The Long-Term FitStay Experience
Several years ago, I was transitioning from graduate school to my real job. Knowing that the stress and pressure of graduate school caused me to gain 50 pounds, I researched a list of fitness resorts that I could stay at for at least 10 weeks to take back control of my weight and health.
Ultimately, I was able to negotiate with the job I was about to start to allow me to stay for four months. However, here are some lessons I learned and tips I would recommend for readers considering a long-term FitStay.
How much weight can you lose over 4 months?
Some of you are probably wondering how much weight I lost during my stay. I am an average sized female, and I lost roughly 50 pounds. However, if you are staying at a FitStay long-term, yes, you absolutely will lose weight if that is one of your priorities, but I would recommend that readers focus more on health. Visitors of all shapes and sizes can benefit from a long-term fitness resort experience.
My first week at the FitStay I was at, I was barely able to do the exercises. I was the slowest, and I struggled with the hikes. In the weekly fun run/walk, I was only able to walk the five mile course, and I came in dead-last.
I was not able to run a single step of the trial. As the weeks passed, I was not only able to run the entire five miles, often coming in first place in the race, but I started to actually run an additional five miles on top of that weekly.
More than just losing weight, I toned up my body, I gained cardiovascular strength. Focussing myopically on weight misses all of the other gains that you will make in your fitness journey.
A tip in regards to questions about weight loss, weight is very personal to many people. I often had people who I literally just met ask me how much I weight and how much weight I had lost so far in my journey.
Be polite and respectful of other FitStay residents to whom you are asking that question, not every guest feels comfortable with that question. More than that, make sure you know a little about the person and are friends before asking such a personal question.
Your journey won’t be linear.
Some weeks you won’t lose as much weight as you had hoped, or any for that matter, or maybe you will even gain weight if you have been putting on muscle. However, if you chart out the progress you made, you will notice that you are improving.
Just as you should not focus exclusively on weight loss, so too should you focus on the ultimately progress you have made in your journey, not a single day or a single week. There will be days where you may need a break, you may do nothing, or maybe there will be weeks where your efforts simply didn’t show up on the scale.
But those are only single points on the journey, and you will miss all the great progress you have made if you dwell on them too much. It also impedes your future progress.
A better approach is realizing you are on a journey, and the path isn’t linear, but every step you take on that journey, is progress.
Plan ahead for family visits and mental health breaks.
I strongly believe that having a small break every 4 weeks or so is a good idea, and I would even recommend having a one or two week break after about 7 or so weeks. I am not recommending that you should go and binge somewhere, but I had a few weekends where I saw my husband, and that was something I really needed to help me through my FitStay journey. I would strongly recommend you plan to see your friends/family, or get off the resort as part of your planning process.
Mentally, you are taxed after four weeks of the same fitness routine, you need a break, even just for one weekend. For your break, I would strongly recommend you consider a change of scenery. Visit a nearby city, or maybe go back home for a few days. There are fitness resorts all across the country, so find a location that works for your travel plans—breaks included. You need to get yourself off the resort, even just temporarily, for a mental reset.
Plan ahead for when you go, though. Find healthy places to eat, plan your snacks, exercise, etc. There is no reason time away from the resort needs to be unhealthy or a time for you to “fall off the wagon.”
Some FitStay guests benefit from mixing up resorts, by maybe doing half of their long-term stay at one FitStay and the other half at another resort. Some also benefit from having a long-term FitStay at one resort, but having a break of 2-3 weeks at a less-intense FitStay before coming back to the higher intensity FitStay to finish out their journey.
Looking back at my FitStay, I wish I had a break of a few weeks at a less intense health resort for a few weeks to break-up my FitStay journey.
In any case, you know you best and know what you will need. Don’t be afraid to take the breaks you need and to do whatever you need to do to get yourself through this intense process.
Buy spandex and stretchy clothing.
Shockingly, even after losing 50 pounds and dropping numerous sizes, I never had to buy new clothing. I stocked up on on-sale fitness clothes at a local Target, and they lasted me the entire four months. I did my laundry once or twice a week, and packed enough for 7 days of clothing.
Sometimes, especially if you are doing hard workouts multiple times a day, you may want to change once or twice to have fresh, non-sweaty clothes. However, people at FitStays are used to seeing people in sweaty clothes. It’s a fitness resort, after all.
If you want to save money and not worry about having to constantly replace clothes, invest in some stretchy clothes from the start.
Buy good shoes and take care of your feet.
Invest in some really good running shoes or cross-trainers, as well as some excellent hiking shoes, if you will be hiking. I am not saying buy the most expensive product out there, but make sure that the brand you are buying is known to hold-up to intensive use. You simply won’t get as much out of workouts nor be as enthused about working out if your feet are in constant pain.
With that said, you also need to be considering your feet daily. Developing blisters? Treat them right away. In fact, get out ahead of your blisters if you can and pretreat any potential hotspots? Feet achy? Soak them at night in hot water and epsom salts.
Sometimes seeing people come and go is too hard.
Invariably, you will become friends with the other long-term residents at your FitStay. It’s hard seeing the people you have become friends with come and go.
With that said, you may have weeks where there are only short-term residents that come, and you are not as extroverted or willing to try to make new friends, or even interact with others, as much as other weeks. This is fine and a normal part of the long-term FitStay process.
Know that it won’t always be like this, however. You will have people that you become closer to, people you don’t and normal friendship up and downs. Just like in the “real world” you also will have times where you feel introverted or when you want to be around people.
Don’t try to force yourself into a box or make yourself feel any certain way, just go with the flow and what you need each day and each week.
Look for a FitStay with extra variety.
If you are going to stay for a long time in one place, make sure you go somewhere that has some variety in the food you are served. Also learn the tricks from other long-term residents on how to spice things up and customize your orders. The FitStay I attended had a one-month meal rotation, and I learned all sorts of customization tips from others, so I never got sick of the food.
Similarly, also make sure you attend a FitStay that has lots of exercise options if intense exercise is going to be part of your weight loss journey. There will be some classes you like, and some you don’t like, so try to find a resort that allows you some flexibility in choices or that has an open gym for you to go use a bike or elliptical in lieu of attending a class you dislike.
Was my long-term FitStay worth it? Absolutely.
Was it challenging physically and even mentally at times? Absolutely.
However, I lost a lot of weight, drastically improved my fitness and confidence, and learned a lot about myself in the process. Check out the FitStays directory to find a location or two that will work for you and your weight loss and other health goals.