Remember the Aesop’s fable “The Tortoise and the Hare”? It’s the story of a lightning-fast rabbit and a plod-along turtle that are seemingly mismatched in a race. It was the tortoise, annoyed with the hare’s boastful assertions of being faster than the wind, that challenged the hare. To the surprise of everyone but the tortoise, (s)he wins. Well I’m a tortoise. For most of my life, I’ve put one foot in front of the other, to get to the finish line, to achieve my goals. “Slow and steady wins the race”!

The other morning, as I was doing my usual jog around the Oval, a very young woman ran past me – no, she blew past me. For a moment, I watched my competitive self pick up speed to catch her, until a voice in my head asked “Why”. I quickly did some self-talk and reminded myself of the reasons I run in the first place – not to win a race, but for the long-term benefits of health and well being.

In a society that promotes quick fixes, instant cures, weight loss overnight, flat abs in two weeks (I could go on and on and on), it’s hard to be a tortoise. It’s hard to believe that there is value in putting one foot in front of the other daily. It’s challenging at best to keep the faith that the small steps we take will get us to our goals, no matter what they are.

The night before my last birthday, I couldn’t sleep. So not to wake my husband, I went downstairs, turned on the television, and started flipping through the channels. Within an hour I had written down phone numbers for products and services promising me flawless skin in seconds, thin thighs in two weeks, reduction of belly fat (without surgery or changing my eating habits!) and a free consultation with a former IRS agent who would assist me in reducing or eliminating my 2009 taxes. I picked up the phone a few times, but didn’t dial. Common sense prevailed.

It’s so difficult not to get sucked into the “quick fix” mentality that pervades our culture. We’ve listened to our friends and colleagues at lunch or around the water cooler excitedly talk about the newest diet, program, or exercise craze. They (and we) want “it” and want it now. And then so often, a few weeks or months later we hear (or experience ourselves) “it didn’t work”. Did “it” not work? Or like the hare in the fable, did we not work it, consistently putting forth the effort, putting one foot in front of the other, one day at a time.

I’ve been following BodySense guidelines for over two decades and exercising regularly for three. Perfectly? Absolutely not! Consistently? Absolutely yes! I eat from hunger (true body hunger) and I stop eating when my body (not my mind) has had enough. My former selves, the sneak-eating child, the bingeing adolescent, and the young woman who restricted her food intake to near starvation, well, they have become a woman, this woman, with a healthy and stable relationship with food, and a loving, appreciation for her body.

When we shift our focus from quick fixes and instant cures to living each day mindfully, eating nutritiously, exercising regularly, putting one proverbial foot in front of the other, we wake up one day and realize: I am a tortoise and I am proud!

Author's Bio: 

Ilene Leshinsky is a licensed, clinical social worker with fifteen years of counseling experience. In her Plattsburgh-based private practice, she works with women who want more joy and fulfillment in their lives. Ilene’s BodySense program is open to women of all ages who are in conflict with weight, eating, and body image. She can be reached at 518-570-6164 or www.ileneleshinsky.com.