Friday, March 20, 2009


Last week, I firmly stated to my friends: "I am going to do 100 pushups this weekend, because I am SO DONE with this challenge."

While in truth, doing my pushup training didn't really take loads of time (I could do my sets in about 10 - 15 minutes... perhaps the reason why it took me 10 weeks instead of 6 to complete the course is that I tended to take longer breaks than the 45 - 90 seconds between sets... in fact, from time to time, I've been known to take ten minutes between one set and the other if Darcy wanted juice, or I was feeling particularly wiped out...) it was tiring. It seemed to me that I was always either just doing pushups or feeling sore from doing pushups. Three days a week were dedicated to the training sets and one day a week was dedicated to the assessment test.

Problem: Working the same muscles two days in a row.

Somehow that just didn't seem right to me. In the information about the pushup challenge, it specifically says not to train on consecutive days. And yet, there are only seven days in a week, so when, exactly, was I supposed to fit in my assessment? It occurred to me that I could just skip around; which is to say, I could do pushups for week one on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, assess on Sunday. Then Week Two, I could Pushup on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, assess on Monday. Week Three... wow, that got confusing fast, didn't it? I was pretty sure that two weeks of that and I would be writing it off as a bad job because I'd never be able to remember what week or day I was on, and was I pushing up today, or... nevermind.

Solution: What I ended up doing was pushing up on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, assessing on Sunday, and hoping that I wasn't too wiped out on Monday.

Problem: Monday's sets were the hardest of the week.

The first set of the week were comprised of four long sets and then one "as many as you can, minimum " Whereas the rest of the weeks' sets were 7 or 8 sets of smaller numbers, and then one set of "as many as you can, minimum "

Solution: I took longer in between sets to rebuild my strength. I also utilized what would probably be considered a "cheat". If I was too tired to finish all (40, 44, 36, however many there were in that set), I pushed all the way up (essentially into a downward dog position) and stretched my back out before continuing with the set. I found doing a downward dog in the middle of a set gave me some more energy to continue with the set without actually "resting".

Problem: I have a bone spur or calcium deposit in my right wrist.

This makes pushups particularly unpleasant, as it's difficult for me to bend my wrist all the way flat. On the plus side, my doctor told me that continuing to do pushups and other excercises that stretch that area will help "grind down" the spur.

Solution: On days when I really couldn't bear it, I did knuckle pushups. These are harder. So mostly, I just endured. On the plus side, the pain in my wrist is almost entirely gone, even though the bump isn't.

Problem: Now what?

See, this is the thing... the pushup challenge gave me a... something else. When my weight loss stalled out (and it has been completely crappy this year... I'll lose okay for a couple weeks, then I plateau for a few weeks, then I lose ok... my average weekly loss has been .6 pounds. At that rate, it'll take me almost as long to lose 30 pounds as it did to lose 65 pounds. And really, every week, my average gets worse... it's quite depressing really.) I had something else to point to. The pushup challenge was something I did every week, and even when I didn't improve much, I did improve. Every single week I was doing more pushups than I had the week before.

The other thing was, unlike my weight, the pushups were something I could directly affect, control, and practice. The old adage about eat less, move more and you will lose the weight. Well, everyone who's been trying to lose weight for any length of time can tell you that sometimes that shit just don't work that way. It'd be nice if it did. It really would. Seriously.

I'm eating around 1,200 - 1,400 calories a day, my BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is like 1,407 (that's the number of calories I'd burn just laying around in bed all day.) Therefore, if biology was chemistry, even if I did nothing else, I'd lose weight eating what I eat. (Not much weight, admittedly... an approximate savings of 100 calories a day, it would take me 5 weeks to lose a pound...) But you know, if you've been following me along at all, that I don't lay around in bed all day.

Three days a week, I'm in the gym for at least 90 minutes a clip, burning between 400 and 600 calories, plus I clean my apartment every day, plus walks outside, plus errands and other running (well, walking) about. According to my tracker, NOT counting my housekeeping, I burn between 1,700 and 3,300 extra calories per week for working out, I should be losing between .8 and 1.3 pounds per week. Which, as we can all see, I have not been.

Pushups, however, didn't work in the same way that weight loss does. (Or, more exactly, the pushups worked in the way I wish weight loss did.) The harder I worked on the pushup challenge, the more pushups I could do.

And it gave me something else. Something to point at and say "I done good."

My weight loss is stalled out, and has been for the last three weeks. And really, all things considered, it's been sort of crap since the beginning of the year. My measurements haven't budged in the last month. (For that matter, my right arm measurements haven't moved in the last 7 months...)

But the pushups were good. I could feel impressed with myself about the pushups.

And now... I need something new.


Hanlie said...

I think you're a rockstar for completing this challenge! Well done! I'm very curious to see what you come up with next...

Liz Brooks said... ?

I'll do it with you, even. :)

SandyQuilts said...

What do you do for the 90min at the gym?

Anonymous said...

I quit the challenge.
I SAID my shoulders hurt :)

Cammy@TippyToeDiet said...

What a tremendous accomplishment! (I'm having one of those rare moments of resenting someone for completing something I should have done myself, if I hadn't been a wimp.)

Okay, I'm past it now and back to being so impressed with and proud of you that I could dance. Maybe I will. :)

Congrats on a truly amazing achievement!

Aimee said...

yes! i love snowglobes...particularly the snowglobe music boxes. my mom collected music boxes of all sorts - and i guess i kinda go that from her, but decided to combine my love for disney and music boxes and snowglobes. :)

i've really enjoyed reading your posts, and seeing how far you've come.

ps: i was almost afraid to follow your blog - i am TERRIFIED of caterpillars. i'm talking tears streaming down my face scared. hehe.

congrats on your success!

Kurtis Holsapple said...

nicely done! i just finished the challenge too and it feels great, doesn't it?

anyway, i found your site from the list at the bottom of the "Who completed" list and just wanted to say congrats!

Herbalife Las Vegas said...

Pushups are always good.