Swimming Out Of Water: How An Olympian's Struggle Inspired Breakthrough Discoveries In Health And Well-being by Catherine GarceauSwimming Out Of Water: How An Olympian's Struggle Inspired Breakthrough Discoveries In Health And Well-being by Catherine Garceau

Swimming Out Of Water: How An Olympian's Struggle Inspired Breakthrough Discoveries In Health And…

byCatherine Garceau

Paperback | September 1, 2012

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Most people who knew Catherine Garceau during the early years of this century were struck by just how much she had going for her. The tall blonde with a body to kill for had won a Bronze medal at the 2000 Olympic Games as part of Canada's synchronized swimming team. But no one knew that Catherine, having lost her main outlet for her obsession with perfection, was floundering in her post-Olympic life. Performing in Las Vegas and building a career in business and marketing weren't fulfilling. In fact, part of her felt she was losing it all: her athletic body, her high-achieving mind and most humiliating, her image of excellence.

Now, in Swimming Out of Water, Garceau goes beneath the surface of her life. From the lens of a life-changing experience she had while hiking in the Red Rock National Park outside Las Vegas. Stuck on a cliff, alone, for twenty-four hours, she flashes back to moments of fear, failure, loss, triumph, and breakthrough, which all decorated her journey with valuable lessons. Written in the journal she took with her that day, Garceau realizes and reveals the negative effects of sugar and many chemicals found in our food and environments, including the chlorine she had bathed in for so many years.

Alas, with no one coming to her rescue, how did she get herself up from the ledge? How has her dream of a chlorine free swimming evolved? And how has she turned the stubborn eating disorders she faced into programs to help free other women from emotional eating?

Birthed from the edge of the Red Rocks and brought to completion in her continued years of integration, education and healing, Swimming Out of Water's raw nature takes on the transparent quality of water, the very element Garceau is here to both defend and embody.

Spend this day on the rocks with her...and discover the grace of swimming out of water.

In Swimming Out Of Water, Catherine Garceau, Olympic Medalist and dynamic bilingual speaker from Montreal, Canada shares revealing water and wellness discoveries women and swimmers of all ages will benefit from. From a unique combination of personal athletic stardom and a passionate pursuit to find natural means to overcome health adve...
Title:Swimming Out Of Water: How An Olympian's Struggle Inspired Breakthrough Discoveries In Health And…Format:PaperbackDimensions:232 pages, 9.04 × 6.08 × 0.64 inPublished:September 1, 2012Publisher:Morgan James PublishingLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1614482594

ISBN - 13:9781614482598

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Read from the Book

Swimming Out of Water: IntroductionMore than a decade has passed since I proudly walked up to take my place on the third step of the Olympic podium at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia."So, Catherine, how did winning an Olympic Bronze medal change your life?" I am frequently asked. "And how have my struggles with bingeing, purging, and depression also changed the course of my life?" I often feel like adding. This book is my answer to both of these questions, and then some. It shares the heartfelt exposé of my life through the lens of a transformational experience I had while hiking in the Red Rocks of Las Vegas. Trapped, alone, for more than twenty-four hours with nothing more than my journal, a pencil, and my booklet of prayers, I was shown a new way-with faith-to perceive my life.Eating disorders were both a curse and a gift. They kept nudging me to dig deeper and deeper and deeper. My never-ending health quest (which has taken now more than a decade) has guided me to live in eight different US cities while I synchronistically met many of the country's leading experts in fields related to holistic health and wellness.A few years into this healing quest is when this life-changing experience of getting stuck in the Red Rocks mirrored to me the many places where I was also stuck in my mind. I saw how my definitions of beauty, connection, health, and success were still jaded, cemented into unattainable perceptions of perfection. During my athletic career, I had transcended many limitations in order to move beyond aspiring athlete and become an Olympic medalist. Now, emerging as an empowered woman meant transcending many cultural beliefs I adopted as a young lady. Luckily, I was inspired to climb whatever mental walls of old memories and beliefs I would come across.As in every good story, a happy ending often comes after many tests of patience and perseverance. Unfortunately, applying my Olympic success formula-goal setting followed by practice, practice, practice-didn't help me achieve success in my health and happiness quest. In fact, the more efforting I made, the worse I seemed to get.The same was true in the Red Rocks; many efforts to climb myself out were fruitless.A major discovery I made when I looked beneath the surface of the many symptoms I experienced were the effects of toxicity. We are all exposed to many environmental hazards, and this for me included a lot of chlorine and its dangerous byproducts. I was shocked to learn just how poisonous to the body it is to bathe for hours every day in overly chlorinated pools.1Unfortunately, North America's public pools are still lagging behind in terms of technology and proper air and water management in creating safe swimming and spa environments that are not hazardous to our health. Avid swimmers: not to worry. There are solutions. This book will help us move forward toward swimming experiences that are health promoting in every way. More on this mission later.While it was research about chlorine that initially got my attention, my findings extended far beyond the effects of one chemical. I discovered that many sources of toxicity like formaldehyde, mercury, pesticides, fluoride and chloroform assault us daily. Then there's the A to Z list of food additives and artificial sweeteners that we willingly buy and feed to our families. These not only add to the toxicity problem; they sadly fuel food addictions and depression-yes, really.In my case, reactions to chlorine, other chemicals and many staple foods were slowly killing me. After a childhood of ear infections, migraines and chronic bronchitis; digestive belching, bloating, and cramping became an every day occurrence in my early twenties and beyond. Who wouldn't develop a warped relationship with food in those conditions? Just as I was finding out a way to survive with over-exercise, restrictive eating, and out-of-control binging cycles; losses in memory, chronic anxiety, fatigue, and severe spurts of sadness humbled me to tears.What to do?Already skeptical of orthodox medicine for its superficial symptom suppression approach and lack of long-term improvements; I knew my body was trying to tell me something. Toxic overload was hindering much more than my physiology: it was affecting my mind and spirit too. By the age of twenty-three, even when doctors thought a simple combination of Prozac and psychological counseling was my answer, I knew it wasn't.So, have I written this book to scare you with all sorts of facts about chemicals, food, emotions and toxicity? Perhaps a little, but the greater story that needs to be told is one that transcends the shortcomings and capabilities of the physical body alone. Although I want to inform you of essential information I think every woman and swimmer should know, I also provide enough context and solutions to avoid leaving anyone feeling alarmed. Most important, woven through the very experiences that showed me that sometimes willpower and hard work aren't enough, I share the lessons of faith, perseverance, and patience that helped me regain dynamic health. I found that when facing life's hard challenges, developing a strong foundation of faith first is paramount to success, next to being scientifically informed.Our body is incredibly designed to keep us alive under the conditions that we fill up with certain nutrients and avoid certain toxins. When we view symptoms as signs of imbalance, we don't ask the mechanic (the doctor) to disconnect the engine light of our car (which would be like taking medicine for our symptom to go away), we find out why the light's on and get that taken care of. My imbalanced relationship to food was the flashing light beckoning me into a much deeper journey.It is now clear to me that we can all tap into our own transformational powers by using any challenge (including deathly diseases) as fuel for growth and positive life change. We don't have to be doctors to learn and understand the wisdom of our body and to heal naturally-the journey within is possible for everyone. Swimming Out Of Water is a call to swim ourselves out of the toxic soup we live in and to believe that no matter how dark, murky, or turbulent our internal oceans may be at times, a lot of heart, inspired trust, and correct information can guide us in the right direction.I believe that healing can only happen when we dare to take a thorough and honest look at ourselves to then make conscious change. If what I share with you in this book triggers painful memories, current challenges, and/or visions you've yet to make manifest, I invite you to do as I did: to open up a journal and allow insights to bubble up from the depths of your consciousness. Know that you are safe, welcome support, expect healing, and possibly even new direction. And if peace, clarity and results don't come right away-remember to have faith and patience-miracles for you may be just upstream beckoning you deeper or even right around the corner.I am honored and excited to share this perfectly imperfect slice of life, or tranche de vie, as we say in French. However this story reaches you, may it help you discover and fully embrace the power of living in synchronicity and trust!Chapter 9Rose-colored GogglesIt is the food which you furnish to your mind that determines the whole character of your life. -Emmet FoxI slipped my pencil into the centerfold of my journal, snapped it shut, and put it down on the ground behind me to the left. In climbing the wall, I had no faith and staring at those words wasn't doing me any good.Doubting my power, strength, and ability to climb back up the wall was hardly a new feeling for me. Throughout my life I have experienced setbacks that produced the same feeling of inadequacy. Or maybe it was the other way around. Were my deep-seated feelings of unworthiness subconsciously setting me up for failure? If so, how would I reverse this negative spell?Faith aside, one of the most satisfying breakthroughs that came to me through synchronized swimming was learning to adopt an optimistic approach in different areas of my life. It would be hard for anyone to develop the motivation it takes to achieve something great, such as an Olympic bronze medal, without learning from challenges, setbacks, and shortcomings. Perhaps it was my stubborn lack of self-confidence that motivated me to devote time, effort, and commitment to my mental training.People who meet me today (and chuckle at my cheerful and upbeat nature) have a hard time believing that I was such a serious and pessimistic child. How on earth did I become an Olympian if I was always so negative? Actually, it's amazing to realize how many high achievers are motivated by pain, or the avoidance of pain. Our brains seek adrenaline in activities that elevate dopamine and serotonin levels, which are often depleted from years of stress or even set off balance from birth. Sometimes, we even find activities and passions we can devote ourselves to one hundred percent to forget or to create the biochemical reactions that make us feel good. But these temporary fixes almost always lead to greater problems over time.For me, there was no hiding anymore: I've been surfing a wave of sadness for as long as I can remember and using temporary coping strategies hardly worked anymore. During various phases of my life, symptoms of deep sadness (and what I now know to be a mix of childhood emotional traumas and brain chemistry imbalances) showed up as insomnia, over-exercising, chronic dieting, bingeing, isolation, procrastination, and breaking down in tears at the slightest perceived failure. With one foot grounded in deep spiritual inquiry, my other foot kept investigating the world of neuroscience and toxicology in order to better understand the brain's connection to mind-body health. It's sure been an interesting puzzle to put together. While many experts will proclaim to have figured out all the pieces of the puzzle, it is my belief that how and when the pieces come together for each individual differs greatly from person to person and could be orchestrated for a much higher purpose-for each of us to truly get the lessons we are here to learn.Today, when I catch myself feeling down, discouraged with my progress, or judgmental of others, I bring compassion to the situation and choose to move forward with love. I've come to accept that if I do lose myself in negativity for a while, it's probably Life asking me to walk through another tunnel in order to see the Light. This involves choosing to feel and release the arising emotions instead of avoiding them with exercise or food. And in the event that I succumb to old habits of eating instead of feeling, I remind myself that the journey towards emotional freedom and the acceptance of imperfections is always unfolding.With brain health on my radar, I found the work of Dr. Daniel Amen, which included his Change Your Brain Change Your Life book series and educational PBS programs. Suddenly, there was much more to brain health than I could have imagined. As I continued to learn more about neurology and several human typing systems that reveal the uniqueness of our combined genetic, energetic, and chemical makeup, I learned that those of us who struggle early on may be born with certain predispositions, which others (who seem to breeze through life) are not. What became more and more obvious was how much the integrity of our chemistry and neurology greatly influences our emotions and behaviors. Whether the cause was a genetic predisposition, a dominant personality trait, a birth trauma (subtle brain injuries are often caused at birth), conditioning from a childhood trauma, overburdened organs from toxicity, or a combination of it all, understanding the interconnectedness of everything helped me gain patience and compassion for many health enigmas, including my own. Dr. Amen's findings made more and more sense the more I observed myself and those in my life.Catherine's doing great in school, but we're a little worried, my kindergarten teacher told my Mom during a parent-teacher interview. "She seems to be very uptight."Uptight? As a kindergartener? What would make her think that?When I got dressed for recess, I obsessed over the knot in my winter scarf. I stood in front of the classroom mirror, tying the knot again and again ... until I made it look just perfect. All the rest of the kids were outside playing and building snowmen. When I finally made it outside to join them, the bell rang and recess was over.Catherine, you know that you can just throw it on. It doesn't have to look perfect every time," my Mom said as she tied my scarf (just perfectly) the next morning.This was easy for her to say. She would flip my scarf around my neck, under and around just perfect in less than five seconds.No matter what Mom said, I liked my scarf tied just right, the way she taught me.My brother, on the other hand, laughed at me as he watched me ditch draft after draft of a paper. He told me my rejected drafts were better than his final papers. But that was the only way I knew how to operate.It wasn't until I was in my early twenties and facing my biggest challenge to date-attempting to make the Olympic team-that I was forced to see the world and myself in a more positive light and to stop being so hard on myself. I desperately needed to look at my world through rose-colored glasses and was determined to do just that, literally. I found myself a pair of bright pink tinted goggles to replace the cool dark-mirrored ones we all wore at practice. The impact of the new goggles was instant and helped anchor in me the importance of keeping a positive outlook during training. It was even worth the teasing I got from the team for wearing such girly goggles.Deciding to change my thinking was one thing, but doing so was quite another. With my synchro results being just below the mark, and having exhausted every bit of extra training and coaching I could get, changing my thinking was my only hope of making the Olympic team.One of the first steps was to speak with a sport psychologist-again.As a young adolescent, after much encouragement from my Mom and sister, I agreed to one session with Jane, a renowned psychologist in our area. I had only one condition-that my sister go with me. That was okay with Mom. All she and the coaches wanted was for me to learn to relax more and to be less hard on myself.I remember this session vividly. I sat on Jane's couch, my hands awkwardly tucked under my butt, putting up with what seemed like a never-ending interrogation. Finally Jane asked both of us to stand up and directed my sister to climb on top of my shoulders.Annik hopped clumsily onto my back. Shocked by the extra weight, I wobbled forward and back until I managed to stay put."Catherine, doesn't it feel heavy to carry her on your shoulders" Jane asked. "Look, you can't even walk."She watched as my knees shook."When you walk around worrying about everything all the time, it's like carrying Annik on your shoulders."Although Annik and I giggled our way through this exercise, the experience did stick in my mind, as did Jane's direction that I should wear an elastic band on my wrist and snap it anytime a worry reared its ugly head, as a way of conditioning myself against self-criticism.Five years later, when I was training for the Olympics, I sought support from another psychologist, in addition to the one we already worked with as a team. This felt as humbling and uncomfortable as that visit with Jane years before. But at this point I knew I needed it. I wasn't going to let ego get in the way of my dream-no way. If I had kept up with my visits with Jane, or at least had kept snapping an elastic band to remind myself to stay on top of my mental game, I wouldn't have let pessimism pile up inside me. Helpful tools and practices don't work if you don't use them.It certainly wasn't typical of me to reach out or consult school counselors, my coaches, or even my parents when things bothered me. It was usually the other way around. They'd come to me and ask, "Catherine, is everything okay?"My "yes, I'm fine" never fooled them, at least not my mother.My sessions with this new sports psychologist, Sandra, quickly reminded me that everyone can use the advice of a personal and/or professional mentor. No matter whether it's for health issues or to grow a business, professional guidance can help us be the best we can be, giving us insights and tools while keeping us accountable to our commitments.Learning how to deal with my struggles was a journey of balancing outside support with my own work of getting to know myself-and getting to know how I was wired to think. I read inspiring books, I wrote in a journal, I reflected on my feelings, and I learned to recognize my negative tendencies. The process took much dedication and sometimes made me feel hopeless. I was encouraged to write a few powerful affirmations on my bedroom's white board and read them out loud first thing when I got up in the morning.While doing this, the task was to tune in to how my body felt about the words I was saying. At first I hated this practice. But I was committed to my success. I even went beyond the morning affirmations to read them again at night, before I went to bed. And boy did this process test my patience. Even after weeks of reading and thinking positive affirmations, I could barely feel a difference in how I felt about them. But I didn't give up. I kept believing that one day they would become truths for me."I am a strong woman!""I have done the work!""I am good enough!""I can do it!"It was obvious which technical skills I needed to improve in the pool. Negative thought patterns, however, still easily snuck up on me and sabotaged my good work. The goal was to stay as alert as possible. It was like being on a negative thought diet-detecting and deflecting any thought that might hinder my mental game as if I was avoiding fattening calories.By applying the principles of positive affirmation, a less judgmental spirit, and compassion for all the little mistakes I still made along the way, I slowly became more and more confident. I was no longer so obsessed with everything I still had to make better, but celebrated the small improvements I made daily. I kept my focus on the higher energies that achieving my dream created. By making my dream more real than my fears, I tipped the scale in my favor."Rose-colored Glasses," a song from my favorite Canadian band, Blue Rodeo, became an anchoring song for me, helping me to stay focused on the positive. At the pool I followed through on my plan to wear pink goggles. Out of the pool I wore that elastic band around my wrist and filled my apartment with many positive visuals, whether affirmations, inspirational pictures of success, or beautiful flowers-anything to make me smile and remind me of my ability to choose a positive filter for perceiving my world.And it happened. Suddenly (it seemed) I became one of the leaders on our team. I was displaying increased confidence and self-esteem and this shift was having a mirror effect on my performances. I also felt more peace while I trained, and I felt better as a whole person-not just when I was in the water. It all snowballed powerfully into an experience of overall greater self-fulfillment.As I mentioned earlier, when I look back on my Olympic journey, it isn't the momentary act of winning a Bronze medal that I remember or take pride in the most but the road I took to get there. The development of optimism and greater self-confidence are medals I get to wear often-whenever I need a reminder that accomplishing new dreams usually requires adopting new beliefs.Both the sun above and the rock beneath me were becoming unbearably hot. Rose-colored goggles? What I needed now was a large reflective panel-like those windshield sunshades for cars-to keep me from completely frying in what felt like a toaster oven.Getting myself out of this increasingly intolerable heat was motivation enough to attempt to climb the wall again.I looked up at the intimidating wall that stood before me, invoked positive energy to surround me, and said out loud,"I can do this."I reminded myself how I was usually better on the way up anyway. After a few minutes of studying the wall and taking mental notes of a few rock dents where I could put my feet for stability and leverage, I decided to give it another try. And this time I meant business.I took a deep breath, exhaled, and declared, "I can do this."And up I went. First I positioned my left foot on one side and grabbed the far side of a secure rock with my right hand. Instantly I was showered with fears. Okay, now what? I hung there looking down to find the next nook I could use to step up with my right foot. I couldn't reach the rock I had planned as my second step. My body was shaking and I hadn't even moved anywhere yet."What if I fall?" I thought. "No, no, come on, you can do it."My body started shaking even more. The protruding rock at the start of this wall made it impossible for me to secure my second foot and get over the initial rock formation. I attempted one step up and almost slipped down completely. One thought of falling all the way down the cliff was all it took. In total panic I managed to jump back down to my secure little spot, a flat small surface big enough for me to stand with my legs only a shoulder width apart.With my best efforts and intentions far good enough to get me up the wall, I began wondering about other factors that could be limiting my success. I often read about the power of our words, thoughts and beliefs-how they highly impact the reality we create. While my attempt to climb this risky wall demonstrated a willingness to be physically courageous, my beliefs, thoughts and spoken words weren't as convincing. Evidently, they had been drowning in doubt. If I were going to succeed at climbing the wall, I'd have to engage in nothing but optimism with a true belief in my ability, confident thoughts and convincing words.Alas, defaulting to what I really felt in my body; I succumbed to affirming my seemingly bleak situation."I really am stuck here. This is hopeless." What if positive thinking and affirmations weren't enough this time? Come to think of it, my success with positive affirmations had resulted from an equal amount (if not more) of energy devoted to uncovering the false beliefs I held about not being good enough. What would shouting "I am strong enough" do for me if deep down I believed I was way too weak to climb this intimidating wall?Albert Einstein once said, "In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins, not through strength but by perseverance."Was I to become the stream of perseverance? If so, how?

Table of Contents

One Early Morning: Ready for Change
Leaving Las Vegas
Perfectionism or Procrastination?
Prayer, Paper, and Pencil
Ariel and Barbie
Canada Day
Lost in Translation
Two Midday Sun: In the Hot Seat
Synch or Swim?
Rose-colored Goggles
Pan Am Games
From Donkey to Dolphins
The Night-blooming Cereus
Eau de Chlorine
My Body's Cry for Help
Fish Out of Water
How Deep Is the Bottom?
Quintessential Discoveries
Three Nightfall: Gains and Losses
The Still, Small Voice
Money and Me
In Synch with Food
Perchance to Sleep
Pod Consciousness
Partner in Crime
Olympian Love
Four Daybreak: Light Shining Through
Inundated by Grace
Faith, Bronze, and God
Swimming In Synchronicity
Appendix / 360° of Nourishment: A Woman's Compass to Emotional Freedom, Self-Care, & Radiant Beauty (+5 Mistakes I Made & How to Choose Self-Love Instead)