It’s funny where life leads you . . .
A couple of years ago, I heard about Fitness Ridge in St. George, UT, but as a first-time mother living on a grad school budget, I knew it wasn’t something that was in the cards for me.
Fast forward to today- three kids later, both husband and I working, and life only getting faster with each passing day. My husband and I were getting ready to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary and discussing what we should do to celebrate – some tropical location, maybe a cool trip back East . . . and then I suggested Fitness Ridge.
See, my husband is a physical therapist and a fitness blogger. He is in great shape and his weight has only fluctuated 3 pounds in the 10 years that we’ve been married. Me, on the other hand . . . I tipped the scales with my first child right around 190 pounds. Not even joking. I gained a good 50 pounds with her.
Thankfully my cute husband gave me workout plans and helped me get back in shape after each child, but as I learned more about Fitness Ridge, I thought that it would be the perfect way to kickstart my goal of losing the last 10 pounds of baby weight that I have been carrying around for 7 years.
So we signed up, kissed our kids goodbye, and drove down the 5 hours to St.George, UT for a week that would seriously change my life.
The resort is absolutely gorgeous. Southern Utah is known for it’s red rocks and Fitness Ridge is nestled in a gorgeous valley with beautiful rocks all around. Jared and I pulled up, got our name tags and room info, then headed to our room to unpack. We had appointments to get weighed in (something that I was dreading a little bit, especially since I pigged out on junk food on the way down . . . it was like a last supper thing for me), measured, and assessed. The staff was incredibly friendly and didn’t make you feel the least bit uncomfortable as they measured various body parts and had you stand on the scale. I learned what percent of body fat I was carrying around, how much lean mass muscles was under my skin, and how many calories I burn in a day just living- things I had never thought twice about!
After the weigh-in, we headed over to the dining hall for dinner. It was a large gorgeous room with huge windows so you could see the beautiful surroundings outside. I knew that we were going to be on a pretty strict diet while we were there, so I was a little nervous to see what exactly we would be eating. Surprisingly enough, every meal was ABSOLUTELY delicious- full of flavor and left you feeling satisfied.
After dinner, we headed over to the lecture hall. The owners and staff introduced themselves and we each introduced ourselves and said what it was that brought us here. I talked about how after having three kids in a short amount of time, I was there to spend some time on me and remember who Camille was. I was so surprised- 75% of the people there that week had been there before. Their experience had been so powerful that they needed/wanted to come back. It was so interesting listening to everyone’s stories – many were there to lose weight, but some had other reasons (wanting to find themselves again, going through a divorce, trying to quit smoking). Every story was powerful and many of us were in tears as we shared some of our most intimate thoughts. I hardly knew these people, but felt an instant connection. After all of us had shared our story (there were about 55 of us total), we headed to bed to gear up for what lied ahead tomorrow.
(We took this picture right after we arrived on Sunday evening. It was the last time I would wear make-up for the rest of the week, have my hair done, and not reek of sweat. Ha ha! It was also the last time I had a normal bra on- I wore a sports bra for the duration of my time there. I must say that it was pretty comfy! Ha ha!)
The Days At Fitness Ridge . . .
. . . are action packed!!! You just don’t stop!
The alarm clock went off Monday morning right around 5:50 am. We were meeting in the dining hall to grab a quick snack (apple, banana, string cheese, or almonds) to give you some morning energy, and then we loaded the vans to head up to the mountains (which were seriously only 5-10 minutes away from the resort). I can honestly say that I have never really loved hiking, but something about being up there early in the morning and watching the sun come up, pushing my body to do hard things, and burning a couple hundred calories right after waking up was something I really missed after returning home. Each hike is usually about 2 hours long and it’s an amazing start to the day (don’t worry- not every hike is as crazy hard as some of the ones that I went on. When they do your Fitness Assessment on the day you arrive, they determine what kind of hike will be best for you and put you with a group of 4-5 other people who are about the same level as you. I loved that everything was so tailored to our needs). I’ll admit, I am a little scared of hikes, but this week was all about proving to myself how strong Camille is and how much my body is capable of – I had to do that for myself. I actually surprised myself with how much I could push myself . . . I need to do that more at home!
When you return from the hike, it’s time for breakfast. And seriously, food never tasted so good! I’m a green smoothie drinker each morning (thanks, hubby!), so I was hoping that there would be something for me like that to have. I was pleasantly surprised to find that breakfast was an assortment each morning and I could choose whatever I was feeling: smoothies, eggs, oatmeal, granola, etc. I am also a cold cereal lover (that’s just what I grew up on and that’s what is quick and easy), but I learned at the resort the importance of a balanced meal: carbs, protein and healthy fats. Every meal we ate had a lot of protein and I think that is what left me feeling so full for so long each day. Each day our diet carefully consisted of 1500 calories, which I had no idea that 1500 calories could fill me up and actually taste good. For reals, though.
(It was seriously so nice to have someone make your food for you every day . . . I think I need a personal chef at home . . . ha ha! And that Chocolate Smoothie option on the bottom was AMAZING! I will be sharing the recipe soon!)
(I went with the egg scramble on day one and actually ended up eating that about half of the mornings I was there . . . it was delicious! This picture was taken when it was about half way gone and I remember being sad that I had already eaten half of it so quickly! And yes, that is real butter than you get with your toast!)
Thankfully, after breakfast they give you a little break and you get to spend the next hour in class. To be honest, I really thought that these classes were going to be so boring. I was there to get fit, not sit on my butt and do nothing. However, little did I know how thankful I was going to be for those lectures to have a break, ice my sore body, and learn about how to make the things I was learning at the resort apply to my life at home. The classes and teachers seriously blew my mind. Some of the teachers were people who had come to Fitness Ridge years ago, changed their lives, and wanted to come back and share it. I loved that they could relate with us and what we were going through. The class on emotional eating was so powerful. All the classes linked together- I just didn’t realize how much my emotions related to my values and in turn, affected how I see myself, what foods I feed my body, and how I react to different situations. It really was such a life-changing experience for me and opened my eyes to things I needed to hear and learn.
One of my favorite quotes came from a speaker by the name of Hyrum Smith (the founder of Franklin Covey, a rather large and successful company). He said, “Pain is inevitable; misery is optional.” We are all going to go through hard things in life and they are going to cause us pain. We, of course, need time to grieve and go through that pain, but it’s going to get to a point where we can decide to be miserable everyday and continue to suffer, or choose to be something else. That hit me hard. Like I said: life-changing!
(One of my favorite lectures was Chef Sam- he did a cooking demo of the recipes he makes at the resort, the healthy products he uses, and some recipes for us to take home to our families. He seriously does amazing work!)
After the morning lecture, it was time for my first workout – I had three options that morning: 1. Stretching (the instructor leads you through various stretches to help those tight muscles while listening to relaxing music like Enya- little did I know how much I would come to LOVE that stretching class as the week went on!), 2. Triathlon (in one hour, you were going to bike so many miles, run/walk so far, and swim so many laps . . . this class terrified me a little bit), and 3. Intro to X-fit (aka Cross Fit). I went with X-Fit, just so that I could learn more of the basics (I like that it’s a hard core workout in a short amount of time) and because the trainer is someone that I was a little starstruck over: Sione Fa! Any Biggest Loser fans out there? Sione and his cousin Filipe were two of the contestants on the show and I absolutely loved them. Anyway, it was so fun to be in a class taught by Sione . . . and he would continue to kick my butt as the week went on . . .
Took this picture with Sione right after a killer bootcamp workout. I was seriously limping out of there – I don’t think that I could have done one more squat if my life depended on it! So yes, that was naturally the best time to take a photo with him. 😉
Lunch is the biggest meal of the day. They always start out with a delicious soup- flavors that I would have never tried on my own, but here you wanted to eat all your food to make sure that you had enough calories to get you through the rest of your day. And guess what? I ended up loving all the different soups that they served! The main dish is always something delicious, but even if you don’t like it, I highly recommend trying some of the other options they serve every day, like the chicken salad. It’s incredible! Every meal is between 300-400 calories, but it tastes incredible. I really did lick my plate clean at every meal. Had I been at home, I probably would have had a second helping most days . . . 🙂 Thankfully, the resort does have an all you can eat salad bar that is open for every meal. However, be warned: there is no dressing or oil- just vinegar. That took some getting used to, but I have learned to love balsamic vinegar on my salads . . .
After lunch, you grab your afternoon snack, which is the same as the morning: apple, banana, string cheese, hard boiled egg, or peanut butter with celery sticks. Even if you aren’t hungry, grab a snack and save it for later. My cute friend Miquewas seriously hoarding apples in her room! 🙂 If she had tried to sell them, I bet that she would have made a killing!!
After lunch, you head to another lecture, which is good because then you can let your food digest before you head into your 3 HOUR AFTERNOON WORKOUT session. That’s right- 3 hours!!! I had to mentally gear up each day for it. Thankfully they divide it into 3 different classes, so you never get bored. On this day, I started with a cardio circuit workout the basketball court, then headed over to circuit training in the gym, and then a HIIT workout (High Intensity Interval Workout). They also had a stretching class and a water aerobics class (which seriously ended up being WAY more intense than I ever imagined! Have you ever sweat in a pool before? Well – it can happen!). By the third class, you are WASTED. Even feeling as tired as I did, I had this weird adrenaline going on. I couldn’t believe how good my body felt after a day of eating nutritious food, working my tail off, and flushing out all those toxins and sweating bucket loads. I felt awesome.
Jared, myself, and cute Diana getting ready to conquer “Mount Kilimanjaro” on the treadmill. Every two minutes, we had to increase the incline and/or the speed. After 30 minutes, my legs were on FIRE!!! Then, when we got to the top, we had a lovely 2 minutes sprint. I walked around for the rest of the day with jello legs. Totally worth it though. And these two pushed me the whole time.
As we sat and talked over dinner (which is served at 5:30, but the way . . . but you are so ready for it by the time it comes around!), we all felt the same way. I loved meal time and having the chance to sit with the other guests and learn more about them. As I mentioned before, everyone has their story and it was so interesting to hear theirs. Many of the people there were from thousands of miles away and had never been to Utah before, so it was fun to swap stories and talk about kids and pets and jobs and home. Some of the people were there for one week, others for a month, some for 3-4 months.
(Oven Baked “Fried” Chicken served over roasted vegetables and with honey mustard . . . dang! This was GOOD!)
I was a little worried with the food at the resort because at home, I usually end my lunch and dinner with something sweet – a little cookie, a gummy worm, whatever I could find in the pantry. However, at Fitness Ridge, I was impressed by the meals that they served and the fact that my sweet cravings were totally curbed. And the fruit down there had never tasted so good!
After dinner, you had free time until lights out at 10 pm. I laughed when I first heard that we actually had a “curfew” at Fitness Ridge, but by 9:30, my body was shutting down. A couple of people actually squeezed in one more workout before going to sleep, but I seriously don’t know where they found the energy to do that. I remember thinking how amazing that bed felt when it was finally time to sleep and unfortunately, that alarm went off WAY too early the next morning.
For the most part, every day is pretty much the same schedule. They give you a different hike to do each day, change up the menu, and change the workout classes to give you tons of variety. While at Fitness Ridge, I did Zumba, bootcamp, tabata, kickboxing, strength training, spinning, an 80’s step class (complete with leg warmers!!), barre, running, every piece of cardio equipment in the gym, and so much more. My body was constantly moving and burning calories. My FitBit was broken while I was there, but some of my friends heart rate monitors would show that they burned almost 3,000 calories during the day. It was UNREAL.
(I would like to introduce you to Sharon . . . I know that she looks nice and beautiful right now, but seriously, this lady unleashes her inner beast! Especially in her kickboxing class! You know when you see people working out so hard that they have sweat literally dripping off their chin into a puddle on the floor? Yeah- that happened in her class.)
(See?!?! Look at that face! Her famous line . . . “You can do anything for 2 minutes!” or “You can do anything for 30 seconds!” or whatever time we needed to kick it into high gear for . . . as much as I hated how hard she made me push myself, she was an AMAZING trainer. Absolutely amazing.)
At the beginning of the week, the guests who had been there before warned us that Wednesday is the hard day. By Wednesday, your body will start to feel sore and tired from the workouts that you did on Monday, and your blisters from the first hike will be angry. We had been prepping by stretching and icing and doing all kinds of blister prevention, but man!! When my alarm went off on Wednesday morning, I could hardly move my body. I was SO sore. But your cute hike guides are there and ready to take you up a mountain with a smile on their face. How can you say no to that?! (Did I mention that they take roll at every class, so if you fail to show up, they come and get you! There is no getting out of a workout at this place! And no time for naps!)
I’m the one in the purple shirt, shaking my head as I walk towards it thinking “How in the heck am I going to climb that?”
No worries- we didn’t climb it to the top- just a little ways up for a sweet photo opportunity. Ha ha!
And aren’t those rocks amazing? It’s so gorgeous there!
On Friday, Fitness Ridge puts on their own 5K and 10K. It’s a great opportunity for guests to experience being in a race in a very safe environment. You get a T-shirt and a bib number and they time you, while all the trainers and friends you have made cheer you on. Some walk it, some jog it, and some run at an incredible place, but everyone cheers for each other. It’s an awesome thing.
Saturday is a bittersweet day as you prepare to say goodbye. You get one final hike, then a last chance workout (which is really as brutal as it sounds! 2 intense hours to burn some last minute calories!), and then a weigh in and graduation. Graduation is kind of like that final assembly at the end of the school year- they play a video of pictures taken throughout the week and everyone is invited to share some final thoughts about their stay. It’s a very moving and humbling experience- you’ve been through a week of heck with these people and grown to love them. It’s crazy how in just a couple of days, my views on life and my fitness journey have completely changed.
Now let’s talk about “Slimmy” – a.k.a. our tour guides, Slade and Kimmy. These two were absolutely my favorite. They led us over mountains, through crazy sand stretches, and across all kinds of trails (and off-the-trails) that I would have never done if they hadn’t been there. I loved hiking with them each morning. And they pretty much have the best job in the world, except for the fact that they have to wake up at the crack of dawn each morning.
So for the nitty gritty . . . did I lose weight? Yes, yes I did. I ended up losing 3 pounds. Which seriously, to lose three pounds in 6 days . . . that’s crazy! But to be honest, it really wasn’t about the weight loss. It was about reconnecting with Camille again. Remembering who I was . . . not “Camille the Mom” or “Camille the Wife” or “Camille the Blogger” . . . it was just about me. I also wanted to take home with me some ideas on how to help my kids have a healthier life and learn to love themselves and their bodies. I went there to unplug from the craziness of home life and just refocus on what was more important. It really helped me put things into perspective and I came home happy, energized, and a better mother and wife than before I left.
A week all about me needs to include a massage, right?! Did I mention that they have a complete spa at the resort? Trust me- you will want this massage!
PS If you go and get a massage, ask for Martin. He is AMAZING.
Since returning home a couple of weeks ago, I have made a couple of changes . . .
1. I try to only eat food made with ingredients that my great-grandma would have known of. I love the idea of eating a lot of fresh food and food from local farmers. However, sometimes I will still make something with cream of chicken soup and you know what? I feel okay about it. I also believe that moderation in all things is a good rule of thumb. 🙂
2. Cut back on treats. Remember how I said that I used to have a treat after both lunch and dinner? Well, not anymore!! I will maybe have a small treat once every couple of days. I have learned that fruit is plenty sweet for me and one of my favorite “treats” are smoothies. My cute husband has got me hooked on these smoothies and I not only have one for breakfast, but sometimes also as a snack (like when I hit that wall at 3 o’clock and usually go for a candy bar!).
3. I try to eat protein at every meal. I guess that I just didn’t realize how important protein was. Most of my meals are pretty carb heavy and I need that protein to balance it out. I especially liked starting each day with protein at Fitness Ridge- I was amazed how I could go for so long each morning without needing a snack!
4. Find time each day to workout. I learned down there how good your body feels when you are active. I love to workout before my kids wake up (whether at the gym or at home), but some mornings I need sleep more than a workout (or so I tell myself), so on those days, I usually don’t do any sort of physical activity. The other day was one of those days and I was feeling sluggish that I hadn’t been able to workout. So, I grabbed the kids and we headed in the backyard for a game of tag. We ran around and I chased them for a good 15 minutes. I had sweat dripping down my back when we were finished, but I felt good. And my kids LOVED it. I was the coolest mom ever at that point (of course it changed a couple of minutes later when I made them clean up their toys). But I need to find more ways to workout and include my kids in the process. I want them to know how important my health and wellness is to me.
As I mentioned before, my experience at Fitness Ridge was a game changer. It really wasn’t about the weight loss (even though that was an added bonus and I have lost a couple more pounds since returning home), but more about living a healthier life. I heard one of the trainers say to strive for progress, not perfection. I will admit that I came home and ate pizza and root beer. And pigged out on junk food. But the next day, I worked twice as hard at the gym to make up for it and refocused on having a better day the next day. I have my Fitness Ridge Family in a Facebook group and we still talk on a daily basis. I am accountable to them, so I want to do my best each day so that I have good things to tell them. I know that because of Fitness Ridge, my life will never be the same and I am so grateful.
These are a couple of the amazing friends that I made while staying at Fitness Ridge:
Diana, Emily, Jessica, and Mique (and me on the end)
You can check out their experiences here:
Diana from Livy Loves to Run (this girl has lost 100 pounds on her own!)
Emily from Favorite Family Recipes
Jessica from What Does The Cox Say
Mique from 30 Days
Plus, be sure to check out my husband’s experience (he’s a pretty cute guy . . . not that I’m biased or anything!):
I now want to share with one of you the opportunity to go to Fitness Ridge for yourself!! One lucky person will win a week-long stay at Fitness Ridge to experience what I did. Just simply enter below: