divas also sweat. …and other lessons the Russian Princess taught me



I went to see my doctor for a regularly scheduled check-up yesterday. He went through the lab results of my recent blood test:

  • Blood sugar = good (YAY!)
  • Bad cholesterol = good (Yes!!)

Then he checked my blood pressure (I’ve halved my presciption in the past 2 months) – and…drum roll please… GOOD! It’s still normal, despite half-dose of meds. Yes! So… I guess all this exercise is good for you.

He asked me to get on the scale, and for the first time in a long time, I wasn’t anxious about that. Once he converted Kilograms to Pounds for me (I know, I know… I’m a Canadian and yet don’t understand my weight in Metric. Shame on me.), I did jumpy-claps. Well, inside my head I did. But I did squeal slightly in the examining room as he made notes in my file in the adjacent office. Down two lbs from when I last weighed myself at home last week. So, down 12 lbs in total since mid November.

He asked me what I’m doing to cause the weight loss. I told him I exercise. He liked that answer. Then I added, every day. I exercise every day. Hmmm…he paused and reflected. You know Natasha (my given name), it’s recommended that people rest at least one day a week. The muscles need a day of rest to recover and restore. Yes, I acknowledged, but I’m not doing weight training every day. I skip resistance training at least 1-2 times /week; but I do cardio every single day.

Hmm, he paused again. That seems excessive. You may burnout and then give up altogether. (Ha! This man clearly doesn’t know me very well!). I thanked him for his concern and said I would be careful and listen to my body. And I will.

He then asked when I started exercising like this. I said, well the daily thing has been since Jan 1st and explained the New Year’s Resolution. Then I added, but it really started with a trip to a fitness resort in November, where we worked out 6 hrs/day for 6 straight days. He dropped his pen, stopped taking notes in my chart, looked me straight in the eye and said, “That sounds like torture“.

Dr. F is not known for melodramatics. He is a non-alarmist in every sense of the word. I literally need to be dragging a limb behind me to get an x-ray or ultrasound. Not much concerns this man. Oh, and did I mention he has run 3 marathons. And this man, this very fit, non-alarmist, doctor, thinks that my week at Biggest Loser Resort sounds like torture. Ha! Justice!

I looked him square in the eye and replied, “Oh it was. Trust me. It was”.

And then I added, “But it was also amazing! And by the end of the week I really loved it and wished I had another week there.”

I’ve been thinking about my week at BLR a lot lately. Mostly on Monday nights when I watch the TV Show, The Biggest Loser. And as I dig deep to discover what was going on with me that week in November. Why was I so defeated going in? Why did I struggle so much, early on? Why didn’t I share my feelings with my dear friend, the Russian Princess, and lean on her when I felt so completely shitty? And finally, why (and how??) could I grow to view her as competition that week?

There, I said it. And that felt so completely gross and ugly for me to admit.

For reasons unknown to me, as I grew weaker and more sick from Monday to Thursday, with a stead decline in my energy level, a drop in my blood pressure, and an unexplained increase in my resting heart rate, I grew more and more jealous of her ability to thrive in the exact same setting. And for that I am profoundly sorry, and immensely ashamed.

She was taking on more, going faster, pushing harder, and doing it with a smile, and looking fabulous. A true Diva. I was masking my pain and fear, playing along, smiling and joking, until my 15 minute breaks, where I’d breakdown alone in my room.

On that Thursday (my “rock bottom” day), she came to my room to pick me up for our pool class (it was raining and 55 degrees out). My face was red and bloated from bawling – and she called me out on it. “Baby, have you been crying?”.  I turned away in shame, knowing the tears would come if I tried to answer. She pulled me in and hugged me, then demanded to know what was wrong. How could I explain that which I didn’t even understand? Was it physical (of course, my body was clearly breaking down on me, as evidenced by my blood pressure, my heart rate, my low energy), but it was also mental. I was an emotional basket-case. I didn’t know what to say, so I just cried for a minute. It felt good to be held and hugged.

She told me to stay in my room and rest if I needed to. And that’s all I needed to hear to give me the push to go and try that pool class. I needed to know that someone knew I was hurting, that they felt it was okay for me to just stay back and feel better. With that support, I already felt (somewhat) better.

And as we chose partners for the various exercises in the pool it was clear to me that mine was just that, my partner. She was there to support me, regardless of whether I kicked ass or sucked wind. I even laughed out loud during one exercise where she had to swim the length of the pool and back (she isn’t the strongest swimmer) while I played the role of stranded victim, treading water while lifting a medicine ball over my head. I screamed at her “C’MON Russky…I’m drowning…SWIM..faster!!!”  And I loved her so much for swimming as hard as she possibly could to try to get back to me quickly so I could stop my treading/lifting.

And we were back to our usual fun and banter and playful friendship. Here is a great example of what an exchange might look like for us (all delivered in the most loving manner possible!):

birds (2)


Thursday, in that pool, things turned around for me. I had a couple of personal bests on the Friday and Saturday (running speed and endurance). More importantly I just felt better, stronger and happier. And I was able to feel happy for, and proud of, the Russian Princess when I saw her hit personal bests on both those days! This Diva can sweat!

I’ve come to realize through that torturous week an important life lesson. You can’t be happy for others if you aren’t truly happy with yourself. It’s as simple and as powerful as that. Loving yourself, being proud of yourself, and being good to yourself is critical to having loving and healthy relationships with anyone else.

So thank you to Fitness Ridge/Biggest Loser Resort for the torture that caused me to dig deep into a journey of self-discovery, and the biggest thanks of all are reserved for my amazing friend for teaching me how to start loving and forgiving myself. Thank you, love you and definitely owe you.

Get moving!

xoxo nancy

18 thoughts on “divas also sweat. …and other lessons the Russian Princess taught me

    • Todd, it’s been so therapeutic to put down in words some of the issues I’ve been trying to overcome. Putting them out there for the world to see goes against every grain of my body, but I know it’s what I need to do to grow. Thanks so much for your support! Love your inspiring pics and updates on Facebook!

  1. I didn’t know you we’re struggling 😦 but I ‘m very glad you had someone to share your struggle with 🙂 you really are amazing!

    • That’s part of my learning Joan. i.e. How good I am at masking it. A lifetime of controlled presentation and “never let ’em see you sweat” attitude only resulted in me burying so much crap. Clearly that crap was bound to overflow one day. It just happened to be in Malibu, in November. 🙂 I’m so glad I had so many of you amazing souls around me to motivate me. Forever grateful. xoxo

  2. Pingback: This is me | My Year of Sweat! | Hey Sweetheart, Get Me Rewrite!

  3. It’s always incredible to me that we are learning about ourselves, and changing, all throughout our lives, and we never know what will do it to us!
    I can’t imagine the amount of physical and mental strain you must have felt to be working out that much, but I’m certain most people would have felt the same thing about a friend who was “handling” it (seemingly) better.
    Thank you for sharing this – AND for bringing it to the party yesterday!

    • It was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done, bar none. I think the mental and emotional work was tougher than the physical, believe it or not. Thanks for taking the time to read the post and for your thoughtful comment. So grateful to have you here!

  4. Pingback: happy anniversary, RP | my year of sweat!

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