Did I really volunteer (pay $2000 to) work out 5+ hours a day and wake up at the crack of dawn six days in a row? I asked myself that quite a few times over the last week while I was doing my nth set of reps or sprints at the weightloss resort my friend and I had spur-of-the-moment booked a trip to — how could one week of health-based torture hurt?
I really wasn’t sure what I had signed up for — would it be military-style “yelling in your face” bootcamp, or something a bit more gentle? Would everyone there be morbidly obese – and I, just “barely” obese, would be the fittest in the bunch, outpacing the others and not pushing myself hard enough to get any value out of the program?
It turns out that the program we picked had quite the mix of people – from those who were really already quite fit seeking to lose a few pounds to people who were well over healthy weight. Many guests, to my surprise, were staying for multiple weeks — and quite a few were repeat visitors, which I saw both as a good thing (they liked the program enough to return) and a bad thing (they couldn’t stick to the healthy lifestyle on their own so they have to come back to the program again and again to lose weight.)
Even though I had quite a few qualms about the program, overall I think it was a very positive and worthwhile experience. My husband thought I was a nut to spend $2000 on a week weightloss program because you can’t actually significantly change your weight in a week. I know that. It took me six months to lose 40 pounds and six to put it all back on. But one can accomplish a lot in a week mentally. Sometimes you need to get out of your comfort zone to break through places you’re stuck.
While all the exercise was helpful in getting me from barely-able-to-move to sprinting for two minutes at a time again in a very short while, what really impacted me was the nutritional element of the program. We were fed breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, which amounted to about 1200 calories per day, and were provided with snacks (take as much as you want) which were limited to hardboiled eggs, almonds, fruit, and a few other protein items. We were supposed to be eating about 1500 calories per day.
When I lost 40 pounds last year, I did eat about 1500 calories per day on average, plus exercised 3 times a week for 1 hour (not 5 hours 6 days a week.) However, my diet was very unhealthy. I felt sluggish and hungry all the time. In this program, the chef made meals that were perfectly balanced so that we’d feel full and not hungry before our next meal, despite all the working out. I supplemented with two hardboiled eggs for breakfast and a fruit, and a serving of peanut butter before going to bed if my stomach was growling. We were also allowed unlimited access to the salad bar which was not so impressive but it did teach the lesson that one should fill up with salad before eating to help eat enough nutrients and feel full. Lunch always was a tasty soup around 75-95 calories and a main dish. Dinner included a main dish and a desert. Breakfast was a protein, a carb and a fruit, with one serving of fat – such as eggs, a piece of sprouted toast, small dab of butter, and a few pieces of melon.
For someone who typically eats NOTHING *or* Half-a-loaf-of-bread for breakfast (with half a stick of butter) — it was a new experience to be eating a healthy balanced meal every day at 9am, especially after already having worked out for two hours on a challenging (to me) hike.
By eating balanced, nutritious meals throughout the day, I rarely got hungry, and I also discovered my mood to be much improved. It may just be that I was on vacation, or that the endorphins from suddenly exercising five hours per day were making me loopy – but I could feel my blood sugar remaining balanced, which really helped me not experience the depression dips that I’m used to (and I went off my starter zoloft for the week because I didn’t think I needed it.)
At the end of the week I lost 3.5lbs (1.6% body fat) and about 2 inches in my waist. I still have a long way to go to be healthy (I wasn’t really healthy last year when I was 140 pounds, nor am I healthy now at 173.) But I’m going to try REALLY HARD to stick to this food lifestyle and eat 3 balanced meals per day. No more binging. No more wasting calories on sugar that mucks up my emotions. I really feel like I’ve experienced a substantial change and I’m ready to see this through – the rest of my life. I don’t want to be one of the people returning to the program year after year (nor can I afford it.) I want to be my own success story.