Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go to a weight loss camp? Our contributor Jennifer is spending part of this summer away from her family to try to kick start a new, healthy lifestyle. Read Part 1 here.
I quickly realized I spent my first two weeks at Premier Fitness Camp this summer gearing up for the next three weeks! I was able to live at camp for four weeks total, but I knew I couldn’t neglect my family or home responsibilities for a month straight. So, I did three weeks at camp and then went home for a week. I returned for my final week ready to take on the world! But my third week didn’t start out as promising…
Hitting the Wall
The Wall…. I have been hearing about hitting the wall since the first day I got here. At some point, usually week three, everyone supposedly hits the wall. All the carbohydrates are burned out of your muscles, you have been away from home for awhile and feel homesick, your muscles are tired and a little strained, you may be fighting an injury (for me it was shin splints and a strained rotator cuff), the enthusiasm you arrived at camp with is beginning to wane, lots of the friends you were close to left on Sunday and then you go to your second weigh in to start the week off! I kept thinking that this would NOT happen to me because I was more prepared, more centered and now I knew what was coming. I was, as usual, completely mistaken!
I had my weigh in on Monday morning. I had a goal of 5 more pounds. The anticipation didn’t really get any better for it being the second weigh in. I also got my measurements done. I lost an additional 4 pounds. At home, on my own, 4 pounds is great! Being here, coming up a little short of my goal, 4 pounds sort of felt flat. I called my husband and he made me feel a lot better, even if it made me miss him more! I knew I had to get back on the horse and give 100% this week so I can hit that 5 pounds next week!
I started off our Monday morning hike in good spirits and quickly felt like it was my first day! My heart rate spiked to 177 and I couldn’t catch my breath. I had to slow down. At boot camp there is the metal sled that you can add weights to called “The Butcher”, that we have to push across the field like football players. I couldn’t get it there and back in the time that we had, my muscles felt so weak! It was frustrating and my roommate (and boot camp partner) reminded me that it was my third week!
Eating Healthy and Still Feel Like I’m on Vacation
Luckily, my appetite and metabolism kicked in mid-week and this really picked me up and I got my energy back. The food here has been phenomenal! It really does feel like I’m on vacation with gourmet food, a personal chef and wait staff! It feels like you are cheating sometimes because it tastes so good, but I know that everything is perfectly portioned to keep us at our correct daily calorie intake. Not to mention that we are usually off to our next workout right away! We have enjoyed a crusted chicken spinach salad (my NEW favorite), of which I didn’t leave one leaf of spinach on my plate! We also had PIZZA. It had a spelt crust and we had a choice of a Mexican style pizza or a chicken and vegetable pizza. My roommate, Savannah, and I ordered different ones and shared so we could taste both! We had breakfast crepes with berries, a variation of taco salad, chicken soup, turkey burgers… and the best part is that I can go home and make these too!
Green Isn’t Just Good for the Planet!
Part of the program here provides us nutrition training and recipes! This is something that has been an enormous help for me. We have learned all about portion sizes from Liz(the dietician), how to make “green” smoothies and good choices at the supermarket from Bonnie(our nutrition director), how to make the spelt pizza, salad dressings and so much more from Gino(our chef). I loved trying all different green smoothies with spinach and berries, spinach and cantaloupe, spinach and lemon and just spinach. It sounded like it wouldn’t taste good, but I really liked them! I can’t wait to try making them at home! Our trainers offer nutrition training as well including how to snack in a healthy way, eat out at restaurants, how to read labels, what ingredients are the most helpful or hurtful to our bodies, etc. I am constantly learning here and I know that this aspect of the camp is going to help me and my family make this a lifestyle change instead of just a diet!
World Class Trainers Making All the Difference
I mentioned that our workout routine here is intense; I workout between 5-7 hours a day. I also realized that these workouts are exactly what you put into them. If I push myself to work through the stuff that is hard, I feel it in my muscles and it makes me stronger. If I stop or take breaks because I’m tired, my calorie burn isn’t as high that day. Luckily, I have the most amazing trainers here! They really are some of the best in the world (watch out Bob and Jillian)! They are knowledgeable and creative, which keeps everyone interested in what we are doing. More than that though, they genuinely care about you as a person, what your goals are, why you are there and your success. I could feel that from the moment I arrived!
So whether it was Casey pushing me through one more medicine ball exercise at the end of the day and modifying exercises for my shoulder, Leah on the ground doing the exercise with me(in plank, no less) telling me to keep on moving down the ladder and that I COULD do it, Wayne encouraging me to get the Butcher back across the field at boot camp and telling me that I did it “verrrryyy nice”, Brad reminding me to breathe (and duck) in boxing, Josh making sure my kettle bell form was perfect, Jason cheering me up Olympic Hill to finish strong, beat my time and reminding me to smile, Kimba letting me know I CAN do a heavier weight at strength training because I am stronger, Megan giving me a challenge because she believed I could do it, Pam emailing me workouts that we did so I can continue at home or Mike making me work a little harder at Friday boot camp and making me laugh all at the same time- I know that they are there to help, teach, support and care about me. If I had to say the ONE thing that made this experience for me it was the people!!
My week at home brought mixed emotions. It was great to be in my own bed, see my kiddos and husband and get some real life things taken care of. I missed the people at camp, the opportunity to work out as much as I did there, the food, everything! I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to follow my at home plan for workouts and especially nutrition. However, I had a lot of encouragement from my family, my trainers and my new “family” at Premier Fitness. The week was actually really great and I lost 2 pounds at home! It encouraged me to know that I could do this on my own because I had put the tools in place to be successful while I was at camp.
Emotions Running High as Last Week Wraps Up
My last week at camp was an emotional roller coaster! I was either hysterically laughing or hysterically crying and sometimes both at the same time! Crying because I was going to miss the people and, in reality, the entire experience! I had to say good-bye to friends weekly as they prepared to go home before me. This week I would have to say good-bye to my trainers, all the friends that were staying and my roommates. Savannah and I had been roommates, boot camp partners and close friends for my entire stay. She and I are leaving the same week and so we spent every evening laughing at all of our inside jokes, crying as we said good-bye to trainers, laughing again at memories, crying for those we leave behind. It is difficult to say good bye, but I treasure the friendships I have made here and know that we will keep in touch to encourage each other and laugh and cry some more!
Real Changes You Can Measure- In Only Five Weeks!
My last Thursday was my medical assessment at the hospital. They re-evaluate the different things they measured at the beginning of my stay here including blood work, cholesterol, core strength, back strength, fitness levels and more. I had to ride the bike again and they took a comparison of what my output level and heart rate was compared to doing the same speed and levels of intensity that I did when I first arrived. I was ecstatic to hear that my level was up 11%. They said in 4-5 weeks normally they would expect a 5-10% increase in this intense of a program, so that was great! My total cholesterol level to begin was 208. It was down to 138 in 5 weeks!!! All of the non-HDL cholesterol was down significantly. He said if I continue this lifestyle I should never have to worry about cholesterol again! My core and back strength levels were up as well and overall it was a great feeling to see how much you can change your body in just a short amount of time!!
My last Friday was my LAST Olympic Hill walk. Every Friday we are dropped off at the bottom of the hill and walk/jog/hike up one and a half miles. Doesn’t sound too bad right? It is really steep and we are timed! Each week you are trying to beat your previous time! This week my calves were so sore I could barely walk down the stairs into the lobby! I really just wanted to beat my time so I could say I improved my time every week that I was here, even if it was just by 5 seconds! I felt really nervous about the hill for the first time since week one and I talked to Danielle(my new little sister from PFC) about it. She told me to just keep trying to chase whoever was in front of me and catch them. Then pretend that she was right behind me and that I couldn’t let her pass me. I did use that advice as motivation and I chased Cece and Savannah the whole way up. I ended up finishing second and beat my time by one minute and 20 seconds!
Saturday brings my LAST weigh in… Josh was the trainer here to weigh us out and review how far we have come from the beginning! I lost another 3 ½ pounds this week which brought my total since arriving here to 18 ½ pounds! That is not the 25 pounds that I set for my goal for being here, but I am so happy with that because I have learned there is so much more than the number on the scale. I have lost 10.5% body fat! My BMI is only 2 points away from being considered “healthy”. I lost 25 lbs of fat and gained 6 lbs of muscle. I lost a total of 20.75” off my body in 4.5 weeks!!! Those results are the ones I am the most proud of!
The End, or Just the Beginning!
After all my lasts this final week, writing blog posts has been one of the hardest ones! I can’t say enough about the people who have touched my heart during this experience, from all of the staff here to the friends I have made. I have come to love them so much! They have all influenced me to change my life for the better so much more than they will ever know. I wouldn’t change this experience for the world. If you are reading this and waiting for some big change to happen in either your weight loss, fitness, nutrition.. or even in your spiritual, emotional or social aspects of life- don’t delay!! What are you waiting for?? You can start today, even if you can’t get somewhere like fitness camp! If you are open to change, seeking it, working for it- it will find you! And you will never be the same again. I will keep blogging my journey at home, because this really isn’t the LAST of anything… it’s just the beginning of an exciting lifelong journey!