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3 Healthy Living Insights Learned from Turtles

Yes, you read that title correctly. Let me explain…

Last week, I got an email from one of our JillFit Lifestylers and at the bottom of the email she wrote, “Have a great weekend, hope you see a turtle or two!” It literally made me LOL because I love that the JillFit gals know I love turtles. I guess I didn’t realize that I put it out there so much. But, I guess I do :) Jade and I see lot of turtles on our morning walks. They look like old men in a way. But they are also the cutest, sweetest things. And for whatever reason, put a huge smile on my face. So…why wouldn’t I write about them?? *flashback to Carrie Bradshaw writing about her sock drawer*

Got me to thinking…turtles can teach us a lot about healthy lifestyle and wellbeing. Here are a couple of insights:

1) Slow and steady wins the race. Everyone knows the story of the tortoise and the hare. And in the fat loss race, it is no different. The ones who stick it out, plug away, maintain a slow and steady effort always beat out the sprinters. That’s because fat loss is not a race to a specific dress size or body fat percentage and whoever gets there first wins…it’s about a lifelong commitment to healthy, tight nutrition and consistent training. We use trial and error to systematically figure out what works for us, and realizing that what works for someone else is not necessarily our answer. Tortoises are some of the slowest animals because of their large, heavy, cumbersome shells. It’s the heavy burden that they must carry. Similar to figuring out your unique fat loss formula, it’s a process. It’s not easy. You have to dig in and get your hands dirty. However, when you reach your balanced point, or your destination, it is always worth it.

Here’s a little guy (a Box turtle) we found crossing the street, rather slowly (NOT good for wellbeing :)):

2) Move with purpose. Rest as needed. This is actually characteristic of most all animals. You don’t see many animals moving around unnecessarily. They move to eat or mate. And they move quickly. The rest of the time, they are conserving energy. When we see turtles on our morning walk, well, there’re mostly just chillin’. Usually on some log or the bank, but the bottom line is that turtles (and all animals) also employ “Rest-based Living” (coined by Metabolic Effect) to conserve their energy for when they need to harness it and move quickly.

For this former steady-state cardio queen, it’s taken a lot to convince me that shorter, more intense activity is what works for body change. And I have adopted it after many years of marathon cardio workouts. Cutting back the volume and bumping the intensity leads to a greater quality workout. I learned this by moving from 2 hours of cardio a day to 30 minutes of intense exercise and still looking the exact same. It was shocking. I couldn’t believe I was wasting so much time doing unnecessary cardio, and if anything I was damaging my metabolism further. I learned that efficient exercise allows for me to focus better later in the day and not be distracted by having to get back to the gym for a second session. And in the times I’m not exercising, I am recovering and conserving so that I can give it my all in the gym the next day. Quality beats quantity for body change AND wellbeing (hello, no 2-a-days, kthxbye!)

Saw this little guy a few weeks ago, digging in the dirt (a Painted turtle):

3) Cautiously stick your neck out. Turtle anatomy is such that they need to stick their necks out of their protective shells to capture prey and progress forward. The shell has evolved to be a source of protection for turtles. For tortoises, you can tell how old they are loosely by how thick and high the peaks on their shells are. They have spent years building it up.

For us, the lesson is to learn to take risks but also do it from a smart place of support. Cultivate your support team from friends, family and other people who “get you.” Don’t waste time worrying about trying to convince people who simply don’t get it. Instead, create a hard, protective shell around those that support you no matter what and make you feel like you can do anything. Tell them how much their support means to you. Tell them you couldn’t take the risks you do without them being there for you. Tell them how much they mean to you. Jade and I talk about this all the time–the idea of coming together to create a stronger team than we could be if we were by ourselves.

Do you have a partner, friend or confidante that wants to help you achieve your highest self? Someone who isn’t competing with you or dropping passive aggressive cheap shots? Do you have someone who wants to see you succeed as much as they want their own success? Can be anyone. A sibling. A significant other. A close friend or family member. Once you find that person, don’t miss the opportunity to nourish that relationship. Besides, it can be all the support you need to help you take a risk, stick your neck you and do more than you ever thought possible.

Well, that’s it! I will have to add to this list once I get more familiar with turtle nature (not going to lie–didn’t do much “research” for this article :)). I know it can be silly, but the bottom line is that we can and should use the things in life that make us grateful and happy. Capture that feeling that makes you smile. Notice how amazing things are. Let yourself be taken by your surroundings. Doesn’t have to be in nature–it can be anywhere. It’s the simple act of seeing how everything, in its own way, can be something to appreciate.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” 
―Albert Einstein

Related: Healthy Forever: 7 Ways to make it stick (this time!)

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