Olympian Eating Disorder: Catherine Garceau’s Inspirational Fitness Story
Guest post from Catherine Garceau
At the Sydney 2000 Olympics, I was honored to win a Bronze Medal as part of Canada’s Synchronized Swimming Team. You’d think I’d be set for life after that, right? Well, not really. Like everyone else, I’ve gone through the roller coaster ride of life. In fact, in contrast to my podium high, in 2008, as my weight neared 200 pounds, I hit an all time low–and experienced complete desperation.
“If I could just recommit to regular exercise, get to sleep before 10pm every night, do the master cleanse for 10 days, and stop bingeing, I’d get my body back,” I thought again and again. But the more I aimed for perfection, the more I found myself plunging into a bag of M&Ms or Doritos (or both!). My dedicated weeks of “perfection” came back to haunt me every time, leading to humiliating binges, chronic fatigue, and depression.
Does any of this sound familiar? If so, I hope you can find, as I did, a whole new way to approach weight loss and exercise. For me, this turn-around started when a naturopathic friend gave me a gift: a Qigong DVD. “Qigong…for weight loss?” my athletically obsessed and skeptic mind chattered. But at that point, I was desperate and willing to try anything. So I began the daily practice of this Qigong (wuyijiehe.com). And to my surprise, little by little, my days became more peaceful and my body calmer. Qigong started to fill me with increased energy from within. Still I wondered: Could I ever get my strong and toned body again? And was it even necessary? I decided I’d only commit if I could do so without imposing harsh and regimented training routines on myself. I flew out into the cosmos my intention to find a ‘whole new way’ of experiencing weight loss, exercise and healing.
Gradually I lost weight as I accepted and embraced my body’s needs for rest, balanced nutrition, and a spiritual foundation of faith. Above all, I followed a ‘no rushing‘ rule—I was in this for the long-term– no more quick-fix.
Synchronicities kept showing me the way. For instance, I’d think of a question I had about one aspect of digestion, and ‘poof’ someone would hand me a book addressing this very issue. I’d follow my love for dolphins and ‘poof’ be offered a job to perform as a Mermaid in Vegas. Just short of one year later, after I had decided to move back with my family to rebuild my life and career, my mother kept telling me about a nearby phys-ed teacher who was attracting up to eighty women per night to dance it up in a neighborhood school gym. Never would I have guessed that Zumba Fitness would be this ‘whole new way’ of exercise for me… but that day, after one hour of Latin inspired aerobics, I came home smiling, sweaty, energized and full of hope!
And just as Qigong had become my body-mind practice to foster deep energy generation and rejuvenation, Zumba classes became my time to forget about my worries, loosen up, and have fun. What was most transformative for me wasn’t the great sweat and cardio I got out of each class, but most importantly, I learned to exercise without the cruel energy of punishment featured by my Olympic training workouts in the past.
Even Dr. Daniel Amen, whom I interviewed for my Wellness Olympiad expert library, confirmed the benefits I was getting out of Zumba: “Few activities stimulate as wide a variety of brain systems as dancing does,” says Dr. Amen. And he was right! Much more than weight loss and toning, my organizational skills got better, my memory improved, my body felt lighter and I refound my zest for life! Everything I had studied for so long and seen manifest in others became my reality too.
Now, in addition to coaching privately and teaching 360 Degrees Of Nourishment, a 6-week course I teach online, I now teach both Qigong and Zumba in my local community. This is all great practice for an exciting future ahead, involving dancing and public speaking.
My greatest hope is that YOU find YOUR ‘whole new way’ to exercise and LOVE your body. Five keys to help you:
- See the gift in your downfall; it really can be a new door opening!
- Look for synchronicities, invitations, and new activities. The Universe is always conspiring to make you succeed!
- Less IS more. Replace rules, pain and extended hours at the gym with new body-mind practices such as yoga/qigong.
- Think long term; don’t be a in a rush.
- Ditch The Workout, Join The Party”: try a Zumba class (www.zumba.com) or find your own way to party as you exercise!
Please visit www.wellnessolympiad.com/free for some of the freebies I now offer. Also, look out for my book, Heart of Bronze. Until then, keep it light!
Olympic Bronze Medalist,
Founder of the Wellness Olympiad