How I ended up at Fat Camp.

I started this post a few days ago – I was feeling a little nostalgic for Pennsylvania air and then we got the news that one of the guys from the resort had passed suddenly.  Isn’t it strange the things that pop into your head at just the right time?

Fat camp is a little difficult to explain to anyone who hasn’t been there.

Like 8 or 9 years ago, my friend Morgan, this absolute party of a woman, and I were watching MTV, and we fixated on something called Fat Camp.  The series was followed up like a summer later with MTV’s Return to Fat Camp.  The place seemed magical to me, and something about the concept of this tucked-away place where kids went was incredible to me.

We had Adisa, throwing a birthday party in the rec hall and being monstrous to the other girls during color war.  We had Dan and the play.  We had the chick with head lice.  We had some camp romance.  It all looked amazing.

So, I applied, and I’m not sure how this happened, but one October day, I ended up on the phone with Tony Sparber, the boss-man at camp.  I knew it was Tony, one, because he told me it was him, and two, because I recognized his voice.  Which I’d heard in the documentary, because when you were in trouble, you got the bossin’ from Tony in his office.  So anyways, I ended up on the phone with him one day in October after I’d applied.  He interviewed me, and he told me right then and there that he would give me a shot.

The following June, I woke up early, and on a beautiful day, I drove my old Taurus up the east coast, and stopped only with enough time to visit my family in New Jersey.  I had no money.  And off to camp I went!

When I pulled up, the place was straight out of the movies.  MTV had not misrepresented it in any way.  And it actually was a little more beautiful than I’d imagined.  I met someone from the resort, who directed me to the cabin where I’d be living with the other counselors for the next week or so.  And when I pulled around to the cabin, I was greeted by this absolutely wondrous sight – the sun getting ready to set over the trees, over the lake, and over the two pools.  My mouth was hanging open.

“Have you never been here before?”

I shook my head no.

The first night there, it rained, and I quietly cried into my pillow.  I think I was homesick.  But as the days went on, and training wrapped up, camp became my home.  The kids arrived.  I taught classes.  And as I slowly, slowly peeled off the pounds I’d put on while in a bad relationship over the years, a new me emerged.  I was happy.  I wasn’t anxious.  I had friends!

I settled into a beautiful routine.  Color War Broke.  The weather started to cool.  And almost as quickly as the magic had started, it was over.

I got into my Taurus.  Wove my way back down the east coast.  And went back to my old life.  Except this time, I was a new me!  In the following years I ran.  I ran.   I ran some more.  I ran a marathon.  Taught many classes.  Branched out and taught Toning, Cycling, Body Pump, Pole Dancing.  Won the ever-waging war on anxiety.

I wasn’t a camper at fat camp.  I was just a counselor.  The fitness girl.  And yet, I gained so much that summer.  To to the summer of 2010, I owe so much.

via CPT
via CPT

Part 2 – Would I train with an overweight trainer?

So before we get started on all the dramz, lookie at what Mama Chelsie sent me yesterday! I was laying on the couch yesterday, when she sent me a gorgeous pic and a recipe of what she’d made for dinner. Since I had nothing for lunch today, I decided to give her recipe a whirl, put a little more of a spicy twist on it, and pack it for lunch. I hope it’s good, cause it’s all packed up now!

photo 1

photo 2

So the way it all works is really easy. One can of seasoned black beans, drained, and I smooshed them all up in a ziplock. I mixed the smoosh up with an egg, some paprika, some garlic, and some hot pepper, added a half-cup of bread crumbs, and I grilled it up with some olive oil. With my refined palate, I added a dab of ketchup to eat it with tomorrow, and I’ll let you know how it turns out. But it smells BALLER. And in case you forgot about Chelsie, she’s the mom who helped out with my post last week. Click to read, it’s super, super good, plus there are pics of my super cute niece on there!

But moving right along.

Yesterday, without any prodding or judgement, I asked you all if you would work out with an overweight personal trainer.  The answers ranged from “absolutely not,” to “why not,” to one particularly sweet answer from one of my campers, and here it is.

Considering I’m still considered overweight but I am very healthy and teach Zumba and am becoming a personal trainer I would say I would pay a person who was overweight because the weight doesn’t mean anything. I have a dangerously slow metabolism which makes it extremely hard for me to loose weight consistently unless I’m working out all day basically, but I still know how to help others to be successful, ya know?

God. I tear up when this beautiful girl says this.

Here’s my take. 

Would I work out with an overweight personal trainer?  


I am very fit, and very active now, but if I ever freed up some of my time and got into weightlifting, I would employ the help of a personal trainer.  Damn right I would allow an overweight personal trainer to train me, and here’s why.

I’m not perfect, and I don’t have x-ray vision.  Can I tell if someone is healthy by the way they look? Can I tell if they know what they’re doing?  Can I tell really much about them?  Not a ton.

I’m not overweight, nor have I been.  I’ve lost weight, gotten fitter, and learned to love my body. If, when I was in my transition period, someone had not given me a chance, I wouldn’t have had the strong Zumba following I have today.  I appreciate folks who stuck around while I figured things out, and I would do the same for others, especially given if they know what they’re doing.

I am a counselor.  Do I need to have gone through a divorce to counsel a divorced couple?

Does a heart surgeon need to have had a heart attack to successfully operate on patients?

To raise funds for Haitians in the earthquake last year, need I have been a direct victim of its devastation?

I think you know where I’m going here.  And I don’t hate or fault anyone for their opinion.  But for me, if Bre wants to train me?  Bring it on sweet pea.  I know you know what you’re doing. 🙂

On weight loss.

This is that time of year where Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, and Hydroxycut commercials are hitting hard and heavy.  And that’s certainly not to say that all of these things are bad, I personally think that Weight Watchers is one of the best programs out there.  But with everything that’s out there, I’m sure that’s it’s really tempting to try a pill or a chew or something that you sprinkle on your food to help you out to reach your weight loss goals.  But truthfully, as someone who lamented over her weight for a looooooong time, rest assured that none of those things will work.

This was me in the spring of 2010, and I think I weighed approximately 160 at my heaviest.

Then here’s me again.

This is me in 2011 at about 128.

So currently, I rest comfortably around 129 lbs or so, and here’s how I did it.  There were no powders, or magic fixes.

  1. I got rid of dead weight.  Literally, and figuratively.  I started hanging out with people who were like-minded.  Instead of spending time at the bar, I started spending more time in the gym and in my bed.  Did wonders for the bod.
  2. I did a stint at fat camp.  Sorta.  I worked at Camp Pocono Trails as a fitness instructor, more specifically a Zumba instructor, and instead of sneaking my own food and going off the plan, I followed the same plan that the kids were on.  As a fitness instructor, I really would never make my clients do anything that I wouldn’t do myself, and the same went for food.
  3. I stopped counting teaching a class as a workout…
  4. And put a priority on doing my own workout in addition. 
  5. I started using measuring cups to measure my food.  Which sounds insane, but if you’re on any kind of plan like Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig, they’ll tell you the same.
  6. I started logging all my food in an app on my phone/iPod so I could make sure I was in a caloric deficit on most, not all days. 
  7. Annnnd, as I got more into the fitness aspect, I started adding a variety of fitness classes.  Yoga, lifting, I tried Barre, swimming.  

With all of this said, I can honestly say right now, since I’m not really trying to lose weight, I have pulled back a little bit on logging every morsel that goes into my mouth, with the idea that I simply want to nourish my body, rather than lose part of it.

But my gift to you?  If you want it, of course.

For the next week, I will log every morsel and every workout, and bring it to you this time next week.  I’ll critique it, cause I’m definitely not perfect, point out the good stuff, and add a few tips for those of you looking to shed a few pounds.  Who’s in?  





Why do women do this?

I live for reality television, and I thank goodness that someone invented DVR, because without DVR, I would have to make some extremely difficult decisions on Sundays especially.  Real Housewives or Keeping Up with Khloe Kardashian (cause she’s the main one I’m concerned with, BYE Lamar).  But as I was watching on Sunday, I had a real, visceral reaction to something that kept coming up during Sunday’s episode.


During the episode, Kenya Moore, a former Miss USA, repeatedly made snide comments about the weight of other cast members, and the comments that she made, specifically about Kandi being able to miss a few meals and Phaedra being 200 lbs plus, were uncalled for.  She was upset with the women for being late to a function, so their weight should have never even been an issue.

I have a big problem with, when women want to tear one another down, them automatically defaulting to calling each other fat.

Example:  You’re standing in line at a bar.  A girl skips you in line.  Your first reaction is to call her a “fat bitch”.  Why?  Why is weight the first thing we want to call out?  Why do we, as women especially, feel the need to equate the word “fat” or calling someone a “fat bitch” with being a bad person?  Especially when you’re not upset with her for being big.  You’re upset with her for skipping you in line!

I feel like I try to be a champion, especially on this blog, for folks to make change for themselves that will lead to a happier, healthier lifestyle.  However, if I can help it, I will never base my opinions on anyone on the way that they look.  If someone makes me upset, I think it’s wrong to attack anything other than what made you upset in the first place.

I’m upset with the comments Kenya made.  They only thing I should be commenting on is her comments, and her evidently very nasty streak.  Not her appearance, because to attack anything about her appearance is just counterproductive, and to me, shows me that I’m insecure if I feel the need to do so.

So here’s my challenge.  In the next week, when someone upsets you, try to think of something to say that directly applies to what they’ve done. Someone cuts you off in traffic?  They’re just a poor driver, not a “fugly slut” (thanks’Mean Girls’).  Make sense?  Try it out, and see how much better you feel.

Fat Camp Motivation

I apologize for the somewhat sporadic posts, but as things go, my life has been turned every which way.  While I was at camp, I got word that my first-floor-condo had flooded when the guy on the third floor went to throw in a load of laundry.  The water dripped (and dripped is the absolutely wrong word for what it did) down and destroyed the building.  Weirdly enough, the belongings were good, but the walls, the floor, the baseboards, everything, just had to be ripped out.

And so there was the mad dash to find a place to live.

And then the mad dash to get everything packed.

And then the mad dash to recruit victims to help move.

And now, I’m here, blogging to you amongst cardboard boxes, trying to eat my breakfast out of a Gladware container because I can’t, for the life of me, remember where I packed the bowls, and even if I did remember, I haven’t put any contact paper down to put them away.  Oh well.  Can’t be bothered right now.

Anyhoo, so in the midst of all of that, the Greensboro Marathon is still approaching, and I’ll be darned if all of this will affect my training.

But I needed to do my long run (10 miles) yesterday, and I didn’t feel like it.  I really didn’t feel like it.  And then, like a sign from the heavens, I checked my Instagram.  And one after another, pictures like this started to come across.

This is  Mama Jo (Joanna).  We've spent almost 3 summers together raising our babies, working out, and toting the British counselors (The Brits) along with us on weekly trips to CVS.
This is Mama Jo (Joanna). We’ve spent nearly 3 summers together raising our babies, working out, and toting the British counselors (The Brits) along with us on weekly trips to CVS.

CPT, my camp home, hosted their second annual 5k yesterday.  It’s kind of, no it is, incredible, because you’re talking about kids that came to camp not having exercised in weeks, months, years, some of them.  For them to be over halfway done with camp, and to have run a 5k, is nuts.  Absolutely nuts.

So my whining turned to motivation when I saw picture after picture after picture of my girls, my fellow counselors, and the guys finishing their 5k, some of them shaving TONS of time off from their 5k in the previous year.  With that in mind, I set out on my 10-miler that wrapped up with me feeling accomplished and like I’d shared with my girls, the 5k experience.

A typical day – fat camp edition

I write to you today, from the front porch of my cabin, where I’m lying in a pool of my own sweat, despite the fact that I’ve already removed my shirt, and I’m only rocking the sports bra. A heat wave has barreled through the area, and thankfully, camp is mostly divided, boy-girl, and we’re free to walk around as clothesless as possible.


^not kidding about the lying in a pool of my own sweat thing.

But I digress. You ever wonder what a typical day at fat camp is like? No? Well you’re not being honest with yourself then. It’s not all rice cakes and calisthenics, I’ll tell you that. So a typical day?

8:15 am – morning line-up we go out to the flag pole, say the pledge, and a lot of the time, folks, counselors and campers alike, are in rough condition. They’re sleepy, their hair is a mess. And after that, we head to breakfast!

The Food not bad! Actually, it’s kinda awesome to not have to cook for yourself for a little while, and the veg options and the dessert are pretty dank. The only difference between our camp’s food, and regular food is that our meals are more balanced, and portion controlled.

10:00 am – morning workouts this is where ish gets real, especially for me. As a fitness specialist, I teach class all morning, from 10-12, with a break in-between for me to switch groups. The girls work HARD in Zumba, and have always had a liking to me and to Zumba.

12:00 pm – bunk notes the girls get a little break to get letters from home, get bunk notes, and to clean up if their morning workouts made them super gross.

12:30 – lunch lunch. Jello. The salad bar is open. Thank gawd!

2:00 choice Choice period. The girls can choose, and at this point, I teach another period. This is a time for fun stuff. They’re waterfront activities, there’s cheerleader, me, archery, and all the stuff you typically think of when you think of “camp”

3:00-4:50 – Camp Actvities the girls are scheduled every day for specifics. All the campy stuff happens here, with a teeny bit more of an emphasis on physical activities than most sleep away camps.

5:00 pm – 6:50 Shower Hour and dinn duh. And plus we get dessert so obviously my favorite meal because I have a problem.

7:30ish pm Evening Activity. Fun. Just fun. And it gets even more fun during Color War, when each night means the diff between a win and a loss for the teams involved.

10:00 pm – go to sleep! The girls head back to their cabins, while the counselor on duty (OD) intermittently asks them for nail polish and magazines, and also tells them to be quiet and go to sleep.

I wish my words can capture what really goes on here, but at least you guys get to kind of place me at each point in the day.