I’m back. Tell your friends.
In case you’ve fantasized about being on The Biggest Loser, one of three resorts affiliated with the show is the next best thing.
Of course, there’s no $250,000 prize. You’re the one shelling out the money. And for me, that’s the incentive. To stick to it because the investment was too great.
I don’t know much about how the TV show contestants are selected, because truth be told, I never watched the show in its entirety.
The week I was at the Malibu, CA, resort, there were all kinds of people looking for a kick in the butt. A couple training for a triathlon. A woman in a wheelchair. And me.
There were people from down the street and around the world.
And people who’d won the chance to be in this $2,700-a-week bubble alongside multimillionaires. Big guns from the finance, athletic and artistic worlds. And little ‘ole folks like moi.
We were all in rehab together. All’s fair in calorie-counting and circuit-training.
The head trainer at the resort told me the exercise regimen there is actually harder than the show. And the equipment at the resort is on a par.
Big difference: Us campers at the resort could do it at our own pace.
Still, we were expected to show up for all activities. If we didn’t, the staff would be after us.
And who were these staffers? Not Jillian from the show. But some of the show people often showed up at the resort, which I’m told was in the same neighborhood.
On the Malibu resort staff were a former architect, a former NFL cheerleader, a former prison worker and a former hand-holder at an L.A. rehab that catered to lots of celebs. This, he said, was much more rewarding because unlike the celebs who didn’t give a damn, the resort guests give the grueling program their all.
There’s the aforementioned chiropractor on staff. Otherwise, I’m told there are no other medical personnel. Guests are responsible for checking with their doctors before making the reservation. Weekly assessments — which begin almost the moment you arrive — include weigh-in and measurements.
A former show contestant who now works for the Utah resort told me that compared with the show, the resort is nirvana. Less spartan, much more luxurious.
I had to agree after a week of that food. The executive chef used to do the same job, but in places where calories were no object. He now teams up with the resort dietitian, making much healthier versions of the same cuisine. And the chef’s also lost some weight as a result.
Some of his secrets:
Hershey’s (or any) dark chocolate chips, melted, to coat strawberries. I’ve had this (too) many more times at home already. Raspberries work great, too.
Vegenaise dressing for wonderful vinaigrette. Tastes like mayo. Really.
Better than Bouillon soup stock. Also vegan. Liked it. Not kidding.Whole-grain versions, of course, of the evil white stuff.
Salt, honey and pure cane sugar. No artificial sweeteners? I’m a chef, he tells me resolutely. I use real food.
The dietitian tells me the menu is in full compliance for all kinds of medical conditions.
Even though some naughty ingredients are used, the amounts are so small. And that’s not what brought these people here, he explains. I get it.
BTW, a fellow camper told me at the end of the week that his diabetes, which was so out of control that insulin was looming in his future, was now well within normal limits. Amazing.
My problem, like so many others, was emotional eating. Every reason in the book besides hunger. There’s a psychologist on staff who knows all about that. She lost nearly 100 pounds herself, and knows how hard it is to keep it off. Told us wen she engages in her daily exercise, she repeats the word maintenance to herself over and over — in case she doesn’t feel like it that day to remind herself.
So, to sum up, as I finish the last of my chocolate-covered raspberries here at the home office in Lancaster, nearly a month later: The Biggest Loser Resort may or may not be for you. There are certainly others out there: Pritikin and Canyon Ranch are two that come to mind. All depends what you’re looking for. I liked The Biggest Loser’s boot camp/support system aspect.
If you go:
Make sure you have a good handle on your health and your limitations. Especially since you have to sign a medical waiver when you get there.
Make sure you have comfortable shoes and substantial socks to help ward off blisters. As I learned the hard way, this isn’t the time to break in these cute new Nikes. Just Don’t Do It.
Speak up if some of the exercise isn’t your speed, or if you’re hurting. No need to be ashamed. I wasn’t. Thought I had blisters, but turned out it was bunions that slowed me down on hikes. Up until that point, I hadn’t a clue what a bunion was. Now I know. Oh, joy.