Do you remember the kids story “The Tortoise and The Hare”? It’s been in existence since the dawn of mankind.
A quick summary, the rabbit challenges the tortoise to a race, confident of his abilities to win he dashes so far ahead that he decides he’s done enough and has it solidly in his paw to win, so he decides to take a quick nap on the roadside.
Meanwhile, tortoise who has been plodding along, is taking it slow and steady, keeping his little beady eyes on the goal of the finish line.
He eventually passes sleeping hare and ultimately winds the race and the big time bragging rights in the forest that he beat the mouthy, sassy hare in a race.
I hope tortoise worked it for all he could.
Today we’re gonna talk about the goal of weight loss and fitness journeys in that context.
I did a mini post on it for my social media last week and the idea has kinda kept growing. Basically, I thought about how there were two types of people when they decided to get serious with the idea of weight loss and fitness.
They are either the tortoise or the hare in their approach to it, go all out, or slow and steady.
The Hare approach
Don’t get me wrong. I think the hare had a crazy amount of confidence. I like that. Confidence is good. It can help you take on things you never thought possible and help you own yourself in a whole new way. Hare was a bit too confident though in his approach to being successful at reaching his goal. I’m pretty sure he didn’t plan well or make provisions for the unexpected. Hare was going to go all out with everything he had and thought he’d accomplish his goal in a quick amount of time. Unfortunately, by the time he knew what was happening his prize had slipped away from him and he didn’t hit his goal.
All to often I observe people decide that they are going to lose weight and start exercising. It’s a common wish and desire among thousands. Making it happen for them is often another story.
So when they decide it’s time, they are possibly armed with a little information and a long ago workout idea or plan they haven’t done in years. They decide “come Monday, it’s time to diet”. All the negative not “good” food is gotten rid of, sometimes by consuming it in preparation for Monday.
They make radical, broad, sweeping changes in their daily nutrition often cutting out the very things they enjoy. They restrict their calories in a way that leaves them feeling miserable most of the day ( hungry) and embark on a to vigorous exercise plan that their dormant body isn’t used to.
They may often have goals that are to lofty for the time frame they have in mind ( to much weight loss to soon, a fitness level achieved that might take longer, getting into a certain size etc) they weigh in constantly hoping their restrictive diet and new exercise will work wonder miracles in weeks.
They are often very focused and determined, but miserable along the way. After weeks of drastic restricitions and their bodies hurting from doing to much to soon, they begin to make excuses or begin to revert back to those comfortable old eating habits. Eventually, they lose sight of the goal, their prize, and lose the race they set out for.
The Tortoise approach
Those who are the tortoise in the pursuit of weight loss and fitness know that it will be a slow, steady race. They understand that getting to the goal isn’t going to be fast. They don’t look for weight loss schemes to get them there faster. They understand that they just need to settle into a new routine and let their bodies naturally do what they are meant to do.
They don’t wait for Monday or a special occasion. When they determine they are going to do it, they just start. Even if it is on a Wednesday.
They won’t throw in the towel if they have an off day. They will simply keep going focusing on those positive changes.
The tortoise people will learn to make slow steady changes in how they eat, and they will eat enough food to keep the hunger away and not to much to allow for weight loss to occur. They will not have a “last supper” mentality that says to eat everything “bad” in the house because they will never have it again. They begin to understand that if they want a chocolate chip cookie along the way, they can have it and still keep moving to the prize. They learn to appreciate healthy, nutritious foods and not view them as punishment because they aren’t eating a big burger and extra large fries.
They start to see how their body feels and looks from eating healthy foods and then those less nutritious foods seems not so desirable anymore. They have new energy and realize, hey! I think I’m gonna win this race. Along the way, they may pass others who sped off in the beginning with some weight loss gimmick or shake or whatever but because they’ve learned to sustain their bodies with real, whole foods they’ve not only got energy but they’ve been slowly, steadily losing a bit of week each and every week and those little amounts are now starting to add up.
Each day that has gone by they have tried to make small, healthy, choices and decisions everything from passing on the stale office donut to getting up 30 minutes earlier to get a workout in and the prize is in their reach. At this point the tortoise is so comfortable living a new lifestyle with healthy habits they have no worries about getting to the goal.
It may have taken a bit longer, but their results will be permanent.
Which are you?
If you are among the many who desire to make changes in their life by losing weight or getting more fit how do you approach the race? Does the speed off and get there fast seem appealing? You just want the weight, flab and lack of energy to disappear over night so you’re willing to try whatever the new kid on the block is with weight loss sorcery. Maybe you don’t buy the sorcery but you just think the extreme cut everything out and be restricitive approach will get you there already.
Or perhaps, you’ve already been around the block a time or two with that approach and know it’s a process going nowhere.
You’ve learned and know and understand you haven’t gained weight and gotten out of shape overnight and it’s going to take some time to reverse the process. You just settle in for the long haul, taking it one day at a time celebrating each new day as you make decisions that will transform your life, physically, mentally and emotionally.
I want to win this race!
The first step to being successful is having a desire to do it. An understanding that it will take time is your first move to being a tortoise and not a hare.
Allow for changes to take place that need to take place. You didn’t gain weight overnight, you won’t lose it overnight.
Make small daily dietary changes, not broad sweeping ones that leave you feeling hungry and deprived.
Eat a bit less. Don’t eat seconds. Add in a veggie or fruit if those are low on your nutrition list. Go for a walk if you haven’t exercised in a long time.
Schedule activities for yourself that you enjoy that make you feel good, mentally and physically.
Make new healthy recipes instead of eating out.
Learn to find activities to do when you feel like eating.
Weigh in only once a week. Look for other ways you are improving mentally and physically. There is much more to process than your gravitational pull on this earth.
Settle small realistic goals. Continue to adjust as you reach them. ( i.e. focus on losing only 5 lbs at a time and not the whole 50 you really want to lose)
With some consistent, slow and steady moves, you will reach your weight loss and fitness goals and maintain them forever.
Tell me. In your approach to help and fitness are you the tortoise or hare?