Be the Tortoise

October 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

I gave up on the Couch to 5k program

Because I only had to run 1 or 2 minutes

But I couldn’t do it

That belief I held all my life still seemed to hold true

“You’re just not athletic, Holly”

“You just can’t run”

“You’ve done great. You’ve accomplished a lot.  Accept who you are”

Then a few weeks ago

I decided to do something different

Something I had done with walking

But had never done with running

I gave myself permission to go slow

As slow as I wanted

I jogged so slowly that you would have passed me walking


In fact I could have walked faster than I was running

Some people might not even have called it running

They might have just called it


Plodding along

At a snails pace

But you know what?

2 minutes passed

3 minutes

4 minutes

And I was still going

I was jogging!

NOT quitting

Not hyperventilating

Not puking

Not cramping

I was FINALLY at a pace I could handle

A pace that I could maintain

A lightbulb went off in my head

All this time

I was going at someone else’s pace

I was going at the pace

I thought I needed to be at

For it to count

For it to look like jogging to the world

To observant eyes

But now I had given up all of that

And decided to stop caring about the world around me

And just do me


What I can sustain

What I can handle

Since that day I’ve been slowly improving

I can now jog one mile without stopping

Last year I couldn’t walk more than 30 seconds

I could barely lift my own feet off the ground

I walked like Frankenstein

You could literally hear my feet dragging across the floor

Or across the pavement

Then one day

I had the strength to get them off the ground

So instead of shuffling

I was walking!

My feet weren’t dragging

And I was going a little further

And a little faster

But when it came to running

I suddenly forgot

Forgot all about the victory plan

All about the 30 seconds mentality

The fact that I don’t need to go at the pace

Of the world

Of what I think I should be doing to make it count


If you’re off the couch–it counts!

Source: via Holly on Pinterest

The other day I was at the park with the kids

And Charlotte asked me while playing

“Is this exercise? Does this count?”


If you’re moving….it counts!!

If all you can do is shuffle along for 30 seconds

Then check the box!!

Because it counts!

When I was in 3rd grade

We had to run the 600 yard dash

For the Presidential Fitness Test

I started out sprinting and promptly threw up

Do you know what my big mistake was in the 3rd grade?

I sprinted from the start

I was so excited

I was going to win the race

And for a few minutes I was!

I was totally ahead of the pack

Until I started sucking in air

And I couldn’t breathe

And I got a cramp

And then I was puking on the white line

And everyone else was passing me

How many years of my life have been wasted

Attempting exercise programs

That I could not come close to surviving

I would go out and buy equipment

And workout clothes

And have all these great intentions

Only to realize

I can’t maintain this!!

The only workout plan I’ve ever been able to maintain

Is the one that started with 30 seconds

No fancy equipment

No workout clothes

I didn’t even buy tennis shoes for the first 2 months!

Because my feet were too swollen for shoes

I had to lose weight in my feet before I could even do that

So it was just flip flops and 30 seconds at a time

I know what mistake I made in 3rd grade

That led to me throwing up on the 600 yard dash

I didn’t pace myself

I had decided that because I threw up sprinting

That meant I couldn’t run

When really all it meant

Was that I needed to slow down

And go at MY pace

The pace I could maintain until the end

How often in life do we try to go at someone else’s pace?

With exercise

With faith

With parenting

Whatever it may be…how often do we feel like failures

Because we think we have to keep up with someone else?

Before my husband left me

I was a well oiled machine when it came to housework

I had a binder with pages filled of checklists

Every morning I got up at 5 am

Laundry, dishes, mopping, dusting

Cooking, cleaning, baking

My house was perfect

And then he left

Suddenly I couldn’t do anything right

I could barely function

I could barely find a way to get through the day

Without killing myself

I mean that’s just the truth

Laundry piled up

Dishes piled up

Suddenly finding a way to get dinner on the table

Became an overwhelming task

Do you know what my mother told me to do?

She said “Take it 15 minutes at a time”

Don’t try to survive this entire event all at once

Don’t worry about even keeping the house spotless

Just do what you are able to do

Just get the basics done

Forget elaborate dinners

If the kids got fed, it’s enough!

Yes later on you can worry about the details

But right now…just get something on the table

Just do what you can do

15 minutes at a time

That’s how I lived

Just surviving 15 minutes at a time

Whatever wasn’t crucial to survival

Went out the window

Eventually you can build back

Build up

But you have to start with the basics

You have to pace yourself

And you have to do what YOU can do

Not what someone else thinks you should be doing

Not what someone else IS doing

You’re not them

They’re not you

I can walk faster than I can jog

That’s right

My brisk walk is faster

To the world I’m not running

I’m not jogging

I’m plodding along

At a pace so slow you might wonder if I’m even moving at all

I run a 20 minute mile

And you know what?

I’m PROUD of it

Because deep down inside of me

I’ve always believed that I can’t run

That I’m always going to be that little girl

Throwing up at the 600 yard dash

Now I know that isn’t true at all

I was just that little girl

Trying to maintain someone else’s pace

When I should have been going

At MY pace


You know what is interesting?

My heart rate on the brisk walk

Is the SAME

As my heart rate on the slow jog


I might be going slow

But my heart rate is in the zone it should be

For maintaining that pace without quitting

And that is all that matters

I was telling my kids about this the other day

My lightbulb moment with jogging

And CJ said “Mama you’re the Tortoise!!”

From that story

The Tortoise and the Hare

But guess who won that race?

The tortoise

You know what?

I may always be the tortoise

I may always be the last one in the pack

Source: via Holly on Pinterest


But what I’m doing is perfect for me

It’s allowing ME to maintain a pace without quitting

It’s how I started exercising in the first place

I gave myself permission to start with 30 seconds

The world said I had to do at least 1 mile for it to matter

But my brother gave me a workout plan

That said 30 seconds is enough

He taught me that 30 seconds to some people in this world

IS a workout

I’ve read some message boards lately

On the topic of jogging

And I’ve seen people post their pace

And ask if it was “good enough”

Some have replied

“That is too slow to make a difference”

“That’s not really jogging”

“I can walk faster than that”

But they are forgetting

We are all different

Strap on a heart rate monitor and see

You sprinting 800 meters as fast as you possibly can

Might elicit the same heart rate

That I once had just getting out of a chair

Do you know when I first started this journey?

By the time I got the heart rate monitor ON me

My heart rate was already as high as it was supposed to go

For an intense workout

Because it took a lot of energy just to strap the thing on

Anyone who tells you that you’re not doing enough

You’re going too slow

May not understand the reality

Of the tortoise beating the hare

If I can start walking at 30 seconds

And lose 185 pounds

Then I’m pretty sure

Slow is ok

You know what the problem is?

It’s not our pace

The problem is quitting

If you’re going slow

But you’re still going

Then you’ll get there

Who cares when?

But if you quit

You can’t get there at all

If you’re moving

No matter how slow

Then you’re winning

Do you know what the definition of running is?

Both feet off the ground at the same time

That’s it

I’m pretty sure that if even for a second

Both of mine are off the ground

So in my mind



I’m giving myself permission

To go at MY pace

Because this is my journey

Just like it is yours

And when someone tells you

That what you are doing is not enough

That it doesn’t count

Then ask yourself this

Is what I’m doing something I can maintain?

Is it something I won’t quit?

If the answer is yes

Then go for it!!

I guess only time will tell

But if I can go 1 mile without quitting

Where will I be in another month or two?

My guess is that by emulating the tortoise

I will cross the finish line

Because I slowed down

And realized

My pace is my decision

I may not be the first one there

But you know what?

I don’t need to be

I’d rather enjoy my time on the way there

Not puking

Not hyperventilating

Not quitting

I’ll take the slow jog

The pace I can maintain

Someone observing me

May not have even realized I was in the race

Because it didn’t even look like I was moving at all

To them I say

The following…

The Tortoise plodded on and plodded on, and when the Hare awoke from his nap, he saw the Tortoise just near the winning post and could not run up in time to save the race.

Then, said the Tortoise: “Plodding Wins the Race!”





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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

jennxaz October 19, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Totally agree. My jog…is another persons fast walk…but I am jogging…great post!


Anele @ Success Along the Weigh October 19, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Rock it girl! You do what you can do and move on from there. We can’t compare ourselves to someone else’s pace because they too didn’t start there and built up.
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Tess October 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm

YEEESSS!!! You are so right! Running is a state of mind, not a speed, right?! When I go running with my friends, they’re usually speedwalking while I’m running, and you know what? Everyone is happy, everyone is exercising at their own pace, and it counts! You run that 20 minute mile like a BOSS, Holly!! AWESOME!!


Staci October 19, 2012 at 3:32 pm

This is wonderful. And I know it’s not just about running. It’s a philosophy to adopt for all situations in life.
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Karen October 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm

I just stared reading your blog and you are awesome and inspiring. I am 246 down from 280 and I want to be a runner. I thought I needed to be smaller to be a runner because I thought I needed to go at a certian pace and I can’t do that pace at 246. Your post is a lightblub to me. I can go at my own pace. Thanks for sharing!


Margene October 19, 2012 at 7:34 pm

What a profound thing to learn and share! That totally helps the rest of us realize that our own pace is okay!

Spot on girl! I am not a fast runner… and if I run too fast, I can’t keep it up. So I too have had to run at MY PACE and not let the pace of others bother me. It’s a miracle that I even can run!!

Way to go runner girl! 🙂
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Elizabeth October 19, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Love it!!! 🙂
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adorkbl October 19, 2012 at 7:49 pm

I call it wogging (walk/jogging). My run is more like a wog right now. I run about a 15 minute mile. Sometimes I think about the people who run at a 10 minute mile pace and I feel like I will never get there. But I keep chugging along. I know I will. It may take awhile. But I will someday.

When I started my Ease into 5K program I could barely run for 30 seconds at a time. But now I am up to running 20 minutes at a time. Everyday I feel a little stronger. My ultimate goal is a 10K I have signed up for in March. I want to finish it. And not be last.

Way to go with the running. It is truly a motivating exercise. I love it. Love the challenge. I hope you continue to find joy in it!!

You are a rockstar Holly.
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annamarie October 19, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Thank you so much Holly for your inspiration of pace. I never thought of it that way and you are so right. Who’s pace am I trying to keep up with? I should be at my own pace. For so long, even with my cleaning I seem to be telling all of how slow I am and how long it takes me to finish any type of a project or some type of goal that I am striving for. Why? Why am I doubting myself of how long it takes, main thing is that I do finally get it done.
With your post you have helped me make my decision for tomorrow, reason is I have lots of problems with my leg, and hubby asked about going to the applefest at the farm near us, as usually I responded can we wait until tomorrow to see how my leg is? Usually the reason is that I am always concern about holding others back in fear of how slow I am but tomorrow no matter what I am going. So what if I am slow, he can certainly go ahead and I will catch up. So thank you so much for your post, it truly hit home with me. May God always bless you.
Many hugs.


Lee October 20, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Well said!! Of course the tortoise n the hare is the perfect analogy! In life it’s not the people with the most talent and ability that “win” it’s the ones with the most dedication and willingness to persevere – never quitting.

Martin Lurher King said it best “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”


Linda Kuil October 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm

I still get people asking me if I “jog or run” the entire time. That question makes me want to scream! It’s ALL running in MY book! I will never be a professional marathoner, running 5-6 minute miles, but I’m doing the best I can. That’s where we get into trouble in ALL aspects of our lives, trying to “keep up with the Jones’.” Just because someone has a brand new car in the driveway doesn’t mean that 1). they could actually afford it and 2). that they’re happy with their life! Be happy being you. The biggest and hardest lesson to learn in life!


Holly from 300 Pounds Down October 20, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Linda! This IS the best advice and it is SO TRUE. I wish more people really got this b/c I think it would help them a lot in feeling the need to keep up with the Joneses (as they say). I read a book years ago called “The Millionaire Next Door”. All about how the true millionaires are the ones living in a modest home with an old used car!! I used to do casework and we would have to go over people’s finances. I would end up at times in these huge houses in the most expensive parts of town. Amazing and beautiful homes and garages filled with sports cars. I would walk in feeling envious an walk out feeling sorry for them. Many times they would not get approved because they were in worse financial condition than anyone. That is not always the case of course but living above your means is tiring and exhausting. So it’s often better to do what WE can do and be happy. If its running or if its the car we buy. Thanks for this reminder. I totally agree!! I even saw a movie about this with Demi Moore and it was pretty good!


Jen October 20, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Hi Holly,
I’ve ready your blog for months now, and this is the first time I commented! Thank you thank you thank you for sharing your story! So many of your posts speak directly to me–because they are the same thoughts I have–all the time! I’m a mom of three who just turned 40 in June! I loved what you said in this post about “doing me.” I so want to be me and do this my way! I want to “do me” too! One of the things that you wrote in the past talked about how our mind lies to us–tells us it’s OK to eat the food and not get the workout in (or something like that). That has STUCK with me! Anyway, I’m rambling! Keep on writing here and inspiring everyone! Thank you thank you!
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Cheri October 20, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Loved this one, too. For myself – because I needed this today. I want to get going again with exercise, I want to just start walking the dog again. I think I set goals too big and am inconsistent. Slow and steady is a better mantra for me – “is what I’m doing something I can maintain”.

But also it makes me think of my littlest son. He has some extra challenges – ADHD, some other hard to nail down learning issues. His favorite animal happens to be the turtle! His pet stuffed animal, “Shelly” is always with him, and he has a few other turtles, too. Ideas are rolling around in my head of using this analogy/turtle love/as inspiration. Another thing he has always loved, is the dandelion. It has always been his favorite flower, and the fact that as a 3 year old he never saw a weed, but saw the most beautiful happy yellow flower, makes me happy. He picks them, gifts them, tells people they are his favorite flower. It is the kind of kid he is. This opposite way of seeing things makes me very happy. Dandelions are stubborn suckers, too – as we all know – like floral cockroaches, lol. But I like the tenacity they have to thrive no matter what.

Anyway, he is in grade 4 now, and it’s been a challenging year with all the extra expectations, he is sometimes really discouraged he can’t keep up with some of the “hares”. Maybe we can both focus on our Tortoise power. 🙂

Oh…and one more thing ( rambling on again!!) I so relate to having to lower your expectations of yourself after a traumatic event! I went through that years ago! I used to feel I really had it pretty together with house chores, meals, volunteer work, exercise, etc. Then the bottom fell out for me, and I could hardly get out of bed. I gained my weight. I am much more functional now, but have never gotten back to doing things like I did back then. I think it’s a choice – to not be so uptight about some of it, yet it still feels like a failure at times, that I can’t keep up the same standard. I’m not sure. I definitely have to think in smaller bites – day at a time, sometimes hour or choice at a time, when I’m being too hard on myself feeling like I don’t do a good enough job. It’s my own inner critic. I was thinking about it a lot this past week – that I can even choose moment to moment, just to make a choice that is loving in what I say or do – if I am beating myself up about feeling I’m too much of a nag at the kids or whatever. I think I have to give myself credit more also though, maybe make the choice moment to moment to be more loving to MYSELF, in my thoughts and actions.

Anyway, certainly the idea of faithful steadiness to complete the race (good and faithful servant) speaks to me. 🙂 Especially when the battle sometimes is one of weariness, and trying to muster up bursts of energy and then passing out…better to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and maybe even enjoying the “walk” that way, taking time to look around and breathe in and out, at a better pace.
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Irish Carter October 21, 2012 at 10:34 pm

What an amazingly inspiring story….I too had to learn that life is about learning to do it at my own pace and that is what counts. So so inspired by your story and your passion to live life YOUR WAY….congrats!

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Trish @I_am_Succeeding October 22, 2012 at 12:31 am

You are totally amazing!! Keep going Holly!! I am cheering you on!!!
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Donna October 22, 2012 at 1:11 am

Another wonderful inspiring blog. You are so strong.


Karin October 22, 2012 at 5:19 am

You inspire me.
I have had friends call and say “let’s go for a walk”, and rather than be embarrassed by out of shape I am-I make excuses why I can’t.
I often defeat myself before I start.
I imagine my feet hurting.
Imagine only going a little way.
Imagine the neighbors knowing I only did about 5 minutes.
I think I will just be glad I moved
however short or slow I go.


Holly from 300 Pounds Down October 22, 2012 at 5:40 am

I know exactly how you feel. EXACTLY!!! This is what I went through when I started walking. I was so embarrassed at first to go outside in front of the neighbors. I had to walk in flip flops b/c I couldn’t fit in shoes. It was so obvious to anyone looking at me that I could barely walk at all. I figured that everyone would be judging me. I decided to do it anyway. A really crazy thing happened. As the days went by, my neighbors started taking an interest in me. At first it was mere curiosity but as time went on they took a real personal interest. Many would walk with me for a few minutes. Others would come out and wave at me. Honk at me with a thumbs up driving by. Many would ask me “how much weight now?” and often would share personal stories of how they were struggling with this or that issue. I even had an army guy on the other side of my block stop me one day and tell me that I was doing a good job. So don’t let any of those fears deter you. If anything, people will be curious and then supportive!!! I am cheering you on!!


Dawn October 22, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Awesome story! And so true! Way to go!! I’m proud of you!
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Lilian October 22, 2012 at 6:15 pm

“The journey of thousand miles starts with a single step.” -It’s so true and yet so hard to take that first step! That last picture really put a smile on my face by the way, Holly, thanks for sharing 🙂


Amanda October 23, 2012 at 2:26 pm

I had to share my own experience with this. 2 years ago, I did the Susan G Komen 3 Day. 60 miles in 3 days. And I had such a slow pace. But all that mattered to me was that I kept moving. I earned the nickname the tortoise because people would pass me but then spend longer at the breaks than I did so they’d end up passing me 5 or 6 times a day and they would say “You again? You’re like the tortoise…you keep winding up in front of me!” You know what? I did 60 miles in 3 days just like they did…I just finished later that third day. Last weekend I did a Warrior Dash, 3.3 miles and 12 obstacles. It was a race. Did I win? Of course not but I finished it. We all get to the same place…some of us just take a little longer.
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Pam October 23, 2012 at 5:15 pm

I love you Holly. You say what is in my heart.
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Dagny October 28, 2012 at 4:53 pm

After losing half my body weight, I became a trainer myself to work with very overweight people. I’m so often asked what’s the “best” exercise to do for weight loss and I always say “The exercise you love to do so you do it willingly, all the time!”

Keep ploddin’!!!
Light & Strength– Dagny
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