Finally – the denouement (11 weeks down, -1 weeks to go)

Last hike at Fitness Ridge

Can you believe I left you hanging like this? Inexcusable, so I will not attempt to offer excuses (though you can rest assured that I am very good at concocting excuses – witness Knock Knock’s oeuvre of excuse-themed product, currently this and that, not to mention year-over-year weight gain).

It was really hard to leave the Ridge. In fact, if it hadn’t been for (a) one of my closest childhood friends, Arielle, coming to visit on 12/18; and (b) the fact that I do need to return to my real life and job and home at some point, I would have chosen to stay at Fitness Ridge for another two months. As mentioned before, my super-power is mono-focus, and my kryptonite is balance. I have loved the opportunity to dedicate myself fully to exercise and nutrition, loved the feeling of rapidly increasing fitness, loved the sense of growing athleticism. Loved the lack of responsibilities, loved the focus only on myself, loved the love. What’s not to love? While I understand that some Ridgers begin to rebel against the structure and regimen, projecting parents and teachers onto the trainers and instructors, I felt so lucky, throughout the experience, to be there, that I think I could have kept on going for quite a while. And how wonderful it would have been to have left in maintenance mode, at my goal weight, vs. having to continue to lose as a civilian.

Not to mention that it was sad to leave all my new friends, staff and guests alike. Casual, daily, ambient socializing is something that’s missing from adulthood. We had it in dorms and school and maybe the bars and parties of our early twenties, but for the most part, it’s now dinner every six weeks from 7:00 to 9:00 for the newsletter conversation. And if you meet someone new who intrigues you, it’s straight to face-to-face getting to know each other. At Fitness Ridge, as with earlier stages in our lives, we got to know one another in side-by-side, rather than face-to-face, activities, and with prolonged, pressure-free exposure. Not to mention all the comraderie of the shared experience, and some of the bonding us-versus-them in reference to the non-workers, non-triers, and narcissistic, self-centered idiots (not that there were many of those, but they were present enough to bond us against them!).

Friday, December 11, was really my last day, my last hike (which, due in part to the weather, consisted of me and three guides – talk about personal attention!), my last fitness classes. I especially sad to boogie at my last Cardio Disco Jam, a class that I would never have taken before Fitness Ridge, but which John makes so accessible and fun – the perfect last-class-of-the-day Friday activity.

Bethany photographing Donna's visit with Santa

On Friday evening, Bethany, Claire, Genevieve, Donna, Tricia, and I went out for a celebratory dinner at Red Mountain Spa – all but Bethany were leaving Fitness Ridge, and all were multi-weekers. Then we went to the last two minutes of the live nativity (made Christianity seem to have appeared rather quickly) at the Tuacahn Amphitheater, right under the red rock, where the poor camel who lives behind Tuacahn high school year-round makes his or her appearance to add verisimilitude to the whole in-a-manger-with-wise-men-and-myrrh thing. Poor camel – we seem him bored and cooling his hoofs in a too-small pen when we hike Saddle.

Claire with her joking crush Trevor, and the picture of him she was going to steal from the Fitness Ridge hall walls

When I woke up Saturday morning, it was so cold and snowy that I just couldn’t fathom venturing to Stop Sign for that last hike. Slippery, freezing, and, on some level, unnecessary. I did my final weigh-in – 41.4 pounds lost total, with also gazillion inches and percentage points (body fat, BMI) shed, but I don’t have all those numbers at hand as I compose this over a soy chai at Peet’s. My stretch goal for the 10 weeks was 50 pounds, while I knew I would be overjoyed with 40. I would have hit 50, I think, were it not for the bouts of extracurricular bingeing – I’m guessing they cost me a pound a week. Will still have to manage to get those under control, darn them.

Can you blame me for not hiking on my last day?

So rather than go to the gym as an alternative to hiking in the blizzard, I realized I was kind of out-of-there in my mind already, so I switched modes to packing and closing up shop. I had been planning on driving halfway late on Saturday, halfway on Sunday morning, then spending the day and night with my grandmother in San Diego, but was able to leave earlier on Saturday and go the whole distance, then get back to LA on Sunday night. Unfortunately, it was a hellacious drive thanks to the weather.

I had a lovely visit with my grandmother, including a heartwarming trip to Nordstrom where I learned I’d dropped three sizes and am dangerously close to being able to wear non-plus-sized clothing. Hallelujah – fat shopping sucks.

Terrible iPhone picture of my beloved grandmother

I got back to LA on Sunday night and was greeted by very happy dogs, ah, I love them so, though I am feeling terribly guilty in noticing that I did not at all mind having responsibilities for no mammals whatsoever while I was at the Ridge.

Monday went on my favorite hike in the Palisades and was promptly reminded that I wasn’t in Utah anymore – honking, drivers cursing, not to mention a mean walking-in-the-street pedestrian when I was parking the car. Not only are Utahns (yes, that’s spelled correctly) pretty darn friendly, probably in no small part thanks  to the Mormon culture, but it’s a crushing truism that overcrowding begets crank. As in crankiness. But probably crank, also.

Then off to the hairdresser before my office reveal – which was s

o wonderful and heartwarming and delightful. It may be that I have very little personal life, but when you have such a good professional life, it’s not as bad as you’d think. I am so luck to love the people I work with, and they could not have welcomed me with more open and loving arms. They are genuinely happy for my success and rooting for the goals I have for myself. How many people can say that? They had flowers and champagne at the ready and we sat around drinking – I think I may have been the only one who got tipsy, in part because I’m now a cheap date, in part because, as the boss, I can drink as much as I want – until early evening.

Moment of walking in the door at work for the big reveal

Jim and Megan! Jim and Megan! (The only picture Carolyn took of me with anybody other than dogs.)

Puppy symmetry.

The previous week, I was informed that I was not needed at the office, except for a few miscellaneous things, until January 4 – can you believe the generosity of that? – which would allow me to make the transition back as well as spend time with my Arielle and work on her book. So over the last week I’ve been pretty flexible and relaxed, and trying, somewhat unsuccessfully, to chart out my post-Fitness Ridge health plan.

I’m starting to ramble at this point, so I will conclude this posting – and I will keep posting, if erratically, and if off-topic – with a few notes.

  • It’s been disorienting to return home, to the lack of structure and fitness dedication.
  • It’s harder to work out vigorously when people aren’t pushing you.
  • I’ve exercised every day except one since I’ve been home, for at least an hour, but it doesn’t feel like enough, and it hasn’t been high-intensity (except one foray to an amazing, but expensive, circuit-training class – boy those people are in good shape, and I will tell you that the instructor said I was one of the best first-timers they’d ever had, and that really in-shape people – he specifically referenced triathletes – had their asses kicked by these classes).
  • I’ve been eating well, especially since Arielle arrived.
  • My goal these two weeks is to experiment with cooking and fitness so I have a good routine come January 4.
  • I may put my house on the market in April rather than January, when the plantings have come in and families are on the house hunt. And Russ did an amazing job with the landscaping while I was gone – perhaps I will post pictures one day.
  • My weight is still trending down – perhaps by two pounds – since I returned.
  • I love having Arielle here.

Exercise with dogs, Venice-style.

Note the lack of snow.

I am so grateful to everybody for the support and love and interest in this whole process. For the moment, I will plan to keep on posting – not sure how frequently, not sure on what topics, though for the near future, I think I will stick to fitness.
Wow. Life-changing.
Over and out.

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6 responses to “Finally – the denouement (11 weeks down, -1 weeks to go)

  1. I found your blog while researching Fitness Ridge, and have followed it for the past couple of weeks. I was anxiously waiting to about your final results. Great Job! It’s also great to hear what a wonderful experience it has been for you. It makes me very anxious to get started on my transformation. While I do have weight to lose; my biggest hope is to fundamentally change my mind set so that I turn into someone who exercises regularly, and eats to live, not lives to eat. Thanks for sharing ..

  2. Hi, Jen!!! I have been waiting on your “post-Ridge” blog entry!! LOL!! It was great meeting you there and I wish I could have stayed longer!! You are totally right about trying to enter back into the “real world”! It is sooo hard and with so many temptations! I was only gone 2 weeks and so I can imagine the transition for you after having been away from your home for so long!… It was definitelyHARD work, but def fun too!! I would do it again…!

  3. oh…I forgot to mention…you have inspired me to “look into” researching, possibly maybe oneday sometime might do a triathlon of some sort! LOL! Any good books or websites on how to train?

  4. You are so beautiful!!! I can’t believe how absolutly wonderful you look. Although I miss the no make-up, gym clothes look (and feel) of Fitness Ridge if you look hard you can find some programs or classes. Spinning is great, and then you only have to work upper body!!! It’s sort of a two-fer! Love ya, Jan

  5. Hey, Jen! Even though I was there when you got your final results, I’m excited all over again just reading this. It’s just the beginning for you…I’m sure you’ll find a way to carry on with this in the real world. Maybe you should come to my 5:45 am spin class with me tomorrow…hottie Randy is teaching it! Although it would be a bit of a commute. Enjoy the beautiful southern Cal weather with your pups!

  6. Hey Jen! I’m so glad you put an “after” post for all of us. I am so happy you are still so upbeat and positive, good on ya girl. I’ll be at Fitness Ridge April 19th for 2 weeks, I’d love to catch up with you. You look fantastic and I’m sure feel pretty good too. Happy Holidays. Keep in touch. Jeanne.

    p.s. today was my last day at work. YEE HAA!

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