Just keep rowing

March 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

I decided to join the crew team in high school

It was a big deal

Because I wasn’t athletic and I couldn’t run

You may race in a boat

But you train in a gym

And they make you run


I was always the last in the pack

Coming in 20 minutes behind everyone else

And usually puking along the way

But  I was in the boat they wouldn’t kick you out of

The crew team had this thing

If you didn’t quit

You got to stay

And I refused to quit

But I wasn’t very good at it

Not any of it



I just wasn’t

Every day I went home

To Tylenol and Icy Hot

Every day I wanted to quit

But there was something I wanted even more

I wanted to say

I did it

I made it

I was on the crew team

And if you didn’t quit

You got to stay


That’s me with the striped shorts…it was 1987!



That was really the only thing I had going for me

And as it turns out

That was all I needed


And now

The ability to NOT QUIT


The girls in my boat were a lot like me

We knew we wouldn’t be racing most of the time

We were the benchwarmers

But we wanted to be able to say we did something like that in high school

To put “Crew Team” on that blurb in our yearbook picture


It was tough

It was time consuming

I had to be at the boathouse every day at 5 am

And after school too

I was required to do the following

Show up to every practice

Show up to every race

Even if we were not competing

And don’t quit


We would run several miles a day

And I always came in last

Most of the time walking

Most of the time puking

And then a race would come that we’d actually get to participate in

Then we’d lose

Except ONE race….that’s the picture above…the only time we won!

But when it was all said and done

It’s one of my biggest accomplishments in life

Because it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done

And I finished it

I didn’t quit


I can say to you now

I was on the crew team in 1987

I may have been in the worst boat

But I was on the team

At TC Williams High School

You may have heard of my high school

Because they made a movie about it

Remember the Titans

That was a great movie

About overcoming odds

And reaching for victory


Well here I am again

I’m still in the same “boat”

So to speak

I’m not particularly gifted athletically


Still taking my Tylenol and Icy Hot

But there is one thing I’ve gotten pretty good at



I remember the rules of the team

Show up to practice

Show up for the race and cheer other people on

Even if you’re not the one competing

And don’t quit

If you can do those things

Then in this game

You win


Somewhere along the way

All the years I was gaining the weight and feeling defeated

I think I had forgotten

That “not quitting” is all that really matters

It got buried under years of discouragement

And 400 pounds of dismay

But it was in there all the time


Sometimes it’s not about winning the race

Sometimes it’s just about showing up

This is a battle

A battle to eat right

A battle to exercise

A battle to be consistent

To not give up

But in between there we get bogged down with the details

Am I walking fast enough?

Am I doing enough?

Am I jogging too slow?

Is my food diary what it should be?

We can hash out the details

In time

But the most important part

Is to just show up

To not quit

To never give up


Because the only way you can lose

Is if you quit

So get out your oar

And start paddling



When I was on the crew team

I was just one person in a boat

We had to work as a team

We had to row together

And the same is true now


We will gain strength from each other

We just have to remember

To get in the boat

And start rowing

Out into the ocean

With its endless possibilities

Wide open

With the future that awaits us

And the only thing standing between us

And the success we desire

Is our decision

To not quit


So if you overate today

Or you didn’t exercise

It’s not over

It just means

You need to show up tomorrow

Because there’s only one rule for this team

Don’t quit


When I did that 5K

I wasn’t there for a medal

I wasn’t there to set a record

I didn’t care what my pace was

I just wanted to finish

I just wanted to NOT quit


I have lost 223 pounds

By no longer caring if I am the slowest

And no longer caring if I’m last

Because not giving up

If you ask me

Is what counts

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Samantha @ 24 to 30 March 13, 2013 at 1:51 pm

I needed to hear this today. Thank you.


Sandra March 13, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Thank you!!! This is such a fantastic message!


Courtney March 13, 2013 at 2:27 pm

So true!
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Anele @ Success Along the Weigh March 13, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Excellent message we all need to remember!
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Lady Amanda March 13, 2013 at 2:59 pm

I love that picture- those shorts totally rocked!


Adelyn March 13, 2013 at 3:27 pm

That is TOTALLY what counts!! Good for you! And me and all of us that are not giving up. Ever.
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Martha Kaiser March 13, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Awesome and inspirational post. I love your blog and think you are amazing! You are also setting a great example for your kids!
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Pam March 13, 2013 at 4:20 pm

So true Holly. Even when we get to a goal weight–we can never QUIT! Unlike you, I did quit. I tried out for the track team in high school. There was only two sports for girls back then–volleyball (I was the student mgr., because I was not good enough to make the team) and track, which was brand new for girls. Like rowing, there was a lot of running involved. I hated it, and after about a week I quit. I really admire your tenacity to stick with that rowing team, 5 a.m. practices!? My Lord! You are certainly not a quitter–which losing 223 pounds also proves. You go Holly–finish the race–but remember this race we’re in this time is never over.
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From Polyester to Spandex - Kimberly March 13, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Yes! I’ve never come in first in any athletic competition of any kind, but I too have learned the power of not giving up! I was in marching band through high school and college, and was always the last one when we had to run laps around the football field for “conditioning”. I hated marching in parades and felt like I was going to die by the end of a one-mile route. But I was a good musician, and I put up with always being last in the physical aspects so that I could get to play my flute.

I’ve lost 161 pounds in the last 20 months through my food and exercise choices,a nd I still have 64 more until my goal (and could really stand to lose another 25 after that!). I’m 40 years old and have been overweight since I was a toddler, and have finally lost enough to start experiencing the freedoms of being closer to a healthy size!

I appreciate your blog, and cheer you on! You are doing an amazing job! Just keep on rowing!

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Jen March 13, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Great post Holly! Spot on!:)
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Amanda March 13, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Wow, this was exactly what I needed to hear. So perfect!

You have the perspective that people need, to overcome their self-defeat. Thank you for blazing this trail!

Thank you for not quitting!


marjaypen March 13, 2013 at 8:50 pm

I desperately needed this word today, thank you for sharing!


Cher March 13, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Thank you for this amazing ispiration! Funny enough, I also rowed in high school and remember always coming in last or better yet, skipping those runs! You have done an amazing job – keep up the good work, and I look forward to reading more of your blog!


Sarah March 13, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Just DO it! Every day! There is NO QUIT in the heart of a FIGHTER!

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Natalie March 14, 2013 at 12:38 am

Great words.
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Marc March 14, 2013 at 12:55 am

What a great post and message!
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Anita Elmore March 14, 2013 at 1:20 am

AMEN!!! I am so proud of you for not quitting…and so glad to be on your team (of being on the same journey)…and so determined myself to not quit! Thank you for sharing. ♥
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Linda Kuil March 14, 2013 at 1:54 am

LOVE the analogy (and the rowing machine at the gym!)!
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Tiffany March 14, 2013 at 3:52 pm

That is truly inspirational.
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Lauren March 24, 2013 at 2:09 am

AMEN! This is exactly what I needed to read today. I just found your blog and FB page (2 days ago maybe) and I know God was the one showing me the way. I’ve been struggling lately, with life, the eating, the exercise and your page and blog were just what I needed. 🙂 THank you for your inspiration. Bless you.


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