Do you remember the fable, The tortoise and the hare?
The hare would go around and boast to the other animals about how fast he was and how slow they were, especially to the tortoise. He even felt sorry for the tortoise because he was bigger, slower, and “out of shape”. One day, the tortoise gained enough courage and challenged him to a race. And won. How? Because slow and steady wins the race.
How does this story relate to fitness? The hares of the world are those who want results now without investing the quality time it takes to have long-lasting results. Aware of extreme stress placed on their bodies, hares are willing to sacrifice the quality of their health to reach a weight loss number no matter the cost. The tortoises of the world are those who want results but are willing to make lifestyle changes and are invested in overall good health. Tortoises are meal prepping, taking their supplements, watching their portions, warming up before a run, and progressively overloading their muscles with strength training. Some are even making sacrifices by investing in a personal trainer and learning how to work out properly.
At some point in our fitness journey, we’ve been both characters in the story. The question is, which one are you now? Yes, we all want immediate results, but our fitness journey should be steady, consistent, and injury-free. Imagine, instead of a nap, the hare gets hurt from pushing too hard too soon and couldn’t finish the race. I encourage you today to be like the tortoise and go at your own pace for the race of your life.
The goal is to enjoy the process of getting in shape, not get caught up in just finishing the race. Trust and believe that your journey is unique to your lifestyle and that you may start off big and slow, but that is not how you will end. I encourage you to run at your own pace and set goals that motivate you to keep pushing through all the obstacles ahead. As a result, a happier, healthier version of you will emerge along the way. Don’t be the hare and take off so fast, so hard that you don’t finish the race. That’s not an option.
How do you get started? Give yourself a battery of baseline assessments. How many pushups can you do? How long can you hold a plank? How long does it take you to run/walk a mile? Once you’ve established these numbers, create a plan consistent with your goals. How many days can you realistically commit to your workouts? How much time can you dedicate to working out during those days? You may be able to only be able to workout 10 minutes before all your energy is zapped. Eventually, your energy will build and that initial 10 minutes will grow into 20, then 30 minutes. After a month, retest. I’m sure you’ll make improvements if you’ve been consistent and steady. As we know how the story ends, it’s not about how fast you get in shape, it's how consistent you are with your progress and how much you enjoy your journey.
On your mark, get set, GO!
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– Louis Allen, CSCS
Personal Trainer / Health Advisor