1200 Calories Per Day

1200 calories per day.  This may be the hardest part of my stay here at Fitness Ridge.  1200 calories is just not much food, but I can attest that one can live on this small amount – at least for two weeks.  I’m still alive.

To give you some perspective on what 1200 calories is, here are some 1200-ish calorie food items.  And remember, 1200 is all I get in one day – not per meal!

Big Mac, Medium Fries, Large Coke = 1230
Chili’s Texas Cheese Fries with Ranch (1/2 Order) = 1260
Chili’s Chicken Crispers (No Dressing) = 1210
Applebee’s Cheeseburger Sliders = 1270
Applebee’s Chicken Fried Chicken = 1230
Denny’s Heartland Scramble = 1150
Dairy Queen Large Snickers Blizzard = 1140

So…1200 calories is not a lot of food for an entire day.  No wonder I’ve felt lightheaded when I’ve stood up quickly over the past two weeks!  Here are some photos of some of the low-calorie (and sometimes low taste) food items I’ve eaten.  Some of the food has been tasty, but much of it has either tasted the same or not tasted good.  Don’t be deceived: even though you may be familiar with the name of the food, it doesn’t mean it will taste like you know it to taste!  I eat everything though, because when this is all you get, and you’re working out 7 hours a day…you eat it.

Wow! It Worked for Me!

Acupuncture. I’ve been skeptical about this procedure for years: sticking  needles in your body and miraculously feeling better.  What a joke.  But I’m not laughing anymore.

Three years ago, I hyper-extended my left knee on a grueling hike in the Pecos Mountains of New Mexico.  Since then, I have been unable to run or hike without pain.  During my first two days here at Fitness Ridge, the pain in my knee was pretty unbearable.  I was afraid that I would be limited in what I would be able to do for the rest of my time here.  I came here with a goal of giving 100% the entire time I’m here, but the more the pain increased in my knee, the less I could see this goal being accomplished.  So, last Tuesday night, I did something I never thought I would do: I saw an acupuncturist.  And without her, I wouldn’t have been able to strike this beastly pose high atop a mountain I climbed this morning!

Last Tuesday during the hike and in the gym, the pain was almost unbearable.  Acupuncture is the only treatment offered here, and several other guests here told me how much it helped them, so I decided to take the plunge.  And ever since my treatment last Tuesday night, I have felt no pain in my knee at all.  Nothing.  It’s quite amazing.  The procedure took about 45 minutes and included about 10 needles.  I only felt one of them go in, but it didn’t really hurt.  I was pretty sure this was going to be a waste of my time and money.  At the end of the painless procedure, the  acupuncturist put some tape around my knee and told me avoid downhill hikes and the treadmill for two days.  I was able to do hikes and gym work that avoided these things and was surprised when I felt no pain the next day.  But the true test came on Friday.  I removed the tape and went out on a hard hike.  Lots of inclines and steep drops.  I felt nothing!  After the hike, I headed to the gym and did some running on the treadmill.  Nothing!  No pain at all…and nothing ever since.  I’ve even begun training this week for a 5K race this Sunday evening in Albuquerque.  Through all of the running I’ve done so far this week…no pain – at all!

Acupuncture worked for me, and I thank God.  If not, I would have been sorely limited in what I would be able to do.  I don’t see it as anything more than the Lord using this technique to bring healing and relief to an area of my body that – up to this point – other forms of medicine and medical treatment could not.  If you’re still skeptical or spiritually concerned, here’s a good article for you to read. I don’t know if I’ll do it again, but so far, I’m 1 for 1 with acupuncture.  I may just allow my next big pain to first be needled before I head to my family doctor.

And by the way…I had a great conversation about the Lord with the acupuncturist the entire time the treatment was being done!

One Week Down. One Week To Go!

I’m enjoying the end of my 30-hour weekend break at the Biggest Loser Fitness Ridge Resort in Ivins, Utah.  It was physically the hardest week I have ever experienced in my entire life.  6 mountain hikes of 6-8 miles. 17 hours in the gym and 5 hours in the pool.  1200-1400 calories of food per day.

The payoff?  Good weight loss. Lots of new strength. And lower blood pressure.  Much lower!  This was my biggest issue heading into this two-week experience, and so far, I’ve seen it drop to levels I haven’t seen in years.  This is the most exciting thing for me, and as much as I know week two will be just as brutal as last week (or more brutal so say the trainers), I’m excited to see the results next weekend.  Here are some more pictures from week one, including some from our trip to beautiful Zion National Park today. You can click on the pictures to see them bigger.

 

Biggest Loser: Pool of Death

Don’t be deceived.  This may look resort-ish…but it’s not.  This may look like a great place to sun yourself while sipping on a pina coloda…but it’s not.  Such a thing is forbidden here.  No delightful drinks, and no lounging.  Looks are deceiving – for this is the “pool of death”.

Everyday, everyone gets their turn (in teams) in this dreadful “water chamber of torture” where for 45 minutes, we are put through the most difficult water exercises I’ve ever done.  As a matter of fact, some of the things we have to do I have never thought about nor would I think about doing to others – even on my most devious day.  The one exercise that is the most brutal is treading water in the deep end while keeping your hands above your head.  Unlike some of the people here, I don’t float.  I sink.  So trying to keep my head above the water without using  my hands is next to impossible.  And the trainers know my name, so I can’t get away with cheating.  They’re watching…with their bionic, beady eyes.

These classes in the pool are only one of four hour-long cardio or weight classes per day.  In addition to this, we hike anywhere from 5-8 miles each morning before breakfast on hikes that are harder than any hike I’ve ever taken (except this one 3 years ago), and I’ve taken quite a few around the state of New Mexico.  Needless to say, after a 2.5 hour hike and 4 hours of physically draining classes (including the pool of death), I’m shot by dinner.  I stay awake, though, as long as I can because sleep (no matter how much I want it) only leads to another day where it all starts over again.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m blessed to be here and am looking forward to the result of all this hard work at the end of the two weeks, but this is hard!  Hard exercise and hard not eating what I’m used to.  We’re only given 1200 calories per day (which is equal to one regular sized Oriental Grilled Chicken Salad at Applebees – which I love).  My hope is that my exercise regiment is enhanced and my food choices are changed after two weeks here.

Anyway…here are some more pictures.  You can click on them to see them bigger.

Biggest Loser: Day 1

“This is the longest day of my life,” I heard a woman exclaim during our last workout of the day.  We were in the pool and had been swimming and treading water for 40 minutes.  I was inclined to agree with her, but I was too exhausted to say anything.  I was just trying to keep my head above the water.  I have just completed my first full day at The Biggest Loser Fitness Ridge Resort in Ivins, Utah, and it was pretty brutal.

We started the day with an “evaluation” hike designed to see what kind of hiker we are.  The vans picked us up at 6:30AM and dropped us off at various trail heads in the beautiful southern Utah mountains.  My group was told we would go on a “moderate” 6 mile hike, but it didn’t take long to realize that our leader was setting a pace that was far more than moderate.  Two hours and 7.5 miles later, we finally returned to our vans.  We were told that because we went so fast, they decided to tack an extra 1.5 miles on to the hike.  This would have been fine if it would have been the only workout of the day…but it wasn’t.  We ate a 290 calorie breakfast then headed straight to the gym for a 45-minute “mountain” workout where we used a cardio machine to “climb” to ungodly resistance levels.  A 439 calorie lunch was followed by three additional one-hour workouts: weight/cardio circuit training, core training (a brutal workout designed to make mincemeat out of the stomach and back muscles), and then H2O intervals in the pool…where one of my teammates yelled out about this being the longest day of her life.

And now, it’s 8PM, and I’ve never been more ready for bed in all my life.  Sleep is so tempting, but sleep leads to day 2, which will include another early morning hiking marathon and 4 more intense workout hours.  I’ll be here for 2 weeks – which seems like an eternity right now, but I’m here with 70 other people, many who are having a much more difficult time than me.  It’s inspiring to see people with serious weight and medical issues working through pain and exhaustion in order to try to turn their lives around.  My goal is to lose some weight, learn how to eat better, and figure out a sustainable and effective exercise plan – all in two weeks.  A  major part of this is sleep, so I must be off to bed.  Here are some pictures from my hike this morning.

 

My Bucket List Just Got Bigger

I turned 40 last summer.  It really wasn’t a big deal because 5 days before my 40th, I became a grandpa.  That event overshadowed my birthday.  I had a much harder time wrapping my mind around becoming a grandfather than accepting that I had hit “the top of the hill.”  I did decide last summer that in light of this milestone, I wanted to run a 5K race or two to show the world (ok…just me) that I still had something left in the tank.  It was a bucket list kind-of thing.   So, I trained for a month or so and ran two 5K races with my son.  Both of them hurt…a lot.  I forgot how much running hurt, and I rediscovered why I quit my high school cross country team after my sophomore year.  But, I was proud of my accomplishments, and I even won a first place trophy for my age group in one of the races.  I display this proudly to this day – even though I happened to be the only runner in my age group that day.  I will turn 41 this summer, and it’s no big deal.  No bucket list ideas this summer.  That is until a few weeks ago.  A friend of mine invited me to join him on an adventure, and I decided that my bucket list needed to grow.

On Sunday, my friend and I will leave for an adventure where we will have the snot kicked out of us for two straight weeks.  We will be going to Ivins, Utah to participate in two-weeks of physical punishment at The Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge.  And please understand that the word “resort” is used very loosely – almost to the point of being misused, if you ask me.  For two weeks, we will wake up at 5:30AM and begin a regiment of physical exercise and training that will not end until dinner each day.  Oh, and meals.  Again, I feel like the word “meal” is being misused by the “resort.”  1200 calories a day.  That’s it! 300 for breakfast, 400 for lunch, and 500 for dinner.  Oh, I forgot snack time.  One hard boiled egg or 12 almonds.  That’s it.  No processed sugar; no dairy, no caffeine.  No pretzels, chips, candy, chocolate cake, apple turnovers, milkshakes…you get the point.

So, why would I do this, you ask?  Why would I take sacred vacation time away from my family, food, and couch to do something this brutal?  Well, I have been called crazy before…but I don’t think I am on this one.  I think I need this.  For the past 17 months, my brother (who is 6 years older than me) and I have been “weighing in” each weekend.  He lives in Michigan, and I live in New Mexico, but every Saturday morning, we compare weight and talk about food and exercise choices we’ve made the past week.  We do this because both he and I have some health issues that losing weight and physical fitness can probably solve, so we agreed 17 months ago to keep each other accountable.  Going to the “resort” will hopefully give me some new tools that I can use in my life and share with him so that both of us can continue to get healthier.

So, my bucket list is expanding.  I’m adding, “Spend two weeks getting my buns kicked and learning how to live a healthier life” to it.  Hopefully when I return, my mind will be bigger because of  the new tools and techniques I’ve learned, and my stomach will be smaller because I ran myself into the ground while eating the sticks and leaves the “chefs” there served me.

Naked in Church

Did you hear about the naked man who ran into church during a children’s musical rehearsal?  He didn’t begin his run in the buff, but unfortunately for him (and for all those who saw him), he ended up that way!  Here’s the story:

Michigan police say it all started when an officer pulled over a man in his late-twenties for loud music.  The officer suspected he had drugs, cuffed him, and frisked him.  The officer then found suspected marijuana, so the man took off running.  As he jumped over a nearby fence he lost his pants, underwear, and shoes.

In the buff below the belt, he then braved a barbed wired fence.  That’s where he lost his shirt.  Then, the completely naked man (except handcuffs) sprinted into the sanctuary of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church.

One parishioner said, “He asked for it wearing his pants below his knees. I know they wasn’t tight. I know they wasn’t secure.  So when he went over that fence he lost everything.”

My first though after reading this was: “Pants on the ground. Pants on the ground. Looking like a fool with your pants on the ground.”  My second thought was (as one born in Columbus and an avid Ohio State fan): ONLY IN MICHIGAN!