Guest Post by Jan Bono
So lately Crabby has been paying good money to experience and review healthy resorts like Red Mountain, or alternatively, has been freeloading off of her spouse's employer at places like the JW Marriott Camelback in Scottsdale. Yet at least some readers must be muttering: well sure, sounds great, but WTF? Aren't there any cheaper options for sequestering yourself in an environment custom-designed to encourage healthy eating, vigorous activity, and personal growth?
Well leave it to Cranky Fitness contributor Jan Bono to provide a more creative suggestion! As you may recall, Jan has written “Back from Obesity: My 252-pound Weight-Loss Journey”, and you can learn more about her and her writings if you pop over and scroll down a bit on our Info page.)--Crabby
DIY Weight Loss RetreatI met regularly with a counselor during the first two years of my 252-pound weight loss journey. After the first year, she suggested I attend an inpatient program. I balked.
Why spend money on a treatment center, then come home to the same old mindset, the same old “let’s celebrate with food” friends, the same old job challenges?
How much weight could a person actually lose in 30 days? It wasn’t like I could disappear from my home and responsibilities and come home slim and trim a couple weeks later. If that were the case, I’d have already gone.
But well aware that I was paying to listen to my counselor’s advice, I checked into the logistics of going to an overeating recovery center, just to humor her.
On the Internet, I got a rude awakening. While bulimia and anorexia are considered eating disorders, I could find very little information on treatment centers offering help for the compulsive overeater.
I found only two centers where my specific problem was addressed. On the multi-pages of information, no specific costs were listed, and when a restaurant doesn’t post its prices on the menu, one just knows it’s going to be expensive.
A very cordial woman answered the phone at a center in California, and she spent the next 20 minutes dancing all around my questions about money while she inquired about my insurance, my level of commitment, and my general health.
Finally, after much insistence on my part, she lowered the monetary boom. “Our 30-day program for compulsive overeaters is available for $1400 a day,” she said as matter-of-factly as if she were telling me the price of a McDonald’s Happy Meal.
“I’m sorry, I must not have heard you correctly. Did you say $1400 a day?”
“That is correct,” she replied, still without a trace of embarrassment. “If you’ll check out our website calendar, you’ll see that what we offer is 24-hour support and assistance in every facet of weight loss. If you want to get well and stay well, the money is irrelevant.”
Maybe it was irrelevant to her, but I was stunned. My math skills are very good, and I didn’t need a calculator to multiply $1400 times 30 days and come up with a whopping $42,000 for the treatment package, not including airfare!
“I just checked your insurance,” she continued as if I were still paying attention and had not succumbed to incapacitating shock, “and it pays a lifetime $20,000 for this type of program. You can contact them to make arrangements yourself, or we can do that for you when we officially sign you up. We have openings in two weeks, if that’s convenient to your schedule. We accept both VISA and MasterCard.”
My brain turned to mush; I couldn’t even think of a snappy comeback. “I’ll have to think some more about this,” I mumbled as I hung up.
Then it occurred to me I couldn’t afford any other plan than the one I’d been working on my own for the past year, and I resented not being able to get their professional help. I became angry at the entire health care system, and mad at the world for making my disease nothing more than a “for profit” business opportunity.
And when I get mad, I take action.
How dare they make me feel I couldn’t afford to go to their dumb old retreat center! I’ll show them, I vowed, and went back online to re-examine all the elements of their proposed program.
The sample weekly calendar for the institute listed individual counseling, small group counseling, larger support meetings, nutrition classes, a variety of exercise classes, and required readings, along with subsequent written homework, among their offerings.
My teacher training kicked in; my lesson plan was going to be a virtual low-fat, calorie-free, piece of cake.
But first I needed a safe haven for my self-created hiatus. I called my friend Steve, in Hailey, Idaho. “Can I come hang out at your place for a week or two?” I asked.
“You’re welcome to come and stay as long as you wish,” he instantly replied.
I briefly outlined my idea, and asked him to do a little local research for me, to which he again readily agreed.
On previous trips, I’d become familiar with every type of food available at every freeway exit between my house and Steve’s—every fast-food fix at every drive-thru window. It took a lot of determination for me to drive by all those “comfort stations,” even when I didn’t need any gas or a bathroom break.
When I arrived, Steve handed me a list of support groups in the area, along with their times and days and locations. He also had the schedule for the local swimming pool and information on water aerobics classes and introductory yoga.
We hauled box after box of magazines, books, cassettes and videotapes from my trunk to the house. I was a woman on a mission, and determined to make the most of my do-it-yourself retreat experience.
That first year, I stayed at Steve’s place for 11 days. I read dozens of fitness, nutrition, and cooking light magazines. I listened to inspirational cassette tapes from others who had lost weight, and gleaned important tidbits on how they now maintained a healthier lifestyle. I went to water aerobics class every morning, and exercised while watching a videotape every afternoon. After my evening meetings, Steve and I often went for walks together.
I did all the cooking while I was there—it was the least I could do for my rent-free room—and I tried out many new recipes I found during my afternoon reading time.
I wrote copiously in my journal, and attended every support group meeting within a 20-mile radius, whether I had that particular addiction or not. At 7 a.m., noon, and 7 p.m. I settled my butt in a chair and listened to others share their experience, strength, and hope.
During my 11-days in Hailey, I lost 6 pounds, but the weight loss was almost incidental to the lessons learned. My attitude, my outlook, and my commitment to my program was solidly restored. I came home feeling refreshed, and confident that I could continue with the step-by-step work I’d begun a year previous.
It was well worth the effort it took to coordinate cat-sitters, arrange to have the lawn mowed, the mail picked up, the indoor plants watered, and other day-to-day tasks taken care of by my incredibly supportive local friends.
Fifteen years have passed since that first DIY retreat, and each year I’ve saved $41,250, not accounting for inflation!
So would any of you consider creating your own DIY healthy retreat?