part 3: self-analysis: it sure ain’t pretty (or easy)

Part two of the saga I lovingly refer to as, “how I started to figure my shit out”. If you haven’t read part one yet, go do that now. I’ll be waiting right here when you’re done.

Originally posted Jan 24, 2013 – edited

Well, it happened. Biggest Loser contestant Pam was sent home this week. What? Why? How??? She came in THIRD in the 5k race! She and Danni Allen (White Team) crushed it all week. This made no sense at all. Pam was my beacon of light, the one I most identified with out of season 14’s group of contestants. Approximately my age, mouthy, full of piss and vinegar — and completely and utterly afraid of failure.

When she stood on that scale and saw her disappointing result on the screen behind her, my heart sank. It was as though I was up on that scale with her, sharing in her failure.

I recalled the challenges and fears I faced during my week at the Biggest Loser Resort; how, like Pam, I was the only thing standing in the way of my own success.

I shared some of what was going on in part one of this saga. What I haven’t shared (or even delved into myself) is the why. In part, I’m embarrassed to examine what was going on in my head to make me capable of self-sabotage. But, in even bigger part, I’m afraid. Afraid of giving new life to the crazy. Like maybe if I look at it, and talk about it, I’ll give it license to take over again.

I’m fighting hard against both the embarrassment and the fear because I know that I need to figure this shit out in order to learn and grow. To do that, a little more soul-baring is in order.

So here we go… [cue dramatic music]

Things went downhill for me very quickly during that first workout, the Monday morning assessment hike. I couldn’t understand why I was struggling so much with a hike that I knew I could readily do back home on my own. Looking back, there were clearly two issues at play:

  1. Physically: I did not listen to my own body. I knew, going in, that cardio endurance has always been an issue for me. I knew that taking frequent, but short, breaks would allow me the opportunity to slow my heart rate and carry on with the activity. Yet, inexplicably, despite all the tell-tale signs (racing heart, shortness of breath, inability to carry on a conversation),  I chose not to stop. I chose to keep hiking; getting slower and slower, and more and more angry at myself with each step.
  2. Mentally: Inside my head I was absolutely listening to my body. I heard every word it screamed at me. Words like, I NEED A BREAK WOMAN! I knew I was in an anaerobic state, and therefore not burning fat (my primary goal for the week). I knew I was being stupid. And yet my mind never stopped my body from propelling forward. Why? Looking back now, I think it was because I was more worried about keeping up, about not being last, about not being worst.

I was more worried about those things than I was in actually achieving my goals.

img_3025Yes, you read that right.

Here I am, climbing ANOTHER goddamned hill, about 3/4 of the way through the hike.

I’m huffing, puffing, nearing heart failure… But, hey, at least there are a handful of people still behind me, so I’m not last.

Competitive Nancy at her best. Er, worst.

Holy shit. Someone call a shrink STAT, because mama’s clearly gone loco.


We interrupt this post to provide a quick, but important, aside; one which adds a bit more colour to my physical state.

This was my first time ever hiking with a camelbak. Camelbaks are wonderful hands-free water intake systems. Only one issue: Unlike a water bottle, I had no way of gauging how much water I was actually taking in. I got dehydrated. And it wasn’t pretty. The hiking guides informed me that my dehydration would manifest in flu-like symptoms, lasting  for a couple of days. Those hiking guides know their stuff. Spot on, they were.

Monday afternoon brought with it back-to-back-to-back (that’s three) classes ranging from HIIT to kickboxing to cardio conditioning, along with my raging flu-like symptoms.

With each class I felt like a bigger failure. My energy level plummeted and my mind raced with thoughts of being last, slowest, weakest, worst.

We had 15 minute breaks in between each of the three classes. Just enough time to run back to my room to change into dry clothes, and to cry, in private. God forbid I should let anyone know I was struggling. Not me. Way too strong and independent for that. Way too competitive for that.

And with each quick trip to my room, and each bout of tears, I felt worse and worse about myself.

Okay, methinks that’s enough for today. I can only expose so much of my crazy in one sitting.

I’m a work-in-progress; please be patient with me. I promise to try to get as real as I can on this journey of self-discovery. I’ve got the heavy equipment at hand, and I’m ready to do some soul excavation.


To read part three in this series, click here. ‘

Til then… Keep moving!

xoxo nancy

62 thoughts on “part 3: self-analysis: it sure ain’t pretty (or easy)

  1. I always get a bit horrified to hear how hard some of these places push people. I’m surprised more haven’t had heart attacks or passed out from exertion. Doesn’t seem the best way to turn one on to exercise. But it certainly seemed to kick start you on your healthier tract, so I guess in the end all was well.

  2. Nancy,
    Your retrospect series shows how far you have come! That is the cool thing about having a blog where we write without fear of being honest about where we are on our journey in life. Many time I find myself reading my own post to remind myself of where I want to be headed.
    It just dawned on me that your “keep moving” mantra is the same as many sharks. Most sharks have to be constantly swiming to keep the water flowing through their gills. Now we just need to figure out which shark you are most like?

    • When I decided to republish these posts, which were at the very beginning of my year of sweat, I re-read them. It brought all those anxieties back, but in a way I could simply observe them, without succumbing to them. Very cathartic.

      Your comment about sharks made me laugh out loud! Hmm…which shark am I??? 🙂

  3. Don’t let some t.v. producer who is more interested in marketing his show than your longtime welfare decide what your work out regimen should be. Your body is trying to tell you what to do. Listen to it.

  4. Wow, Nancy, I wish I’d found you when you were at the beginning. That is a brilliant post and I hope people listen and learn from you – don’t compete with everyone else.
    You just need to be the best You that you can be.

  5. Mi querida Nancy. I have never met you, yet I love you.

    I want you to go to a mirror right now, go ahead, I will wait. Now, look at yourself and smile. Smile at that gorgeous amazing woman staring back at you. She’s cute isn’t she? Tell her to stop beating herself up. That she is good enough. That she is not the worst. Or the slowest or the last. She is such a good person and she needs to take a deep breathe and embrace her entire self. Remind her that her worth is not measured in steps or calories burned. She is kind, loving, funny as hell and physically – she is who she is. Her body is the body God has given her and she needs to love it. She is healthy and that is what counts. Feel the freedom of those words.

    • Oh how I wish I knew you back when these feelings of insecurity and imperfection were raging for me, Maria! You could have helped me save SO MUCH TIME!!! 🙂

      It took a loooong while to reprogram those tapes playing in my head, and God knows I still have my moments, but I’m so much better today than I was 2 years ago. Resetting my compass to pursue HEALTH instead of SKINNY made all the difference in the world. Today I spend more time marvelling at how much my body can DO – and less time obsessing over that residual muffin top. Progress!


  6. Loved these two posts, Nancy. And they put me thinking too, looking inside for reasons to things I’m not happy with, which includes the slow rate of my weight loss. Your journey is so inspiring….thanks for sharing!

    • I know that feeling all too well, Tiny. I’m so glad to hear my posts are providing some opportunity for personal introspection. I hope you enjoy the next two (at least I believe it will be two). Cheers!

  7. You know what’s weird? (I’ve really fallen off the fitness wagon at the moment. If we ever knock back a wine or two, I’ll tell you the whole story.) When I was running like a nut, I was always a mid-packer. But when I was standing around after the race, sipping Gatorade, I loved watching the last ones cross the finish line because, honestly, I was so proud of them. The distance was much harder for them than for me, and I felt somehow or other that their effort blessed me. It was an honor to watch them try so hard. Anywho, your not wanting to be last made me think of that–how the slowest probably feel a little embarrassed and how some of the faster ones consider them heroes. John

    • John, THANK YOU! Your comment just reminded me of something I was planning to write about early 2013 (during this series) because it was such a beautiful and humbling moment of perspective gaining for me. I realize I never shared that story. I will write it now, to share at the end of this series of re-blogs.

      p.s. You’re on for that wine station session. Anytime you find yourself in Toronto or Las Vegas, you had better give me a shout!

  8. This is a great post and just what I’m struggling with now. I run with two other women and I spend the whole time in anaerobic state so I won’t be behind. I feel sooo stupid for doing it, but I can’t help myself…. I sure hope you have a part 3 with some idea of how you dealt with this!!

    • Hi Cynthia, thank you so much for your comment. I’m currently debating if I combine parts 3 and 4 (original blog posts from Jan/Feb 2013) or if I edit substantially and combine into one. A comment from another blogger triggered a memory which is new post worthy, and will add even more colour and clarity to my aha breakthroughs. I promise this series will wrap up in either 2 or 3 (max) more posts.

      Til then I’ll leave you with this thought. Observation and acknowledgement are key. The fact that you are AWARE you are doing it is huge. Next you need to try to figure out why. Mine was based on an overwhelming (and unhealthy) competitiveness, borne of perfectionism. Once I understood that I was able to start working on it. And forgiving myself.

  9. Once again, Nancy reading how you started your year of sweat with the added perspective of where you are today I am so proud of you! Sharing these posts a second time around can’t be easy but you are doing a great service to so many people who think they are too far gone to implement any meaningful change into their lifestyle. It’s never too late to just start moving!

    • I’ve been doing a fair bit of editing these re-blogs because as I read through them with fresh eyes nearly two years later, I realize I was still guarded in my words the first time around. The safety net of this amazingly supportive community has given me courage to get even more real in publishing the stories today. Thank you and all the other amazing friends here for that.

  10. How did I miss this post!!
    This really does show how far you have come!
    I have to say you remind me so much of me in this post, never show weakness never admit you need a rest or a break… Be the best if it kills you!
    It is so good that you have not only become fitter but healthier physically and mentally! Learning to do what is right for your body is a huge lesson!!
    One I haven learned as well as you yet… I need to follow your lead once more!!

    • I think you may have missed this one because it published on a Saturday (something I almost never do). 🙂

      learning it’s okay not to always be the strong one was a tough lesson – but one of the most valuable ones along this crazy road. I’m so glad these messages are resonating for you. Together we are sure to figure all this crap out, right?

      • exactly! together we have got this!!

        I only have to look back at the beginning of my journey to the times I was dancing on through injured hip flexor / lower back muscles that basically meant I was taking the maximum does of painkillers I could without actually poisoning myself to know exactly how you feel!

        both of us have already come so far!!

      • So far, indeed! That’s crazy on your dancing through the injury, but I so get it. Please tell me you’re not doing that anymore. (Other than your decision to continue working out and dancing with an injured arm recently… :-))

      • no I am not doing that any more!!

        I definitely know better than to dance on an injury now!
        yes…I technically danced with an injured arm, but It was nothing in comparison and I only did it because I knew I could modify my dancing enough not to hurt it!!

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  12. Nancy, I love the re-blogs and your observations of your new perspective and growth. This is what it’s all about, right?

    I know sometimes I can be my own worst enemy. Competitiveness was once a big issue for me, and was even in my early yoga days, but that has dissipated some. I am better at being proud of my body for what it CAN do, rather than comparing it to others who are more flexible, stronger, etc. My problem is negative self-talk, which work to degrade my body image and keep that buffer of extra weight around me. I am using meditation and positive self-talk to combat it, but it is still a struggle.

    I am looking forward to the next chapter, and to your additional topic that came back to you! The more the merrier, don’t worry about having too many posts. If you write it, we will come.

    • Oh Lynne, I am so very familiar with the negative self-talk. It really is a life-long struggle, isn’t it? Yoga has really helped me these past few weeks to start to talk to my body more lovingly. It really is amazing what our bodies are capable of doing – and – you’re right – it shouldn’t be about who is stronger, faster, more flexible; only what WE are capable of. I’m working hard on internalizing this lesson once and for all. Doing yoga in my basement gym, complete with a wall of mirrors, and in full view of my rolls when I’m in forward fold or downward facing dog is humbling but it’s also a reminder that despite my lingering fat, I am strong AND capable. xoxo

      • It is a lifelong struggle that I am not sure I was even aware of until the last few years. Amazing. And I too am amazed at the things my body still can do, even at 54 and counting…

        Yoga does help with turning the negative into positive, as does meditation. I don’t have any mirrors in my home yoga area (which doubles as my home office) or in the yoga studio that I attend. I am not sure if that is a good or bad thing. Work in progress, I say! It is nice to see kindred spirits going through the same sorts of things. We can commiserate and celebrate, as necessary. 🙂

  13. This is very powerful stuff Nancy. I can relate to every single word. My fear of failure, being the worst, the last, etc flavours EVERYTHING I do. I still haven’t tamed that beast :/

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  16. I mean this is the absolute nicest way possible… I loved reading about your struggle… because it shows me that EVERYONE struggles when they start! It’s so relate-able! I’m in a slump right now, dieting with a trainer, and just went through my first week of no weight-loss at all! Frustration at it’s finest. But I came to your blog to specifically be reminded that starting out, although I’ve been at it for a few months, is difficult for everyone!

    Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your story! I have a feeling I’ll be back to re-read it over and over!

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