely a breakfast eater. I like to work out first thing in the morning and just don't feel like eating before I work out. It's a work in progress, better today than before but a long way from ideal.
The music on your blog. What's up with that?
Obviously I'm a music freak and as someone called me recently a "lyric parrot" I choose music for the quotes each day that I have heard recently, that mean something to me, or are from an artist I like. I have used quotes that other people have given me, used songs off cds that my friends have made me. Sometimes they match up with the days entry, sometimes they have no relevance other than I like the song they came out of. I, obviously, use quotes from artists that I really like. I have used quotes from concerts I am seeing or my friends are going to see. Music brings me so much happiness and I can't tell you how many times it has helped me take a few more steps when I wanted to stop. I want to share this music with anyone who reads this. If you go buy some of this music that I love it will make me happy. If it stirs a memory in you that's really cool as well. The quotes don't have hidden messages, I'm no Dan Brown. I just like starting each blog entry with some music. Add some music to your day!!!
Is one week at the Ridge worth it. Will I change?
I don't know is my answer. Probably at least 50% of the people come for just one week. Most of the people with whom I have maintained long term contact with were the people that stayed for longer than a week. I have seen a lot of happy people after they have spent one week there. Everyone is better off for having gone be it one week or 15 weeks. No one leaves without finding out that they could do a lot more than they thought they could. No way anyone was doing 6 hours of exercise before they went. I know no one does that when they leave either, but you do it when you are there and most people are shocked that they can. I would recommend a week if that is all you can do. But once you leave it's on you, Will you change? probably not, but some people do and you will get the tools to change, but buying a shovel and a plow doesn't mean a garden is going to grow in your backyard.
I know you are a Terps fan but I see you wearing Florida shirts and Texas shorts and all sorts of other college teams paraphernalia. What's up with that?
I'll happily admit that I have become a whore for college shirts and shorts and sweatshirts. I went quite a few years without being able to wear any team apparel because they didn't make them in my size. I remember going to the Orange Bowl one year in the early 00's and having a seamstress sew a terrapin onto a shirt I thought was red but really turned out to be more burgundy when all was said and done. It has gotten easier. 50% because I am in to manageable sizes and 50% because the rest of the country has gotten fat enough that clothiers realized that they were leaving money on the table by not catering to this segment of the population. So when I got the chance I started buying whatever I could and more of what I really liked. So yes I have off the top of my head Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, Iowa, Iowa St, Ohio St, Penn St., Michigan, Florida, Miami, Florida St, BYU, UNLV, Georgia, USC, Nebraska, UCLA, Syracuse, and I am sure a few more that I am forgetting beside my ever present Maryland attire. However I can assure that unless I have lost some bet there is no freaking way you ever see me sporting UNC or Duke attire. Even a whore like myself has some principles.
Is the first week the hardest?
Yes and a small amount of no. The first week and especially the first three days will be the hardest days at the Ridge from a physical stand point. I can assure that it will not be worse than Tuesday and Wednesday of your first week. You will be sore, you will be tired and your body will be asking you questions you don't have an answer for. If you are long-term you will start to question if you were insane. Thursday it gets better. It's also hard the last few days before you leave. You get antsy, you get to daydreaming, you have friends that you have made that are ready to go home. The people whom I admire the most are the longtermers that keep it together and persevere through the end and those are the ones that I think have done the best long term after they have left. I haven't done that yet.
What's up with movies this year, they are terrible?
Good thing they decided to expand the list of best picture nominees to ten this year because I have no clue who could possibly be on that list. Up will be on the list, but it's not Oscar worthy. I have seen some absolute crap as well. Couple's Retreat, Taking Woodstock, Earth, Imagine That, Transformers, Public Enemies, and Where The Wild Things Are all made me want to gouge my eyes out with a spoon. Up, 500 Days of Summer, Star Trek, and The Hangover were all good but none of them are even remotely in Oscar consideration in a normal year. Hopefully the next 7 weeks bring something good.
Why no pictures this week?
I haven't broken out the camera since Ingrid Michaelson weekend, which was really only a couple weeks ago but seems like forever. I'm going to see Steely Dan Saturday night in Milwaukee and hoping to pull off the daily double by going back the following night to see Bruce Springsteen. The holidays are coming up so that will mean pictures. I promise some pics of me in my new class and at the gym which has, a sand pit but not a net in that pit. It's all good, just shaking off the last of my Ridge post-partum blues. I'll be better...promise Peace, jim

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Q & A

Knowing that love is to share
Each one believing that love never dies
Watching her eyes and hoping I'm always there
To be there and everywhere
Here, there and everywhere
The Beatles
So I thought today I would answers some questions. Most of them are questions I thought of to give a little insight into the blog:
Do you ever get writer's block and feel like you have nothing to say?
Oh yeah, all the time. So I try to come up with some gimmicks like say Questions and Answers to help me work through it. But the truth is when building a picture of mundane you can dress it up or paint it nice but it is still mundane. And my life away from the Ridge is pretty mundane, I mean as mundane as it can be and still have Ingrid Michaelson in your car last week.
What's the funniest thing you have seen at Fitness Ridge?
I have been asked this a few times and I don't really have a great answer. Sober karaoke was an absolute blast and fun but I don't think I would label it funny. I have seen things slip out of bathing suits that made me laugh. I have seen people barf in the workout room a few times and that's good for a chuckle. I think I am going to go with the whole pool class singing Close to You by the Carpenters.
What are you truly passionate about?
My whole life I have had two passions Sports and Music. For a long time Sports to me was watching, especially my beloved Terps. More recently it has been participating. I have become a volleyball freak. Sand volleyball in particular. I love it. Can't get enough and wish I could play everyday. And obviously I am obsessed with music, and going to see live music.
What would you do differently with the time you have spent at the Ridge?
I'd work harder. I get a little burnt out and have the ability to rationalize in my head that I have done so much, that I should be able to coast a little bit. It's dumb and I realize that but each trip is a great opportunity for me and I feel like each trip I waste a little of what I could be doing. I love the excuse that I am only human and I am doing the best I can, but it, like many other things is an excuse.
Seen any good TV lately?
I love some new shows. GLEE makes me so happy. It is smart, funny and like no other show on TV. The other new show I really like is Modern Family. My DVR is set for those two as well as 30 Rock, Survivor, Big Bang Theory, and How I met your Mother. The thing about a DVR is it makes me watch so much less TV. No more waiting around to watch a program, no more watching crap you don't really like. The only live Tv I watch nowadays is sports.
Wait you forgot The Biggest Loser?
I'm not a big fan of The Biggest Loser tv show and here is why. The show in my mind is off course. It has way too much drama and crying and trainers cussing and yelling at the people. Tara told me she was expected to burn 5000 calories a day and be in the gym some nights past 10pm. You wouldn't know that by watching the show. The product placement has gotten ridiculous. You get so little information on how many calories people are eating and what exactly they are eating. It's wonderful that they are showing that you can workout and lose weight I applaud them for that. I just wish they would explain in more detail exactly what the contestants are doing to achieve those numbers and how long between weigh ins it takes them to get there. I have this fear that people will come to the Resort lose 6 lbs and feel like they underperformed based on the numbers they see on the show.
What would you change at the BLR @ Fitness Ridge?
They need foremost a community room. A place where the campers can congregate at night and get to know each other. So many people come by themselves and head to their rooms each night right after dinner. To me one of the greatest things at the Ridge is the people and those who get to know many of the other campers have the best time. I would also turn Tuesday into must hike day. Everyone goes off road. No stop sign, no west canyon. It took me too long to venture off and wish I had been pushed earlier.
What do you hate people saying to you?
Number one easily is Are you okay? I hate this question. I promise you if I'm not okay I will let you know. If I'm bent over gasping for air, it just means that I am tired. If I am lying in the street, flopping around like a fish, don't ask me if I'm okay call 911. Just don't ask that question of me or anyone else it's just belittling and unnecessary.
Do you mind people asking you how much weight have you lost?
I don't like it. Mostly because I am embarrassed about how heavy I was. I still have plenty of weight to lose. I have never enjoyed talking about my weight. I am damn happy to talk about the things I couldn't do, but now can. I'm damn happy to talk about changes in me, discarded meds, feeling good. If you ask me nicely I will tell you but there are a million things I would rather talk about and high on the list is you.
What are your plans for the next year?
I don't really know. When I think I know where my life is headed I am usually surprised by how different it turns out. I hope to work hard, see lots of music, go to a Terps basketball game, spend some time at the Resort, hang out with my best friends in the world in March, play a ton of volleyball in the spring, summer and fall. I hope to be a little smarter, a little stronger, and a little better person.

Will you keep writing the blog?

Right now I don't see why not. I do struggle to find interesting things to blog about especially when I'm at home. I do, however, think that some people enjoy reading it ( I have no clue how many) I do think it helps some people in their search to learn more about The Resort and what it offers and if it is for them ( I have no clue how many) I know my Mom likes reading it (just the one) and I'd do anything to make her happy. Feel free to email me any other questions :) Peace, Jim

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Everybody Heals With Love

I don't believe in anything but myself

I don't believe in anything but myself

But then you opened up a door

You opened up a door

Now I start to believe in something else

And so it goes, this soldier knows

The battle with the heart isn't easily won

But it can be won.

Ingrid Michaelson

So no mention of Fitness Ridge in this blog, this one is all about the past weekend where Sunshine Daydream helped sponsor the Ingrid Michaelson show in town. We turned it into a festive weekend complete with a pre-show party to raise money for The Barrymore Theater Restoration Fund, an in-store signing by Ingrid, and the sold-out show at the Barrymore.

The night kicked off with a two hour set from the Madison band Letter 8, seen here cranking a little Petty's American Girl. They played originals and covered some fabulous tunes, They also brought a big crowd of fans with them.

Next up was The Sarah Pray Band. Sarah just wrapped up an east coast tour including a gig at New York's world famous Bitter End that has hosted such stars as Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne. She has a mesmerizing voice and just entertained the crowd til past 1am. I can not thank both bands enough for donating their time to us and helping to make the night so successful.

Your hosts for the night

Two of my favorite volleyball players Tanya and Leah enjoying the inside of Club Tavern without being covered in sand.

My good friend Ryan Rammer who coaches the Verona High School football team currently making their way through the Wisconsin state football playoffs.

Ingrid Michaelson in my car. How cool is that. She worried on the way over that it would be a "Spinal Tap moment when no one showed up for her signing" but she was way wrong. She had all sorts of fans that couldn't have been happier to spend a little time with her. She was sweet and made sure she signed everything that people brought and posed for pictures with all the people as well. Look closely and you can see the signature sweat on my brow :)

Everybody wants to be loved. If you haven't gotten her new cd Everbody please buy it or download it is so good.

The marquee lighting up the Madison night with the news that sorry no more tickets were available for her show. 3rd appearance at the Barrymore and first sell-out. Over 1,000 happy fans in attendance.

On stage at The Barrymore.

The whole six piece band. The current traveling party on one bus includes 13 people. They had one room the previous night in a local hotel where they could shower and clean up. But it was another night on the bus for most of them when it came time to bunk down. Not the glamorous touring life that young rockstars dream of.

It was quite the week for Ingrid as she spent Monday morning performing on Good Morning America and Saturday afternoon at Sunshine Daydream. You can see her performance on GMA by clicking on the link below.

It was a truly amazing weekend. Thanks again to Ingrid and her band, the bands from Friday, Club Tavern for hosting the pre-party, and all my friends who chipped in to make it a successful event. Peace, Love and female singer-songwriters, Jim

Monday, October 26, 2009

Laugh often, Dream big, Reach for the stars!

Yeah, he's big and dumb as a man can come
But he's stronger than a country hoss
And when the bad folks all get together at night
You know they all call big Jim "boss", just because
And they say
You don't tug on superman's cape
You don't spit into the wind
You don't pull the mask off that old lone ranger
And you don't mess around with Jim
Jim Croce

As the name change has happened, and so many new people are finding out about The Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge, I have been getting emails, and facebook inquiries about a day at the ridge and plenty of questions about how the Ridge is equipped to handle people of substantial size, with lots of weight to lose. I wanted to do a blog addressing this topic and hopefully alleviate any fears anyone and particularly bigger people have about the place.

When I stepped into the lobby of the Ridge for the first time in February of 2008 it was one of the scarier moments of my life. I was way out of shape and way is an understatement. I expected to see lots of other people like me but I didn't. The scale they were using at the time didn't hit my happy number. I was intimidated, petrified, and wondering dear lord what have I gotten myself into.

I have said it 100's of times but the people went out of their way to make me feel like I was in the right place. They will do the same for you. But even with the encouragement I struggled at first. It is a diverse group of people but really big people are still a minority. The other guests were as encouraging and understanding as you would hope them to be. They were then and they still are the rock I lean on.

So what's a day like and what issues may someone of size or with some limitations expect.
The day starts with a hike. You climb in a van. Sit in the front seat if it makes you happy, I know I do most of the time. There are varying levels of hikes but there is always one on flat ground and pavement. The stop sign hike is every Monday and most people complete the 4.5 miles to the top. Some do it in an hour some take as long as two and a half. My first time... not even close. I may have been the worst ever I don't know. Let me quell any fears you may have of this hike. You do the best you can, and you improve everyday. There are 4 benches along the route and believe me my butt has been on every single one. They are at the 3/4 mile mark, 1.5 mile mark, 2 mile mark, and just past the 2.5 mile mark. There are none once you get on the road for the last 1.5 miles, and I wish there were. There are some ass-sized rocks available if you need a break. You are never far from the road, there are plenty of guides to help you and you really should start by doing this as often as possible. If you are not comfortable hiking at all the gym is also open during this time. The gym has elliptical machines, treadmills, recumbent bikes, and spinning bikes available for cardio work.

When you get back from your hike you have your choice of a stretching/yoga class or a pool class. I choose the pool class without fail. My aching joints and muscles enjoy the pool. No one cares what you look like in your swimsuit. You want to wear shorts and a t-shirt? Do it. No one will give you a second look. If you have a fear of deep water, no problem stay in the shallow end. The pool is heated and the water usually fairly warm. And if it's cool the hot tub is a welcome joy after class. The hot tub is large, in ground, and something I really miss.

Lunch comes next. Big sturdy chairs with plenty of room in the dining room. I have raved about the food. You will be full. Will you have cravings? Oh yeah. But you're active, there's things to do and there is no drive thru at the kitchen. If you're a first weeker there is always a post lunch lecture. If you have been on this train your whole life you will know most of what they speak about. But you will learn, and you will realize, and you will have an "a ha" moment.

There are 3 afternoon classes. Some are very hard. I won't lie. There were some classes I felt unable to do when I started and even now there are some classes that I am not comfortable in. If you are in a class and you don't feel comfortable there are chairs you can sit on and do the class. There are always fitness balls you can use. Classes that will be tough are Step and Pump, Kickboxing, Total Toning, and the Friday dance class. You can always take a break if you want to. Again no one is judging you there.

There is always a cardio class every afternoon. Their names are Circuit, Mountain, Treading, and Cardio Circuit. These classes are done in a group but they are done at your own pace. Push yourself for sure, but you will have no problems in any of these classes. Have people barfed? yeah, fallen off treadmills? yeah, but not because they were big or out of shape but because they pushed too hard.

The last class of the day is usually again a stretch or yoga or a pool class. If you're not comfortable doing anything or feel like a class is not for you, find Sharon or one of the other trainers, they will make accommodations for you. Don't let your size or current lack of exercise keep you from signing up. I used my size as a crutch for so long, I let years of my life slip by because I was afraid that I had let it slip too far to bring it back. Don't feel that way. If you are searching for an answer this place can point you towards that goal.

There are without a doubt a myriad of reasons to come or stay home. It is an expensive undertaking without a doubt. Is it worth it? I would not have done it without their help. Am I cured or over the hump? Not by a long shot. I have bad days, make horrendous food choices, daydream about pizza, hop off the treadmill when I should keep going. Am I better today than I was that first day I stepped into lobby? Yes way better, way, way better. I'm off all the meds I was on. I don't stop and rest when I'm walking around malls and casinos and airports. I play sports, jump and jog ( not high or fast mind you), and like life better.

So why all this? It's not to make you say I want to go to the Ridge. I love the place. Not everyone does. There's lots of information out there, plenty of reviews, and blogs. I have wanted to write this particular entry for one reason. I don't want anyone to think they are too big, too out of shape, or too sedentary to go to the resort. Don't use your size as an excuse for this. Maybe the roller coaster at Disney isn't the place for you, possibly you get anxious around other people, possibly your size restricts what you are comfortable doing. Do not let it stop you from coming to The Resort. It's not a viable excuse. If you're still apprehensive email me I will tell you when I will be there next and I will personally make sure you can do this. I will see that you are 100% comfortable. That's my promise to anyone who thinks they are too big for this.

Next blog is about my awesome weekend and the fact that the fabulous Ingrid Michaelson was riding around Madison in my she was not duct taped :) As always Peace and Big, Big Love, Jim

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, jackie paper came no more
And puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar
His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain,

Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.
Without his life-long friend, puff could not be brave,
So puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave.
Oh!Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called honah lee
Peter, Paul, and Mary

Wow, I love these pictures so much that I am giving it it's own blog entry. As you get to the zenith of the Camelback hike you come upon a currently dry hole called The Vortex. This is me climbing in and out of it. New experiences, things you never believed you could do, setting the bar higher, scaring the hell out of the guides; all in one morning hike at the Resort.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Back In Madison

But time is short

And the road is long

In the blinking of an eye

Ah, that moment's gone

And when it's done

Win or lose

You always did your best

Cuz inside you knew...

(that) one shining moment you reached deep inside

One shining moment, you knew you were alive

David Barrett

As a fan of Maryland Terp football and the Washington Redskins, I have only one thing to say... thank heavens that college basketball got under way with midnight madness this past weekend. Only 150 days until March Madness and one shining moment.

I wanted to wrap up my most recent trip to the Ridge which I am now going to abbreviate as The Resort or BLR. Began in the 110's and ended with mornings in the 40's. Not a bad 7 week transition. It is not going to come as much of a surprise to anyone who reads this but give me the 110's any day. I like the warm, like sweating, and love being in shorts which is remarkable because I went a good 5-7 years without wearing them out of the house. Not that 40's in the morning and 70's in the afternoons was bad either. I did see some snow driving through the peaks of the Rockies.

Speaking of the Rockies,and this is not a picture of them, I found myself doing a very strange thing. Certainly something I had never done previously and never imagined silly thoughts like these would ever creep into my head. As I drove through the Rockies and stared out the window at these majestic mountains, do you know what entered my head? How would I attack these mountains, what looked like the most accessible path to the top, and Could I actually climb that sucker? Wow, what have I become?

Paige loves to stress how each of the hikes is a fitness hike. She's correct, but do not let her scare you into not bringing your camera. The sights are amazing and you will want to have a record of your time in this beautiful part of the world. The guides all have cameras to record your journey for the week ending dvd and they will listen to you when you ask them to stop for a moment.

This will be repetitive but it is so important. Do not be afraid to go on any of the hikes. If I can do this anyone can. There is enough guides to help you. You will never be holding others back!! It is part of the experience and part of pushing yourself. That's why everyone is there. You took the hardest step when you signed up. Don't baby yourself when you get there. I know, I did, and I used every excuse in my head to avoid doing these. Mostly because of the fear of the unknown, but don't let it hold you back, nothing you do at BLR will give you the sense of satisfaction that comes from standing on top of Camelback or climbing atop Piano Rock. That being said. Cathy and I are merely posing with the advanced hike sign. We all know our limitations :)

I want to talk a bit about the training staff. Some of you may be expecting a Bob and Jillian experience and I don't want you to be disappointed that the trainers at the Ridge don't feel the need to break you down, cuss at you, and make you cry. Will they push you? Of course they will make you work hard. They will make sure you show up to class. They will try to get you to do things you didn't know you could. They want you to succeed and they will give you the tools to do so. It is up to you however. I need to thank the trainers and all the fitness staff. It starts with the top of the fitness ladder at the Ridge and that is Paige. Congrats on winning the award from Spafinder, no doubt you earned it. This program is hers and she has made it so that it works for everyone willing to give it a go. Sharon is simply wonderful. I love her to death. She teaches, she consoles and she is there for you. She was there when I wanted to die a half mile into my first hike and she is there pushing me to increase my speed up the last 1/2 mile of the 4.5 stop sign hike now. I owe her an awful lot.

John and Micheline oversee the afternoon and morning portions of the workouts. They both are great at seeing that you adhere to why you are at the Ridge. Both have energy, both are in amazing shape, and both inspire me in their own ways. The instructors are also awesome Tiffany, with John and I in the picture, along with Robin, Shayla, and a now expanding group of others teach the way you would want to be taught. Tough, inspiring but with enough compassion that you do know they care. I want to bottle these people up and bring them home with me 'cause I struggle when they are not making me run faster on the treadmill, or catching 100's of medicine balls I throw to them doing sit-ups. I miss you guys already.

The "Campers" at the BLR. They come in every size, every fitness level, some are extremely self motivated, some need to be pushed extra hard, some used their life savings to book a week, some come for two months and don't bat an eye at what it costs. They come from every state in the Union, They come from the Far East, Africa, Europe, and a lot come from Canada. And every single one of them is at the Ridge for a reason that is right for them. No one is too skinny, although some may think they are :) None are too fat, or slow or old, or beat up. I have seen 100 lbs women throwing up from working hard. And I have seen 500lb men swimming laps around other campers. I have watched grandmothers run past 20 year olds heading up that mountain, and I have seen teenagers inspire their parents to work harder.

The campers will make you laugh and make you cry. You'll hear stories of their kids and their
families, and their pets. You will get to know these people. They will become your friends. You will struggle together, you will ache together, you will sweat together and each day you will look to see that they are back at it. When they are missing you will notice and be worried. When they are around they will inspire you and make you want to work harder for them. It is a community to like no other I have been a part of. It changes each week. The personality of the group is always different, but always good. It is the single most important aspect of your time there.

I just can not say enough about the love and friendships I see at the Resort. It's the unexpected bonus that you don't really know awaits you. You're part of a team, part of a group, and you're not sitting on your ass in front of a tv. You are living, and seeing new things and being a better person and right next to you is someone doing the exact same thing. Thank You to all of you. You continue to inspire me, make me proud, and help me understand my life. I miss you all.

Someone sent me a question about leaving campus for activities. Would I recommend it? Sure if you are there more than a week or two it is necessary for your sanity. Should you use it as a license to go crazy? That's up to you. But being at the Ridge is living in a cocoon and you will be expected to be a butterfly one day. Is there temptation out there? Of course, just like in real life. You don't have to run to Vegas. There are amazing hikes within a few hours. There is all sorts of local sports, amazing golf, and bike trails. Tuacahn is a beautiful theater with concerts and plays. There is shopping from cute and quaint to outlets within ten miles of the ridge. There are a handful of movie theaters as well. I think ten of us went to the movies together on this trip and it took all 18 of those other eyes staring at me to keep me from wandering into the popcorn line. But it worked.
I also want to thank the great people in the housekeeping department and the kitchen staff. Be prepared to tip these people when you leave, they earn it. I can't imagine how much sand the housekeepers vacuum up off my floor, or just how many towels the scoop and wash for me and everyday they smile and sing and say hello. The kitchen staff is wonderful. They prepare and serve wonderful healthy meals. If you have allergies or problems with certain foods they work with you. If you're not feeling well they will wrap up your food to go. And if you really can't stomach a particular meal let them know and they will find you an alternative. You will not go hungry if you eat the food they serve you, that I promise.

So we all know that Fitness Ridge has hopped into bed with The Biggest Loser. Will there be changes to the place? Of course, aesthetically the place is already changing with posters and new signs, and new t-shirts. Will the core of the program change. I do not think so. This program was built by the owners and they have too much invested to let the name of the place dictate the program. I think you will continue to find that camaraderie, that sense of purpose and caring that made the Ridge what it is today. It's a family and it feels like one when you are there. Was it a good decision to team up. Only time will tell. But I have an awful lot of faith in the management at the Ridge and I think they will continue to make it work for the campers.

So I am going to leave you with my favorite picture from this trip. A sweaty camper having just finished some sprint intervals getting a fist bump from a trainer. We're not always happy in the middle of those workouts but we always feel good at the end. And I need to again thank my main man at BLR at Fitness Ridge, my morning workout partner, my ear at the ridge, and my very good friend Eric Jackson. I feel like part of the family there and I have you to thank. Peace and Love, Jim