I am a Boiled Frog

September 12, 2007 · 8 comments


It is a popular urban legend that if you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water it will jump out but if you put that same frog into a pot of cold water and slowly increase the temperature to boiling that the frog will stay in the pot and be boiled to death.

I am that boiled frog.

In Jim Fixx I am Not I wrote about my first day failure at the Couch-to-5k Running Plan.  I started with what I thought was a reasonably slow pace but I had to give up after 12.5 minutes.  I decided to turn down the heat and start super slow, minimally increasing speed each session.  If you follow my cardio page you’ll see that after less than 10 sessions of these slow incremental increases that I am now back at the pace I started with, but now I feel great after 25 minutes and am ready to go faster and farther.  The water is almost boiling and I didn’t even notice it.

The first week of my strength training program included 13 total exercises, averaging 30 minutes per day, with a total weight lifted of 63,000 pounds.  By slowing turning up the heat I now have 16 total exercises, averaging 40 minutes per day, with a total weight lifted for the week of over 100,000 pounds.  I am shooting for getting up to an hour a day, and I’ll do it slowly - like turning up the heat on that fictional frog.

By the end of July my normal lunch at Bruegger’s consisted of 2 salt bagels with jalapeno cream cheese and cucumbers, a bowl of soup with the bagel bite that comes with it, and a large chocolate chip cookie.  For the first lunch there on my diet I only had one sandwich instead of two.  Then I changed the bowl of soup to a cup of soup.  Then I changed the large cookie to a single caramel.  Then I eliminated the caramel.  Then I eliminated the bagel bite.  Before I knew it my lunch went from approximately 1600 calories to 520 calories.  And I still feel satisfied after my meal.  I don’t think I could have jumped right into the boiling water of a single sandwich and a cup of soup.

Start small and increment slowly and eventually you too can be a boiled frog.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” - Lao Tzu.

Frog originally uploaded to Flickr by Maurice Koop. Used under an Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 license.

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Israel September 12, 2007 at 10:09 am

to be honest, when i saw the title about a frog i was liek wtf. but after reading your post, it made total sense. slowly and steady.

Megan B. September 12, 2007 at 11:50 am

John - wow! Good for you… I’m taking a deep breath as I process the things you’re doing for yourself. Once I post this comment, I’m going to search around to see if I can find your back story - what got you to this point. You’re inspirational!
And YES! I want to be a boiled frog! “Start small and increment slowly…” I already know where I can put that to good use in my life. Thanks!

Angela September 12, 2007 at 3:04 pm

Yes!! So true! When I started running, I told myself it didn’t matter how slow I was going, as long as I was moving in a way that resembled running more than it did walking (i.e. two feet off the ground for a split second sort of thing). And even now, when I’m feeling exhausted with it, I tell myself I can slow down as much as I want to, as long as I don’t quit. I used to be afraid that the “real runners” would laugh at me. But they never did. In fact, some of them even slowed up to run with me and encourage me. This is really good, really important advice.

Holli Jo September 12, 2007 at 9:21 pm

What a great post! You are inspiring. Right now I’m exercising for 15 minutes a day, and increasing my time slowly. Slow and steady really works!

Jenny September 13, 2007 at 7:06 am

Ha, ha! I love it, particularly the title!! Look at you…very impressive results. I’ll be back and checking on your progress. :)

Hang in there.

fatblokethin September 13, 2007 at 9:32 am

Hey, well done on the 5k thing! I am thinking of starting again but we’ll see! I am still walking at lunchtimes and going to the gym 3 times a week so I should be getting some where!

GeorgieGirl September 13, 2007 at 10:31 am

Hey! Thanks for the encouraging comments…

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” - Lao Tzu.

I love that! It helped me when my marriage of 20+ years was on the brink of divorce. I posted that quote everywhere. Now here we are married 27+
Thanks for the reminder…

My daughter just started the couch to 5 K program and wants me to to do it too… I told her I would think about it. I’ll give it more thought…

Great post John… It’s a lot to think about. Thanks!

Comrade GoGo January 21, 2008 at 7:28 pm

I love this analogy! I’m on what I call Team Turtle (taking it slow and steady), but maybe I should also join Team Boiled Frog.

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