Losing Weight The Olympic Athlete Way By Robert Bacal, M.A.
For many of us, getting to and staying at an optimal weight is a struggle. Sedentary life styles, rich foods and less and less recreational time aren't helping us stay trim, or more importantly, healthy (since thin isn't always healthy).
Sure, we know the elements of weight loss and health. Good nutrition, lower fat intake, higher fruits and vegetables, + using up more calories yields less fat on our frames. Of course knowing these things doesn't make the fat go away. Applying the knowledge does.
We can learn from Olympic athletes about how to take what we know, and USE it to produce success. This doesn't apply only to weight loss of course, but to almost everything. Here are some tips taken from the Olympic athletes who are succeeding at tasks which are, in some ways, much more difficult than losing weight.
Swimmer Mark Tewksbury, former Summer Olympic medal winner, indicated that part of his preparation included imagining standing on the gold medal podium and hearing "Oh Canada" (he's Canadian, of course). This type of visioning, repeated over and over, becomes a central motivating force for overcoming obstacles, because it focusses you on the reward. It makes the reward seem attainable, real and concrete provided that you visualize yourself in the picture, and that you paint a picture that engages all your senses. What does it feel like? What are you hearing? What do you see?
Some examples. Imagine yourself in your favorite high-priced boffo outfit that you've outgrown and out-bulked over the last year or two. Visualize walking into a party in the outfit, and people paying attention to you, commenting on how absolutely great you look. Or imagine going into your favorite store and being able to buy that wonderful bit of clothing that would have looked really lousy on the bigger, more rotund "you".
If you prepare for an event by actually carrying out the behaviors, it is called practice. If you mentally run through the behaviors, it is called rehearsal. You are practicing in the mind. Fortunately, practicing in the mind can be done anywhere and can be as effective as "real" doing. However, mental rehearsal, as with results visioning, must be undertaken in detail, each step, action or word being imagined. The more vivid the picture painted, the better the results. Also, it is most effective if you imagine obstacles, things that might go wrong, and imagine dealing successfully deal with them. This last bit is the key to rehearsal in weight loss. Sit down and anticipate the situations where you eat badly. Imagine them in detail. Then imagine or rehearse better ways of dealing with them. Rehearse saying no to the second helping. Imagine taking a walk when you are stressed, instead of eating. Got the idea?
Build Skills And Knowledge
All the visioning and rehearsal in the world can't help you if you don't know what you were doing in the first place. You need to know about foods, nutrition and the proper ways to exercise for your age and fitness level. Read, learn, talk to others about how they've succeeded. Consult your physician. The more you know, the more you can do (like cooking low fat meals that taste good), the better your chances will be.
Success in life, in our work, even in our families comes about much like success for Olympic athletes, which is probably why the Olympics inspire and interest many people. The fight to be better. The excitement of challenge. And above all, winning by trying, even though others may be better. You can apply this to your weight loss program and improve your chances at success.