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The Best Gift I Gave Myself: Brazilian Boot Camp

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bed with mosquito netting
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Where I slept -- bug-free!

Day 1: Insects, Small Portions

My room is minimalist-chic. I immediately gravitate to the deck and sink into the denim hammock to marvel at the peaceful quiet, which lasts for about a minute. All of a sudden there is a clamoring on my roof and eerie screeches that sound like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park. Fruit bats, I'm later told, but apparently they're herbivores, so no need to freak out. At dinner, I hear tales of flying beetles (Sharon made Martin clobber the one in her room) and massive ants. Fortunately, the bug convo stops when we're served an amazingly tasty -- though amazingly tiny -- meal of vegetable miso soup and tofu black-bean stew.

Day 2: Breaking Boundaries -- and Hopefully Not My Foot
tree-covered mountains
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The highest peak.

A loud knock on my door wakes me at 6 a.m., and I head to the 6:30 yoga class. Afterward, we move on to breakfast, a thankfully abundant supply of yummy oatmeal and fresh fruit -- as much as I want! -- plus green tea. After a kayaking lesson we set out on that first hike to the falls. My doctor had given me the go-ahead to come on the trip with a healing stress fracture in my left foot, but now I wasn't sure I'd make it back in one piece. I did, but that night in the lodge, I tell Martin I must be more realistic and skip the more strenuous stuff. "But you did it, and your foot feels fine. If I had told you not to go, you'd never have known how strong you are," he says. He has a point.

Day 3: So Sore I Can Barely Walk

For someone who spends seven or so hours in the gym a week, my muscles are so wound up I can barely sit, forget squatting to use the restroom! Turns out my cardio kickboxing and sculpting classes have done little to prepare some of my muscles for climbing mountains. So I'm overjoyed when I return from activities to find a masseuse waiting to whisk me into a treatment room (okay, so this is tough, but not without its perks). Sandra, my masseuse, rubs a special herbal potion onto my foot and chants in Portuguese. Uh-oh. I tell her to be careful because of my injury, but she doesn't understand me and keeps chanting. I relax, and soon I feel more at ease than I have in months, maybe years. An indulgence after some honest hard work is definitely a habit I'm going to take home.

Next:  Day 4: Om, My!


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