We all know that strength, focus, and persistence are not unique to Olympians. and so goes it for insecurities and challenges. Everyday, I’m humbled to experience more of my sensitive side, which far from resonates with the image of the warrior Olympian that most see in me, due to my past.
Toronto, 2000-2002 – what many don’t know.
Even at the peak of an Olympic high and academic excellence (I won an Olympic bronze medal for swimming in Sydney 2000), I found myself ‘never good enough’. You know the deal: a body that’s just not thin or lean enough, mental accuracy diminishing, fear of losing the man you love…
Luckily something had to be good enough for me to receive a wake up call, which initiated a journey into wellness rather than destruction.
Something told me Prozac just wasn’t the way to go…
The still small voice – thank God I listened!
In 2002, as we were going through our focus group prior to our performance at the FINA cup in Switzerland, I heard a voice from above. Clearly it said: “Catherine, this is your last swim. It’s time that you take care of yourself.”
Less than 48 hours later, I was sitting at the Zurich airport revealing my new truth to the team. We cried, we hugged, but they understood. By the time I was back in Toronto, I felt ready to start a new life, out of the water.
Fast forward a few years and I was back IN THE WATER, now part of the best aquatic performances in the world. In Now living in Las Vegas, I first performed as a “mermaid” in a Salt water tank, and later in Le Rêve, the Dragone production (sister to Circque du Soleil) at the Wynn Casino. Le Rêve was a dream-like production with acrobats, aerialists, divers and synchronized swimmers, all showcasing athletic mastery, humor and drama in a magical storyline of living beyond the human dream.
But even amidst this dream, environmental toxicity (late night performances in chlorinated environments) got the best of me. Why was I so f***in fragile? I wondered?, again….
From nutrition, brain chemistry, environmental toxicity to emotional freedom techniques, I traveled far and wide to find what has contributed to this fragility, the eating disorders and depression, which all seem to limit my freedom to just enjoy my life.
Leaving Las Vegas – with style.
Having enough of Vegas, I decided to leave the comfort of aquatic performance to venture into the world of business and marketing (what I had study) and move to San Diego. I chose to celebrate my departure with a hike in the Red Rock Canyon. Keenly, I headed up Pinnacle Peak (the highest point in the Canyon) with my journal, a pencil and a booklet of prayers.
Within the hour, I found myself at the top of a stunning overlook of the Las Vegas strip and a 360 degree view of the desert. Fully taking in the power of this goodbye, I felt ready for the next adventure. Little did I know that this peak experience, on August 6th, 2006, would turn into a life-changing 24 hours of being STUCK on a ledge facing the scariest circumstances of my life.
(Looking for a faster way down, I had wedged myself down a vertical corner wall. But this landed me at a dead end: a small platform with a sharp cliff before me and a wall I could not climb behind. Alone, with no food or water, I was stuck.)
Opportunity in disguise.
I won’t lie to you. Being stuck on the ledge and not giving in to fear required that warrior Olympian to show up. I flip-flopped many times between fear and my ability to choose otherwise.
Emotions oscillated during seven attempts to climb the wall (where I nearly fell), crazy hot heat, haunting eating disorder memories (and current realities), inspiration to start writing a book (what? me? a writer?), yelling and crying, which yield nothing more than a pathetic echo, oneness with nature, the sun setting, the cold, surrender, the bugs, painful rocks beneath my butt, fear of death, a new desire to share natural health principals (and expose chlorine byproducts problems and solutions for pools), etc.
But driven by curiosity, I kept asking: “Is this an invitation? Is this an initiation? If so, for what?”
Montréal & Los Angeles, 2012 & beyond
Six years later, Swimming Out of Water, the book I began writing on the ledge was published*. Climbing the ‘impossible’ wall I faced for 24 hours changed my life. What used to be a desire to understand health for my own benefit became a passion to provide solutions for others, too.
As I know fully take in the intense healing journey I’ve been through since the onset of my retirement from the Olympic team, I can’t help to thank my sensitivity for teaching me SO MUCH.
Having spent both a decade training to the top in sport, and the next 11 years dedicated to career, healing and purpose, I can honestly say that compared to dealing with food addictions and depression, the Olympics were a walk in the park. So if you struggle with any of these challenges, please know how amazing you are even if you’re ‘sport’ isn’t labeled as one! (The EAT360 program was created for just that purpose – greater freedom with food and body – for good.)
I’m excited to be sharing the solutions and system I’ve found and co-created to deal with the struggles that once held me back.
To find out more about an cutting edge program to experience freedom with food and body – visit www.eat360program.com
Health & Wellness Coach
BodyMind Nutrition – EFT practitioner
Speaker, Author of Swimming Out of Water
Olympic Bronze Medalist – Sydney 2000
CALL 1-888-832-9690 <tel:1-888-832-9690>