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A Reboot at the Ranch

The Ranch at Live Oak exercise room

Photo courtesy of The Ranch at Live Oak

The Ranch's exercise room.

When I tell my mom that I’ve booked a trip to The Ranch at Live Oak in Malibu, California, she rolls her eyes. I can tell, even over the phone. She’s Mom, after all, and she knows that discipline is not my strength.

I’ve already ticked off the Ranch laundry list for her: an initial weigh-in and body-fat assessment, hiking 10 to 12 miles per day, no booze, vegetarian cooking, three hours of exercise after the aforementioned hiking, no caffeine. And, egads, no wireless.

“Have fun,” she says. “Your father and I are off to Paris. Work on your core. And your thighs.”

I fly into LAX and crank up the killer coral-hued Mustang convertible that I’ve booked as a sort of Ranch-reducing tonic. The Mustang and I hug the Pacific Coast Highway and zoom up a narrow road into the arid Santa Monica Mountains.

The Ranch is a knockout, all gorgeous shelter magazine-styled casitas. I unpack and meet my 17 fellow “campers,” aged from early 20s to late 60s, who have shelled out several thousand dollars for a week of recalibration.

After weighing in and having our body fat analyzed, off we go. It’s up at 5:30 a.m. for stretching, a vegetarian breakfast, hiking up (and up!) sundry mountains, lunch, exercise, yoga, massages, vegetarian dinner, wash, repeat. Oops, they forgot to lock down the wireless—hurrah!

We Vaseline our feet and bond in the high chaparral. I adore the documentary filmmaker from LA, the cool cat 50-something from Denver and the pair of smoked-fish magnates from Brooklyn. The hiking is TOUGH, and I thank my lucky stars that I go to a trainer.

The veggiecentric cooking is fantastic, but the portions are too small (1,200 to 1,500 calories per day). Happily, I don’t get the shakes from the lack of coffee and wine. I sit out several of the afternoon exercise sessions and steal arugula and oranges from the garden. I snatch eight almonds at snack time instead of the suggested six. And, heaven, the wireless is still on!

Fast-forward: After seven days, I’ve lost 8 pounds and 11 inches. As I exit the Ranch and sail onto the 101 Freeway in a Mustang-induced cloud, I consider a possible return visit. And then I veer across three lanes and into Starbucks.

Guest room exterior. Photo courtesy of The Ranch at Live Oak.        


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