Shape's editor-in-chief shares some important lessons she learned on the ocean floor.

By By Elizabeth Goodman Artis
May 18, 2017

I've been a scuba diver for more than a decade, and there's a common expression all divers use: "Plan your dive and dive your plan." It means exactly that: Map out the details of your dive-from equipment to location, depth, and time-and then follow that to the letter. As I write this, I'm two weeks out from a recent trip to Grenada, an island in the Caribbean West Indies, where I had my first-and, hopefully, last-diving accident.

Here's the recap: I had been struggling with my mask fogging up the entire trip, an issue I'd had on previous dive vacations. But instead of taking preemptive action to fix the problem, I blew it off. Big mistake. After many frustrating mid-dive mask clearings, the strap finally snapped, and I found myself in need of immediate underwater assistance. As the mask started filling with water, I held it over my face in a vain attempt to see and tried to get my husband's attention. I noticed he was clutching some trash he'd found on the sea floor and was planning to bring back to the surface to throw out, as divers are an eco-conscious bunch. To alert him that he needed his hands free to help me, I tried to snatch the object away. I couldn't quite tell what it was: Turns out it was a broken porcelain coffee mug that was razor-sharp. I cut two fingers badly and had to make an emergency ascent. The rest of the story involves a lot of yelling by me-"It's not your f*&*ing job to clean up the ocean!!!"-and a trip to a local hospital to stop the bleeding. (Fun fact: The color red appears green underwater, an image I won't soon forget.) In the end, I was fine.

Truth be told, though, I got lazy. I love diving, but I don't love the equipment and science, and sometimes I don't treat it seriously enough. It requires perfectly functioning gear to become amphibious. When I took stock after all the drama subsided, I knew I had only myself to blame. I needed to own this sport and be more proactive and engaged. (Too scared to get in the water? Great news; you can rock scuba-inspired fitness gear without getting wet.)

As we transition to a warmer season, take some time to think about anything important in your life that you haven't addressed and decide on a possible adjustment, big or small, that could make you healthier, happier, saner, safer. (Especially if you're going on an epic fitness adventure vacation.)

Do this without judgment- just honestly and with a plan of action. You may not be able to prevent a freak accident, but you'll definitely uncover the potential for positive change. Me? From now on I'm going to plan my dive and dive my plan, every time. (And don't let this scare you away-diving is a really good workout.)