New Year, New Swimmer?

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New Year, New Swimmer?Chances are that you or one of your friends has made a resolution for the new year, and chances are that that resolutions either involves health (nutrition, weight loss, six pack abs) and/or swimming.

Honestly, it is great that you have made that resolution. It shows that you recognize something is missing or lacking in your life and that you also desire change. However, recognition and motivation are only the first two steps in making lasting change; to actually achieve your resolutions, though, you will have to do a good deal of work and reprogramming. Think you are up to the challenge? Read on…

First, you should get specific. Saying you want to lose weight is all fine, but it would be a stronger resolution and more likely to succeed if you said “I want to lose 20lbs” or “get back to my high school swimsuit size.” If you are resolving to become a better swimmer, you may want to refine that and say that you want to take 5 minutes off your HIM time or get into the water more. The more specific you get, the easier it will be to track progress and visualize your goal. After you get the specifics clarified you can start working.

Just because it is 2016 and you have made your resolution, does not mean you are a completely new person. In fact, you are the same person with the exact same habits as before. If you want to achieve your resolution you are going to have to spot and change those habits and form new and better habits. If your goal is to get faster in the water than you need to change what made you slow in the first place be it not swimming enough or having bad technique. Only by spotting the bad habits can you then change them.

Change does not occur overnight but each step is worth taking. Changing eating habits, for example, is the hardest because food is sometimes linked to rewards and emotion; we also do it three plus times a day so habits form quickly. Swapping in foods and focusing on what you can eat and not on what you cannot is a good first step.

Resolve to give up the afternoon candy bar? Swap in a healthy treat like an Amrita Bar. The Chocolate Maca satisfies my sweet tooth but doesn’t kill my fitness dreams (in fact the bars help them).To change frequency of swimming you may want to join a Master’s class to motivate you to get to the pool and keep you accountable. To change bad form, get a video analysis done so that you can see what specifically you need to fix. Making the change is good, now repeat it over and over again.

To make an action a habit requires repetition and practice. To do this you need to keep on reminding yourself about what you need to focus on. Everyday, set 1-3 intentions (I stole this trick from my yoga teacher) related to your goal and write them down. By writing them down, you keep the desire and focus alive and plant the seeds of growth.

Eventually, with practice, those seeds will result in new habits and achieving your goals. This takes time and patience especially if you have spent years doing the same thing. Trying to give up the “s” curve in my pull took me 3 years of conscious effort but with practice and lot of time in the pool and on the Vasa Swim Erg watching my form. I did it.

Chances are, you will mess up. But if you do, it is not the end of the world or your dreams. Learn from your mistake, figure out what led you to mess up, and keep on moving forward throughout the year.