Nine down, one to go

My name is Jen, and I’m not a blogaholic. For some reason over the last couple weeks, I have not felt like writing at all. While I’m walking or exercising or what have you, I’m composing all kinds of witty, incisive, publishable blog posts, then when I get to my room, it’s neither blog nor emails nor phone calls. Really, my name is Jen and I’m a TV-aholic. And now that I’ve discovered all the online TV resources (yes, the convergence is finally upon us), it won’t be enough to disconnect my cable when I get home!

Can you believe I only have one more week to go? I’ve been saying that on the one hand, it’s been slow and intense, and on the other, it’s flown, but in retrospect I’d just have to say that it’s flown. As mentioned previously, I’m torn about leaving. I love it here. I’ve made friends not only among the constantly-turning-over guest population but also among the staff and a guest who moved to St. George, my triathlon buddy Jen (AKA the other Jen). I’d love to be able to get to my goal weight while in this bubble. I like not having responsibilities. I’m a mono-focus kind of gal – life balance, what’s up with that? Also, I like being in college (or boarding school, depending on the day’s assessment of guest maturity level – including myself) again. I like hanging out impromptu. I like having almost all my social time be face to face, not via email or phone. I like having shared experience, where we’re essentially all doing the same thing as with school, vs. when our lives all diverged and got busy and responsibility-laden. And I love the intense friendships that can develop in this environment, vs. the month of Sundays that professional adult socializing entails, seeing each other for dinner every six weeks and whatnot. (On the other hand, I suck at long-distance relationships, seeing as I spend so much of my real life on email, and I am somewhat phobically telephone-avoidant. I apologize to all my new friends, and many of the old ones – it’s not you, it’s me, and you are not alone among those I love.)

Let’s go back a couple weeks and make up for lost time, shall we?

The Friday before Thanksgiving:

Yes, I’ve blogged since then, but I wanted to share with you a picture and a couple goofy videos from my third hike up Camelback. I love that Camelback, what with its two humps and all. On this particular instance, there was talk way too raunchy for Mormon ears – or at least way too curse-laden. I was a minor offender – there’s no way I could have kept up with Chris and Marissa, however, and that’s saying a lot. One of the things I like about Camelback is (a) it’s now not that difficult for me (indeed, I’m starting to notice that I have to work a lot harder to get a good workout, which strikes me as the ultimate injustice – if you work really hard to get into shape, you just have to work harder?); and (b) it’s like hikes I remember from my pre-Fitness Ridge civilian days, i.e., we actually stop and enjoy the view and play every once in a while. On Camelback, there are novelty activities that allow the guides to relax their enforcement of the “fitness” in “fitness hikes” (what the FR folks remind us these hikes are for in the morning announcements).

I'm not at my best in belly profile, but I'm going to share this with you nonetheless for its beauty and inclusion of our dearly departed Marissa and Stephane the Quebecois, and the not-yet-dearly-departed Chris.

There’s a delightful hole in the rock known as THE VORTEX, at the bottom of which countless youth have carved their initials into the sandstone. It’s slightly hairy climbing down, but I had that one covered. I took a new route up, however, and got stock, plastered flat up against the rock, enough spread-eagled to be sorry for those below me (what with the sweat and all), unable to move up or down. Stephane braved the below-decks view of my spandex and climbed up to put his hand beneath my foot and assure me of his strength with his fabulous French accent. In any case, the group of us made a silly video of running in a Ring Around the Posy formation. We decided it was a fertility dance, and since I was the only one with near-future hopes of fertility, everybody passed theirs on to me by proxy.

Moving up to the valley between THE HUMPS, we made a charming jumping video.

The Sunday before Thanksgiving:

I went with my friend Kate to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, a totally amazing place which has recently come to fame through the TV show Dogtown about their dog facilities of the same name. Best Friends is a truly amazing, worthy, beautiful place. Apparently everybody who visits asks about working there, and I have to say, no knocks to Knock Knock, but I might consider taking the job (don’t worry, or don’t celebrate – they didn’t offer). It’s a no-kill animal rescue in a gorgeous Utah canyon, 33,000 acres of goodness.

In the morning, we took the tour (why is it that so many volunteer tour guides are annoying, bless their hearts? is it because they can’t get real jobs? and you know that the only reason to use the phrase “bless their hearts” is to slam people, right? kind of like “with all due respect”?), and in the afternoon we volunteered by walking dogs. If you’re an animal lover, your heart breaks when you visit shelters, but this place is so wonderful, the facilities so capacious, the staff so loving and dedicated and expert, that you don’t feel so bad. In fact, you start wondering why any of these animals would want to be adopted (I wouldn’t), but they say that companion animals always want homes – and people – of their own. I get that with dogs, certainly, and possibly pigs and cats, but not so sure about the horse and sheep. Their mission encompasses companion animals only, so there were no elephants or giraffes. They’re developing into a sort of Red Cross for animals, foraying beyond their property to rescue hundreds of Katrina animals and famously taking in the Michael Vicks fighting dogs, who have been renamed the Victory (Vicktory?) dogs. Just heartbreaking to see these scarred pitbulls wagging their tails, so happy to see you.

Here’s a slideshow of our time exploring and volunteering:

They also have this phenomenal pet cemetery called Angels Rest, with windchimes and tombstones with names like Mr. Mister Mister and Kitten II (and even Megan) and heartbreaking mementos such as a chewed retractable leash left on the grave. There was one headstone, complete with photograph, of a little girl, and while at first that seemed creepy and macabre, upon reconsideration, I invented a whole story whereby she’d been sick for a long time and was an animal lover and asked to be buried among the pets. The cemetery population includes both animals who die while at Best Friends and pets whose people want to bury them there.

Here’s the cemetery slideshow:

By the way – there’s an amazing, embarrassingly (and intentionally, by the filmmaker, Errol Morris) hilarious 1976 documentary on pet cemeteries called Gates of Heaven (available on Netflix right here). I could not recommend it more highly. Sadly for the people depicted, it’s definitely a comedy.

Best Friends has weeklong workshops on “How to Start an Animal Sanctuary.” I think I may have my retirement planned out.

In the meantime, you should donate to Best Friends.

Last Week:

Whatever did I do last week? I totally don’t remember. Let’s attempt to reconstruct. I know there was way too much off-the-reservation dining out and junk-food eating, and that I didn’t lose any weight. This will be rectified this week with perfect attendance and all onsite eating. Sometimes having a car is a curse.

Guess what? I’m an after, or at least as after as they have on campus right now. I’ve been selected to be a success story day-in-the-life on The Rachael Ray Show. The show is doing an hour-long special on Fitness Ridge, to air in January; they’ve already done some ambiance filming here, and a trainer flew out to NYC to be interviewed, as well as a success-story former guest. That guest was male, however, and the show wanted a female, so a couple staff-members at Fitness Ridge recommended me. While I am not necessarily inclined toward exhibitionism and never aspired to be a public before-and-after, it feels like an honor to have been selected, an affirmation of all the hard work I’ve done. On Thursday, I will be followed from the time I awaken (please don’t make me go to the 6:00 a.m. class) to the time I go to bed (please don’t show me flossing). It will also be a nice opportunity to mention Knock Knock, seeing as it’s a prime feature of my why-I’m-fat story. I will keep you posted as to when in January this will air, and I promise to tell you how the whole Thursday experience goes, if (most likely) belatedly.


Because I am a glutton for punishment and adore my friend the-other-Jen, I reenacted the triathlon yesterday. Jen wanted something else to train for, so we agreed to redo it 30 days after the original, with the ever amazing trainers Tiffany and Robin coaching us. It’s getting really cold here, and I don’t have the appropriate clothing, so the fact that we got on our bikes wet was problematic. Also, the fact that I was riding a Fitness Ridge hoopty bike was problematic. I improved my time by a lot, though we’re not sure of the exact figure because Robin’s watch died. I think it’s around 1:45 vs. the original 2:10. I also realized at some point on the run that I was in fact running, not walking, because Robin walks 5 MPH and I couldn’t walk fast enough to keep up with her without running. It was sort of a Charlie Chaplin shuffle run, given my frozen, sore ass and inner thighs, but it was running, and tomorrow I’m going to try to run the flat parts of Stop Sign to see if I can make it in under an hour.

Tiffany reenacting her heat-drier warmth tactic of the first triathlon (we huddled in our cars until the last possible second this time).

Jen looking really radiant and beautiful, if at artily askew.

The two Jens, with yours truly looking a little wacko; the two fingers are for the second triathlon the two of us have done. I'm bummed we don't have a picture of Robin from this day - she was my coach, at my side every second, and is an amazing person to boot!


My friend Linda, who was here for my first week, arrived for a week – my bookend, my friend who’s here to cheer on the before and the after! It was so great to see her, such a treat.


Another guest told me there are polygamy tours. How did she find it? She googled “polygamy tours.” I kind of wanted to go because I think it’s just capital to gawk at people as if they are zoo animals, and because I knew Matt would want me to (shout-out number 2), but it turns out that it’s surprisingly expensive to see polygamists if one wants to be guided by a former polygamist.

In conclusion:

Over and out.


3 responses to “Nine down, one to go

  1. Jen- as always I am so proud of you. Now you have celeb status- impressive. Although I have never been one to be impressed by ones status, fame or money- I go for the heart of a person. You’ve always had that!
    I wish I could be there for your last week but I guess I can only be there in spirit. Enjoy your stay.
    I will be thinking of you on Thursday. Have fun and ENJOY.
    hugs- D
    Ps, as for the fertility dance- good luck with that. If it doesn’t work out I am a huge believer in Accupuncture.

  2. Jen,
    So happy for you! For finishing this, for getting to showcase your work and spirit on RRay, for making the most of this opportunity.

  3. Great update! Been waiting with bated breath to read a new one. There is so much to comment on with this one! The disappearing Jen! The videos! The animal cemetery! The Rachael Ray show! ONE WEEK LEFT! Oh, Jen…cannot wait to hear more stories and ask so many questions. I am so proud and amazed at what you’ve accomplished. Can’t wait for next week!

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