Almost Dying

Devil's Lake at

So…I almost died this week….

I say that now with a smile on my face, but I do mean literally and not figuratively. BOY would it have been a crappy way to go.

This past weekend Dan and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary in Wisconsin Dells and it was SO needed. We got to eat at this fancy steak restaurant  the first night, we tried out a flashy nightclub, and had our wine and cake that we had saved since the wedding. The next two days we watched the Packers beat the Bears while sipping on a MONSTER-SIZED Bloody Mary, played mini golf in the dark, shopped at the Disney store, went on rollercoasters and go-karts, and spent hours playing this game called “Heads Up” in our hotel room and laughing our butts off. It’s safe to say I was sad to come home to “real life” when the weekend was over but I’m back in the swing of things.

Back to my almost dying experience.

On the car ride back from the Dells Dan and I decided to try to get a hike in around Devil’s Lake, which was on the way and highly talked up by family and friends. I’ve never been there before but was excited to get some exercise in and see how beautiful it was in person. When we arrived at the park we quickly headed over to where we saw a “Boat Rental” sign to try to rent a paddle boat for a couple of hours first and get to enjoy the lake. Even though the temperature felt near-perfect for a Wisconsin September afternoon we were quickly advised that the windy condition was not ideal for paddle boating but suitable for kayaking. For those that know my history with canoes and the sort know that this was not something that interested me much. I’m realllllyyyyy  not a strong swimmer (see The Female Version of Michael Phelps) and an even WORSE canoer.

Instead we decided to try out some of trails with Dan insistent that we get to the high rock points, which we could see from the beach area. We set out on the East Bluff Trail with our hopes set high for a nice walk in the woods.

Devil's Lake at
Rock staircase going up!
Devil's Lake at
We climbed here to get to the first overlook!

The trail had sort-of a rock staircase and when we got to the first high point Dan walked over to the rocks to see the cliff’s edge while I stood a few feet behind him. My palms dripped sweat as I cautioned him not to get too close to the edge in fear he would trip or laugh and fall to his doom. He told me we were fine and I mentally tried to talk myself down. “Stop being such a scaredy cat Anna and R-E-L-A-X.” I took a deep breath and turned around believing I could conquer my fear of heights on this trip. That’s when we snapped this picture of us:


I was doing pretty good! We then came down from the rocks ledge and continued on. Ahhh. The ground. We kept walking before Dan exclaimed in awe, “There’s a bug eating a spider over here!”

“…You shouldn’t have told me that…” I said as I quickened my pace. I never want to meet the bug that can eat a spider.

A few minutes later we came up to this cave and stopped for a few pictures.

Devil's Lake at

“Man,” I got inside of my head again, “Devil’s Lake sounds like the name of a horror book or the ideal location of a scary movie. Especially with this cave.” I shuddered as we made our way around it and ran into some more rocks, with no railing mind you, that you could go out on and see almost all of Devil’s Lake. It was really a beautiful sight, people were right about that. Two younger men were at the edge photographing the scenic view while I admired it from a safe distance.

Devil's Lake at

“Watch out, there’s a hornet’s nest around here,” the younger of the two said.

“Thanks for the heads up!” Dan replied as he stood admiring the fresh air and the serene view. I, on the other hand, heard the word “hornet” and didn’t feel like getting stung today, so I looked ahead. The path narrowed substantially, with the left side being a big rock that reached up and up while the right side was a steep rocky cliff that went down down DOWN. Again, no gate. I could feel my fingers and toes tingle in fear of falling, but once I saw a few hornets in the air I resolved to push on. “Do NOT look down. Do NOT look down,” was my mantra as I stepped out past Dan. He’d get the idea and eventually follow, I had assumed.

I placed my hand on the rock to my left and slid my hand alongside me for extra balance. Halfway on the small lege I watched a hornet fly past me and land directly where I needed to put my hand next. I stood for a moment and contemplated turning around. I then decided to go even slower and maybe he’d fly away. I started to take my next step while watching the hornet and glanced down at where my foot was about to land. That’s when I saw it. A white and red striped snake lounged and hissed at my foot before coiling more into himself and stayed there. A BEEPIN’ SNAKE!!! My heart lept out of my chest and I flailed along the edge of the cliff in pure terror and (THANK GOD!) didn’t jump sideways like my usual reaction and end up falling to my untimely death. I froze staring between the snake, cliff, and hornet while my mind caught up to speed. I’ve never felt so terrified in my entire life. I turned around and Dan saw my face and said, “What’s wrong?”

“I ALMOST STEPPED ON A SNAKE! I’M DONE!” I said as I slowly made my way toward him, passed the two other guys, went back to the cave area and started crying. Through gasps I explained to Dan what had happened and he agreed we could start heading out after I calmed down.

You’d think that I’d be elated when we got to the bottom of the hike to see solid ground, but I wasn’t. You know what I was doing instead? Listening to that same little voice that fed my fears earlier that day, which was now berating me. How come you couldn’t do that or finish the trail? You let your fears get the best of you, which means you’re weak. You’ve failed.

This past second and third week since I’ve last posted about my journey to become healthier (Holy Shrimp! This scampi Happening!) I have only lost a pound. The second week I was on par with my workouts and eating right. I did the meal prep and made time to run or do a Workout DVD that whole week. I even made extra food to put things in the freezer because of my vacation knowing that I wouldn’t have time to cook that weekend. I was set up for success and planned accordingly. Here’s some of the meals I made that day:

(Side note: I forgot to mention this in my other blog post but literally ALL of the meals that you have seen me prep come from one cookbook and that’s Jillian Michaels “The Master Your Metabolism Cookbook” found on Amazon here. There is not one recipe that I didn’t like so far and I’ve been using it for a long time on and off!!)

Before I left for the weekend me and Dan had looked up places to hike so that we’d get some bonus exercise in. I also looked up restaurants to pick things that were healthier off of the menu, I brought my homemade Blueberry and Banana Muffins for breakfast and to save money and calories, and brought a bunch of water to drink and stay hydrated and Skinny Pop for any time I needed a small fix. Like I said, once we got back I also had the meals all set and in the freezer so I could stay on track. When I got home you think I’d be happy to be on solid ground with a routine again, right? I wasn’t. You know what I was doing instead? Listening to that same stupid voice that brings me down. Yes. I had cake this weekend that was saved from our wedding so I felt bad about that. I had onion rings and more beers than I should have during the weekend. I laid in the bed longer than I should have when I could’ve been walking/running around. I actually ate 2 slices of pizza when I swore off anything with grease. You are weak and you are failing.

Today while I was reading my “SHAPE” magazine I came across a quote that struck me:

We tend to moralize our health behavior,” points out Kayleigh Pleas, a wellness coach in New York City. “We see ourselves as weak if we overeat, and we feel ashamed about it. But beating ourselves up has a counterproductive effect, because shame actually activates the brain’s stress response. Then cortisol, one of the main stress hormones, floods through our system and prompts us to eat even more.”

Here I am discounting all of the hard work that I’ve done so far for a FEW moments of weakness and making it worse for myself! I looked back at all of the good moments I had and things I did and acted like they weren’t even there. When I look back at our vacation I don’t want to think of how I failed. I want to think of how much FUN we had and how many things we did and how amazing it is getting to spend time with just Dan! I’m certainly not perfect and need to learn that there will be times that I will fumble a little, but how I react to that is really the determining factor. I need to pick myself up and keep going. It made me replay one of my favorite Jillian Michaels quotes in my head, “You messed up your diet and didn’t exercise today–so what? You didn’t ruin anything. If you have one flat tire, do you slash the other three? Of course not.”  I will keep going. I will try to quiet that little voice that always tells me I’m not good enough constantly and hopefully it will become easier and easier.

I started to think about my terrifying episode at the lake. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so hard with myself on that one either. What could I have done differently? That snake wasn’t moving and I was not about to walk over it…and most people with a fear of heights or snakes would’ve done the same thing and turned around, right? The whole episode has me laughing now, especially at the ridiculousness of all of it. “Literally one bad thing after another,” my brother said when he heard the story, “It just kept getting worse and worse!” All I can do is laugh about it now that it’s passed. I didn’t fail. I just flailed a little.



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