My father was a sailor.
If you needed to find him, he was at the boat.
If you were wondering what that weird new tool was that suddenly appeared in the garage, you didn’t have to ask, you just knew… it was for the boat.
I heard sailing story after sailing story.
And from this, I can tell you with absolute certainty that nutrition and weight loss are a lot like sailing.
Furthermore, I can also say that despite people’s best efforts, weight loss will never be ‘computer programming’.
It’s just not that predictable.
It was boat designer Pete Culler who said “To be successful at sea, we must keep things simple.” and the same could be said of weight loss and health.
The more complicated you make it, the more frustrating it becomes. Sailing, like nutrition and weight loss, thrives on the Keep It Simple system.
What strikes me most about the lessons we can learn about sailing is the need to be flexible and adaptable.
Take these three quotes, the first by William Arthur Ward, the second by Ricky Skaggs and the third by John Rousmaniere:
“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”
“I can’t control the wind, but I can adjust the sail.”
“The goal is not to sail the boat, but rather to help the boat sail herself.”
Weight loss is about adjusting the sails, as is health. The winds will change (they always do), your job is to recognize these changes and adjust your sails.
It’s the only choice you have, because you can’t control the wind.
And just like the wind, there is so much you can’t control in life, and to some extent this even includes the food you put in your mouth.
(While it seems like you should have absolute control over such a matter, we all know we don’t; sometimes you just eat, despite your best efforts not to.)
This is why some people barely leave the house when they are trying to lose weight, they are unable to cope with the ever-changing world around them.
I’ve seen many people fail at weight loss because they’ve tried to take absolute control of the situation, plan everything out with meticulous precision, then crumble when their best laid plans go awry.
Anything, from a friend’s wedding to a traffic jam to running out of tomato sauce, can completely derail a diet plan when you’re not being adaptable.
Now don’t get me wrong – diet and health (like sailing) does take tactics, but the best tactician is the one who can adjust plans quickly, while still moving in the right direction.
To be successful you have to learn to adjust the sail, you have to be adaptable.