Death by swimming

Photo: SXC

Hubby and I live in New Brunswick, Canada and therefore, we are tortured blessed to have the opportunity to experience the glory of winter. White fluffy snow shimmers like diamonds for 4 or 5 months a year. Hubby and I build snowmen, make snow angels and hold hands frolicking and skipping through it every day (not)!

Snowstorms dump anywhere from 10 to 15 centimeters of snow (which is a considered a light sprinkling, I might add) every week for about 20 weeks coupled with a dozen or more “real” snowstorms of 30+ centimeters. And it’s not like it melts away the next day, no siree. The white stuff just adds up and adds up until your driveway is a tiny one-lane roadway that your vehicle hardly gets through with 12 foot mountains of the white shit on either side. It’s sick!

Honestly, it starts snowing sometime in November/December and it doesn’t stop until late March (we’ve actually been known to get 30+ snowstorms in April…seriously…no joke). And if that wasn’t enough, throughout the 20-week snowstorm marathon we will endure -20 to -30 degree Celsius temperatures (and don’t forget it’ll actually feel like -40 to -50 with the freaking wind chill…gotta love wind chill) and reduced sunlight (it’s dark when you get up and leave for work and dark by the time you get home). No wonder we turn into real grump bags.

Now, don’t get me wrong; hubby and I work hard to make the best of it. We enjoy downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing etc. But honestly, there’s only so much freezing your ass off trudging through the snow that you can take before you get a hate-on for all things winter.

In comes the annual trip south; our winter coping mechanism.

Hubby and I got married April 2010 in the Dominican Republic and we’ve been addicts ever since. Our annual 2-week trip south is our very own “you don’t really notice winter” kind of drug. It gives us hope; something to look forward to as we endure yet again, another snowstorm. We even say to each other “oh well…we can take this 40-50 centimeter storm, it’s only 70 more sleeps till we are basking in the sun on a white sandy beach!” Voila. It’s like winter beer goggles!

The only bad thing (and I say bad but it’s probably a pretty good thing) is that the trip south has made us very aware of our…well…pudge factor. A summer and fall at the camp has equated to about 20 pounds of fun on my thighs and ass and on hubby’s tummy.

So this year, in preparation for “the” trip (and in the name of fitting into our summer clothes and the bikinis – my bikinis, not hubby’s), hubby signed us up for an 8-week fitness swimming class. The class description said it was for anyone wanting “to increase their swimming fitness.”

Perfect! When south, we do lots of swimming so not only will this help with fitness and weight loss, it’ll help us increase our stamina for snorkeling – fahhbulous, right?!?!

Our first indication should have been when hubby signed us up for the class. He stepped up to the cash and told the lady what he was there to register for.

 “Wonderful, are you and your wife training for a triathlon?” she asked.

Ummmmm…hubby (at 6’3” and 280 pounds) is no tiny man and he carries his weight primarily in the belly region.

Hubby looked at her, grinned, and slowly opened his jacket.

“Do I look like I am training for a triathlon?” he replied.

The cashier giggled.

“What am I getting us into?” hubby asked.

“Oh no no no…you guys will be fine! Absolutely! No worries.”

Yikes. But how hard could it be?

It’s water; beautiful and silky, in a gorgeous pool making everything blue and luxurious. It draws me in. I have visions of slicing through the water with ease. My swim strokes graceful and fluid. People commenting on what a natural I am; dolphin-like with speed and agility.

Ummmmmmm…not so much!

After three weeks, I am now convinced that the devil is reincarnated in this swimming pool! He likes to reach up and torture me with continuous toe, feet, and calf cramps not to mention the awkward flailing and near drownings. Every muscle in my body screams bloody murder. I swear as we drive up to the pool, a revolution starts taking place on the inside and body parts refuse to move. It’s death by swimming.

Seriously. The shit we do to get/stay in shape! I swear, if I manage to achieve any kind of fitness level and/or weight loss, I am NOT letting myself get so far gone again because this is painful!!!

How do you handle getting back into shape? What do you do to help get you through tough weather seasons?



  1. You are frikkin hilarious. And I want to see Hubby in a bikini too. That’s just not fair that you have to wear one and he doesn’t. I want a redo!

    I swam competitively for seven years as a kid and I had to be at the *outdoor* pool by 5am so I could train for two hours before school. Yeah, I feel your pain. The only good thing about my swimming was that I was also a diver, so after an hour I got to hop out of the pool, freeze my butt off while waiting for everyone else to dive, then do mine before getting out of the pool and repeating the process.

    I try to avoid swimming now. I have a friend who is a Master Swimmer and kept trying to get me to join. Um, no thanks. I paid my penance, and now if I swim, it’s for leisure, thankyouverymuch!

    I will say, though, that part of my rehab after the foot surgery was in the water and some of the exercises they taught me I still do when I take Michael to the pool. They work every muscle and I love it. I don’t sweat, it’s outside in the sun, I get to hang out with the kid, what’s not to love?

    Have fun swimming with your dolphin-like grace! You’re going to be so hot (more so than you already are, if that’s possible!) come time for your trip and you’ll be like, Yeah, I love swimming.

    I’m going to have to call you Natalie Phelps. We’ll see you in London for the 2012 Olympics!

    • Hubby in a bikini – yes – I say we petition him to do a little “photoshoot” for my readers!!! And if not a bikini, maybe some ultra sexy speedo-type hotness. I know he’ll love it. I bet he’s reading this right now thinking “that sounds awwwwesome!!!”
      OMG you did death by swimming TOO?!?! I wonder how many more of us there are out there? Yikes.
      It is great exercise and I know it’ll be worth it come trip south time when I am feeling more fit, maybe a wee bit thinner, and can manage the waves with a little more tenacity!
      Natalie Phelps…hmmm…perhaps we should hold off just a year or so while I am in “training”! LOL!!!

  2. lynnkelleyauthor says:

    Wow, your freezing winters make me cold just reading about it. What a workout you signed up for with the swim program! Sheesh! If you keep it up, you’re going to be in super shape. My daughter used to be on a swim team, and it amazed me how many laps those kids had to swim. I’m not a swimmer and don’t even know the proper strokes, but working out in a pool is great when it’s on my own terms. I’m happy to run/jog/jump all around the shallow end, just kicking back and enjoying the birds flying above and looking at my garden and dogs. If the water is below 80, I wear my wetsuit. I could never handle your cold winters. And shoveling snow is a heck of a workout in itself!

    • I gotta say, I could handle the snow easier if it wasn’t so damn cold. LOL! I gotta say, it is somewhat torture to freeze for months on end!
      When we are at swim class, it blows my mind to watch the other kids there just whipping around swimming like crazy. How do they do that?
      Below 80 and a wetsuit – LOL! Love that. Here in NB, even in the heat of summer a person is lucky to get a pool above 80 degrees without a heat source of some type.
      And just so you know, I don’t shovel. LOL. Hubby is a saint!

  3. Oh Natalie! Thank you for such an amusing story! I feel your pain in the snowstorm, freezing cold, and trying to look good in a bikini departments. (BTW I gave up the “little” bikini 28 years ago after my twins left their…um…marks on my lower belly.) But the way you tell the story, I couldn’t help but LOL as I read it! I can just see your hubby’s face when they asked him if “you and your wife are training for a triathlon!” And I can see her face when he answered! 🙂
    Every winter, I swear I am going to 1) re-introduce myself to TaeKwonDo, 2) join a Yoga or Zumba class, 3) put some good music on and dance around the house, or 4) take the cross-country skis out of the garage. My intentions are good, but my actions do not speak louder than the thoughts or words. Joining anything means I have to go out in that -30 to -40 freaking cold in the dark when it feels even colder. Brrrr! Not enticing, especially after sweating! Can’t imagine after swimming!!! I did that one years ago before my kids and remember my hair being frozen on the short ride home.
    The older I get the more I don’t like the cold. And working mostly from home has spoiled me rotten; I don’t even have to get dressed if I don’t want to. 🙂
    Hopefully the skis will be put to good use this year! And I can always rely on our Tiger Woods Wii Golf game for some small form of exercise. Although I did watch the Zumba Wii game…just haven’t tried to do it yet. Hehehe!
    So I applaud you and hubby for forging ahead, taking the plunge (pardon the pun) and doing what needs to be done for your health and beach time! xo

    • I feel your pain Donna. Brrrrr…I am not looking forward to coming out of swim class to my hair freezing on the walk to the truck. UGH! Our winter weather is one of the greatest detriments to my working out because I HATE going back out of the house once I get home, get heated back up, and get cozy on the couch with the propane stove burning. Who wants to go BACK out into the cold to WORKOUT?!?!? Insane! But what else are we going to do, right?!
      You get our your WII and kick some butt and I’ll keep doing swimming and we’ll compare notes come March! If I can do, you can do it too! 🙂 xoxox

  4. winter beer goggles….ahahahaha… that…..
    sounds like we have approx the same weather as you. tons of snow, tons of cold – and let’s not forget the almighty wind. One inch of snow with 40mph winds can easily strand you on the highway or even at home. My worst fear is the driving – it’s a 17 mile commute to work on a small blacktop that doesn’t get plowed nearly often enough. From Oct – April, the back seat of the truck is 2 large Rubbermaid totes filled with snow survival gear!

    • Carrie, I totally feel your pain! It sounds like you possibly live down the road!?! LOL!
      I agree, the thing I hate most about it is the driving. I am one of those people that “go slow in snow“! So slow, I often have a train of cars behind me honking and waving unsavory finger gestures at me because I doing about 25 km/hour in an 80 zone. But I don’t care. I drive the speed I am comfortable at. If they don’t want to pass during a blizzard, that’s not my problem. LOL!!
      Usually I save everyone the hassle and let hubby drive while I hang on white-knuckled!

  5. gingercalem says:

    Oh my God, I just laughed my ass off! Absolutely hysterical. First off, I live in TX. I wear a hoodie if the temps hit the 70’s! Negative freaking anything wounds me!

    Second, 2 of my 3 children joined swim team this year. During the first practice when they kept sending the kids out to do different strokes and timing, and my son fell further behind and sort of seemed to not be actually traveling any distance, I thought, “They’ll jump in and save him if he sinks, right?” 🙂

    Third, I own a strength and conditioning gym and may know some ‘tips’ should the swimming gig not give you all the results you’re looking for.

    Now to reread and laugh again because I can ALWAYS use a good laugh!!!

    • Woot woot – I am sooo happy you loved the post Ginger!
      I am sooo uber jealous. I wished hubby and I lived in Texas (or anywhere considerably warmer than our cold NB)! Hubby makes fun of me because like you, I am a smidge sensitive to the cold. I like to turn on my fireplace for the cool August evenings to be quite honest. LOL!
      I can just picture your child swimming. Oh my land. HYSTERICAL! And yes, I’d imagine someone would jump in and save the poor little fella! It’s tough but he’ll get it. The one thing I DO like about swimming is how quickly your stamina and ability can grow and strengthen, especially at a younger age! 🙂
      A strength and conditioning gym – OMG – I’d LOVE some tips!! I have a bowflex that we just started using but we are newbees so any help would be appreciated. I mean, I only have 4.5 months to whip this body into shape and I can use all the help I can get. LOL!
      Sooo happy you got a laugh out of it! Made my evening….

      • gingercalem says:

        We can talk more via email if you want but in addition to strength training, the majority of fat loss comes from your nutrition.

        A frequent thing our clients hear and to which we see much sighing, groaning and eye-rolling is:

        You gain muscle in the gym but you lose fat in your kitchen!

        I’ll be happy to assist. And on that note, I must hit the hay because my alarm will go off at 4:45 to torture … er I mean train with love … our 5:15 class!

        • Ah yes, the nutrition element – my greatest challenge but you are right, I’ve heard that nearly 80% of weight loss is dependent on nutrition.
          I didn’t realize you do Cross Fit. Hubby and I have friends that started one here in Fredericton, NB. They love it! It’s a bit…well…insane. LOL! You go girl – you are an inspiration and I’m definitely going to start work harder…in the kitchen…ugh! LOL!!!
          Have a GREAT training session!!!

  6. Death by Swimming! OMG! Hilarious Natalie! You guys are a romatic comedy based in Canada!

  7. Yeesh, you make me grin. But I’m still impressed. If someone said “Are you training for a marathon” to me, they wouldn’t see me for dust (and there’d be my exercise for the day). Your winter sound intense, but I am a tad jealous. I love the cold, and I’m now living in a town that experiences weeks on end of 40+C in the summer. Last Friday it got up to 38 and it’s still spring. We have a small swimming pool, thankfully, but the maintenance man recently told me “You’ll need the filter on for several hours during summer, or the water will get too hot and burn you.” What the?!?

    • I gotta admit it Naomi, I was worried. I nearly didn’t show. LOL!
      You are jealous of our winter. Lord. I just heard on the new today that there’s a SNOW FALL WARNING for tomorrow – around 20 centimeters. It’ll be our first major snowstorm of the season. UGH. And so it starts. Seriously, I’d take the HEAT any day.
      A water filter so you don’t burn yourself in the summer?!?!? Where do you live? I am on my way!! LOL!!!

  8. Elena Aitken says:

    Natalie, awesome post!!
    I’m a death by swimmer…by choice. I was never a big swimmer, but I did actually want to do a triathlon, so I signed up for the Master’s Swim club a few years ago and never looked back. I LOVE it now! The first year…not so much.
    But now I actually get a lot of writing ideas in the pool. I can let things percolate and work out some great story ideas.
    One of my fave activities is running though. Will always love it.
    But you MUST try hot yoga! It’s a new fave of mine.
    Where’s your hot holiday this year? You’re so right…to survive the Canadian winters you MUST have a planned escape.
    good for you for swimming! I promise…you’ll grow to love it.

    • Yeahhh…look at you rock it out Elena – that’s fantastic!
      I do know that it’ll get easier. I find swimming is like running, you build up stamina and strength quickly so there’s somewhat some instant gratification. Every week hubby and I are adding about 2 to 4 laps so it’s coming…one step at a time!
      Hot yoga – girl – you are insane! But…you never know. I might just give it a try after reading some of your fab posts about it. 🙂
      Our hot holiday is Punta Cana, Dominican Republic – woot woot! Hubby was saying we should try and get the wana711 gang and their hubbies to do a trip there some year. LOL!
      Yip, as you may have seen on my reply to Naomi’s post, we received a heavy snowfall warning this morning. Should start around midnight tonight and 20-25 centimeters of the white shit is coming. God help me. LOL!!!
      I will definitely stick with the swimming, no matter how hard it is. This class is done mid-December and we plan on joining the 8-week class in January. And we’ll lace up our skates soon for another cardio workout weekly. Yeahhh…nothing like variety! 🙂

      • Elena Aitken says:

        OOhhh…I loved Dominican Republic! Good for you guys.
        I’m super excited, and super spoiled to be taking the kids to Grenada this year to visit my parents for 2 weeks. Can’t wait for a hot holiday!

        Hope you didn’t get too much of the white shit. I guess living in Alberta, we have the ‘bonus’ of the Chinook winds. Today we have winds at 48 km/h ACK!
        But…it’s +6 and the snow is more or less gone. Trade offs…
        Stay warm. And good for you for adding laps!!

        • Grenada – WOW that will be AMAZING!!! I can’t wait to hear all about it. When do you go?
          Alberta – yes but you guys get the cold rain, do you not? And you still get your own fair amount of snow and of course, the winds. LOL! No fun….

  9. OMG, Natalie, only you can write such a hilarious post! I was laughing out loud reading it.
    A few years ago I participated in a triathlon but, because I’m not a good swimmer, I did only the 5k run. It was great, though and I hope to do it again sometime (if my foot injury ever heals completely).

    • Glad you enjoyed it Angela – lol!!
      Your poor foot – that sucks! Well, you could always join a swimming class to increase your swimming ability while the foot heals?!?!?
      Triathlon people – you guys are nutty! Love it though…hehehehe….

  10. Nancy J Nicholson says:

    Natalie, I do feel your pain, but it will be worth it and make the two weeks in bliss that much better. Maybe next year you can pick an Island in the Windward chain and maybe a certain sailboat will be close and maybe….

  11. Swimming can be brutal! And to be doing it all in an outdoor pool. Ugh! No thank you. But it really is one of the best because it isolates all the muscles, so you are really working it there girl. Just think of all the good you are doing. No pain no gain. I know, little help that does. Want to throw a book at me? Hehehe

    At least you’ll get an awesome reward at the end. 😀

    • Thanks Debra. Yeah, hubby likes it cause it’s not hard on his joints so that’s all good. We’ll stick with it and master it yet. Or die trying. HAHAHA!
      Virtual book tossing! LOL!!!
      That’s true – I just keep reminding myself of that. The end. LOL!!

  12. Oh man, my still-chilly heart goes out to you! I grew up in Minnesota—usually the coldest place in the U.S. Brrr…. I highly recommend shiver workouts. 😉

    The Dominical Republic is SO beautiful…and I’m sure you and your hubby appreciate it more with your arctic roots. For staying in shape, I seek out activities I enjoy. Cleaning the house to rockin’ tunes, dancing, dance-aerobics and spin classes are way more fun than hamster wheels (aka treadmills) in my book. A good get-kicked-in-the-butt challenge can be a great thing, though. Good luck w/the swimming!

    • Thanks August!!! You certainly feel my pain having come from Minnesota!! Where are you now?!?
      I know, the DR rocks. OMG. I wish I could just move there. Well, move there as an independently insanely wealthy woman. LOL!!!
      I agree, doing activities we enjoy certainly helps. Both hubby and I love swimming so that rocks (just sucks being sooo out of shape but we’ll get there). I also love cleaning the house to rockin’ tune and dancing my butt off!! I’ve never tried a spin class but I hear they are ahhhmazing!!!
      Good for you for staying strong – and inspiring me to stick with it! 🙂

  13. Natalie, your stories are so funny! My husband just peeped in to find out why I was laughing instead of getting dinner going. (Yeah I totally blew that off to read your post!)

    And the picture of your hubby in a bikini is still making me laugh. Love visiting here. . .

  14. You live in New Brunswick….try living in EDMONTON!!! its practically like 2kms from the North Pole. We also get the endless dumps of snow as of October until about April. Its also normal to step out into a bright sunny day when the air temperature is -38, but with windchill more like -45/50. 🙂 Oh how I miss Canada.

    If I was able to plug my nose and swim at the same time, I just might try this swimming for fitness thing. You really make want to hit the gym though. I’m already seeing the Christmas belly start to pop out and its not even December yet!!!

    • Arg – Edmonton! You totally feel my weather pain. Not cool but alas, the joys of living in Canada. LOL!
      Oh girl, they have these wonderful little things called nose plugs that you can buy. They are plastic pieces you stick on your nose to keep it plugged while you swim! Woot woot! Either way, glad I inspired you to hit the gym. I am trying my best to not let Christmas do a number on me. LOL!


  1. […] of writing and trust me, my house was in DIRE need. Tonight I might get to a little writing if death by swimming gets canceled since we are in the midst of a snowstorm. We’ll see. Deep down, I gotta be honest, […]

  2. […] week I got my answer. Hubby and I pulled into the parking lot for death by swimming. It was dark out. The public pool is part of a middle school that offers a number of after-school […]

  3. […] and I started back to Death by Swimming this week. We were waiting in the pool entrance area to go to our class along with a couple of our […]

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