This post has been inspired by listening to other people’s stories about their struggles with physical fitness. It’s a departure from the typical techy article I write, but I feel that it’s equally important to those of us who sit on our butts all day.
Most of us desk jockeys find ourselves behind a computer screen for huge chunks of the day. We can go for hours without standing up unless we have one of those fancy standing desks. Even with that, we’re still pretty much stationary.
The human body isn’t designed to sit still though. We’re active creatures, and we’re forcing ourselves to sit idly for hours on end, as we stuff ourselves with junk food.
Yet, when we look in the mirror we wonder where all this extra “meat” came from.
It shouldn’t be a mystery.
How I Tackled Physical Fitness
I’m a firm believer that exercise is the key to getting physically fit. Sure, nutrition and diet are important, but without exercise, anything you do will be a losing battle.
My Exercise Routine
For the last few years, my wife and I have alternated going on runs every morning. She’ll go one day, I’ll go the next, and so on. It’s an easy way for us to keep track of when it’s our turn to go.
This has been working very well for us. Sure, we miss days from time to time, but a schedule helps us get back on track. Without a routine, it would be hard to figure out who is supposed to go run. To be honest, it would be too easy to just quit without a schedule.
While this worked great for cardio, the rest of my body was getting weak. Like, my wife stopped asking me to open jars she was having trouble with kind of weak.
This troubled me like you wouldn’t believe. I used to be in the Army and was in great physical shape. Over the last few years though, I sort of let myself slip. Other than running, I completely stopped working out. Prior to this year, it probably was about 5 years since I last did a single pushup or lifted weights.
Late last year I read an article on a guy who did 100,000 pushups and 50,000 situps in a year. It sounded like a great challenge, so I decided to give it a shot.
My Pushup and Situp Challenge
I wasn’t quite as ambitious. So, I challenged myself to do 50,000 pushups and situps by the end of this year. Remember, prior to this it had been years since I did any sort of strength training so this was still a stretch goal for me.
I knew I needed a schedule in order to do this and be successful.
50,000 ÷ 365 = 137 pushups and situps per day.
Ah, but that’s such an ugly number. Plus I need to build in a buffer so that if I miss a day due to illness or injury I won’t be so far behind. So, I rounded up to 150. This also made it easy to do sets of 10, 25, or even 50.
The first week or so I struggled to even do 10 pushups in a row. It was miserable, but I didn’t force myself to do all 150 in a row. Instead, I did bite-sized chunks throughout the day.
- Over the first few weeks, I did 30 before breakfast, then 10 before and after I took a shower. Boom 50 done before I even started my day.
- While I was working I’d take a break every hour and do another 10 each hour. During an 8 hour day, that’s another 80. 50 + 80 = 130 – almost done.
- After dinner and the kids were in bed, I’d knock out whatever was left.
There was less need to space out all of these exercises throughout the day as I got stronger. Eventually, I was able to get all 150 done without long breaks.
Give Your Body a Rest
Around the beginning of July, I realized that despite my religious efforts, the exercises weren’t getting any easier to do. I wasn’t giving my muscles a rest at all.
At that point, I decided to take one day off each week. I’d make up the 150 on the next three days so that I’d do 3-days x 200, 3-days x 150 and 1-day x 0.
It’s now mid-September, I’ve done about 34,000 pushups and situps. 16,000 to go.
Doing 150-200 pushups and situps now only requires about 15 minutes each day.
I’m pretty happy with the results I’ve seen so far. I started to see a tremendous increase in my upper body strength within the first few weeks. Now that we’re about 3/4 of the way through the year I’m seeing a lot of strength that I couldn’t have imagined having earlier this year.
I’ll do another follow-up post at the end of the year with the results.
Physical Fitness Lessons I Learned
I found a few key elements are critical to being successful with physical fitness.
K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) / No Excuses
I fell into the trap of using the latest apps, gear, and trends in physical fitness. Every time it backfired because I relied on it too much. I even used it as an excuse to not exercise. How stupid is that?
Even joining a gym is more complicated than it needs to be. I’ve ended up relying on the gym to be the only place I allow myself to exercise.
Oh, they have the Stairmaster that I need. There’s no way I could do any other exercise. Or some B.S. like that.
It becomes a convenient excuse to not exercise when you’re out of town, it’s snowing and you can’t get there, or you just don’t want to get out of bed. 😴
My exercise routine requires floor space for pushups and situps, which I can find literally anywhere. For running, I only need sneakers and a semi-clear path.
I have a bunch of travel scheduled over the next few months to various WordCamps, and personal trips. Every hotel will have all the equipment I need (a floor) because I’m keeping it simple.
Set Goals. Then Crush Them. Then Do It Again.
Without a goal to reach for I don’t think I’d get very far with my physical fitness. It would be far too easy to let myself slack off.
This year my goal is 50,000 pushups and situps.
Last year, my goal was to run 7 miles straight. I ended up running a half marathon instead (13.1 miles).
I haven’t figured out my goal for next year yet, but you can be sure I’ll have one.
Tracking your progress is the only way you will know whether or not you’ve hit a goal. Fortunately, you don’t need expensive gadgets to keep track. Just use what you already have.
I made a spreadsheet to track my pushups and situps, which I can edit from my phone. It tallies all of the pushups and situps I’ve done, so I can see how far along I am.
Since I have my phone with me all the time, I have no excuse to not track my progress.
Out of pocket cost – $0.
Listen To Your Body
Late last year my body was telling me that I was weak. So, I needed to find an exercise that would strengthen my upper body.
Pushups cover a lot of major muscle groups and it is a great power exercise.
- Other smaller muscles
Situps cover your abdominal muscles and hip flexors, which are used to lift your thigh up towards your chest. Like when you take a step.
Sure, there are other muscles I could be working, but these two exercises have pretty good coverage.
Exercise Gives Me Energy
On the days that I have been exercising consistently I feel like I have so much energy. If I let a few days go by without exercising, I all of a sudden struggle to make it through the day.
At first, when you start exercising, you’ll feel drained pretty quickly. Don’t let this discourage you. It only lasts a few days. Give yourself the chance to reap the rewards of higher energy by consistently exercising.
What have you been doing to keep yourself physically fit, or do you need to get started? Are there challenges you need to overcome? What are your fitness goals?