Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cameron's Journey: The Biggest Loser Fitness Ridge

Cameron started a blog while he was at Fitness Ridge, but (shocker) has lost interest and isn't doing it anymore- sorry Cam :). So I decided to transfer all his posts to our family blog because I think his stories are inspiring and something he'll never want to forget....
Sunday, October 23, 2011
First Day at Fat Camp!

I'm going to keep this short and sweet.  I have to go to bed.  I'm going to be blogging about my month here at Biggest Loser Fitness Ridge in Malibu CA as much as I possibly can.  This first week may be difficult since I will probably not be able to stand.  Tomorrow is the first full day here, it starts at 5:45 am and does not end until 7:30 pm.  When everything is wrapped up I will try to give you a more detailed account of days 1 and 2. Night night, Cam

 Sunday, October 30, 2011
What a Week!!!

I do not even know where to begin.  This last week probably changed me more than just about any other single week in my life.  I guess I should start with a little open disclosure on why I came to Fitness Ridge in the first place.  I will keep some things to myself but other things I think can be helpful to others that might be struggling with the same issues that I am.  I have always been a big guy, and who doesn't love to eat?  Once I moved to AZ that is where I saw the biggest turn for the worst.  I gained weight fast, and was just becoming more and more miserable.  Being big really takes a toll, not just physically but emotionally.  Not a second went by that I wasn't thinking about it.  If I was working, I was uncomfortable in a chair, if I was at a restaurant, an office, a house I was thinking about and hoping that they had seats/furniture to accommodate my size.  I tried to stay away from planes, I always wondered what others around me thought of me, whether it be a potential client that may not trust my skills as a business owner because I obviously couldn't care for myself, so how could I run a company, to the person that stared when I was in line at McDonald's, with that "He shouldn't be eating here" kind of look.  Sunday's were the worst day's, uncomfortable chairs at church and feeling fat as can be in tucked in church clothes.  I would sit there and try to sit up as straight as I could just to suck in a little, and that would make me hot, and uncomfortable.  You get the point.  Being fat sucks and it really takes its toll. For me it just made me irritable and angry.  It got to the point that the only thing that made me feel better was food, and not just any food, the worst food!  A few weeks ago I went to the market for Ash and when I pulled into the parking lot, I just sat there for thirty minutes.  I had no idea why, but I just did not want to do anything at all!  That's when it hit me.  I was sinking into real deal depression.

We had a lecture here the other day about emotional eating and food addiction.  The therapist here is super cool, and when she explained it, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I WAS ADDICTED TO FOOD!  Yes, just like a drug addict is addicted to drugs.  They are one in the same.  She explained how the brain functions and the different chemicals that are released when we do things that we enjoy.  Everyone has heard of serotonin.  It is released in our brain when we do something that we love, and it makes us happy!  When I ate food it made me happy and since I was doing a lot less of the other things that produce serotonin for me, eventually the only way for me to get that feeling was with food.  It throws your whole system out of whack, and it is a vicious cycle.  The fatter I became, the less I wanted to snowboard, or play hockey etc because those activities stopped producing that feeling.  They started almost feeling like work. Therefore, food was my only happy place.  It got to the point where I was coming up with errands to run so I could hit a drive thru!! That's bad folks!  Hearing all of this was such a wake up call.  I asked the therapist after the lecture if depression is a common side effect of food addiction, and she informed me that it was VERY common.  All of things that I HATED about being fat could only briefly be forgotten about by consuming the one thing that got me there in the first place!!  Scary stuff!

I can't come close to describing everything in two or three paragraphs but I hope that gives you a better understanding why I took such a drastic measure and left my family and job for a month to come here.  This place is crazy!  It is right in the middle of Calamigos Ranch in the Santa Monica mountains above Malibu CA.  I arrived Sunday Oct 23rd.  The place is really nice.  There is a central or main office and inside is our dining hall and spa.  Then outside there is a large pool and hot tub, then there are two large gyms.  One is an aerobic gym and the other has all of the cardio and weight equipment.  Our meals our all provided here and we eat right around 400 calories per meal, for a total of 1200 per day!  KILL ME!!  I have been instructed to eat a little more than that but that just means I eat a pile of beans and two bananas ;).  The main goal of this place is not just to exercise us to death, but to reformat our tbrains, and educate us how to get high volumes of healthy food without consuming lots of calories.  Its quite surprising how good the food is, and how filling it is.  My average lunch at home was 1000 calories and here that pretty much gets me through a day, and that's  with 7 hours of exercise.  It's pretty eye opening.  Its also crazy how basic the concept of weight loss is.  Calories in and calories out.  Easy to track them both.

Many of you have asked about the daily schedule here. I'll give you my schedule for tomorrow.

6am:   Stretch/yoga for 45 minutes in Aerobics gym 
7am:   Breakfast
8am:   Leave for hikes (these are killers, about 3 hours each)
11:15: H2O circuit training (HARD pool workouts)
12:15  Lunch
1:15    Open Gym (mandatory workout)
2:30    Core Training
3:30    Circuit Training
4:30    Mountain (Welcome to hell)
5:30    Dinner
6:15    Spending calories wisely lecture

The hikes vary in difficulty and they are by far and away the biggest fat melters.  I generally burn over 2000 calories on the hikes alone.  The hikes are hard for me, only because they seem never ending and boring.  I like the classes because you know when they are going to end and you just push yourself hard for 45 minutes and switch to something new.  I will say though, the 3 hours between 2:30 and 5:30 are a living hell!  These classes push you to your physical limits.  Every class has at least two world class trainers that REALLY care about you, and by that I mean that they are breathing down your necks at the slightest let up.  They really do genuinely care though and I think that is what makes this place so special.  The trainers are AMAZING!  On top of that you meet some incredible people here that are struggling with the same issues.  Its an awesome support system.  The other interesting thing about this place, is the amount of people here that are EXTREMELY successful.  This place isnt cheap to attend and it attracts folks from all over the world.  Just last week the CEO of NBC universal was here.  The stories you hear are amazing!  I have a handful of friends here already that I have no doubt will be friends of mine for life.

I could go on and on but I have to hit the hay.  I'll describe the workouts more in depth maybe tomorrow.  One last thing.  I am absolutely floored by the outpouring of support for me during this.  It has meant the world to me and has picked me up when I felt totally destroyed this past week.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  By the way, I lost 10lbs in 5 days and already shrunk an inch in the waist.  Not a bad first week.  More importantly though, my body is waking back up.  I can hike for hours with no back pain, and I can touch my toes again LOL!  Yoga and stretching do wonders for me.  Its unreal!  I love you all and I'll try to post more often. Loves and kisses, Cameron
 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  Tuesday, November 1, 2011  
Oh The Pain!

Two days down for the week.  First of all I would like to thank all of you for the amazing emails and comments.  Its so encouraging to see so many of you behind me.  This week has started off with a bang, that's for sure.  The workouts seem to have increased in intensity, but its very cool to see how my body is responding to it.  I really am getting in great shape.  Losing weight is really such a small part of the overall equation for me now.  I came here to break my horrible eating habits and to educate myself on how to live healthier.  Never did I imagine that I would be tuning up my body the way that I have been.  Its a whole new motivation.  When I arrived I wanted to break my bad habits and lose weight.  Now, I want to become a machine! I'm really starting to see the athlete coming out of hibernation.  Everyday I seriously almost break down into tears when I finish these workouts because I am so amazed that I just accomplished what I did.  I do some VERY hard workouts here, I sweat through four shirts a day, yet I am able to just keep pushing!  Its one of the most rewarding feelings that I have ever experienced.

I guess I should explain the subject line.  We hike between 5 and 8 miles every single morning, and no these are not leisurely strolls around the dirt roads of Malibu.  These hikes SUCK!  Horse trails and fire roads are everywhere here in the Santa Monica Mountains and wow do they kick my butt.  I lose on average about 7 to 8 thousand calories a day and a third of those burned calories come from the hikes.  Its insane.  Today was by far the worst hike of them all.  The trail is called Zuma Ridge and its a steep fire road.  The guides got us all excited about the frequent celebrity hikers up there, and of course we saw none, but what is worse is that this hike is a 10 to 12% grade uphill for 2.6 miles.  That may not sound bad to you, but it was a never ending uphill battle.  I mean, not one flat spot.  I had completely drenched my shirt in under 45 minutes, my hamstrings and quads were on fire, but of the 15 people in our group I was 1 of only five people to make it to the top!  I wanted to quit so many times, but wow did I feel good to get to the top!  What was even better was watching 400 pounds and gravity work so well together on the way down.  It was almost equally as hard going down as it was to go up.  It also turned my legs to mush and with toning and whats called cardio intervals still to come in the afternoon, I was worried.  I made it though and had one of the best/toughest days to date.

I'll stop there I think.  I love you all and keep the posts and comments coming.  They really push me!! Love, Cam
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Curse the Mountain!
Wow today was by far my most difficult day here!  The hike up Zuma Ridge yesterday really did a number on me.  I woke up so sore, and just thinking about hiking today made me want to get in my car and escape!  It was a real struggle.  Hiking is just so boring to me.  In the morning we meet for breakfast, which today was oatmeal (oh joy) and they announce our van hiking assignments.  I was trying to focus all of my new yoga zen energy LOL to have our van sent to the beach hike.  The beach hike is very mild and its right on the water and its amazing!  Of course that didn't happen and instead we were sent to a hike called Backbone Trail.  Its just a leisurely 6.5 mile hike up the MOUNTAIN!  I'm not going to lie, I was pissed this morning.  The breakfast sucked, and my body was hurting so bad, then to be sent to Backbone just kind of sent me over the edge.  I have not struggled very much here with lack of motivation, but today I was tested.  We arrived at the trail head and to avoid bringing my friends down with me I just put both head phones in and kept to myself.  Overall the incline of the hike was a lot better than yesterday but that just meant a faster pace, and usually after about 15 minutes my muscles wake up and burn less, but today it was not happening.  My Hamstrings, quads, and calves were on fire the whole hike.  What made it worse was some nasty Santa Ana winds and a nice dose of stinging nettle.  Yeah, of all days, today I rub up on stinging nettle!  Kill me!

We arrived back at the ranch and I jumped in the pool for H2O cardio intervals which are pretty tough.  I was still dragging a bit at this point, and what further depressed me was what the schedule looked like for the afternoon.  The first class after lunch is called MOUNTAIN!  Wow does it suck! You hop on a cardio machine of your choice and you progressively increase intensity every 3 minutes and you do that 12 times!  Its as if you are climbing a mountain.  By the time you are at level 8, things start getting a little gnarly, by the time you hit level 12 you want to die.  I will say though, I always feel really good about myself after a really tough, sweaty workout.  It actually cheered me up a bit.  I was even happier after finding out that my next class was kick boxing.  Kick boxing is what is ultimately going to get this guy skinny.  I truly love doing it, whats better about it is that there is no other exercise out there that you can lose 1000 calories faster.  When I love doing something I go all out, and I really saw that today.  I was absolutely drenched in sweat.  Then, I started dry heaving.  I was working my @$$ off!  It felt amazing, and our instructor called me off my bag to the middle of the gym to hit his mitts with a 4 punch combo.  I was swinging as hard and fast as I could, and I felt like a killer!  He made me repeat the combo 12 times, and just hearing those mitts echoing in the room pop, pop, pop,pop  jab, straight, jab, hook felt amazing! After all of this I still had another H2O class and I was dead to the world but happier!  I fought hard through it and after that final stretch in the pool I felt like a million bucks.  It was a VERY hard day mentally, and I overcame and worked hard!  It was an awesome victory!

To wrap up, and the timing of this is amazing considering the day that I had, but my sister in law Jami sends me a picture of my beautiful little niece Indie every single day with a motivational quote.  I really cherish these texts.  Today though was really incredible and I thought that I would share the quote:

"The moments when you feel like resting are the times that you should really push yourself the most.  That extra effort will pay off in the end, and you'll be proud of yourself for pushing."

This quote could not be more correct.  Today was the perfect example.  I was more down in the dumps today than ever, and it turned out being my most successful day, and it took everything in me during that last stretch of the day to not break down in tears at how much pride I felt at that moment.  This place is amazing!

To make this day even sweeter, there is a gentleman here named Troy who owns a major MMA company in Canada, and is also an avid hockey fan!  His favorite team is the Edmonton Oilers and they are in LA tomorrow night to play the kings.  We have become pretty good buddies here and he ended up buying four tickets on the glass at $400 a pop!  He approached me this evening and told me to be ready to leave by 5 pm tomorrow because one of tickets is mine!!!!! I'm so freaking excited!  front row glass seats for free baby!  What a way to end the day!  I sure love you all and absolutely LOVE reading the comments you post.  It keeps me writing. Goodnight, Cam
 Sunday, November 6, 2011
Week 2 in the Books!!
                  This is me on top of the NASTY Zuma ridge hike a few days back!  Wow it sucked!
                                                    This is me on my second day here.
        This shirt was dry 45 minutes prior to this photo.  Want to lose weight?? Than sign up for                                 a kickboxing class!  1400 calories in 45 minutes!!

I'm so proud of the week that I had.  I had some speed bumps that for sure.  Mostly my joints just screaming uncle.  Got the knees and ankles treated and only had to miss one hike, and one class.  I have not weighed in yet but I am pretty sure that it is going to be a good result.  I stuck to the food plan very well and I worked out really hard.  Im really starting to see the permanent change happening here.  For the first time, I dont look at my weight loss as some huge wall that I might as well not even start climbing.  Its a marathon to be sure, but I am off to a great start!  Like I said before, it's as simple as calories in and calories out.  I think the other advantage that I have now is how in shape I am!  I haven't felt like this for years.  When you are in good shape, which you can be in even though you carry extra weight, it makes working out not seem like such a chore!  It also enables you to get a better more intense workout in.  If you want to lose weight, I suggest getting with a trainer and getting yourself in shape to start your weight loss program. In other words, dont look at your weight loss goal as some insurmountable wall, but as a two part program.  Spend two weeks conditioning yourself, then start your program.  Then those first two weeks when things are really hard, you wont treat it as a part of the long term program, you are working towards a much shorter more attainable goal.  Once you start feeling in shape and comfortable again, its amazing how the motivation to stick with it follows, and how much that working out does not seem like work at all.  I hope that all made sense.

After those first few weeks when pants start fitting looser, medical issues disappear, tying your shoes gets easier, you start fitting in chairs again, you find that when you climb a set of stairs that you are barely breathing at all, and your confidence sky rockets, that it is going to be very simple to follow through this time.  It also changes your outlook on your weight loss goal.  3 Weeks ago, I thought to myself, I need to lose 150 pounds, and that just seemed impossible.  Now though, I look at it as something that WILL happen in the very near future.  I dont have to focus on the number (lbs) anymore because if I just keep living this lifestyle then its automatically going to happen eventually.  Its so refreshing to see it in that light.  Bottom line, I FEEL GREAT RIGHT NOW!! Ill only feel better as I progress, but its great because the way I feel right now shifts my focus away from the BIG number or goal which very easily sidetracks us all.  Now its more of a day to day thing.  I LOVE IT!!

I know some of you wanted to hear more about our workouts here, sorry for not answering the questions.  Ill get to it I swear.  I sure love you all and really appreciate the support.  Have a great Sunday, and if you want to start getting in to shape again then on Monday, get off of your @$$ and do it.  I highly recommend hiring a trainer though.  Their knowledge is priceless and you will feel so much better so much faster with their help.  They are also GREAT for accountability.  When you are out of shape, its so easy to go easy on yourself, a trainer will push you past that. Loves and kisses, Cslice
Monday, November 14, 2011
One More Week To Go!

I'm so glad that it is almost over!!  This has been a life changing experience for sure, but wow do I miss my little family.  This last week went by SO fast.  I guess I will try to start from the beginning.  If you have read this before, you know that we hike every single freaking morning.  There are 3 vans for hiking.  There is a beginner van, and intermediate van, and an advanced van.  I was moved to the advanced van on Monday and had no idea of the hell that I was in for.  The hikes this week seemed to all be 6 miles long and straight up hill.  It really gets so frustrating sometimes, because you turn a corner and pray that around that corner you will find a 10 foot flat spot, but noooooooooooooo, on the advanced hikes you turn a corner and see a 2 mile stretch of fire road that climbs the whole face of a mountain.  Lets just say that on a couple of hikes this week, I was a little bit ornery.

It was cool to feel the improvements in my fitness again this week, and it was also cool to have to buy new shorts because the ones that I have been wearing for the last 3 years fall off.  Around Thursday though, I was hitting a high high wall.  My body just felt exhausted.  I pushed through it the best that I could, but once friday rolled around, that became difficult.  My right knee and ankle are whats giving me the most grief for sure.  I did a good job of resting this weekend though, so I should be ready to go hard this last week.

So I finally weighed in this week, which I had been putting off only because I did not want a number to discourage me if it was low.  My shorts fell off and my belt was down to its last hole, and that was all of the motivation that I needed last week.  But this week they wanted my data and after 3 weeks I have lost 25 pounds.  At first I was a little bummed, but quickly reminded myself how many inches I have lost in my waist, chest, and gut.  This isnt the show, this is a "reset" button.  I still have a very long way to go, but right now I am in the best shape of my life.  Everything I do from getting in and out of cars to tying my shoes has become so much easier, and I never want to lose that feeling again.  So what I am saying is that I am VERY happy with my progress.  I truly do feel like a different man.  I also have a feeling that this last week will be my best.  I committed to participate in even another class everyday this week, its going to be very difficult, being that I am already working out 7 hours a day, but whats another hour?? So wish me luck!

I have been telling you all that I was going to write more about the program, and I am sorry for putting it off.  I will do a more in depth blog about the place with pictures before I leave, I swear.  I will give you a brief explanation though, on our daily routine.  Everything here is about calories in and calories out.  Most of our daily workouts revolve around cardio, that frustrates me sometimes, but since muscle mass weighs more than fat, that doesn't look to good at your final weigh in.  Many people that come here only stay for a week and they really want that number!  Therefore, a lot of us stay overs do our own strength training, because we realize that the "number" means nothing!  Our day starts at 6 am with a stretch/yoga class.  We then head to the dining room and get our cute little 400 calorie breakfast and then head out for the hell hikes.  We get back around eleven and do a class called liquid moves or H2O intervals.  These pool classes are so great for us bad knee people, but believe it or not, they are super tough workouts.  Lots of swimming against currents, sprinting, under water weights, and bands.  We also tread water with big rocks in our hands etc.  The water classes get your heart pumping for sure.  My best investment here was some of those five finger toe shoes for the pool.  Those things are unreal.

After pool, we have another dainty 400 calorie lunch.  It is amazing though, how much food that you can eat and still be around that calorie count.  I will say that I never leave a meal hungry.  Which blows my mind.  After lunch we have lectures, then we have an hour of open gym.  From 2:30 to 5:30 though, we get killed.  It all starts with one of four training classes.  Mountain, cardio intervals, treading, and circuit training.  All of these are very difficult .  We then switch to the aerobics gym and have a core class, toning class, a ball works class (HELL), and a kickboxing class.  everyone of these classes are super tough as well.  For the third hour you can choose between another hour of cardio or another pool class.  I usually take the pool.  We then have dinner and another lecture and then we are free.  I am burning an average of 7 to 8000 calories a day.  Its super intense.

One part of this trip I havent really mentioned are the people.  I have met some friends that I hope to keep for life.  Especially Darrell and Vicki Martin from Dallas, and my good buddy Kate Taylor from Raleigh NC.  We have all become very close, and since Darrell and I are two peas in a pod, poor Kate and Vicki are generally busy shaking their heads or rolling their eyes at our shenanigans.  They are great sports though, and such wonderful support for us.  Love them all to pieces.  Another HUGE part of this program are the trainers.  They are all amazing people!!  They have such an authentic enthusiasm, its so much more than a pay check to them.  Every hike we have 3 guides, and in every workout session, there is a lead trainer and an assistant trainer.  I can honestly say that there is not one staff member here that I don't like, and if you know me , that's a miracle.

I'm super tired, so I am going to cut it off there.  I love all of your support and encouragement.  I will need it more than ever this week, so thank you in advance.  Love you all, Cam
Thursday, November 17, 2011
The Finish Line!

This has been a very interesting week so far.  When you are this close to being done, it is extremely difficult to stay focused on the task at hand.  When Monday rolled around, I just could not stop thinking about how much I have missed my family, and I really thought about banking my last week.  That means that for a fee, I can come back whenever I would like to finish my last week.  It hit me though, that that is a huge factor in my weight issues.  I realized that this would probably be the most beneficial week of the 4 that I have been here.  I have really turned a corner, and I feel so strong right now.  So I decided to put my head down and just get it over with.  I will say that just about everyday this week has been a struggle to focus and get going, but I am proud to say that I have worked out in the gym harder this week than any other week here.  Yesterday made me especially proud.  After lunch we have 3 classes straight between 2:30 and 5:30 pm.  They are very tough classes.  There is an optional class offered at 1:15 and yesterday it was spin class.  I promised Ashley that I would try it once while I was here.  While I was sitting at lunch, I just kept saying, Im too tired to spin, it was excuse after excuse.  I finally decided to buck up and get it done.  WOW was it tough!  I absolutely loved it though.  In 45 minutes I burned 972 calories and was drenched in sweat.  15 minutes after that, I went to a cardio class called mountain, I sweat through another shirt and burned another 850 calories, I changed AGAIN, then it was right on to kick boxing, another 950 calories, and of course another t shirt!  Then it was of to H2O intervals and wow was I exhausted!  After all was said and done, I sat in my room before dinner and thought about what I was like just three and a half weeks ago.
I could barely hike a mile.  I could not touch my toes, and if I hit 160 heart rate, it lasted about 2 minutes before I thought I would die.  But yesterday, in all 3 classes, spin, kick boxing, and mountain, I averaged a heart rate of 168 bpm for 45 minutes at a time.  I could not believe it.  I also hike on average, 5 to 6 miles a day, and these are not tinker toy trails either.  This place has changed my life.  As hard as it has been, it has been totally worth it.  I really feel like I have changed, and I am actually excited to put my new habits to the test in the "real world".  I have a long way to go still, but it is amazing how much easier it is to workout hard and to stick to a diet when your body feels like mine does now.  It is a feeling that I never want to lose again!  I cant wait to play hockey and snowboard again!! I also cant wait to run around with my kids and not breathe hard.  More than anything else, I feel so grateful to be able to hold my head high again!  No more sad fat man here.  Life is exciting again!!  So I will leave it at that for now.  Thank you so much for carrying me through this over this last month.  2 more days to go!!  I will post my final numbers on Saturday!  Good night!
This was all Cam posted. We are so proud of him for going through all that not just for himself, but for our family. We are hoping to reach new milestones this next year and excited to see the change in him both physically and emotionally. I can't speak for Cameron, but being his spouse I have already noticed how much the ranch has changed his life for good. He is doing what he loves, going after goals he never would have, and happier than I've seen him since we got married. Needless to say, we are happier as a family and will never regret having him leave for an entire month to change his life. Hugs and kisses to you Cameron, we love you!

When Cam got home he flew straight to Pasco for Thanksgiving. Here's a few pictures of meeting him at the airport and the family seeing him for the first time in way too long...

Taya sneaking up on him :) ...