Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS/Landov

Jill Behm was savvy, strong in challenges, had a tight alliance, contributed at camp and remained reserved when drama flared up on Survivor: Nicaragua. Yet all the right moves didn’t even get the ER doctor, 43, to the merge. She spoke with PEOPLE about what went wrong.

Is there any one move you wish you could go back and change? What was your downfall?
Solving the clue and giving the idol to Marty was a huge mistake. It may have cost me a million dollars and you certainly wouldn’t have been talking to me this early in the game had I kept it to myself.

Will you explain yourself?
When we found the clue, the whole tribe was standing around and knew about it, so I couldn’t walk around for a few days trying to solve it at my leisure. That sucker was out in the open, stuck to a tree with a fish knife and everyone was frantically digging for it. Everyone would know who found it and that would make that person a target. I balanced that with the fact that Marty, Yve and I had a super-tight alliance from day one and within that, Marty and I were even closer. I felt completely secure with him and thought, if I give it to him, we could utilize it as a team, I’d still have access to it and I would avoid the target.

Did you know about him giving it to Sash?
I did. He asked me if I thought he should do it. At no point did I ask him to take one for me. At that point, he had told me he was unemployed and I felt he needed it more than I did.

Did you feel betrayed?
Up to the end, Marty said I will not vote Jill and he didn’t. I can’t put it all on him. The only thing he didn’t do was take the bullet for me. I didn’t ask; he didn’t offer. We tried everything else – getting in with Sash, working with Jane, leading, bargaining, scrambling. We couldn’t make a fake idol because it was metal.

There’s been a lot of talk of you riding Marty’s coattails and deferring to him. Is that a fair accusation?
People have been debating whether I was pulling Marty’s strings or if he was running the show when in fact, it was an equal partnership. We talked about a lot of things and came to a consensus on decisions.

Did you think scoring two points in the reward challenge would earn you some staying power?
You would think. The week before, I won them all kebobs. In the end, it was an opportunity to pick off another power player. To be honest, I rocked all the challenges and had I been on any other season, it would have been better for me.

What was the first thing you ate when you got back to the real world?
A Cinnabon at the Miami airport. We would lay in the shelter and talk food for hours and I was dying for one of those even though I don’t normally eat them.

How’d your body react to the game?
I lost 20 pounds in 18 days but had put on 15 pounds before because I knew I wouldn’t be eating. I had a couple of weeks to adjust my eating . . . I managed to wind up right back where I should be almost. It was more surreal mentally to be in Nicaragua and then in the ER seeing patients three days later, unable to talk about it. I’m back to my pretty pleasant, wonderful life.