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3 Simple Ways To Learn to Swim Faster (Or Learn Nearly Any Other Skill)

3 Simple Ways To Learn to Swim Faster (Or Learn Nearly Any Other Skill)

Because I had never seriously done anything athletic before, I really wanted to join a sports team in high school. I went down the list of all the sports at my school. Every time I played a sport with a ball, the ball consistently found its way to my face. So, nothing with a ball. Then, the list got very short: running, wrestling, or swimming. I took some swimming lessons when I was in elementary school, so I decided that I’d found my sport. I asked my swim team friend how I could join. I needed to make the team by swimming faster and learning butterfly. In doing so, I learned not only how to swim faster but how to build any new skill, like writing or dancing.

1. Get someone/something to keep you accountable

Nothing feels better than starting a new activity like that new yoga class or that new diet. But reflect back on all the times you have tried to change your life. You will find a lot more beginnings than endings. Why? Because starting is actually a lot of fun. It isn’t too hard to try something new when it feels exciting and different. The hard part is what happens between the beginning and the end- and a swim instructor or workout partner, for example, can help you with just that. Think of those moments when you feel as if your body cannot lift itself out of bed; when absolutely anything sounds better than going swimming or going to the gym; when cleaning your desk suddenly jumps to the top of your priority list.

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Your mind will give you every excuse possible not to improve, but having an instructor you have paid for will make your consistency a lot easier to maintain. Instructors are not the only options either. Joining a club, team, or even a competition can all help you to push yourself by providing an imaginary gun to your head- with social pressure as the ammo.

2. Do not talk about your new goal

Think about your very successful friend, the one that is going to Harvard or has a nice job. There are usually two options: 1) That person brags about their accomplishments, not what they plan to do, or (the more pleasant, common option), 2) Everyone talks about that person’s accomplishments for them.

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In both these examples, the successful person doesn’t prioritize talking about what they plan to do.

Here’s another way to see this in action: say out loud: “I’m going to lose weight. Tomorrow, I’m going to meticulously plan out my calories for each meal by writing it in the Notes App on my phone. Then, at 8:00pm everyday I’m going to jog for 3.576 miles.”

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Feels good, doesn’t it? Imagining yourself putting on your running shoes. Imagining yourself eating some kale. But learning new skills requires getting your happiness from actually carrying out your plans, not just the satisfaction of verbalizing them.

3. Recognize that failures are bound to interrupt you

I remember periods in my swim career where I had a really tough workout and then my times got faster. So, as long as I pushed harder, I should have kept continuously improving, right? Nope. Sadly, there will be periods where you push harder, but you just can’t make your times faster. Or you can’t understand that math problem. Or you get an injury that prevents you from achieving your goal. And that’s okay.

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Point #1 is great for getting you through those hard times. Perceive obstacles as something else to work on, like a new drill that will better your form or improve your breathing. Then, when you are able to, you can go back to your regular approach. Switching up your regime can keep things fresh and less stressful.

By working with the YMCA instructor, I improved my times enough to join the swim team. Then, the swim team helped me to improve my times and form with grueling morning practices. Now, it has been two years since I have been on a team. But one of the best feelings you get from acquiring a new skill, is its lingering control over you. Every so often, I seriously feel like I need to strip off and get into a pool and complete some laps. These thoughts belong to the same guy who once dreaded taking a 30-minute lesson to learn butterfly. Follow these tips and soon enough, you won’t need to push yourself: your new hobby will push you.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

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    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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