Michael's Happenings

My 37 Day Challenge

The title of Patti’s 37 days blog constantly reminds me of the shortness of life. Patti consciously titled it in remembrance the her stepfather who died 37 days after being diagnosed with lung cancer. At the conclusion of her blogs posts, Patti always issues a “37 Days: Do It Now Challenge”, calling her readers to action with a succinct summation of her latest writing. I really enjoy Patti’s weekly posts, and learn a lot from her.

Today is the conclusion of my first conscious 37 days challenge (albeit one that Patti didn’t suggest): to become strong enough to do 500 press-ups a day. From the time that I first consciously tried to do so, I’ve never been able to do press-ups; I just haven’t had the physical strength in my upper body. I could do 5 or 6 at a time, but never more, and I’d written myself off without taking the next intuitive leap: I’ll have to train for it. And so 37 days ago, after being amazed at how well Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins could do his press-ups, I entered training. For the first couple of weeks, I focused on being able to do multiple sets of 10 press-ups each day. As I got into a rhythm with it, I changed my approach and focused on doing 10 sets of a defined number of press-ups each day, and then adding 1 to the number the next day. Toward the latter part of the 37 days, I sometimes added more … jumping from 42 a day to 44 the next day. Today I’m going to add 8, to get to 52 at a time (and I’ve done it once today already!)

I tracked the number of sets on my whiteboard, so as to have a running total of what I had and had not done. Here’s my numbers since making the change:

The coding is as follows:

  • The first number is the number of press-ups to do without stopping.
  • The second number is the number of sets I did of that. I aimed for 10 sets a day, but sometimes didn’t make it. There were a few days in the week I gave up coffee that were particularly difficult … my head hurt too much to do too many sets. The other day I didn’t get any done was the day that Jonathan was born (May 22).
  • The final number is the number of extra press-ups I did, or press-ups I did without counting them toward a set. “0-0-60” for example, means that I did 60 press-ups during the day, but no sets.
  • Where there are two lines joined, the first prefixed with “P” and the second with “S”, I was tracking the number of press-ups (P) and the number of sit-ups or curl-ups (S).

As a result of doing this, I’ve now got muscles in my arms and chest that were never there before (“where did those come from?”), and I’m also strong enough to do press-ups with one of my children sitting on my shoulders (which they find delightful!). A third result is that all of children, Susanna (23.5mo) included, like to try press-ups too … David (10) can do 21 at a go, something I couldn’t do at his age.

So … two huge thank you’s … (1) thank you to Batman Begins for hitting me with a challenge, and (2) thank you to Patti for giving me a framework for thinking about how to structure and time an improvement of this nature.

UPDATE … well, I did it … 500 press-ups at day 37, that is 52-9-32. I left the final sets until too late in the night to go for 52-10-0.

37 Days: Do It Now Challenge
Think of something that you’ve been telling yourself that you can’t do, and make a plan for being able to do it. Track your progress for the next 37 days, and then tell us how you’ve gone. If I can find or erect an appropriate structure around the house, the next challenge is chin-ups … I can’t even do 1!

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