Lower Your Expectations

I don’t swim. I mean, I can swim, I just don’t. I run. People think running is boring. I’d agree . . . if they weren’t wrong. Thing is, many people who find running boring don’t actually know if it’s boring because they’ve not done it. I think they find the THOUGHT of running boring. I can relate, though, because I think swimming is boring. In my estimation, it’s like being on a treadmill (the scenery never changing) while holding your breath. All that being said, I love watching swimming in the Olympics.

Watching the Women’s 100-meter breaststroke the other night got me thinking about expectations. The winner of the event was American Lillia King. Russian Efimova Yulia finished second. American Catherine Meili finished third.

If I had not known what position they each finished, I would’ve never been able to guess. If I had had nothing to go by but her expression, I would’ve guessed that Catherine finished first, that Lillia finished somewhere in the medal mix, and that someone had just shot Efimova’s dog.

Why, after just winning gold, silver, and bronze, were these three swimmers’ expressions so different? Honestly, there could’ve been many factors, but one of the biggest, I think, was their expectations.

I think both Lillia and Efimova expected to win. When Lillia did win she was happy with the result, but she wasn’t outta her mind happy because she met her expectation. Efimova also expected to win, but when she didn’t meet that expectation, she wasn’t happy. Catherine may not have expected to even medal, but she did, and she was elated.

What has your experience been with exercise and nutrition? Have you set your expectations too high for yourself? Do you have the expectations of an Olympian yet train and eat like an “ordinary” person? If so, I think you’ll find your expression looking more like Efimova’s and less like Catherine’s. But if you set realistic expectations to simply do what you can, to the best of your ability, you’ll succeed, whether you win gold, silver, or bronze.

What do Olympic swimmers* (or those that look like them) do? They . . .

  • Eat slowly to 90% full most meals.
  • Eat one to two palm-sized servings of protein at each meal.
  • Eat one to two fist-sized servings of veggies at each meal.
  • Eat one to two thumb-sized servings of healthy fat at each meal.
  • Eat one to two cupped handfuls of quality carbs.
  • Sleep at least seven hours a night.
  • Exercise 45-60 minutes daily, breaking a sweat three to four sessions a week.
  • Eat dessert and other processed carbs fewer than a few times a week, and within reason.
  • Drink two or fewer calorie-containing beverages a week.

*If you are an Olympic swimmer and don’t behave anything like this, first, thanks for reading my post. Second, shush, Poseidon. You’re like a Greek deity dwelling in the sea. For the rest of us mortals, we actually have to do the aforementioned things. Go, ‘Merica!