Last week, I went to Fat Camp. I didn't know I was at Fat Camp (I thought I was at a spa) until I overheard a woman dining next to meet at lunch say to her companions, "I think of this place as Fat Camp." I gotta hand it to her--she was right.
I'd been to said spa* before and enjoyed the array of exercise options, the spa treatments, the healthy living lectures, and the great rooms, replete with old library collections, roaring fires, and comfy sofas on which to nap or curl up with a good book. My problem was with the food (we'll get to that later), though I will say now that I came prepared with stores of my own.
At FC, the staff encourages a lot of exercise--you finish one cardio class and they're already asking you which class you're taking next. Most people end up doing 3-4 classes a day, if not more. It reminded me of The Biggest Loser, where uber-exercise is combined with a restricted diet--not a good prognosis for long-term success. The classes are fun and varied--I tried spinning and cardio aqua, kickboxing, rebounding, and striptease aerobics. Speaking of previous posts, there were a couple of 14-year-old girls who attended striptease. I know this because I approached one of them and asked, "How old are you?" and she said, "14." The class was fun, and everyone's inner Carmen Electra shone. For the record, no men attended, nor did FC offer a male equivalent.
Now, the food. . . Fat Camp food is actually pretty good, with lots of selections and healthy eating options. They find a way to create unprocessed, balanced meals, heavy in protein, fiber, and complex carbs, and low in fat, sodium, and anything else unnecessary in larger quantities. Still, the food, for the most part, tastes good.
My gripe? The portion sizes. The food is really, really. . . small. If I were there long-term, I'd think that they were slowly starving me to death. Now, the difference between this and real Fat Camp is that you're allowed to ask for seconds, or even thirds (and, you're allowed to bring food into your room, without having it confiscated as contraband). I learned the first time around that often I'd need to order two entrees, along with appetizers and sides. Because when you're exercising as they encourage, you need some extra fuel. . . unless, of course, you're trying to lose weight. . . which wouldn't be hard to do. . . though, you and I both know what would happen when you went back home.
Fat Camp also offers desserts--low calorie, low fat treats that provide that post-meal, sweet-tooth zing. Day one, I ordered a brownie:
Can you see the size of this? I said to my server, "Can I get three more?" I figured that four of these equalled. . . an actual brownie.
On my last day, I sat down to lunch before heading out on the road. The restaurant menu, displayed on a stand outside, beckoned, "Italian-Style Grilled Cheese." Yum!
Here was my grilled cheese (accompanied by a salad):
If you can't tell by the photo, the "Italian-Style Grilled Cheese" would be more aptly described as two tiny slices of Italian bread, served bruschetta style. Each one was easily consumed in two bites. They were small, and I had just played too hard for food that was small.
So, I left wondering, for people who attend these spas, looking for long-term weight-loss success, is this a set-up for disaster? The first time I attended, I hit Carvel in the airport before even getting to my gate. Even if guests return home with their Fat Camp cookbooks in tow, is exercising three hours a day really sustainable? Are they sacrificing long-term success for short-term results?
*I'll try to write about the couple of lectures I attended in forthcoming posts.