Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Book Tour: "Swimming Out of Water" by Catherine Garceau Book Review

Olympic Medalist Catherine Garceau Recounts True Tale of Survival & Success: An Insider’s Story of Olympic Trials and Real-Life Struggles
For an Olympic athlete, the quest for excellence can take a heavy toll. Catherine Garceau, a 2000 Bronze Medalist, has paid a heavy price since her victory, dealing with numerous physical and psychological issues experienced and 'stuffed down' during her years of constant training and single-minded focus. Training at the Olympic level can have a dark side; depression, anxiety attacks, and eating disorders are more prevalent than anyone knows. The stress of constant training so often becomes both a cause and a cover for great physical and psychological troubles.

In her upcoming book, Swimming Out of Water: How an Olympian’s Struggle Inspired Breakthrough Discoveries in Health and Well-Being (Morgan James Publishers, July 2012), Catherine talks candidly about life before, during and after the Olympics. The book recounts how she became a healthier person AFTER she stopped competing. Today, with certificates in eating psychology and mind/body nutrition, she also advocates a reduction of chlorine by-products in pools. Prolonged exposure to high levels of chlorine by-products can be toxic, and has been linked to numerous health issues including asthma and other chronic respiratory ailments, skin irritations, digestive issues, and hormonal disruptions, all of which she personally struggled with. Catherine advises competitive and leisure swimmers on how to swim smart, swim safe, and also champions new pool filtration innovations that minimize chlorine by-products for healthier swimming pool environments.

Despite some of the tough topics she covers in her book, Catherine is a staunch supporter of the Olympic experience and of aquatics. While she has found other ways to keep fit and enjoy an active lifestyle, she still loves to swim and enjoys doing so in pools that utilize chlorine alternatives and more holistic processes. Her book shares great information and solutions on all these topics; delivered with the delightfully upbeat energy that make her a great storyteller and interview.

Swimming Out of Water: How an Olympians Struggle Inspired Breakthrough Discoveries in Health and Well-Being by Catherine Garceau (Olympic Bronze Medalist 2000 Sydney Games)
Morgan James Publishers, July 2012
Paperback | 210 Pages with 35 black & white photos
ISBN: 978-161448259-8
$19.99 (US)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was not at all what I expected.  I figured it would be an autobiography written by a former Olympian who shared her secrets to Olympic victory through health and wellness.  I was wrong.  This entire book takes place in a 24-hour time span in one solitary place (no spoilers).  The story is told through flashbacks and self-discovery.

This Olympian struggled most of her life with things I would not think an athlete her would.  Poor body image, negative self-talk, chlorine toxicity, and much more.  It was only after her Olympics and swimming career that she learned to "swim out of water" and fix the problems that had ruled her for most of her life.

I was intrigued by many of the stories she told, but sometimes my interest waned when she became a little technical or quoted other people.  I also could not fully appreciate her spiritual views--syncretism in religion is not something I ever support.  But it was good to see her go from great distress to perfect peace within her life.

Sometimes her style left a little to be desired.  I sometimes got confused when she jumped around in her life story.  I could not keep everything straight at times.  But I was mostly impressed with the book, and I think people would basically enjoy the story as I did--especially in light of the Olympics.

I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are 100 percent mine.

Book Excerpt:

Eau de Chlorine
“Feelings are like chemicals, the more you
analyze them the worse they smell.”
—Charles Kingsley

By the time I was twenty-three, eating disorders, with which I
had struggled off and on since I was seventeen, had taken their toll on
my body and mind. To be overwhelmed with unexplainable fatigue,
terrible indigestion, waves of depression, and a lack of a zest for life
was my frustrating reality. And the more I researched health, the
more I became aware of the dangers of many hidden toxins in our
environment — certainly, in my case, overexposure to the popular
disinfectant known as chlorine. That’s when I learned about chlorine
and most importantly, the toxic byproducts (known as Disinfection
Byproducts, DBP’s) it creates when in contact with the organic
matter found in water and in our bodies.

Note: From this point on, I’m going to refer to this mixture
of chlorine and its byproducts34 as chlorine+ to remind us that it
is not simply “chlorine” but rather, its reaction byproducts that are
causing more serious health issues.

As I would discover, when chlorine combines with organic
matter, a seriously toxic family of chemicals, commonly referred to as
Thihalomethanes (THM’s) and Haloacetic Acids (HAA’s), are formed.
Chlorine+’s most severe effects from extensive exposure have included
lung aggravation (such as asthma and chronic bronchitis) infertility, and
bladder cancer35. More common side effects of chlorine+ are accepted as
‘normal’ for swimmers; yet dehydration, digestive issues, ear infections
and skin irritations could all be avoided.

My depressive tendencies, hormonal imbalances, digestive problems,
and chronic respiratory infections were all very probable side effects
of toxic overdose, which chlorine+ was possibly a factor in. I had also
been asthmatic as a child, but no one had ever made the connection
between the constant aggravation of my lungs, chlorine+, and my
overall poor health. Why were we not being informed of the risks of
these environmental chemicals?

I started wondering about some of the conditions I had
experienced that may have been misdiagnosed. I could be counted on
to get bronchitis at least four times a year36. The “infection” kept me
up coughing for hours at night until I finally fell asleep in a sitting
position with several pillows stacked up against the wall at the top
of my bed.

Studies now show that chlorine+ affects our respiratory system by
lingering in the air right above the surface of the pool.37 I was taking one
antibiotic prescription after another to treat the symptoms — asthma
and bronchitis — rather than the cause.

Chlorine+, as I would continue to discover, was only one portion
of the toxic soup I (and many others) had been exposed to from a very
young age. Processed foods and food sensitivities were also a big part of
the problem. And living in a household of smoking parents was no doubt
a big factor as well. To think that so many have grown up in even more
toxic environments, featuring emotional/physical abuse, starvation,
contaminated water, and a lack of resources, I consider myself relatively

Also around the age of twenty-three, my menstruation had slowly
become less frequent and finally stopped altogether. Most doctors told
me it was due to lowered body fat. If their explanation was correct,
then why didn’t my menstrual cycle return when I retired from intensive
training, gained weight, and returned to more normal female body fat?
Once again, the answers pointed at toxicity.

Besides what I was learning about chlorine+’ dangers, the more
I read, the more I discovered the harmful effects of many other
substances I had blindly accepted as ‘medicine’. Penicillin to counter
countless cases of bronchitis, Advil for shoulder inflammation,
cortisone shots when the pain got intolerable, numerous vaccines38
to travel to foreign countries and cosmetics39 (lotions I lathered on
my skin to mask my ‘Eau De Chlorine’ perfume) were all doing more
harm than good. Mix all of that in with a highly processed diet that
seesawed between a strict high protein/low carbohydrate regimen
and binges on sweets and pastries and it’s no wonder I experienced
bad digestion!

Author Bio:

Catherine Garceau is the CEO of Wellness Olympiad, Inc., a leadership coaching, training and lifestyle consulting firm dedicated to promoting holistic health and well-being and raising awareness of the toxic effects of chlorine byproducts. For more information please visit Follow her on Twitter: @catgarceau.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Ruth,

    Thank you for your honest review I appreciate it.


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