By Jess Rego on January 31, 2019
Currently I spend, on average:
Of those thirteen hours I spent the vast majority with my arms and legs outstretched in front of me, giving me lots of time to regard my body and the changes it has gone through while at sea.
Before leaving home I was inundated with people telling me how wonderful I was going to look on the other side of the Atlantic. “Wow! You’ll be so skinny”, “just imagine how buff you’re going to be!” And “i bet you get a killer tan!”
Well for any future ocean rowers who might be thinking a casual ocean crossing might solve any body issues let me just say that at £100k and 18+ months of your life there are faster, cheaper ways to be disappointed.
Because, yes, we are changing but don’t get your hopes up that we’re coming back as bronze goddesses with bulging muscles and 0% body fat. You are more likely to see three bedraggled, half burned husks of former women stumble off the boat than sports illustrated models.
To be fair, we are very brown right now. But that’s mostly from the dirt. (Side note we often play a fun game called is it a bruise or a bit o’ dirt?) As far as tans go if you were to only look at us from port side you’d likely think we were developing quite nicely. But swing around to starboard and you’ll notice a distinct gradient effect from sitting in the same position all day every day with the sun on only one side of the boat. The backs of our legs are downright ridiculous with how pale they are in comparison to the rest of us.
That rumoured weight loss? Well it’s from all the wrong places really. First the muscles we stopped using (i.e. Calves) wasted away leaving just soft flabby skin and then our bodies started dipping into our carefully curated fat stores. But of course they haven’t gone after my Buddha belly but instead our bums. Because why wouldn’t you disintegrate the one bit of natural padding when sitting on your ass all day?
Honestly, I thought humans were supposed to adapt and evolve. This feels like very bad planning.
In other news there are pressure sores making sitting hard, salt crystals clogging all our pores and our hands, inflamed from all the rowing, have turned into stiff, sore talons. Don’t try to shake my hand in Antigua, the fingers don’t go that way anymore. Our legs, free from their smooth razored shackles have gone full Sasquatch and our knees are permanently battered to within an inch of their lives. Blisters turn to calluses then break away painfully and you’ll find chunks of salt hiding in every crevice. Hair, nose, ears.. nowhere is safe.
Am I painting a pretty picture for you?
But that’s life aboard this little red boat. You learn to let certain vanities slide and accept that washing is more about feeling clean than actually being clean. You know you will shiver, cold and wet, through the night’s and melt into a sweat puddle during the blazing hot daytime.
Despite all that I look at this half tanned, filthy, exhausted body and feel proud. Because I’ve earned every line and every scar. Each bruise is a story and the pain will fade to distant memory as soon as we leave Poppy. And at the end of the day I can say that this little broken body of mine rowed me across the Atlantic Ocean. And that’s better than any diet or workout plan I’ve ever heard of.
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