Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lei Me

Glowing and burning blinded by thirst
They didn't see the stop sign
Took a turn for the worse
She said, listen baby. you can hear the engine rev.
We've up and down this highway, haven't seen a goddamn thing.
Life in the fast lane
Surely make you lose your mind
The Eagles

Well, There she blows. The first Biggest Loser van rolled on to campus yesterday. The van was the same, but the name on the side was different. Can't wait to be the fat kid riding the Biggest Loser van to my hikes :) I'm sure the locals will stare a little extra hard until they get used to seeing these around town.

Tuesday is Cardio Intervals and Total Toning in the afternoons. I'll start with total toning because I rarely make it into that class. Total Toning is done in the aerobics room. You have barbells in your hands and a mat on the floor. The class lasts 45 minutes as do most of the classes and you get a full body tone. It's not lifting weights really but there are plenty of reps and I sweat for sure.

Yesterday, I again did two sessions of the cardio intervals. You spend about 50 minutes on the treadmill for each class. You get a ten minute warm up then proceed to do 30 second intervals increasing your speed each time for 8 units, get a one to two minute sprint on top and then decrease your speed for 8 30 second intervals down. You get a couple one to two minute sprints on the bottom and then repeat the intervals and sprints a second time.

As you can tell by the joy on my face these sprints are nothing but fun.

Some people do intervals on the elliptical as shown here. Others choose the stationary bikes. My sweat is always running like a waterfall onto the treadmills.

Sally Sand and I celebrating the completion of our intervals class. As always I look a million times sweatier but I can assure you that Sally broke a sweat. In fact I felt like I was motoring at my top speed only to look over and see Sally sprintinga full 2.5 mph's faster. Plus since she was next to me she got to hear my singing over my ipod which I tend to do when the shut off in my brain malfunctions from all the oxygen racing to my lungs. I imagine hearing an acapella "Take it to the Limit"from the big, sweaty, panting dummy on the next treadmill is a bit disconcerting especially when he probably only pronounces every 3rd word due to lack of air.

Ending the day with pool class is always the highlight to my day.

A little shout out to the new trainer John. Nice to see a boy on the staff. Just for the record John will push you...hard. And when Satan throws in an exercise dvd for his minions in Hell, I am 99% certain it is a copy of John's step class.

Deb the hiking guide just spent some time in Maui. I, of course, asked for her to bring me back a lei from paradise. Now this isn't just any run of the mill lei. And Deb was not your normal hanging out on the beach, drinking mai-tai's vacationer in Hawaii. Deb was in Maui to run in the Maui Marathon. And she has run a marathon or two before. In fact Maui was #185. And St George on Saturday will be #186. And when you finish the Maui Marathon they congratulate you by slipping a lei around your neck. And the lei that went around Deb's neck when she finished she passed on to me. I have rarely been so touched by a gift and hung it on the treadmill for yesterday's classes. I was 20 miles short of the marathon distance but it felt good slipping that lei on when I finished class. Thank you Deb. Have a happy day Peace Love and Lei's for all my friends, Jim

Monday, September 28, 2009

Back in Utah

I hope, for more love, more joy and laughter
I hope, we'll have more than we'll ever need
I hope, we'll have more happy ever after
I hope, we can all live more fearlessly
And we can lose all the pain and misery
I hope, I hope
Dixie Chicks

So I had an awfully quick trip to Madison, but have made it back to the Utah desert for 3 more weeks of Fitness Bliss. A big week upcoming for the Ridge as they will be undergoing a name change on the 6th of October and a partnership with NBC and The Biggest Loser TV show. Don't quote me but I believe starting Tuesday I will be one of the first campers at The Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge.
Here's one of the people responsible for the change so if you don't like the new name send Eric, my hiking partner, and the GM at the Ridge your emails. Seriously there is always trepidation when it comes to making a major change in a successful program and I know they have struggled with this decision, but my hope is that it encourages more people that really need the help that the Ridge can offer you to sign on. I will be spending a future blog or two describing how the ridge can help accommodate and and how they can really help people of size that may be afraid to undertake the challenge here.

?Here is my view on most Monday mornings as Eric's butt slowly gets smaller and finally disappears from view as I chase him up the mountain. This shot is shortly after you turn onto the road and start the most grueling 1.5 miles of this hike.

No question that the biggest improvement at the Ridge has been the overhauling of the Reservations department. And let's face it they will have their work cut out for them when the announcement rolls on The Biggest Loser next week. This is Nancy but kudos to Trevor and Katie as well. I used to hear people bitch incessantly about how they had problems with their reservations but now I never hear anyone say a bad word about this office. And don't forget to tell them how much you love the blog when you book your trip :)

Everyday in the dining hall you get a posting of the days food with the calorie counts for each meal. The muffin was good , the tuna was great, the veggie lasagna was dreadful and clearly an insult to all those cheesy, meaty, saucy, lasagnas that wear the name with pride.

This is the Tuna Nicoise salad. It was a new meal for me and I loved it. Filling and tasty, really all I ask out of my meals. Tuna, Greens, olives and even a slice or two of potato. Big thumbs up here.

What all the cool kids at the Ridge are wearing again this year. Jen from Denver, life coach extraordinaire, and my lap swimming sprint partner yesterday. I am always so happy when I can drag someone into the pool with me for some laps, especially if they will push me to sprint. Jen made me huffing chasing her down the pool. Freestyle, Breast, and Butterfly had me behind her but thanks to a slight wardrobe malfunction and knee injury I ruled in the backstroke.

Here's Jen at the stop sign Monday following a quick ascent up the hill. The official time was 1:00:24 but a) the guy working the stopwatch wasn't paying attention, and b) we like to round down here so my official time for her was 59:59 and under the hour she was aiming for. And best of all I am quite certain that no grandmother beat her up the hill this week, she didn't throw up, and like a true champion sucked it up for a picture with sweaty Jim who wore his sweatshirt for the 4.5 mile jaunt.

Francis, Cathy and I at the stop sign. Both these campers were here for one or two of my previous visits. The friendships you make and rekindle each time you come to the Ridge are without a doubt that greatest experience being here. I don't care how fast you make it to the top, how much weight you lose, or how great you feel when you are done, nothing compares to the people that you meet here. It's the one reward you don't know that awaits you when you sign up.

Cathy also sporting a cool shirt. She sent me a picture from this summer of her crossing the finish line of a race wearing the happy peace sign. I'm not sure it makes you run faster but I know it makes you feel better carrying that tie-dye peace sign on your runs.

I hope everyone has an awesome week. I have a couple off road hikes scheduled this week. I got a really. really cool present this morning I will share with you next blog. I promise an in-depth look at the schedule, a review of Applebees which is tomorrow's off campus lunch trip, and exciting news about the coolest person ever from Biggest Loser making an appearance at the Ridge next week. Peace Love and Losers, Jim

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ain't nothin' up here gonna slow me down

You know I never had to take the long way 'round

I think of you, cause I know how you'll be feelin'.

This silver bird takes me 'cross the sky

Just one more hour and I'll be home and dry

Gerry Rafferty

Got into Milwaukee last night at midnight and home to Madison at 2am. The turn around is awfully quick as I leave Madison at 4 am and fly out of Milwaukee at 7am Sunday morning. Then back to the Ridge for 3 more weeks. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and Peace, Jim

Monday, September 21, 2009

Stop in the name of love

I'm gonna throw out my raincoat
Mmm, I hope it's all right
Gonna go find me a rainbow
And hang it up in the sky
Blues pass me by
Kelly Sweet
Monday, as most of you who read this know, is stop sign day at the Ridge. They started timing you about a year ago and it is a good motivator to have you always trying to beat your time. But it will take something extraordinary for anybody to top the time Luke from Colorado hung up this week. An unfathomable 35 minutes for the 4.5 mile hake at a 9-11% grade and climbing 1000 feet from the start. He was 15 minutes in front of second place and even with my 45 minute early start went by me a 1/2 mile from the top. And when I say went by me it was in a blink of an eye.

I did still manage to be "second" and I am one of the few who can touch the stop sign...there Mr. 35 minutes :)

Jane, the grandma who has a boyfriend in Wisconsin named Jim (not me), and who set a new personal best.

Daniella and Linda crossing the finish line in jubilation.

And then hugging the stop sign

Jim and Kim celebrating his personal best of 1:04 up the mountain. She had walked back down to finish again after running up much of the way and hanging up a number in the 50's.

It's hard to describe the feeling when the sign actually appears but jubilation comes to mind. Jubilation that the pain will be stopping soon

Susan from Colorado and obviously way too young looking to be the mom of the guy who ran the mountain in 35 minutes. But speed runs in her family as she blazed up in 1:05. Congrats to her!!!

Sally from Montana who was the first female to hit the top and shaved 6 minutes off last weeks time. Way to go Sally!!

The big reward for being the first two girls up the hill? Some big sweaty guy wraps his sweaty arms around you for a picture. Although they seem shockingly happy. Must be the adrenaline failing to make them aware of their surroundings.

Sunday road trip to Walmart with Jane, the exceptionally cool Jen, Sally, and Daniella

Saying goodbye on Sunday is always so hard for me. The fabulously funny and sadly now Billy Joel tainted for life by her ex, Dana from New York waiting around for her 6:30 am shuttle.

Onto Tuesday and then flying home in 48 hours :) Peace, Jim

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Feet dont fail me now

Let me go on
Like a blister in the sun
Let me go on
Big hands I know you're the one
Violent Femmes
Wanted to say a few words about the most common injury that I see at the Ridge. BLISTERS!!!! Fortunately I don't see them on my feet. I have had exactly one that lasted exactly one day. Thank you feet. I know I put you through an awful lot and frankly I know you probably didn't hit any foot lottery getting assigned to me. I owe you a giant foot massage but imagine how bad the poor masseuse would feel rubbing your stinky selves. So I'll just let the hot tub jets work their magic for now. Thanks to my foot models who proudly showed off their hiking scars. And I never see a blister at the Ridge without thinking of one of my favorite campers of all time Wendy from Minnesota who had a case of the blisters that has been unmatched in modern history.

Dana from NYC showing off the heel and the tattoo that reminds me of Sunshine Daydream

Kim from Seattle shared this bizarre blister. Hard to see this one but it was between the nail and the big toe sprouting out like a balloon.

Outer heel and big as a quarter.

Jen from Denver the proud owner of two different toe blisters.

Do you feel like I do ? Went and saw Peter Frampton at Tuacahn Amphitheater Wednesday night. I have seen so many great shows this year. This one is not really on the list but it was fun to hear a few of his hits and anyone in my age bracket can easily remember the Frampton Comes Alive double album. Like many of us Peter was sporting much less hair than in the mid 70's.

Very cute Annie and Daddy Warbucks. But goodness Sandy has seen better days for sure. Thanks to Jen and Maria for a fun night at the Frampton show. Annie is playing at Tuacahn as well. It is an amazing venue, carved out of the Red Rocks, and really a must see if you are ever in the area. Picturesque does not do it justice. Peace, love and the sun coming up tomorrow, Jim

Mutuel of Omaha's Wild Kingdom

Never seen eyes so blue
I could not run away
It seemed we'd seen each other in a dream
"You don't have to love me yet
Let's get high awhile
But try to understand
Try to understand
Try try try to understand
I'm a magic man."
Three weeks in the book and 4 more to go. The weather has been magnificent this week. Slightly cooler in the mornings for the hikes, sunny, blue skies, like Madison in the summer which sadly has now become fall.

People who have been at the ridge for more than two weeks now get a free lunch at a local restaurant. On Wednesday we ventured out to Ruby Tuesday's with a free pass to order whatever we wanted :) As long as you could stand the watchful eye and discerning look of Paige who "suggested" we keep it under 500 calories. Easier said than done. This eliminated, oh about 93% of the menu. Including healthy options like the turkey burger (890 calories) the chicken clubhouse salad (840 calories) and the ultimate chicken sandwich ( a mere 1161 calories). I ended up with the salad bar and a cup of chicken chili, still damn close to 500 calories if not slightly over. There was a lot of grilled chicken and broccoli, and one crab cake and broccoli floating around our table. It was an eye opener to say the least. And probably the greatest lesson of the day was eating out just can not be a common experience if you want to control your intake. The calorie levels are just too high, the temptation just too great, and the likelihood of eating way more calories than you think too prevalent. The ridge is really trying hard to give multi-weekers more outings and more real world experience during their stays. It is a welcome addition to the program. Besides being fun to get out with your fellow campers it gives you an excellent opportunity to practice life outside the fitness ridge bubble. Because surviving and prospering when your stay is over is truly the goal of everyone, and being better prepared to do that is the most important thing you can take away from your visit to the Ridge.

It was animal week at the Ridge!! Well at least for me. You do get an opportunity on the hikes to see a bunch of animals. Mostly rabbits, but also some chipmunks, huge eagles and hawks, the very rare dessert tortoise, geckos and lizards,and of course the occasional slithering serpent. Although 16 weeks in and I have never seen a snake.

Here's me and Rachel Alexandra. No wait it was actually Silver, Chip and Zorro. Now I'm no horse whisperer but I sort of could sense that these three horses were all thinking "Dear God please tell me that the big fella in the tie-dye is not actually thinking of climbing on my back." I have way too much respect for my four legged friends to do that and I'm still a few pounds over jockey weight so I just opted for the photo op standing with this 3-pack.

There are so many ways to exercise. And killing yourself on the treadmill, or agonizing up the mountain, while effective, don't fall under my definition of fun. Hitting the volleyball in the sand surrounded by amazing landscape, with an awesome player, whose name I will spell correctly this time Kami, is so much fun and I am sweaty as can be, and bent over from an hour of this. I know I sound like a broken record when I stress this. Having fun while working out has been greatly responsible for me maintaining and improving on the progress I make while at the Ridge. Thanks again to Kami and Cindy who joined in this week.

Week 4 starts for me Monday. It will be slightly abbreviated as I fly home Thursday evening for a much needed trip to see my girls. A month is very long time to be away from the ones I love dearly and I can't wait to see them. I fly back Sunday for 3 more weeks. I hope everyone has an awesome weekend. Peace from the Utah sand, Jim

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Your Pick

Dont go changing, to try and please me
You never let me down before
Dont imagine youre too familiar
And I dont see you anymore
I wouldnt leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times, Ill take the bad times
Ill take you just the way you are
Billy Joel
Here we go with everyone's entries If you don't see your name, initials whatever and you think I missed your selection just let me know. Best of Luck to everyone:
Tp 3
tg 12
kn 17
rb 20
ck 24.5
jb 28
jk 46
jt 50
kryst 60
md 62
kl 68
be 69
jd 70
mm 74
jp 75
cs 77
cd 78
wm 83
cf 145
54 total guesses
83 was the most popular choice with 5 people picking that number. Some people got moved a few numbers so that they could have a clean number. A couple people guessed thinking the contest ended in 2009. If it had the winning number would have been 27 lbs. Peace, Jim

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cardio Intervals? Gimme two of those

Everything she sees, she says she wants.

Everything she wants.

I see she gets

Loudon Wainwright

On to week 3! I'm tired...nothing new, I'm sore...nothing new, and I'm hungry...nothing new. Monday morning on the trail at a little after 7am, about an hour before the rest of the guests due to my workout partners desire to work that morning. We both trudged to the top. Now I want you to think of great sports like golf and bowling that use a handicap system to make the competition between unequal competitors more equal. The way I see it my handicap was starting early and I was the first camper up the mountain. so give that man a blue ribbon. Sorry Sally, but your under one hour time was not good enough for the win. Yes you were narrowing the gap at the end and yes I beat you by about 45 seconds but clearly the record books will only remember that on Sept 14th I was there first. :) That's Cammy in the volleyball picture. This girl can play and she takes an hour or so a couple times a week to hit around with me in the sand. I sweat like I'm going up the mountain, I breathe heavy like I'm going up the mountain, but I smile like that mountain is 100 miles away. Exercise that's fun always a good idea. Thanks Cammy!!

Chef Cameron, giving the food preparation lecture. Now I'm not going to call it a conspiracy yet but the last couple days the total calories have been under or very near 1,000 calories for the day. He swears they average out to 1200 but I don't ever remember seeing a 1400 or 1600 total on the calorie board. I want my additional 200 calories, preferably in the form of a snickers

Tuesday turkey sandwich no surprise there. Reliable and always tasty. The salad matched strawberries with the kitchen's favorite....onions. Couldn't even pick the strawberries out because they tasted like onions, as did the tomatoes on the sandwich. But the ample gobbing of brown mustard helped there.

Speaking of strawberries. Everyone's favorite made their Tuesday night return. Thanks Dana for mugging for the camera. And while most of the men eat their strawberry this way I can assure you that most of the women take much smaller bites and savor that puppy.

Monday is always hard because of the hike. Tuesday is always hard because of the way your body feels from the Monday hike. Throw in 4 or 5 more hours exercise on top of it and you have the makings for some sore and tired campers. Not everyone is happy, and not everyone feels like they made the right choice to spend their "vacation" here, but by the end of the week every camper feels like they have accomplished something they didn't know they could, and every camper is happy inside that they proved this to themselves. Me? I still want those missing 200 calories. Peace, Jim

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Foot Fault???

But we are sick and tired of hearing your song
Telling how you are gonna change right from wrong
'Cause if you really want to hear our views
"You haven't done nothing"!
Stevie Wonder

So another birthday at the Ridge :) Got the call from Stephanie that she was catching the early shuttle and I needed to come say goodbye. Merely a ruse to get me into the dining room where about 4 steps from the door I saw a lot of people wearing party hats and holding noise makers. It was a festive morning with some gifts and some singing and a really embarrassed by the effort Jim. So let me start by saying a big thank you to Katherine, Steph, Caroline, and Gretchen for making sure I had a special day. I'm not sure who the lady in the orange hat is but she was having none of that.

Flowers and balloons!!! I was told the search was on for a giant mylar stop sign balloon but to no avail. And thank goodness because who needs to be traumatized on their birthday.

"Birthday cake" came in two forms at the ridge. The broccoli puree soup kind and the french toast with strawberries kind. Of the two I am going to go with the toast but let's face it's not exactly red velvet cupcakes or even a twinkie with a candle in it.

I do greatly appreciate the effort of the kitchen staff. I can't really say enough nice things about the staff that serves us fabulous food, deals with a ton of different allergies and food requests, and always serve us with a smile. I will however pass on some news from the kitchen. The 150 to 200 calorie dessert that has been served at dinner every night I have been at the ridge came to an end last wednesday. Dessert will now be served only a few nights a week to more emulate the way people eat dessert at home. Now if they change the exercise program to emulate the way we exercise at home they can keep the nightly dessert.

If you ever get arrested in Toledo, Gretchen is your girl. Shown here scaling the canyon the day after knocking out the stop sign with ease. And by ease I, of course, mean pain, sweat, and questioning the existence of a higher being.

After the morning hike, before we put Stephanie on to the shuttle back to reality and out of the bubble.

Because of the extreme heat some of us chose to do a group indoor hike. The benefits being that you are much less likely to suffer heat stroke inside. There's not a great indoor hiking venue in St George so instead we chose the Caesar's Palace Forum Shops. On top of my list of things to do this week is list and publish everyone's picks in the win a free week at the ridge contest. I will be giving periodic weight loss/gain tallies I'm just not sure of the periods yet. This week at the ridge there are only 29 campers, the lowest total since I started coming here. Should make for an interesting week. Peace, Jim