Every day when you choose to use (the internet), you are bombarded by the latest and greatest in Health & Fitness. Whether it’s an article about Oprah and the 12 million dollar weight-loss tweet, or how to burn fat by eating only sponges for a week, you will see it on your feed. How appropriate that we call it a “Feed”. Sooner or later we all cave in and go for the gusto with a new diet, workout plan or both.
In the spring of 2014 I decided to participate in a program here in Vegas by a local fitness club. It was a popular boot camp program that promised to help you get in shape and the goal was to lose 20 LBs in 6 weeks.
At the information session, they talked all about health, paraded around success stories, pointed at pictures on the wall and said fun things like “You’re fat for a reason.” and “You didn’t get fat on accident.” Super uplifting. The owner of the gym told his “Inspiration Story” and about his “ah-ha” moment that sparked his fitness journey.
Long story short(ish), he created this program and started seeing people line up for it. So he opened it up to everyone. It started by attending the informational session where he and his coaches would determine if you were eligible for the program. Once they told you that you were (we all were), then you had the honor of forking over a $200 deposit that you would get back IF you lost the 20 lbs. If you didn’t, then you were supposed to consider it an “investment in yourself.”
The program came with personalized nutrition coaching, weekly weigh-ins, and a commitment from you to follow the nutrition plan, and to commit to 6 days a week of attending bootcamp. If you didn’t adhere to that, you would be kicked out of the program. Always great to start with a threat right?
Being competitive by nature, I went for it. I was unemployed and teetering on broke, but I ponied up the $200. I attended the first weigh in, which was somehow a full WEEK before the classes started and was given my personalized nutrition consultation. This consisted of being handed a print out with a list of foods I was allowed to eat and then being encouraged to buy a protein shake from them that was to be my first meal of the day, every day during the program.
The food list was the most restrictive thing I’d ever seen. In addition to our chemical laden protein shake, we were only allowed to eat white fish or ground turkey. Egg whites only, and green vegetables. Brown rice, quinoa or a small sweet potato. No dairy. No fruit. No nuts or seeds. Only water. You were allowed to cook with 2 tbsp of olive oil a day. No coconut oil, ghee, avocado oil. ONLY olive oil. They also encouraged you to take a dose of KEY LIME PIE flavored fish oil (disgusting), and to use some crap line of products that was originally designed for diabetics that is “sugar free” and FILLED with every freaking chemical under the sun. I refused to do any of that, so I was left with fish oil pills and only the whole foods on the list. None of the syrups, sauces, salad dressings, salsas, etc. I will also mention that this “personalized” list was given to all women. The same damn list. So they really took height/weight/body type/nutritional deficiencies in to account.
Anxious to get started, and silencing my inner voice that said “this food list is FUCKED UP”, I decided to have a binge farewell of pizza and ice cream and then started the plan three days before the boot camp classes started.
We had our first day of boot camp which consisted of such aggressive work outs that most people threw up. I did not. I was still working my way towards a level of misery I’ve never experienced before, but I didn’t throw up. I was a “winner” and the instructor immediately took note. Many of my fellow boot campers were so overweight that they could not do a single jumping jack. We won’t even talk about the burpees. Yep. We did burpees the first day. And sprints. We lifted heavy weights, pushed boxes around and pounded ropes on the ground. I will take this moment to add that there was ZERO instruction on technique, form, modifications, etc… Zilch. Just a steady stream of “You can do it! You don’t wanna be fat anymore! That’s why you’re here! You wanna be quitters your whole life?!” It felt wrong. The soccer player in me knew there were rules. The trained singer and dancer in me knew there were techniques to be taught before you begin. Again, they didn’t have any clue who we were, why we were undertaking this challenge, what our backgrounds were, or any previous health issues. Some people later confessed that they had never worked out a day in their lives. Never played a sport, never taken a dance class. No physical activity of any kind other than walking to and from a destination. My only saving grace was that at 175lbs, I was a dancer, was flexible, and had played competitive sports my entire life. So while I was huffing and puffing and wanting to murder someone, I was back in my element. I could barely get out of bed but I was alive. I could do this.
*Stick around for Part II of this post.