The Basics: Start with a Strong Enough Reason. The Big WHY.
I grew up spending my summer breaks from school splitting time between visiting family and attending summer camps. In either situation I was surrounded by friends and cousins my age who, fueled by an unlimited supply of candy and sugar, sought out every activity before the street lights came on or the call for evening chow.
Summers ALWAYS involved swimming. Wherever we were it was surely HOT, and what do kids want to do when it’s hot? Get in the POOL!
The problem was, I COULDN’T SWIM! So while the others were out on canoes, paddle-boats, or swimming the deep end, I was splashing around in waist-high water or clinging to the interior pool wall, carefully navigating around to meet up with my friends in the deep.
It went on this way for years. I had taken lessons and knew all the mechanics of swimming, but it was a definite no go. Not happening. I was far too afraid of drowning, reinforced by memories of the burn of breathing in water or the panic of trying to stay afloat to ever have a chance to apply that knowledge.
When I became the age that my friends and I started to notice girls, it was no longer acceptable for a boy of my age to clamor along poolside walls. Instead I sat on the pool steps, or poolside looking as “cool” as I could (thats where all the girls were anyway).
One afternoon I caught a replay of “The Poseidon Adventure” on TV. It was a movie made in the 70’s about a cruise ship that was struck by a tidal wave and completely capsized. The passengers scrambled to escape the upside-down boat in hopes of being rescued. They climbed, problem solved, outwitted certain death, and avoided electrocution; all things I could imagine myself doing if I had to. Everything until they had to swim underwater through a low doorway, then back up through the next room. As I fantasized about facing all the dangers Poseidon had to offer, I was forced to face the reality that I was unprepared for the unknown.
I was afraid, which was nothing new, but now I was MORE afraid of NOT being able to swim than I was of learning to swim. So right then and there I decided and committed to make a change.
It wasn’t pretty at first. I stood on the edge of a swimming pool in Bermuda, on family vacation, nervous but motivated. Jump after jump headfirst into the water until I was comfortable going under. Then I launched myself across the pool like a torpedo, pushing off the wall until I was confident with the feeling. Pulling and kicking all the way across the pool until I could do it without the wall. Swimming to the middle of the deep section, treading water and turning around to swim back to the wall, I had beaten it. That day the fear ended. I could swim. And all this within 30 days of deciding.
WHY? It’s something that I hadn’t thought about all these years until I was approached by a friend to help her reach her health goals. She confessed to not exercising regularly, never cooking, and developing a discerning appreciation for fast food.
Her confessions reveal that she KNOWS what she has to do in order to move toward her health goals, but for some reason she hasn’t committed to do anything about it.
This is why “Why?” is such an important question. When my fear of drowning was outranked by my fear of being unprepared it was a powerful enough motivator to get me off the poolside and into the pool. This is a powerful realization.
“When our REASONS are strong enough the resistance disappears.”
Start with “Why.”
Why is it important to you to reduce your body fat? Are these reasons strong enough to keep you going through hunger?
Why is it important to you to get more active? Are these reasons strong enough to keep you going through discomfort and pain?
Why it is important to you to eat healthier? Are these reasons strong enough to keep you going while your friends are eating Twinkies?
These are serious questions that if we take the time to answer honestly, will be a rock solid foundation for LASTING lifestyle change.
So what are yours?