Sunday, April 11, 2010

Wrap it up

Wordlessly watching he waits by the window and wonders
at the empty place inside
Heartlessly helping himself to her bad dreams he worries
did he hear a good-bye or even
They are 1 person
They are too alone
They are 3 together
They are for each other

I got home Wednesday after 27 hours of driving. There was a lot of snow on the Vail summit in Colorado and, of course, Mother Nature was kind enough to welcome me back to Wisconsin with some of our own snow on Thursday. Not enough to effect too much just enough to remind me that indeed winter sucks. However, by Sunday the temperatures were in the 70's, volleyball was set to begin in 24 hours and I started to remember why I like Madison this time of the year.

So I wanted to wrap up this most recent trip to the Ridge. Let me start with the most common question I seem to get and that is quite simply how is it different since they changed the name of the place. The buildings haven't changed and construction that always seems to be looming hasn't begun yet. There is talk that it is right around the corner, but again I will believe it when it actually occurs. Is it necessary? Without a doubt. The place is at capacity for it's current conditions. I do applaud the Ridge for limiting the number of guests each week to 65 people. Not everyone would leave money on the table, and the owners at the ridge are unquestionably leaving money every week because they could jam another dozen people in and make it more crowded but they don't. The place desperately needs a community room for people to hang out in, really needs an indoor pool. The pool should really be a first stage priority because the place is unable to accommodate all the guests when the pool is not an option for a third of the people due to inclement weather.

The guests are different as well. Obviously there are more of them. With 65 people taking part in the program it is impossible to meaningfully interact with all of the campers and I swear barely a week would go by when on Thursday or Friday I wasn't saying under my breath "who the hell is that? I haven't seen them before." I want to have a positive impact on every camper and that is no longer possible. The high numbers seem to create more cliques and more bonding of the long termers. But the one weekers always number in the few dozen so they seem to have no trouble finding their niche. The guests are just as supportive and just as enthusiastic. They are without a doubt fans of the biggest loser TV show. They are bigger, they are younger, they are still 85% women. Many have maxed credit cards, quit jobs, borrowed from their families, and scraped pennies to have the opportunity to be in Utah. It's fun for me to watch these people transform both physically and more importantly emotionally. They realize they are not alone. They realize that everyone there accepts them regardless of their size. They gain confidence. They do things they never thought possible. Some of them struggle, some of them have more injuries then I can imagine, and some of them use a lot of excuses not to do the program. But I understand, I really do. The thing is that to succeed you have to allow these people to help you. It hurts at times no doubt. It's so hard to change and so easy to quit. Many of us and me especially have quit on this before, but the first day, tell them and yourself, this trip is not about quitting.

Paige and I have had discussions and disagreed about the best way to motivate people that are reluctant to get completely involved. I remember my first trip and I remember my reluctance to get out on the hike everyday. I wasn't given a choice. I cussed them under my breath and at the top of my lungs. But the thing is they didn't let me quit when I would have quit on my own. Living your life as a minimalist and doing as little as possible has become too easy for some of us and making excuses a way of life. Paige wants people to self motivate, I want her and the others to motivate the bigger guests every single day. To the point where staying behind is not an option. The program has changed, the accountability and structure light years ahead of where they were two years ago. Everything about the ridge is better. More apt to make you successful, better equipped and prepared to handle bigger people, and more motivating. I love this place and I love the people I truly do. It is why I go back, it is why I agree to be on CNBC, and it's why I have had my modicum of success. The ridge is always about the campers that will never change. Facebook and blogs have made it easier for people to know what they are getting themselves into, and also helped people develop friendships before they arrive and keep friendships going when they depart.

The Ridge has grown in the past two years by any measure. My good friend Eric Jackson has put together a fabulous team of managers. The program is harder yet more fun, structured yet more dynamic and in most ways still the same core program. You will still exercise your head off, you will still eat 1200 delicious calories and without question you and every camper will have a life changing experience.

The scales have changed as well. I still talk of my first day when I stood on a scale and had to say that machine was not made to handle me. Boy it made me feel like I was the biggest loser ever to come here because apparently the person ordering the scales never imagined Jim walking through the door. It took a little while but they eventually went to bigger scales. Finally listened to my pleading and went to digital scales. And finally went to the scale I circled in a catalog 18 months ago. All that being said. I hate the scales at the Ridge. I understand that they are there to measure success. I have seen too many people leave that room upset because that number wasn't what they hoped for. I think expectations are awfully high thanks to the producers of the Biggest Loser Show. But how do you really measure success? By the number on a machine or by the fact that you walked 4.5 miles up a hill, ran on a treadmill for the first time or at a much higher number, danced your heart off in cardio disco jam, swam more laps than you thought possible, made friends that will support you for life, learned how to make it happen at home, or even when it seemed bizarre to even speak the word at one time, completed a triathlon.

The next blog will be about summer goals. As always, seeing as much live music and playing as much volleyball will head the list. Can't wait to get back in the sand tomorrow night. But I have others, most to share, some to keep to myself. One things for sure I like riding a bike again and want do more of that, and I recently spent some time on the web looking for sprint tri's in the area. It's going to be a great summer, it was an amazing spring. New friends, new accomplishments, and naked on national TV in Utah. There's even a brand new cutie in my life and we are without a doubt better together. Just look at the picture of the new foster dog in our house Chille, fresh off ACL surgery, doing great, and smiling with me.It is going to be hard to top all that, but you guys know I will try. Peace and lots of love, Jim


Sarah K said...

Jim - you are looking great! You have such a slimed down face I hardly recognize you :) Congrats again on the Tri, and I hope you have the best.summer.ever (squared) in 2010!

Jdawn said...

seriously looking good in front of the camera sagital view! Glad to hear you are loving the bike riding again. I havn't heard anything from Trek though....=(

Wisconsin Terp said...

Thanks for making me look up sagittal view :)

mam said...

Oh, for god's sake, I JUST got the Chili Dog pun after hearing Jacky talk about her for months and months. My brain, it is perhaps a little bit broken.