Monday, January 28, 2013

Managing our Fears

Managing our Fears
Pre swim school- Determined and Olympic bound

Dara Torres, the oldest swimmer to ever place on the U.S. Olympic team was once quoted, “The water doesn't know how old you are.”

This past Saturday, I donned a too tight swim cap, along with my newly purchased Speedo, and dove into my first swim class at age 31.  OK, so I didn't exactly dive.  It was more like cautiously stepped down the ladder and eased myself into the pool. 

I know what you are thinking.  How did I never learn to swim?  Well, I don't particularly like water. (I take really fast showers).  I hate the feeling of wet hair.  My "learn to swim" option growing up was a disgusting, fish filled, mucky bottomed family pond- so I opted out.  I once wore "swimmies" to a birthday pool party at age 12 and got made fun of so badly that I vowed I would never go in the water again.  I can float and doggie paddle so I could never really drowned.

I decided it was time to push my humiliated 12 yr old self aside and face my fears by enrolling in swim school.  I was incredibly nervous Saturday morning and felt like I was off to my first day of school.  I can't remember the last time I felt those emotions.  There were about 19 other non-swimming adults who looked as terrified as I felt and we all laughed nervously as we learned to blow bubbles, float face down, glide and eventually work our way up to alternating arm strokes while holding onto a paddle board.  I couldn't believe how much we learned in such a short period of time.  I thought I would come home as a master bubble blower and nothing more.  I couldn't stop gushing about my accomplishments for the rest of the day.  "I put my face IN the water and glided the ENTIRE width of the pool!  I was swimming!"  An outside observer even commented on how fast I was.  I told him it was probably because I was wearing my new Speedo and was aiming for the 2016 Olympics.  I'll probably be ready to qualify after my 9 remaining lessons.

Facing our fears can add a new level of excitement to our lives.  When was the last time you stood head to head with something that terrified, shamed, or belittled you?  All too often, we set ourselves up to overcome and then retreat the moment "waters get rocky".  Sometimes all it takes is a little direction and knowing how to break our fear down into manageable steps so we don't throw ourselves head first into the pool. 
  • Can you think of something that is both fearful and intriguing to you?  I've always been intrigued by other swimmers but was never able to consider myself as one.   
  • Think about the steps you need to take in order to make it manageable.  Step one: find a swim class.  Step two: buy a swim suit.  Step three, blow bubbles.  
  • Surround yourself with "experts" and supportive people.  I tried to learn to swim many unsuccessful times from friends.  Although they had good intentions, I realize now they serve as much better cheerleaders on the sidelines. 
  • Celebrate!  Don't downplay your accomplishments.  What may seem minor to someone else is a hugely valid success for yourself.  "I swam the ENTIRE width of the pool with my face IN the water!"  Do you have any idea how impressive that is? 

Have you overcome any fears lately?  Do you have any fears you want to share?  What were/are the steps to make it more manageable?   Leave your comment below, tweet MtvdNutrition, or post on the Motivated Nutrition Facebook page

In Future Olympian Health,


Joanie Johnson, CHC
Motivated Nutrition

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