Want to know how to lose weight? Remember your swimming lessons.
Today is the second day of two weeks of intensive, daily swimming lessons for my daughter.
And she is now well and truly hating it.
The first day went well. She did everything she was asked to do - it took some effort on her part - but it was a bit of a novelty and she got through it. In fact, she did a really good job.
But the reality has now set in.
Today she woke up with the realisation that she was going to have to swim every day for the next two weeks.
And she is now telling herself that she can’t do it.
Sound familiar? Sound like dieting?
Learning to Swim is like Dieting
For my daughter, learning to swim has been just like a weight loss journey.
It has progressed in fits and starts.
She makes progress and then goes backwards over the winter.
She has a good day but then stops because she lets her negative thoughts get in the way.
Even though she has a genuine love for the water and is drawn to a life where she can splash about in the shallows and laze around on giant floating devices in the summer sun, she can’t get past the things that make her scared. Deep down, she has always hated putting her head under the water and her fear of having to dive into the deep end of the pool has, up until this point, stalled her progress.
Sound like your weight loss journey?
Deep down you know you want and need to lose weight. You have a good idea of how great it is when you feel strong, confident and sexy. You know you want the end goal but ultimately you’re not convinced you can actually do it.
But is there a chance you are standing at the side of the pool saying you can’t do it just like my daughter? Is the story you’re telling yourself actually true?
The Answer to Successful Weight Loss Lies in What Happens Next
So my daughter is saying she doesn’t want to go. She is saying that we can’t make her. She doesn’t want to do the things she is scared of.
She doesn’t want to put in the hard work and she doesn’t want to feel the discomfort she is so badly feeling right now.
All she wants to do is escape.
And just like swimming lessons, weight loss is HARD. It is uncomfortable. It is scary. The food that we eat makes us feel good. It keeps us comfortable. In fact it GIVES us comfort. It soothes us. It picks us up when we are down.
You want to know why you continue to eat crappy food when you’ve already had a day of junk food? It’s because you feel bad about the food you ate and eating more food alleviates that pain (albeit for only a moment).
And that is exactly what my daughter is looking for. She is looking for an out. For something to soothe her. She is crying and in pain.
Ever felt like the little girl who doesn’t want to go to swimming lessons? I have.
But, this child has two parents who can see the best in her and hold her hand when the going gets tough. To literally drive her to the pool, to give her a million hugs, to tell her she really can do it and to be there as she puts on a brave face and does it. And this is where my weight loss and swimming lesson analogy deviates slightly - because as adults on a weight loss journey we don’t always have someone that will force us to continue on in our dark times. There isn’t always someone there who will tell us to keep going even though we are hating it.
When we give up over and over again and avoid our own swimming lesson, we don’t end up facing the hard stuff. We give in and feel like we’ve failed over and over again. It’s not exactly a recipe for success is it.
Put things in place to stop yourself backing out. Don’t allow yourself an escape route. Face your fears.
Objectively we know what the solution to weight loss is and it’s the same for my daughter. She needs to get into that pool. She needs to face the sh*t that she doesn’t want to and she needs to practice.
She’s never going to get it right first time. Just like she never did a perfect cartwheel the first time. It took her two years of constant playground cartwheeling to get it right. And most of them sucked. But eventually it just became second nature. The perfect cartwheel is just a part of her life now. Just as swimming will be.
And just like losing weight and maintaining it will be for you. Eating healthily CAN become second nature to you.
But you have to fight for it.
You WILL kick and scream. You WILL have a seven year old tantrum because you don’t want to do it. You will fight against it.
But it can be done.
So here are the things you need to make it a success.
1. Get familiar with the discomfort. Employ strategies that help you stay with your pain - because as with everything in life, it eventually passes.
2. Talk to yourself the way you would a seven year old daughter. What things would you say to encourage her? Remind her that she can do it, remind her that you have faith in her. Remind her of how she will feel when she achieves her goal. Buy this book as a wonderful place to start.
3. Employ that person who is going to make you get in the pool. Not the person who will go easy on you (like your best friend, partner, mum etc). You need that objective person that you meet with every week who asks you how you’re achieving your weekly goals and makes you plan for what you’re going to do if you aren’t.
4. Get some floaties for the early part. You’re learning a new skill. You’re building new habits. It takes time and practice. Take it slow and make every move one towards being able to swim.
5. Be kind and compassionate to yourself. Be patient.
6. Don’t try and learn to swim without a plan. Find someone experienced who knows how to teach you to swim.
You can do it.
Just like any new skill that you take on, you’re probably not going to get healthy eating and weight loss right the first time. But if you force yourself to practice, if you put someone there who will make you get in the pool. You will eventually learn to swim.
And what a wonderful day that will be.
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What have you got to lose?