One can for every pound I lose...bring it!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

ARRIVING GUESTS: tips ~ advice ~ photos

DISCLAIMER: of course, this is only a collection of MY opinions and tips and advice. What worked for me might not work for you! Hope you enjoy your time at the "ranch"!  (P.S. I'm in Malibu)

I've gathered a few things that I thought might help the folks who are coming and while they're fresh in my mind (cuz I'm still here) I wanted to share.

First of all, you're investing time and money to be here. It's an incredible experience and you want to enjoy it all! My goal was to avoid getting hurt while pushing myself to an acceptable limit and then pushing a little further. Mission accomplished. Not one blister, not one injury.  Here's what I think about:

  • When you sit in the dining room, they may or may not notice that you're there, so try and catch the eye of your server - they are a bunch of really nice people and are all over the place. So you can say something like "Hi, can I have my meal?" (at first I was embarrassed to do this, but hunger motivated me outside my comfort zone!) They serve you one course at a time so you may have to do this several times. Don't be shy.
  • The meal board will list what you are having for breakfast, lunch dinner & dessert along with the calorie count for each item and then a grand total on the bottom.  
  • After breakfast and lunch they will offer you a snack of either a chilled hard-boiled egg (75 calories) or 12 almonds (100 calories). The egg is on a plastic bag and needs to be eaten within 2 hours for food safety. I went with the almonds & brought them on the hike. They look pitiful but really do hit the spot. If they forget to ask YOU if you want a snack make sure you ask THEM. These are also additional calories to what's on the menu board.
  • There's a salad bar that's really nice. Just beware that these calories will be above & beyond what is listed on the meal board. You have to ask for dressing - they have it portioned out perfectly and have a few different flavors. My tip is to eat your meal first and THEN have a salad if you feel you need it. The food is really filling. I've only eaten a salad once, and couldn't even finish it! They have a list of everything that's on the salad bar along with calorie counts to help you plan.

  • At the end of the salad bar is fresh fruit - bananas, apples & oranges. You may have ONE piece of fruit (of course you can take another one but it will add to your calories. I say if you're gonna do it, do it right and do what they tell you!) - just beware they have some HUGE bananas that could be almost 200 calories! Stick with a small one. I like to slice it in my granola.

  • DON'T bring outside food with you "in case you get hungry." They really have it down to a science here - and besides, you're kind of supposed to be a little hungry as your body adjusts. Trust the process and don't set yourself up with temptations. The food is quite filling.
  • Try adding fiber to your diet prior to coming to give your digestive system time to adjust.
  • IF you are allergic or really have a gag reflex to certain foods (like me with olives) tell them (they probably already asked when you made your reservation) - and you will get a little yellow card to place at your table setting so the servers are aware and can adjust your meal accordingly. The kitchen also has a list. JUST BEWARE to be vigilant about this - I had olives twice. Bleh.
  • I encourage you to be open to trying new foods. Stuff I would NEVER have ordered at a restaurant (like carrot or parsnip soup and green pizza) wound up being delicious. However if you just can't stomach the idea of what they are serving, you can gets eggs & toast or a Boca burger or granola with almond milk. Just ask.
  • DO go to the "optional" stretch & core classes. I know they're at 6am but it's the best start to your day. They are very peaceful and low lighted and just get your body ready for an intense day of exercise.

  • In the classes where there are weights involved, and they tell you to pick one heavy & one light, go for the purple & gray weights. I also picked a green for the biceps. People tried to go He-Man and were hurting. Some of the exercises involve triceps and you don't need much weight to work that muscle (again, my opinion...and I was doing strength training twice a week)

  • Try to get to class about 5-7 minutes early so you get the machine/weights/spot you want. I know this doesn't leave much time to get ready but it's worth it.

  • Speaking of time...there's literally like 11 minutes between the back to back classes. Since rooms are spread out this can be challenging (especially if you have a pool class). There's a little more time after the hike, and after lunch to chillax a little.

  • On the HIKE ASSESSMENT day, don't treat it as a race! I went at a pace that was comfortable for me. This is really important because it will determine the hikes you go on (more challenging vs. less challenging) Some people were literally running. My hike guide (with me in the back, ahem) told me it's a common mistake and people pay for it later in the week. Don't go SLOW just go at a pace you think you can maintain the rest of the week. If you're here for more than a week they re-assess every Monday. I was considered an "intro" level and I still got some ridiculous workouts on my hikes!!

  • IF you have an injury you can swap out a class for a pool class - you just need to ask a trainer. I did this twice when my knee was ready to give out. Some days you have a choice of an aqua class or an aerobics/gym class. I went with the aqua class every time (it is 40 degrees back home in PA so I will be in the pool as much as I can!)- just keep in mind doing this may mean two pool classes in a row. The nice thing is they change them up so it's not like the same workout twice.
Let me start by saying I am a research queen. I love to find the "best" shoes for hiking and the "best" socks, etc. Well, best investment EVER will be on the footwear you bring. I have not had one blister because I followed advice.

The hiking shoes are a MUST. I got the Keen Voyageurs and they were incredible. Comfortable right out of the box. People tell you to go down half a size in the Keens but I got my right size & they were perfect. Really helped me grip the sand or rocky terrain and keep sure footing. I got mine from Dick's Sporting Goods (online - I had googled a coupon). Do NOT wear sneakers on the hikes, you'll be sorry!

THESE SHOES ARE AWESOME (I do not work for Keen)

  • The socks that were recommended were the Wrightsock Cool Mesh II. I found a great deal at (again, if you sign up for their email you'll get coupon codes) - keep in mind you'll be changing socks twice a day and might not have time to do laundry (I snuck it in one day.) These say "blister free guaranteed" and they mean it! Once you get a blister it's kind of too late to get the socks (as I saw some people do) plus they're more expensive here ($9 a pair)

  • Sports bras! You need them! I brought 3. The one from your hike will be useless afterwards (sweaty!) and it's good to have some to change out. I found mine at TJMaxx for $9.99 each (Jockey Brand - they were $32 next door at Kohl's)

  • POOL SHOES - I LOVE MY RYKA AQUA FIT 3 SHOES! They are like sneakers for water. You do a LOT of jumping in the pool so "water socks" like the ones Ocean Pacific makes won't do. Got mine at (had a coupon!) and they worked great. I am just so happy I got these. Soooo comfy, I got so many compliments on them. The water workouts are FIERCE here. (PS dry the shoes out on your porch in the sun)

  • CLOTHING - I would recommend a very lightweight jacket to start the morning hike. I have a nylon, silky one from Nike that was perfect. And lightweight T's and capris or shorts work best. I did not wear my long workout pants even once! ALSO I brought 3 swimsuits. No one wants to change into a soggy suit from the previous class! Check out the "overstocks" section of - some of their suits are $9.99!!
If you are coming after Christmas I just gave you some stuff to ask Santa for.


  • Don't wear mascara to the pool class. This may seem obvious but I didn't realize it until I came out looking like an extra from the Night of the Living Dead movie. You WILL get splashed, you WILL be soaked.
  • They have wonderful, cushy robes at the front desk. You just need to ask. They are great for coming out of the pool or hot tub.
  • GET A MASSAGE. Relaxation is important and so is taking care of your body. I got mine Tuesday night and I swear, it SAVED me. I doubt anyone that's coming is exercising 7 hours a day, so trust me, your body will scream. Quiet it with a massage! 60 minutes is the best $85 you'll spend. NOTE: schedule them as soon as you get here, time slots fill up FAST. I'd recommend Tuesday or Wednesday.
  • GO IN THE HOT TUB BEFORE BED! You won't be sorry. It has saved my sore muscles.
  • Start researching calories in foods. Get a book (Biggest Loser has one, so does There are calorie challenges for certain restaurants where you're split into teams and have to guess. It's good to have some pre-knowledge. Eat this Not that book is great too. (Border's Books usually has 40% off coupons online.)
  • Go to and under the "consumers" pull down menu then "resources" there's a place to check your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) - if you do this from home the first "Budget" lecture will make a lot more sense. This is more accurate than the one in the book they give you here. You will want to know your number.
  • Right now it's free to do your laundry. They have quarters in the machines for your use. You can do wash after 5pm. The ice machine is also in the laundry room and they have plastic bags you can take ice in back to your rooms.
  • Bring anti-bacterial gel (like the Germ-X individual wipes ((at walmart)) or a small pocket gel container.) This will be handy on the hikes if "nature calls" and you need to go - will help you feel less gross. Even if there's a porta-potty you can't wash your hands in there!
  • There's a bulletin board in the dining room where they list van assignments, class sign ups, etc. Check this board often for news. They post the Saturday hike sign ups on Friday at noon. Be there early or you might not get the hike you want!
  • The hikes are GORGEOUS. You WILL want a camera.
  • Love, love love my Camelbak. I put a bottle of Propel in it to add some electrolytes (only $1 in the pro shop!) then fill it with cold water. Great for the hikes. (got mine at ~ yup I used an online coupon code (-:) It's a backpack with a pounch that holds water inside, and a long "straw" that comes over your shoulder to sip out of. It's fabulous. I'm a huge water drinker and wish Id have gotten the 100 oz instead of 70 oz.
  • DRINK! I talked to 3 people who were dizzy & nauseous (and actually shaking) because they got dehydrated. WHO CARES if you have to pee outside. Surely it's not as bad as getting dehydration!! Your goal shoudl be to drink all the water in your Camelbak.
  • At the front of the dining room they have a sample of the resort cookbooks. You can put your name on a sign up sheet and they will have one printed for you that afternoon. It's like a spiral-bound presentation book which I thought was a tad cheesy.  Buyer beware- they are $30 a piece (2 for $56) which I thought was way overpriced - if they were cheaper I would have bought many more for souvenirs (and so would many other people)! But I did get a copy of each, I am looking forward to trying the recipes, they all look amazing.
  • YOU WILL GET WEIGHED IN when you arrive. I was hoping for a Monday morning weigh in (oh well)...they take your weight, measurements (bust, waist & hips) and have you hold this thing that measures your body fat percentage and BMI. So if you want a more accurate weight don't stuff yourself on the way here.
  • You'll be given a tri-fold paper that shows your schedule for the week. This is your Bible for the time here. You will be assigned a "color" group - red, blue or green - this just places you in certain time slots for classes. You will always have class with the same people that are in your color group. That's kind of nice. I folded my schedule and kept it in the plastic tag in my lanyard (which also holds you room key) - you will refer to your schedule ALL THE TIME.
  • FUN - the room has a "prox" card reader - you just hold the key to the lock and it opens. Neat.
  • The wi-fi is spotty. Weird fact: I couldn't access it from my room. So my neighbor said she would help me get online. I took it over to her and on the way it found the signal. So every night I go outside, walk about 10 feet, pick up the signal and then I'm good to go. Weird! So try this if you can't get on.
  • There are going to be people here smaller than you, and there will be people here bigger than you. Everyone has their own reason for being here. It should be a "judgment free" zone but sadly sometimes people don't see it that way. I've talked to people who actually tried out for the show (and how amazing that they took the step to come here on their own!); I've met people overcoming eating disorders; people who needed a kickstart to their weight loss and people who just needed help with their last 20 pounds. Focus on YOUR journey and don't compare yourself to anyone. You don't know what their story is - you only know YOURS and this is YOU time. Don't get distracted or lose focus!! It's all about YOU!

Here are some pics of the campus:

walkway to main building (front desk, spa, dining room, pro shop)

walkway between cabins

Comfy bed

Nice clean bathroom (note: standing shower, no tub)

Desk & TV I never watched

walkway between cabins

I've had some amazing time to self-reflect and am so blessed to have had this opportunity. It's been an amazing week and I'm looking forward to "graduation" tomorrow night!

For all you newcomers this will change your life if you trust and have faith in the program. No cheating (that's what got me here in the first place) I have learned I am capable of so much more than I gave myself credit for. So are you! Rock it!!!


  1. Diana - what a fantastic, thorough, accounting for people coming here next. It has been delightful getting to meet you and chat with you.

    Best wishes for safe travel home.

  2. Dianna I am going at the end of January into February. I am excited. I love your blog!
    Pamela W

  3. I am going Feb 27-Mar 13th. Your blog has been so helpful! Especially this post.