Tag Archives: pool

Getting wet

25 Aug

When I had lost 3 dress sizes (about three stone but of course I didn’t have any scales) I decided that I wanted to try the swimming thing, I was starting to get a bit excited about what was happening, I was shrinking and it was now getting visible to me and those around me which is one hell of a motivator I can tell you!

It was December 2009, I ordered 4 swimsuits online, in various sizes from the size I used to be, to a very optimistic size 18. They arrived on a Saturday morning. I looked at the pile wondering how to approach this trying on session, I believe the last time I had a swimsuit was 2003, so my experience was somewhat lacking in how to do this.

I decide that my course of action will be to try on the small one first, that way I can get it out-of-the-way when it doesn’t fit, and move on to a more realistic size which will be fine. So I get my kit off.

I slide the size 18 swimsuit on and to my utter surprise it fitted, I looked in the mirror and saw something quite amazing, and yes I burst into tears. It was one of those turning points in my shrinkage, all the hard work, all the emotions I was feeling about what was happening came out. It was a pretty special time and its one of the moments I try to remember when I need a bit of motivation to keep going and how going back is not an option.

So I now had a swimsuit, I had a body that I didn’t think would now scare small children or me quite as much, so the next step would be actually getting in the pool.  If you ever wondered, a swimsuit is actually a great piece of support clothing, I wear the ones with support panels just about everywhere, find the right one for you, don’t skip on the expense, you’ll look and feel great and swimming is exercise, you do need support!

Disappointingly I end up with a cold over New Year so it ended up being the first week of January before I set off for the local pool, I gave myself every excuse, it had started snowing, it was freezing but off I go, I pay my money, and put on my lovely new swimsuit and for the first time in years, I potter out and make my way to the edge of the pool.

I get in the shallow end and look towards the other end and realise that the last time I was in a pool I was 14! I may have floated in the sea on a couple of holidays but no ‘real’ swimming has really taken place for a VERY long time!  Maybe I hadn’t really thought this through?  I also realise that there is no wall for most of the length for me to cling to, so drowning may be a possibility!

Anyway I set off in the slow lane telling myself that if I can do 2 lengths that’s more than enough, I can go home with my head held high that I had met my very personal challenge! Of course my feet hit the bottom as I’m in the shallow end and I had zero technique. Once I get into deeper water it all suddenly becomes a lot easier. I get to the end and realise it’s going ok! I haven’t drowned, I then realise there are no steps at this end, if I wanted out I’d have to haul myself out and that is not happening I can tell you. So off I go again…and again!

I’m out of breath by length 4, I realise that as long as I concentrate on just 2 lengths at a time I can cope. Once I set off I know I can make it back – very simple mental exercises!

On the first night I do 14 lengths, I’m amazed, I’m breathing very hard, my heart is pounding, my legs hurt and I’m wobbly when I get out of the pool. I get a glimpse of myself in a mirror, I’m bright red, resemble a tomato and look like I’ve had a hard workout!

I cannot tell you though how immensely proud of myself I was, for a lot of different reasons, not only had I done some exercise but I’d got to a stage where I was prepared to be seen in a swimsuit, I’d begun to love myself and my body which was a very important move forwards.

Seventeen weeks later I swam 180 lengths in 3 hours for Marie Curie and I never looked back.  Not bad for a 42 year old with very, very little exercise experience (or interest), it never ceases to surprise me.

Importantly what happened after that night was that I had found a massive amount of self-belief, I also had tremendous support around me, that is so vital, if I hadn’t had that I don’t know if I would have been able to keep going, they all had faith in me and that was a great motivator!

I decided at that point that nothing or nobody was going to stop me doing this, it was too important and I was actually enjoying it. There were some people who couldn’t understand what was happening to me and I did find that I moved away from them, however there were always others who were amazing and I will be forever grateful for having them in my life. You can’t do it alone, take the support, the compliments, the encouragement, surround yourself with people who want it for you and want you to succeed!  Make sure your nearest and dearest know that this is a really big deal for you and that you will need support and how you’d like them to do that. You will need them, especially on those days when it’s hard work but you will need them even more when you’ve done well, celebrating success is vital!

So finally, start off with exercise when you feel ready, it will happen when you feel confident enough, set small, realistic goals and surround yourself with people who care! You may just surprise yourself, I did!

The photo is of me during the Marie Curie Swimathon in April 2010, I put myself into training and met the biggest physical challenge I’d ever set myself and wore a yellow swimming cap. And my parents got to watch me in a sporting event for the first time since the infamous obstacle race at the Priestley Primary School Sports Day, captured for eternity on cine film but best forgotten. Maybe one day I will tell the story!

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