Orvieto, Italy

After leaving Venice we wanted to visit Rome and Florence, but we didn’t particularly want to stay in either of those places because they are cities and really all cities are kind of the same.  We wanted to be someone a bit more relaxing.  I did some research (and got some great advice from my cousin, Ginny, who lives in Germany) and found that if you stayed in a town with a train station, you could take day trips into Rome and Florence.  I browsed our Rick Steves Italy book and I came upon the town of Orvieto.  We knew nothing about it other than what Rick Steves said, but it sounded like a picturesque ancient town in the Umbria region of Italy.  We booked reservations at a hotel that was recommended in the book and pointed the car in that direction.  The lower part of Orvieto is the new section and the upper part is the ancient section.  We were staying in the ancient section.  To get there you have to drive up a mountain.  The ancient part of the town is basically a fortress- it’s surrounded by a wall.  It is absolutely breathtaking!  As we drove around trying to find our hotel we were speechless.  I have never seen such a cute, rustic town!  The streets were all cobblestone and there were arches and stone buildings.  People still live and work in Orvieto and there are a lot of businesses there.  We checked into our hotel and set out to explore the town.

We found an interesting restaurant that we wanted to try for dinner.  It was called Zeppelin.  We went in and talked to the young man at the bar (he was also the host) and he said they wouldn’t be serving dinner for 1/2 hour because the chef was teaching a cooking class. We said we’d didn’t mind waiting.  The host asked if we wanted to go back to the kitchen and meet Chef Lorenzo.  Of course we did!  He took us back to the kitchen and introduced us to Lorenzo.  There were a bunch of people there with him finishing up their cooking class.  They all looked like they were having a great time (and like maybe the wine had been flowing for a while!)  During the year that we’d been planning this trip, Lori and I  talked often about the possibility of taking a cooking class in Italy. Hearing about Chef Lorenzo’s class and then seeing it with our own eyes got us really excited!  I think we decided right there that we were going to take the class.

We had a fantastic dinner at Zeppelin.  We sat outside in the back yard and enjoyed some of Orvieto’s local white wine.  We asked for more information on the cooking class.  He asked how long we were going to be in Orvieto and we told him we were flexible.  He said that if we could go to the class on Thursday that was the most fun because Thursday is Farmer’s Market day in Orvieto.  We signed up for the Thursday class and he told us to be there at 8:30 a.m.

On Wednesday we took the train into Rome.  It was about an hour and 15 minute ride.  We saw all the major sights in Rome – the Coliseum, the Sistine Chapel,  and St. Peter’s Cathedral.   Rome is a city –  it’s crowded and very touristy.  There are a lot of really fascinating historical sights and it’s exciting being there.  Every direction you look you see the ancient mixed with modern.  But it’s a city and it wears you out!  We got back on the train and went back to Orvieto.  When we got off the train Lori said “Oh, it’s good to be home!” That’s really what it felt like!  Orvieto was so quiet and low key, it was relaxing just being there!

On Thursday morning Lori and I walked over to Zeppelin to meet Chef Lorenzo for our class.  The plan was for the guys to  laundry to  do our laundry at the laundromat in town because we were all out of clean clothes.  They were then going to come to the restaurant to have lunch with us.  We met Lorenzo and he offered us coffee.  He then told us to wait just a minute and left.  He came back a few minutes later with a big plate of pastries. We enjoyed our coffee while he took care of some restaurant business, then it was time to set out for the Farmer’s Market. Most of the vendors at the market know Lorenzo really well.  As we walked from booth to booth they all greeted him and offered us samples of their wares.  As we walked around and picked out different foods Lorenzo started building our menu.  We bought some beautiful arugula, fresh peaches, toasted hazelnuts (they offered ‘toasted 1’- barely toasted,  and ‘toasted 2’ – more toasted, and we chose #2 for our hazelnut gelato) tomatoes, peppers, and a few different kinds of cheese.  We returned to the restaurant, put on our Zeppelin aprons (which we got to keep as a souvenir) and started cooking!

Our menu:  Focaccia

Pizza

Bread

Zucchini Blossoms

Fresh green pasta w/sauce

Pork stew

Hazelnut Gelato

Chef Lorenzo was a lot of fun and a really good teacher.  I think the highlight for me was learning to make pasta.  I have always wanted to make my own pasta, but thought it was too complicated and that I needed a machine to do it.  It was actually really easy!  We started with a basic dough.  You put all the dry ingredients on a board, make a well in the center, then put the wet ingredients (eggs and water) into the well.  You slowly start incorporating the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a fork.  Slowly but surely they combine and form a dough.  You roll it out in a very particular way.  You roll it into a rectangle, then you turn the rectangle 1/4 turn and roll it in that direction.  You keep turning the dough and rolling it until it is very, very thin.  (Mine wasn’t nearly as thin as Lorenzo’s) After letting it rest for seven minutes you fold the dough into fourths, then you cut it into strips. The pasta we saw the most in Italy was Tagliatelle – which is thicker that spaghetti and thinner than linguine.  That is what we made.  We just used a knife and cut the dough into thin strips.  (We made our pasta green by using some sort of leafy green- I can’t remember what it was – we just pulsed it in the food processor with the water and used that to make the pasta) We cooked and drank sparkling wine and coffee and laughed and had a really nice day.  When our husbands arrived we all sat down at a table and the food we had cooked was served to us, presented beautifully.  It was all so delicious!  I have never eaten so much in my entire life!  We ended up with two different desserts and two different kinds of bread because Lorenzo kept getting creative and thinking of more stuff to make.  We definitely had a day that we’ll remember forever!

Italy – Day 1 Venice

Venice, Italy

Me in Venice

Venice canal

Beautiful Venice

Venice

We said Auf Wiedersehen to Austria and began our drive to Italy.  We discovered something unusual as we drove around Europe.  You can drive from country to country and cross borders and there is absolutely no mention of it.  When you drive around the US and you go from one state to another, there are signs that say “You are now leaving Arizona” and “Welcome to California!”  But driving from Germany to Austria or from Austria to Italy  – nothing!  I found that really odd.  So as we drove along we all kept wondering if we were in Italy yet but there was no way to find out!  Eventually we figured out that you could tell the difference between Austria and Italy because Italy had toll booths (lots and lots of toll booths) and Austria didn’t.  In Germany and Austria you had to have stickers on your car to prove you paid the fee to be allowed to drive there.  Italy has toll booths.

We drove up to the first toll booth and it gave us a ticket (just like when you enter a parking garage at the airport).  The idea is that you drive along for a certain distance, arrive at the next toll booth, put the ticket into the machine and pay the amount it tells you to pay.  Unfortunately, we don’t speak Italian.  We missed this whole thing.  The machine spit the ticket out and Rick stuck it in the ashtray.  We all promptly forgot about it.  We arrived at the next toll booth and tried to figure out what we were supposed to do.  It was talking to us in Italian and it all just sounded Greek to us.  (actually, it sounded like Italian, but it might as well have been Greek!)  Rick was pushing buttons and we just kept waiting for something to happen. It was just that we were supposed to put the ticket in to find out how much we had to pay.  With all the driving and being in foreign countries that have different systems we were confused.  There was a help button, so finally Rick pushed it.  The toll booth man came over to the car and we tried to explain that we didn’t know what to do.  Of course he spoke Italian, so he didn’t really know what we were saying.  He kept saying “Ticket!”  “Ticket!”  And Rick kept saying “I don’t have a ticket!” (because he forgot we had one).  He kept saying “Porque, porque?!”  It was really frustrating.  The toll booth worker stomped off into a little booth and started waving a ticket around to show us what he meant.  His face was beet red and he was clearly angry!  (I understood why he was angry,  just didn’t know what to do about it!)  Finally, a light dawned and I remembered the ticket!  I reached into the ashtray and pulled it out. Rick stuck it into the machine and our total showed on the screen.  We paid our toll and were on our way!

Our next stop was Venice.  You can’t drive in Venice so we wanted to find a place to stay that was convenient to a bus.  The hotel we stayed at ended up being about 40 minutes from Venice, and if we had it to do over we would have found someplace closer.  The hotel also had nothing much going on around it, so that evening when we arrived we went straight to the bus stop and went to Venice to walk around.  We spent 40 minutes on a bus and arrived in Venice.  We proceeded to get lost – which is very easy to do in Venice!  We were on the ‘ugly’ side (that’s a relative term, there is no ugly in Venice)  and it was really, really hot.  We walked and walked and walked and got more and more lost.  It had been a long day, we had no idea where we were, and now we were just walking aimlessly around Venice.  This was probably the low point of the trip.  To top it all off, we were walking past an alley and saw a humongous rat the size of a cat staring at us.  He promptly turned around and walked off in the opposite direction, but it was creepy seeing it.  We went to a restaurant for dinner and the waitress gave us a table outside where there was a little breeze and we were pretty happy.  She came up to the table with a tray of drinks and said “I want you to try this!  It’s free!”  She said the word “free” at least four times.  The drink was some kind of apple liquer that none of us liked.  I poured mine out into a potted plant so I wouldn’t hurt the waitresses feelings.  A few minutes later the waitress returned and put a dish of olives on the table, which we hadn’t ordered.  Again, she said “Free!”  so we ate the olives.  The meal was good, and when we got the bill the apple liqueur was on there as well as the olives.  We were irritated, and tried to talk to the waitress about it but suddenly she just really couldn’t understand us.  We ended up paying for all of it.

The next morning we returned, ready to hit the high spots of Venice in the daytime when everything was open.  One of the things Lori really wanted to do on the trip was to visit the Murano Glass Factory.  Murano is a little island close to Venice – you have to take a boat to get there. We walked around Venice for just a few minutes and a man approached us.  He asked if we wanted to tour the glass factory.  We said we did and he started explaining that they had a great deal for us.  He was going to give us a ticket that would get us from Venice to Murano then from Murano to Venice for free.  We had already looked into it and the boat ride was going to cost quite a bit, so we were pretty happy to get this deal.  We clarified with him several times and he kept insisting he was some qualified representative of the chamber of commerce or something (I can’t remember what he called himself, but it made me think he was on the up and up) The man took us to the boat dock and we set off for Murano.  We toured the factory and looked around the shops. Lori got the beads she was hoping to get and we were ready to return to Venice.  We asked several people where we were supposed to get the boat back to Venice.  They all looked at the paper the ‘official’ man had given us and shook their heads.  We found out that we had to pay to return to Venice.  In retrospect, it wasn’t that big of a deal,  because we had planned to take the boat both ways anyway.  It was just kind of a bummer to always feel like we were being scammed.  Venice kind of left a bad taste in my mouth because of that.  (There was other examples, too, there we people all over asking for money and trying to sell us stuff….it got old really fast.)  We made the best of it and managed to enjoy our day in Venice but it was good to get out of there, too!

Next stop: Orvieto

Innsbruck, Austria (Continued)

When I left you last, I was lying on the massage table….well, you know….
So, Sonny came back into the massage room and there I was in my “slip”. I was feeling extremely uncomfortable. The massage was good, but I wasn’t particularly relaxed. Poor Sonny probably wondered what was wrong with me. When the massage was over Sonny gave me a bill to sign. There was a slight problem with this. Up until this point Rick had done all the money transactions in Europe and I had totally ignored the exchange rate etc. I had no idea how many Euros were in a dollar or how many dollars were in a Euro. This wasn’t too bad a problem, because I could just charge the massage to my room, but I had to give Sonny a tip. I was sitting there staring at the bill trying to do math in my head and getting really confused. I was trying to figure out 10% of the number of Euro’s so I could double it to get to 20% and figure out the tip. I figured 10% of a Euro would be the same as 10% of anything else. What confused me was that they use commas for Euro’s instead of decimal points. The numbers look suspiciously like thousands because of the commas. I figured out the percentage, but then I thought “Am I leaving a hundred dollar tip? Wait a second…!!”. (Yes, I know I’m mathematically challenged and easily confused) Finally I just looked at Sonny and said “tip?”. He said “Whatever you want!” (In Europe, tipping is totally optional and not expected). I said “I don’t understand how to write it.”. Sonny didn’t understand what I was saying. He just smiled. I said “Can you write it for me?” he smiled some more. I said “How do I write 20%?”. And he said “Just write 20%”. So I wrote 20% on the bottom of the bill and even now have no idea how much I tipped Sonny.
When you stay at the Interalpen hotel, breakfast and dinner are included. I think this is because the hotel is literally in the middle of nowhere so there are no restaurants to go to for meals. The meals were absolutely amazing! Breakfast was a huge buffet with an omelette bar and every imaginable breakfast food in existence.
The area around the hotel had lots of hiking trails, so one morning we decided to hike. What gorgeous scenery! The Interalpen also has a breathtaking pool. Imagine floating around in a beautiful pool and wherever you look in every direction are Austrian mountains! Beautiful. Half of the pool was outside and half was inside. There was a sliding glass door separating the two halves, and when you swim up to it it opened.
I don’t think I have ever stayed at a hotel as breathtakingly beautiful as the Interalpen. I was sorry when our stay there came to an end.
Next stop: Italy!

Innsbruck, Austria

The breakfast area at the Hotel Interalpen, with beautiful views of the mountains.

Me and Lori – hiking in Tefs, Austria

The pool at the Hotel Interalpen – half of it was outside and half inside.
These cows greeted us when we stopped for lunch in Innsbruck, Austria. I immediately burst into song. (The Hills Are Alive…)

Beautiful view at the hotel – overlooking Austria

This is the Hotel Interalpen, where we stayed in Austria.

The drive-in lobby of the Hotel Interalpen

Thursday September 6
We drove to Austria, where we had reservations at the Interalpen Hotel and Spa.  We drove to Innsbruck for lunch first.  We stopped at a bank to get some cash and asked the teller for a good lunch recommendation.  First he just pointed next door.  We were in a business area where everything just looked like home so Rick asked him for something a bit more traditionally Austrian. He told us about one and printed out their web page for us.  We put the address into our navigation system and followed the directions.  The route took us off the highway and up the side of the mountain.  Then it took us up some more. As we climbed the road got narrower and narrower, until there was basically only room for one car, but there was two way traffic! There were points along the way where other cars had to pull over to let us pass and vice versa. We kept going up, up, up and started to wonder where the heck we could possibly be going.  Finally we were at the top of the mountain and in every direction we could see the beautiful city of Innsbruck.  We ended up at an idyllic farm and were greeted by a bunch of grazing brown cows in a meadow.  We parked the car and followed the signs to the Inn.  There we found a pretty outdoor area with tables set up for lunch.  We spent our lunch time looking at gorgeous views of Austria and eating knoedel and wiener schnitzel.
After lunch it was time to go to our hotel – The Interalpen.  We drove up another mountain and around in circles then came to the hotel.  You drive right into the hotel with your car!  There is a reception area with chandeliers and tile floors. You just drive your car right in and an attendant takes it to park it.  You just take an elevator to the hotel’s check-in desk.
The Interalpen is a beautiful hotel.  It is very luxurious, but feels very comfortable and rustic at the same time.  The lobby has gorgeous carved wood and big windows.  The view is fantastic – mountains all around.  Every person you talk to on the staff is friendly and helpful.  When we arrived our rooms weren’t ready, so we went outside to the huge patio and relaxed.  They had a buffet of sandwiches and pastries set out for an afternoon snack. We enjoyed the fresh mountain air and the gorgeous views.
Our rooms were really impressive!  They were huge!  They had a kitchen, a large bathroom with tub and shower, and even a dressing room with a twin bed in it (I called it “the spouse of a snorer’s room” and ended up sleeping in there.
The rooms at The Interalpen all include breakfast and dinner – both of which are huge, sumptuous feasts.  The salad area is massive.  They had about ten different types of salad greens and all the toppings you can imagine.  There were all kinds of cheeses, breads, antipasti, and appetizers.  Besides all that was the meal!

Friday September 7
After a humongous breakfast buffet (hey, it’s free, you have to eat it!) we decided to go for a hike.  They ad a map of hiking trails at the front desk and gave us a description of the hikes and we chose one and were on our way.  We hiked through a pretty woodsy area and only got lost a few times!
In the afternoon the guys went golfing and me and Lori went to the spa for massages.  We went to the spa early so we could try out the sauna and the salt water grotto. (a cave with a hot water pool – like a jacuzzi without jets). We found the grotto and noticed a sign outside the door that had a picture of a person wearing a bathing suit with a red line going through it (no bathing suits). There was no way I was going into that grotto naked.  Lori felt the same way.  She said “They can’t stop us from wearing our bathing suits!”. So we went in and got in the water and the whole time we were waiting for someone to arrest us!  Nobody came into the grotto while we were there.  We were walking toward a sauna and I saw a lady with no clothes on walking toward me.  It’s not that unusual to see people naked in spas in the US, but then I remembered we hadn’t checked in to the spa yet, we were still in the public area of the hotel.  Then I saw a couple in just robes. We went into the sauna for a few minutes and as Lori stepped out she turned around and said “there’s a naked man out there!”. I looked out the door and saw him as he was putting on his robe.  Apparantly, spas in Austria are no clothing areas!  We got out of there and checked in to the spa.  We had both requested female’s for our massages when we booked the appointments but they only had males available.  When they came out, though, there was a male and a female.  Lori had really been stressing about having a male masseuse so I offered to let her have the female and I went with the male, whose name was Sonny.  We got into the little massage room and he handed me something very small.  He said “here is a slip for you to wear”. Then he gave me a towel and told me to lie face down and under it.  Then Sonny left the room.  I unwrapped the miniature package and inside was a teeny, tiny paper thong.  Yes, a thong.  I was starting to be very stressed out about the whole spa day, which was supposed to be relaxing.  Sonny came back into the room and I was lying on the massage table in my teeny, tiny paper thong, covered by my not very big towel.

In Retrospect

I did it!  I finished the week at BL.  As usual, there were times I wanted to quit, but I didn’t.  I stuck it out and endured a lot of pain and I am proud of myself for my accomplishment.  I have asked myself numerous times, (and a lot of you have asked, too) why I keep going back to BL and subjecting myself to it.  I think I have that figured out.  I feel a need, at times, to push myself beyond what I think I can do.  I also like the control I feel when I am at BL and there is no fast food or other unhealthy foods available to me.  I like knowing that the only thing I’m putting into my body is clean, healthy food.  I like knowing the exact number of calories I’m ingesting each day.  I don’t have the energy or the skill to keep track of those things on my own and I like knowing that stuff, even for a week.  The point of BL is to teach their guests to replicate BL when they get home – at least to a certain extent. (Obviously nobody is going to go home and exercise for seven hours a day….) Each time I have spent a week at BL I come home and do a better job of incorporating the plan into my real life.

My big lesson this time was what I learned from my Scottish friend, Brenda.  As you know if you’ve been following this blog, Brenda got onto an airplane and came to BL with a broken arm (she didn’t know for sure it was broken, but found out later that it was).  Despite the pain she was in, Brenda did the daily hikes almost every day she was there.  She attended any exercise classes that didn’t require her to use both hands (she obviously couldn’t do the kickboxing class, but she watched us!)  When she couldn’t attend classes she was in the gym on the treadmill. Brenda used to weigh 270 pounds.  She now weighs 155.  I never knew Brenda at her heaviest – I met her this past June and she had already lost almost 100 pounds at that point.  As we chatted during the week the topic of her huge weight loss came up.  She said something that really stuck with me:  “It comes down to one thing.  You have to go to the gym.  You go if you’re tired, sick, depressed – whatever.  It’s not rocket science.  You eat less calories and you burn more calories.  That’s the only way anyone loses weight.”  She told me about her commitment to do whatever it took to lose the weight.  She had to re-prioritize things in her life so that she could do what she needed to do.  She has a very high stress job, and she had to say no to anything that wasn’t going to help her achieve her goal.  She had to learn to say “I’m sorry, I have a class at that time”, so she could go to the gym.  She just did it! (someone should make that a slogan…)

As I said many times during the week at BL “Brenda is a beast!!!”  She really is!  I admire her strength.  I cherish her friendship.  (And she’s going back to BL in January….)

I promised to share the pizza recipe from BL.  It is truly delicious, so here it is:

Green Chili, Chicken and Avocado Pizza – Serves 4

2 Udi’s Gluten Free Pizza Crusts (I couldn’t find these.  My recommendation is to use a pre-baked pizza crust of your choice, just look at the nutrition data and choose a healthy one!)

11 ounces of ricotta filling – a little more than1/2 cup  (recipe below)

4 oz. tomatillo salsa

1 cup cooked chicken in bite size pieces

1 avocado, diced

1/2 cup sliced red onion

chopped cilantro – just enough to garnish

4 oz parmesan cheese, grated

Ricotta filling:

7 ounces light Ricotta cheese

3/4 cup yellow onion, diced

1 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

1 ounce parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat a saute pan over medium heat and spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Add the diced onion and cook until they are a nice brown color.  (stir often so they don’t burn!)  In a large mixing bowl, mix filling ingredients together.  (Adding warm onions will soften ricotta and make it easier to mix).  After filling is mixed well use a 1/2 cup measuring cup to scoop filling onto center of each crust.  Spread filling to edges of crust, then top with tomatillo salsa and spread this over ricotta.  Top with parmesan cheese.  Add 1/2 cup of cooked chicken pieces to each pizza.  Top with red onions.  Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Remove pizza from oven and cut into quarters.  Place 2 quarters on each plate, top with chopped cilantro and diced avocado. YUM!

Last Chance Workout! (Saturday)

Saturday is the last day of exercise at BL. There is a hike as usual in the morning, but they give you a choice of three different hikes (Easy, medium and hard). I always choose the beach hike, (easiest) because I figure I’m in Malibu, California, I should be able to enjoy the ocean when I can. The beach hike isn’t a particularly hard hike, but it does get your heart rate up. You walk in the sand for a while, then you climb up a long flight of stairs and continue on a winding path and even get to look at some houses. (one of them supposedly belongs to Julia Roberts, I have no idea if that’s true). There is a beautiful overlook partway up that is worth the effort to get to! Once again we saw dolphins swimming – that sight never fails to thrill me. We also saw (and heard!) Sea Lions and rock climbers scaling a cliff. Lots to look at to keep your mind off hiking!

When we returned to BL, we had just enough time to get ready for the Last Chance Workout. They changed this workout recently because of the hot weather. They usually have a circuit workout in a field on the BL property but changed that to a mini triathlon. Just the word triathlon gave me an anxiety attack, but I kept reminding myself that it wasn’t going to be as intense as an actual triathlon, or even a sprint triathlon (which Rick has done).

The BL triathlon consists of 20 laps in the pool, 8 miles on a spin bike, and 1.5 miles on a treadmill. I have never done any of those things, let alone all in a row without resting, let alone after a six mile hike. I was so, so, scared. The only reassuring thing was that I was at BL so I knew it would be okay. If I really couldn’t physically do it, nothing bad was going to happen to me. I knew I was safe – surrounded by people I knew and trusted. Originally I was going to skip the swimming section. I am an awful swimmer. I mean really awful! I know how to do the strokes, but I’m really slow. The staff allowed us to skip one of the events, but if we did we had to increase the distance on one of the other ones. That option didn’t really sound much better to me – how was I going to add miles on the spin bike when I already doubted I could make the eight I was already doing?! I went to the sign up sheet (you could choose the order you wanted to do the events in) and signed up to do the bike and 2 rounds on the treadmill. During dinner on Friday night one of my friends, Alex, gave me a pep talk and told me she really thought I’d be able to do the swimming, and she really thought I should try, because how would I know whether I could do it if I didn’t even try? She asked “what’s the worst thing that could happen?”. If I had a slower time than everyone else, who would know or care? They don’t do the triathlon as a contest, where they declare a winner, they just use it as a challenge, to push people even farther than they’ve already been pushed. Alex was right, so I went back to the board and added the swimming section. I decided I was going to do this, even if I was the last one to finish of all the 68 people there! (and I believed that was a possibility!).

My friends decided to do the three events in the actual order of a triathlon (mainly because Alex is doing one this Fall. She’s 22 years old and in really good shape). I regretted that decision….nothing like getting on a spin bike soaking wet…We started with the swim. I varied my strokes to save myself from drowning. (no joke!) I did all twenty laps, and I could hardly believe it when finished! I hopped out of the pool, quickly threw on a pair of shorts and a tank top over my wet bathing suit, and ran to the gym. I hopped on a spin bike and pedaled about ten times and thought “there is NO way I’m going to do this for eight miles! I’m not going to make it to one! My legs were killing me! And the pain in my legs was nothing compared to the pain elsewhere! There is nothing, in my opinion, more uncomfortable than a spin bike seat. At BL they call them your “sit bones”. I’m sure there is a technical name for them, but you know what I’m talking about. OUCH! The girl next to me told me to try standing up. No. I tried and that made it harder on my legs. I put my towel over the mileage gauge and tried to just listen to the music and go to my happy place. That is hard to do when your sit bones are screaming in pain and your legs are screaming louder. It took a while, but eventually the gauge did reach eight miles. I jumped off that wretched bike and realized I was basically numb from my hips to my knees (and not numb: as in having no feeling, but numb: as in tingly and weird, like when you hit your funny bone). I literally hobbled to the other gym, where the treadmills were. I was trying to think about how far 1.5 miles was. I was picturing my neighborhood. Our blocks in Arizona are each one mile long. I figured that 1.5 miles was the same as going from Dobson Road to Price Road, then halfway back. That didn’t seem too far! Of course, I had now done 20 laps in the pool and biked eight miles, and this was going to make a difference! I jumped on the treadmill and started on my little trip, repeating to myself “1.5 miles isn’t that far!” over and over. I quickly realized that 1.5 miles was far -for me! My legs were dead. They also hurt. My butt hurt, my arms hurt, everything but my hair hurt. I could hear different people saying “Good job, Kathy!” and “Keep going, you’ve got this!” but I was really struggling. There was no way I was going to quit now, though! I was going to finish this thing! And I did! The gauge hit 1.5 and I thought “I’m done! The week is over! I can get off this stupid treadmill and not get back on! I can rest for the whole afternoon! What’s for lunch?”

Wednesday – Hump Day!

Wednesday’s Menu:

Breakfast – Vegetable Quiche – 260 calories

Lunch – White Bean and Kale Soup – 201 calories

            Salmon with Zucchini and Quinoa – 291 calories

Dinner – Cafe Salad with Tomatillo Poblano Vinaigrette – 649 calories

Dessert – Fruit Skewer

I can’t remember if I mentioned this or not, but they have increased the daily calories at BL.  The other times I was here it was 1200 calories a day.  They have increased it to 1500, and increased the percentage of protein. I really notice a difference.  It’s hard for me to eat all the food because the portions are huge. We also get a snack every day after the hike – a choice between an apple and almonds, an apple and peanut butter or a hard boiled egg.  They are trying to make sure every meal and snack pairs a carbohydrate with a protein.  I guess this is better for building muscle.  They were finding some guests were losing lean muscle mass and that is the opposite of what they are trying to do here. 

Our hike on Tuesday was Sycamore Canyon.  I won’t go into boring detail, I’ll just describe the hike like this:  Up, up, up, up, up, up, up for three miles.  Down, down, down, down, down, down, down for three miles.  Add brutal sun and a few moments of ocean view and that about does it.  The hardest part was that they put Van 7 and Van 8 together, and I was at the very end of the line the entire time.  And I don’t mean a few feet behind, I was about five minutes behind with my own personal hiking guide.  I guess this ensures that I get my money’s worth from the week, but it was humiliating!  I realized that what I’m dealing with is a huge pride issue.  I don’t like being in the back.  I don’t like being the worst one.  And that was what I felt like. I also felt like I was inconveniencing everyone.  Everyone was nice about it, even my personal hiking guide, but it’s an issue with me.  The highlight of the hike was when I was really tired on the way down and feeling sorry for myself and I heard voices yelling.  I listened and the voices were saying “Go Kathy! Go Kathy!”  It was my friends Brenda and Alex cheering me on from below me!  So encouraging! 

Our afternoon schedule was:

2:30 – Mountain

3:30 – Pool Class

4:30 – Kickboxing

Mountain class is a really good one.  You choose any piece of cardio equipment and after warming up you increase either the resistance or speed every two minutes.  You do this eight times.  When you get up to level eight you go back down to level seven, then level six, then level five etc…until you get back to 1.  Then you do it again!  It’s tough, but it’s a good class and burns a lot of calories.  

Other than the fact that all my muscles hurt, I am doing well and hanging in there!  I am really glad the week is almost over, though! 


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