The Oaks at Ojai: The Ultimate Weight Loss and Fitness Spa

Imagine a small town nestled in between rolling golden hills and tall, green mountains. Natural rock formations jut out of the scenery, and the land you’re in has a rich Indian heritage, with citrus groves dotting the scenery. This quaint little town is just an hour and 15 minutes north of Los Angeles; seemingly make believe, a peaceful respite away from sirens and smog, a stone’s throw from the glistening coast in Ventura. Welcome to Ojai!

I had the pleasure of being invited to the Oaks at Ojai Spa for a long weekend, and I attend October 7 and 8th. Initially, I had some concerns about attending a “Weight loss spa” for the first time. I had visions of Biggest Loser style challenges, being surrounded by platters of junk food that I needed to psychologically resist, and carrying giant packs of heavy stuff up a 15-mile mountain. Thankfully, the Oaks at Ojai is not like any stereotype of a fitness or weight loss spa, and it is instead a safe haven of serenity for those looking to relax while improving their health.


My childhood best friend Katelyn drove up from Sacramento be with me, and we checked into our adorable little casita. It has a private patio with lounge chairs and a table for outdoor dining. Inside the Spanish style door, the decoration was clean and classic, with a gigantic Talavera style bath tub that I couldn’t resist posing in a picture for. There are even organic bath soaps and shampoos! We settled in and then headed over to the dining room for our first health-conscious meal.


I was super pleasantly surprised at the way the food was made. The Oaks at Ojai uses almost no salt, so if you’re a big salt user, you may at first feel like everything needs salt. I admit at first I wanted to grab a salt shaker, but there wasn’t one – and the home-grown spices helped. The Oaks uses herbs grown onsite for their blends. How’s that for farm to table? There are a variety of spice blends, including vinegar, so if you feel like flavor is lacking you can jazz things up to your liking. I especially liked the salsa that was served several times throughout the weekend; it just had the right touch to add a little heat.


Let’s talk portion sizes. Of course, the portions must be made for someone the size of a mouse, right? Nope! The portions are generous yet healthful. You’ll never go hungry at the Oaks, and I felt like I ate more (but more healthfully) there than I did at my own home. Between meals, there are broth breaks, with potassium rich broth, set out between exercise sessions, and then a vegetable break, too. The veggie break was my favorite as there were three different types of dip, including a beet hummus and a garlic hummus. Yummy! I also was obsessed with the unsweetened iced teas that were constantly available, including this incredible Meyer lemon iced tea that I should have gotten the brand of, because it was so flavorful. There was also always spa water (Water with fruits or veggies), so I was always hydrated. You even got a popcorn break after dinner for a little post-dessert nosh!

Of course, health means more than just eating well, so the Oaks offers you a robust daily schedule of many different kinds of exercise. The best part is you get to choose what you want to do: so there’s no obligation, but if you wanted to do three or four classes a day, you could, but if you’d rather just relax and do yoga, you can do that too. There are literally classes for every fitness level here, from meditation and gentle yoga to endurance hikes and boot camp. I started my Saturday morning with a cardio bootcamp lead by Gloria. Gloria was funny and motivating, but also encouraged each person in the class to go at their own pace. This is so important in fitness as you really have to listen to your own body. As someone dealing with a heel spur, I knew I needed to go low impact on my left foot, and kick it up with the weights on the arms. Gloria helped me customize the plan when sections of the class just wouldn’t be a good choice for my foot.


I had a few hours of free time on Saturday and unfortunately Katelyn was under the weather, so I walked around downtown Ojai (just a few steps across the street from the spa) and bought myself some pottery. Downtown Ojai has a bunch of cute boutiques and there is something for everyone if you’re looking to bring home a sweet trinket for a loved one. After strolling around, I wanted to hit the pool. I was the only person out basking in the sun, and I lazily flipped through a magazine, waded through the pool, and admired the gorgeous scenery around me. It was the ultimate “me time” that I had been craving. I love my husband and kiddo, but it sure was nice to take a few hours to just be still, soaking up the sunshine. After my pool time, I headed back to the spa for some YOGA! I did an hour of a totally peacefully yoga-flow, and I left limber and inspired for our dinner of chicken with peanut sauce and broccoli. Thai inspired and oh so yum! In the spirit of not lying and maintaining authenticity, I will admit that in true Double Chin Diary fashion, I allowed for one indulgence I love, the unsweetened Starbucks Black Tea Lemonade. I admit it, I brought contraband back into a weight loss spa! Haha!

Next up was SPA TIME! I chose to have a body wrap as I had never tried one before. The aesthetician helping me was fantastic about setting my mind at ease, as a body wrap requires full nudity. Say what?! Don’t worry, your parts are covered by a towel at all times, so you’re not just going commando for a show. My treatment began with a coffee bean scrub, helping to draw out impurities and bloat. After being slathered and rubbed with several different concoctions, I was swaddled in a wrap and cozy warm blanket where I snuggled for 15-20 minutes. After being wiped down and cleaned up, I received a wonderful scalp massage, and ended up leaving being TWO pounds lighter than when I had gone in. That’s two pounds of bloating and excess water weight, folks! It’s not uncommon for me (or other PCOS folks) to bloat up to 9 pounds overnight, so I’m not surprised. I felt svelte and slim! Katelyn also had a body wrap and raved about how her skin was unbelievably soft.

Speaking of skin — the Oaks is a Skin Authority Spa. I received some complimentary Skin Authority products, and because my skin is sensitive, my favorite product is the Vitamin C Serum. It fills in fine lines, rejuvenates cells, and sloughs off dead skin. In the week that I’ve been using it, I already feel like my skin is getting a gorgeous glow to it. Definitely ask at The Oaks how Skin Authority can work for you.

After our spa treatment, Katelyn and I headed back to our cozy casita, where we nestled up in our beds and drifted to sleep under a sky full of stars.

I’m so grateful for my experience at the Oaks because it showed me that a vacation CAN be a trip without eating junk food, guzzling booze, and laying around like a slug. I also can now say that any preconceived notions of a weight loss spa being like a fat camp are totally not true. I felt at ease, rested, well-fed, and best, totally pampered and respected at my time at the Oaks. Though the Oaks will run you a bit more than your average hotel (starting at $250 a night), remember that all of your meals, snacks, and drinks are provided. In addition, the fitness classes, steam rooms, pool, and hot tubs are well worth that extra cost. Be sure to look into the specials they’re running – this would make an amazing romantic get away or weekend away with the girls.

So, if you’re looking for a total mind and body reset, the Oaks at Ojai is for you. Pamper yourself, work your body, calm your mind… you’ll do all of that and more at The Oaks. Learn about how you can experience the Oaks at Ojai now!   Also, November 1- 20, experience the BRING A FRIEND DISCOUNT!  It’s twice the fun and a 25% discount for both of you when you share a room!  Workout, chat poolside, explore Ojai and stay up late catching up!  Click here to learn more about this amazing bring a friend deal that Katelyn and I got to enjoy 🙂


I was gifted a stay at the Oaks Spa including a spa service and skin care products in exchange for my honest review. I am grateful to the Oaks for the awesome opportunity. It most certainly went above and beyond expectations. 🙂


Oh, Weight Watchers. If we were in a relationship, our Facebook status would be “It’s complicated.” But you lured me in with the offer of two months free if I lost 10 pounds in the first two months, so here I am. We’ve had a tumultuous start, you and I. The first few days I was in denial that we were back together, and ignored the illuminated WW tile on my phone. Even though I was paying good money on the plan, I was putting off tracking… putting off the idea, the concept, the fact that my free for all with food was over. I made fun of you and Oprah, wondering why the richest lady on earth needed to futz with smart points and meetings. If I was a billionaire, could I abandon my worries about my weight and health and just be? The answer of course, is no, because the human brain doesn’t work like that. Nothing is ever enough, nothing is ever done.

Once I got my game face on (encouraged by the weekly weigh in I keep with two of my Fitbloggin’ friends), we got along better. I started swapping my 2% Chobani mango for 0% plain with a sprinkle of powdered peanut butter. I ordered salad on the side, hold the dressing. I took the baby for a walk and diligently counted out 14 rice crackers. I tracked every BLT I ate… not bacon, lettuce, tomato, mind you, but bites, licks, and tastes. We were jiving, you and I, like two old high school friends who ran into each other at Dairy Queen. Then came time for weigh in. I stood on my own scale, hopeful, like I had been so many times before. The number surprised me, and it slapped me in the face with its usual sting of hurt. Up 3.7 pounds. I stepped off the scale, sad, but familiar with the disappointment. My body, doing what it wants. It wants to be fat. It wants to hold on to this layer of fleshy skin, to be held by sloping hills grown from years of rewards, of angst and joy, and more recently, the cozy home of a child.

I brushed off the rejection of the scale and went to my meeting anyways. I didn’t want to. It was 7 p.m. and I could think of every excuse why I shouldn’t. The husband didn’t get home until 6:45. The baby was sweetly cooing. I had been eating all day and it’s best to weigh in in the morning. I was tired. My back hurt. I didn’t shower. I could go tomorrow. But I went. I put the feet in the shoes and the body in the seat and the key in the engine and off I went. As I stood on the scale, the receptionist leaned towards me. A smile played at the corner of her lips. Was this a shared sadness, a “sorry, you didn’t lose this week” or a hint at celebration? She hugged me. “You’re down 3.7 pounds,” she said.

I sat in the chair at the meeting. I thought, and analyzed, and contemplated the strangeness of this journey. I felt motivated and encouraged, ready to defeat the demon in the scale, in me, in my appetite. I courageously tracked every morsel I consumed. Then the weekend came, and I got sick. I drank Dayquil instead of my morning tea. I ate a Cup O’ Noodles instead of a salad. I wanted comfort, and warmth, my bed, a lack of responsibilities. I let it go for just three days, and then those three days caught up with me. I skipped a meeting. I ate pizza for dinner. I mindlessly plucked hard-shelled Cadbury Eggs out of the candy dish when a spreadsheet at work was getting the best of me. How quickly it all changes and how quickly it all begins.

I don’t want to fight with me anymore. Eating healthy is not sexy. It’s not fun. It’s not the saucy gossip you whisper scandalously to the neighbors while the curtains are drawn. It’s boring, predictable, routine, and good. It is not naughty. It is a mindset, and as much as I hate the term, it is a life style. I need to stop looking at food like my vice and sin. It is fuel and nourishment, and sometimes, celebrations. And that’s okay.

I forgive you, self. I forgive you, friend. I will whisper to you quietly, “It’s okay”, until you realize the berating of your choices will get you nowhere. Instead of the disappointment and frustration, I say, be like the Phoenix and rise up. Leave the Cadbury and the skipped meeting, the tight jeans and the pizza in the ashes. You will rise, and you will fly. You may fly the wrong direction, but eventually turn around. You will reach your destination, and you will look down, and the old you will be there, as you always were.  And you will know that the work, the effort, the struggle, the disappointment, the eventual success was worth it all. You will have risen in the light, a lighter you. Weightless.

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I suck at losing weight, but I kick ass at gaining it.

It’s become crystal clear to me that I can’t succeed at everything, and apparently losing weight is just one of those things. But you know what I do succeed at? Gaining weight. I’m so damn good at gaining it, I felt like it was time to write a blog post in my honor.

So you can fit into your jeans from high school? So what, I can fit into my earrings from junior high.

Nobody Cares

You crossfit, you box, you yoga, you run, you swim. I creak.



You made Paleo pecan crusted salmon for dinner with a side of lemon scented broccolini and washed it all down with cucumber verbena spa water. I mashed my finger into the corner of a chip bag and licked off the salt.

You’re so full you couldn’t possibly eat dessert. I ate all of mine… and the rest of yours, too.

You cried at your Weight Watchers check in when the scale was two pounds higher than usual because you were bloated. I thought, “Oh good, now I won’t really have to lose weight for next week.”

You beamed when you went from a size 14 to an 8. I beamed when my leggings with the threadbare thighs made it another day.

Cheese Fries

You were inspired when Oprah decided to rep Weight Watchers. I wanted her to stay fat.

You were repulsed by the Double Down. I wanted to try it.

You get your dressing on the side. I get my salad as a side.


“It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change,” you say. Nope, it’s a diet.



You have extra belt to spare when you buckle up. I suck it in and pray it clasps.

Have you checked your Vitamin D levels? Your B12? Your thyroid? All of those are fine, but apparently I’m super deficient in this thing called willpower.Food Delicious

You forgot to eat lunch today? I base my whole day around eating.

You can whistle with two fingers and your mouth? Well, I can do this.11808462_1464347487228092_159316067_n

You love it when your friends bring you wine. I love it when they bring me cupcakes.



Sure, a party sounds fun. *Heads right to the food table*


You’re in shape. I’m in shape, too. Round.


You breeze through turnstiles at the subway station. I do the hula.


So there you have it. You may rock at losing weight, but I’m awesome at gaining it.


Happy National Popcorn Day!

When someone asks me the “If you got stranded on a dessert island…” question, one of the foods in my top three foods I’d like to be stuck with is POPCORN. Besides being delicious, it would be kind of a useful thing; I mean, think about it, you could plant the seeds, use them as tiny bullets for a slingshot, and have something to do because you’d eternally be picking hulls out of your teeth. Win win win. Today is National Popcorn Day, and I wanted to celebrate this fine day by sharing a few of my favorite popcorny things.


First of all, I’m a popcorn purist, meaning no microwave crap here unless I’m in a time crunch. (Heh, crunch. Get it?) I like to make my popcorn the unhealthy way; with one tablespoon of olive oil (or avocado oil if I’m feeling ritzy) in a sauce pan on high, with Orville Redenbacher seeds. I’ve tried so many gizmos and gadgets to make popcorn including air poppers, a borosilicate glass beaker thing, microwaveable bowls, and I keep going back to the old school method. It works for a reason. I find that air poppers make your popcorn have a stale sort of crunch to it, and I want that delicious, squeaky stryofoamy feeling that my teeth sink into.

Here are my favorite popcorn related things!

1) Morton’s Popcorn Salt.

It’s like .99 and super fine salt, ideal for making your own popcorn. The link goes to a big size which explains the $5.99 price tag, but this stuff is the ideal in popcornology.

2) THIS recipe for copycat Garret’s style popcorn. I had a wicked popcorn craving when I was pregnant, and you can only get this stuff in Chicago. Thankfully for me the kind lady at A Spicy Perspective had this recipe waiting.  (Side note: I purchased the cheese powder, and while real foodies among you might go “Cheese POWDER?!”, fear not, it’s actually real Wisconsin cheddar that’s been dehydrated and pulverized. This stuff is delicious for other recipes, like mac n’ cheese, cheesey broccoli, or anything else that would benefit from cheese. That’s most things in life.)

3) As for ready made popcorn, I’m a big fan of the Trader Joe’s Herb Popcorn and Gaslamp’s Cinnamon Caramel Popcorn. Gaslamp sent me a few bags to try, and I had some major problems keeping my hands out of the bag. I served it when some guests were over and we all agreed it had the perfect crunchiness, and the sweetness wasn’t overly cloying. I really liked it and now will be hunting it down. PS – It’s made in California and you can tell it comes to you FRESH. Holla! Give this popcorn a try when you’re in the mood for something sweet. Their white cheddar was also phenomenal! (Keep reading for a chance to try it yourself!)

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I also tried some Boom Chicka Pop Dark Chocolate Caramel Popcorn over Christmas, and man oh man, I can’t have that in the house. That just makes it like crack. As long as I don’t douse popcorn in tons of butter, I don’t feel too guilty having a reasonable serving size of it. (Cough… I mean, I would NEVER eat just a massive bowl of popcorn for dinner. I’m an ADULT! Cough)

Tell me how you feel about popcorn – one of my friends says it smells like feet to him! I almost stopped being his friend. Do you love, like, or loathe the miraculous corny goodness of popcorn? Want to win a three pack from my friends at Gaslamp? Comment with the type of their popcorn you’d like to try most! If you want extra entries, “Like” them on Facebook or Follow them on twitter. Be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry. Giveaway ends 1/26 at 10:00 p.m. 18+ and USA Only. Good luck!



The F Word

You thought I meant the four letter one, huh? Or the three letter one? Nope! I mean the word FEMINIST.

Most of the time, I love being a woman. In high school, my best friend and I would pore over the book Making Faces, spending hours crafting various looks from tubes of concealer and blushes and eyeshadows. We delighted in the feminine pursuit of shopping and finding clothes that flattered our bodies, made us feel confident, and brought a swing to our step. Even dating was in some ways an exercise in self-acceptance, as we quickly grew to realize what boys really did appreciate the fact that we loved aggressive girl-punk-rock, and which ones actually thought we were just silly girls.

I’ve always had a feminist edge, and I’m not ashamed to say I’m a feminist. I’m still shocked by something that happened to me in college: I was working on my Bachelor’s degree in 2008 at Cal State Northridge, and we had a “women and men in the media” class. My teacher asked everyone in the class who was a feminist to raise their hands. Out of 32 students, one person raised their hand. That person was me. I couldn’t quite understand why being a feminist was seen as such a bad thing. In fact, one of my first boyfriends dumped me because I was a “feminazi” because I told him that females could be DJs just like men, and he felt that DJs should only be male. My definition of feminist is somebody who values, respects, and appreciates that women should have the exact same rights as men. I’m not standing on street corners burning my bra or refusing to shave my legs (though quite frankly, if women want to do that, go for it. (And shaving your legs totally sucks, so I can see the appeal in that,). I once saw a quote that said that all people born from women should be feminists… and I agree.

As I near the end of my pregnancy, I’ve had some time to reflect on body image and beauty standards for women. When other people see you are pregnant, they feel they have a free pass to comment on your appearance as it now pertains to two people: you and a baby. I’m used to rude comments on my appearance as a woman of size, and thankfully while I don’t experience it often (apparently I “carry it well”, another thing I hear a lot), I’ve noticed that as I have just under 4.5 weeks to go, the comments about the size of my body, appearance, and bump are picking up. I also heard comments about my food choices in my early pregnancy, but anyone who dares comment on my dietary choices now might receive a swift kick to the head. I don’t want my daughter to be walking through the mall hearing teenage boys make “oink” sounds behind her back. If she chooses to become pregnant one day, I also don’t want her to have to hear “Wow, you still have four weeks to go? You look ready now!”. I don’t want her to hear about the size of her breasts, how she has such a pretty face, or how things would be better “if only” she lost a little weight. However, I’ve accepted the sad reality that because she is female, she will hear these things. In Amy’s Schumer’s movie, Train Wreck, the main character’s sister shares that she found out her unborn baby is a girl. Amy shares her excitement and says something to the extent of “That’s wonderful!”. Her sister immediately says “No, it’s not! She’s totally screwed!” and Amy says, “Yeah, you’re right, she’s screwed.” The actual dialogue in the movie is much more succinct, but basically the gist of the scene is, yeah, she’s  a female, she’s already got a few challenges stacked against her just because of her gender. While I am thrilled to be having a baby girl, I admit I have some of the same hesitations. I’ve lived an amazing life thus far, but have I experienced sexism or problems because I’m female? You betcha. We all have… and I’m sure even men have experienced things that suck because they’re guys.

Jennifer Weiner wrote this letter to her daughters, and it made me sniffle because it sums up so eloquently what I want my daughter to know. As we’re just weeks away from meeting her, I want her to know it’s ok to be a girl. It’s ok to love the color pink, and it’s also okay to hate wearing a bra. It’s ok to be a feminist. It’s ok to question the status quo, to be angry that she may be reduced to her appearance rather than the sum of her parts. I haven’t even seen her yet and I know that she is beautiful, not because of what she looks like, but because of who she is. She will be courageous, and strong, and intelligent. She will be creative in her own ways, independent in her own ways, opinionated in her own ways. And she will grow up with a mom and dad that encourage her to be herself, and to raise her hand when a teacher asks if she is a feminist. And with any luck, hopefully she won’t be the only person in the room to raise her hand.