This is part four in the series about how I began to figure my shit out. If you haven’t yet, please read part one, where I set the stage, part two, where I started to self-analyze, and part three, where I explored the power of vulnerability. All four posts in this series were originally written early in 2013, but each has been substantially edited in an effort to be even more raw and honest. I plan to finish this series with a brand new post, recalling a pivotal moment that happened a day after the events described below.
Originally posted Feb 20, 2013 – edited
The passage of time sometimes offers the gift of clarity.
I’m finally able to see what I took away from my week at fat camp. I have a clearer picture of who I was going in, and who I have become since then.
I’ve shared details about the horrible start to my week: how I pushed too hard and wound up dehydrated. In the days that followed, my energy continued to drop, as did my blood pressure, while my resting heart rate climbed sky-high. Disturbing? Yes. Enough to make me quit? No.
I couldn’t lose face. Couldn’t admit to being broken.
So I carried on.
I woke up each morning at 5:30 am to attend an optional yoga class at 6:00 am. All classes at BLR were mandatory except for this one. Many chose to sleep in. But the Russian Princess went to 6:00 am yoga, so you better believe I went with her.
Next up was the daily hike.
I love hiking, yet I found myself dreading each morning hike, knowing it would defeat me, knowing it would suck the life out of me, leaving me broken and weak for the afternoon’s three back to back fitness classes.
By day four, I was a shell; going through the motions, but just barely holding it together. The Russian and I got split up that day; she wanted some extra challenge, so she moved up to a faster hiking group. I joined our usual group, tried to get my head in the game, and willed myself to just get through it.
Then it started to rain.
And just like in that Albert Hammond song, It Never Rains in Southern California
It never rains in California, but girl, don’t they warn ya?
It pours, man, it pours
And, man, it poured.
I was soaked through every layer of clothing, right down to my sports bra and underwear; the lot of it plastered to my cold, clammy skin. I don’t think I’ve ever felt such total and utter despair.
It wasn’t the toughest physical challenge I’d ever endured, but it was the perfect storm. Mentally, I was broken. Physically, my body was in system shut-down mode. And as an added bonus, the skies had decided to rage their fury all over my pity party.
The rain served one practical purpose though: it camouflaged my tears. Finally I could cry openly, without worry of others seeing.
This was my ‘rock bottom’. This hike, on this day, in the pouring rain, was my moment of surrender.
As soon as the van arrived back at the resort I ran to my room, peeled off each rain-soaked layer, and wrapped myself in a bathrobe, shivering. I couldn’t warm up. Teeth chattering, I crawled into bed, pulling the covers up over my head, hugging myself.
And I had a deep, soul cleansing, cry.
The Russian knocked playfully as she walked passed my room, yelling enthusiastically through the closed door, “Hey beautiful, I’ll come call on you in 10 minutes!”
I mumbled something back as I lay there, confounded by her energy. How was it possible that I felt so shitty and she was thriving? Why wasn’t she hurting the way I was?
This was the moment I realized that I was looking at my friend as my competition.
I choked on the ugliness of that thought.
I had to face the truth though. As I watched her take on more, go faster, push harder, and do it all with a smile and great attitude, I grew more and more jealous.
For this I am profoundly sorry, and also immensely ashamed.
Moments later, she came to my room to pick me up for our next class: an outdoor pool session. It was still raining and 55 degrees out. I was still shaking like a leaf, unable to regulate my body temperature.
When I answered the door, my face red and bloated from all my crying, she called me out on it, “Baby, have you been crying?“, she asked. I turned away, in shame, knowing the tears would come if I attempted to answer.
She pulled me in and hugged me tight, 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. But it was the mental anguish that hurt the most. I was an emotional basket-case. I didn’t know what to say, so I just stood there and cried for a minute.
It felt good to be held and hugged.
She told me to stay in my room and rest. That was all I needed to hear. It gave me the push to try that pool class. It felt good to know that someone knew I was hurting, and that I had permission to do whatever I needed to do to honour my body.
We walked arm in arm to the pool, where we were asked to pick partners.
And then it dawned on me: THIS IS MY PARTNER!
A partner who was there to support me, regardless of whether I kicked ass or sucked ass. A partner who wouldn’t judge me for being weak. A partner for life.
I went from bawling my eyes out moments earlier to laughing out loud in that pool. During one exercise, she had to swim the length of the pool and back while I played the role of a victim, treading water while lifting a medicine ball high over my head. She is not the strongest swimmer, but she was doing everything she could to get there and back quickly, knowing I was still hurting. I goaded her on, screaming, “C’MON Russkie…I’m drowning…SWIM..FASTER!”
I loved her so much for swimming her little heart out to save me.
And just like that I realized how ridiculous it was for me to ever view her as anything but my ally, my friend, my partner.
That day, in that pool, things turned around for me. My mental state changed. My emotional state changed. And physically, my week turned around. I grew stronger with each activity, including achieving a couple of big personal bests in the days that followed. Moreover, I was finally able to feel true joy for my Russian Princess when she achieved milestones of her own.
That week I learned many important lessons:
Our minds can have a profound effect over our bodies. If I hadn’t lived it, I’m not sure I’d have believe it myself. The difference between how I felt physically before Thursday and after Thursday was night and day.
You can’t be your best or do your best while harbouring toxic feelings, like jealousy, inside. Same goes for unhealthy comparisons or competitiveness. Let it go.
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.
I am so thankful for my week of torture at the Biggest Loser Resort because of the journey of discovery that followed.
Mostly, though, I’m grateful to my amazing and beautiful friend, the Russian Princess, for leading by example, and making me feel loved and supported when I needed it most.
Thank you, love you, owe you.
To skip straight on over to the final post in this series, click here.