At the start of the lockdown there was so much uncertainty going around that we (Theo and Yolande) poured ourselves into a routine and we believed that the 3 weeks is all that we would be needing to follow. Weeks and weeks later here we sit on a level 3 version of lockdown and the start of the strict lockdown seems a distant memory. There are so many great things that we have learnt and discovered though this period and one of them happens to be consistency.
The lockdown started on the night of the 26th of March and by the middle of May we had experienced all the rollercoaster emotions of highs and lows. It was at this time in the middle of May that our exercise routine had been obliterated and rebuilt a few times, and I read a quote somewhere that consistency and goals are the only way out of any slump. So I took this to heart. I am already a creature of habit, I woke up at 4am each day of lockdown to study and read and that habit was ingrained which meant now I could take this a step further. I decided I would do some push ups every day, enough to make the goal a tough one to achieve and stick to. So after some planning and a chat with Yolande the goal was set.
300 push ups every day for 6 weeks to get myself to 12600 push ups in 42 days. This meant that from the 21st of May I needed to do 300 push ups everyday, and they were not allowed to be in my exercise program at all. Push ups done in any program simply did not count.
I am going to detail the first few days, try not to bore you and then I will skip to the greater insights that I have discovered through this journey so far.
Day 1 one came and the first 300 happened, and the lessons started straight away. Firstly, I got fatigued so quickly that the last 150 were crazy tough. The day’s goal was achieved thanks to some late night catching up and then going to bed.
Day 2 was difficult to start because of the muscle pain, I had such bad DOMS (the muscle pain you get after training) that I didn’t believe that I could do push ups. I did the push ups, it was terrible but the sense of accomplishment I had after completing the push ups inspired me, I thought I could do more straight away. The day ended with me on 300. Great, goal achieved, I was really happy with myself.
Day 3, the goal was not the only thing on my mind, now I wanted to see how much more I could do. So I managed to get to 350, thanks to some early morning push ups and a late night push ups version of cramming. Each day I got to my goal I was really happy, this was a different type of experience. I have never set myself such mini goals that can be achieved each day, maybe I have found “my thing” I started to think.
Day 4 comes around and it’s a Sunday, we try always braai on a Sunday and the day is quite chilled. I Overslept in the morning and the day lost its rhythm from the start, needless to say the first push up I did was next to the braai while the meat was on. I thought of doing push ups so many times and just did not get to it, suddenly it was late afternoon and I had done none! So I quickly pumped out 25 push ups and got busy with Matthew our little boy of 14 months old. Before you wipe your eyes out the day is gone and when I look back I can’t tell you what was “stopping” me besides my focus and my thought patterns being different. I ended the day on 25. A failure, but in the bigger picture some lessons were learned. I can still reach my goal its weeks away. Ill do extra each day.
Day 5, I am super determined to get that feeling of accomplishment back. One thing I realised in hindsight is that you say things to yourself like; its okay, it doesn’t matter, its only push ups, who cares? If you don’t do it or if you do do it what is the difference? This has such powerful carryover effect into daily life. If you can’t hold yourself accountable then who can? You have to first develop yourself, your own personal integrity needs to be intact before you can hold anyone else accountable. Our own emotional feelings will reflect in our daily lives and relationships, if you make excuses for why you didn’t do the task or accomplish your own goal you set yourself you will do the same in all walks of life and this will become a self fulfilling cycle. Sticking to your self set goals is so important.
Day 5 ends and I have done 575 push ups. I am exhausted, my muscles hurt and I have “made up” for missing my goal the previous day.
Day 6 and it’s back to routine, I have DOMS again- it is crazy. I struggle to get to any push ups, and when I do it hurts. I also notice that each time I start again the pain is more. Note to self, don’t do that again you wont survive another day like that. 300 done.
Days 7, 8, 9, nothing glamourous. Consistency creeping in here, most days I managed or set out to do two thirds of the push ups before 7 am and this seems to be working until something changes. On day 9 (29 May) our son was admitted to hospital with a virus. Him and Yolande were put in quarantine pending Covid-19 test results and he was being treated for middle ear infection. I still managed to get to 310 on day 9, but that was because I couldn’t sleep. Life was happening and suddenly I felt I had no direction.
Day 10 comes and I do 0. That’s correct. My first 0, subconsciously I tell myself it is okay because my family is going through a lot and the push ups are not important. My sleeping pattern is off and push ups can take a back seat. Very quickly negative thoughts creep in and before you know it excuses are winning the debate.
Day 11 and I do 430 push ups, I was trying to make up for the 0, I also realised that they will be in hospital for another couple of days and I need to try sort myself out. I was moaping about and that needed to stop. Some lessons lay ahead that I didn’t know I needed to learn.
The following days are a bit of a blur, they go like this
Day 12, 0 push ups
Day 13, 0 push ups
Day 14, 20 push ups
Day 15, 0 push ups
Day 16, 165 push ups
Day 17, 0 push ups.
By day 17 this thing is over I was thinking. My excuses were winning. Matthew was discharged on Tuesday the 2nd of June (day 12 of push ups). Why no push ups to speak of? Well for the same reason I did push ups for a few days in a row earlier on in the challenge. That reason being simple, you do some things like brush your teeth and put salt on your food simply because you do them. This is the power of habit, if you stop thinking about doing things and still do them daily you have a habit. This is true for the good things like brushing teeth and bathing, the generally accepted actions of greater society like social media and coffee drinking and even the bad things such as smoking. I am basically saying that both doing push ups, or not doing push ups forms part of a habit.
At this time I was on 3425 push ups, which is actually great! I don’t know how many I do a year on average but 3425 is more than I thought. In reality I didn’t focus on what I had achieved up to know I only focused on that which I had failed at. My mindset was not great at this point, I was 17 days in and I needed to have done 5100 so I was behind.
Day 18 and I got to 205. I was happy because I got back to it. 2 out of 3 days was progress at that point, I was happy.
Day 19, 310 push ups. Truly I already started thinking some extra each day would do it. I can make the goal by the end of 6 weeks. Just do a few extra everyday. So I did.
Day 20, 300 push ups
Day 21, 380 push ups. I realised I needed quite a lot more than 300 to get to my goal. Strangely the muscle pain wasn’t getting worse.
Day 22, 330 push ups. I reminded myself that is 5 days is a row. A small victory.
Day 23, 415 push ups. Muscle pain again, but not that much. Maybe I can make it.
Day 24, 400
Day 24, 335
Day 26, 590. What a day. By the end of the day I was exhausted but I had a new record for the day and I was happy. I also calculated my average push ups required was quite high and I needed to jump in if I was going to get there.
Day 27, 510. This is starting to get fun. 10 days in a row.
Day 28, 520. I am quite strong now
Day 29, 480.
Day 30, 600 and a new record for me. I am also getting to the point where I calculate my average needed push ups per day to get to 12600 and I am trying to bring that down to 300 again. This means I am doing push ups like a maniac in 3 to 4 bouts through the day. I made this plan I was sticking to; 180 push ups before 5am. Each time I am waiting for something like the kettle boiling I would do 50 push ups. If a client was a few minutes late for a zoom meeting I would do sets of 30, before bed I would do more again.
Day 31, 360
Day 32, 580
Day 33 is today as I write this. I am on 150 and my 5am client was not able to make her session which is when I started writing this blog. Currently I am on 9890 push ups and my average I need to do per day is down to under 300. I know I will do another 510 today and that will get me to 10250 by tonight. Believe it or not, at this point I stop to do push ups. So now I am on 210 for today. I tell myself that I can get to 400 before 7am.
The most surprising about this whole push up challenge I set myself is the ups and downs that mirror everyday life are actually also shown in smaller segments of life. Our days are little segments put together to make a single day. It sounds obvious but if you delve deeper you can change your day, your week, and then your month by simply “segment targeting”. Here is how I know I can change my day which will change my week, my month, my year and my life.
Sit back and identify the segments in your day, figure out which segment you can target first and try change that segment into the segment you can put towards achieving your goal. Some examples are:
- When driving listen to a podcast, its great use of your time. Similarly when cooking, washing dishes, doing laundry listen to a podcast. This time is as valuable as any other minutes so treat it that way.
- Secondly look at your goals and figure out the 1 step you must take today to achieve them. My steps were to not go onto social media before I had done 30min reading and my push up target was reached. I am already working on some daily affirmations for myself to add to my morning routine. By 5am each day I have already reached my first targets.
No one has to follow anyone else’s recipe, find your own and stick to it. Consistency is a remarkable thing. If you have any doubts about consistency, I have one or two nuggets I have discovered through consistency myself.
- The first being that no matter your current predicament there is a book for that. You are not alone, someone in the world has gone through your situation and there is a book that is written to help you get though as well. Trust me, there is a book for that.
- The next nugget is that with some consistency your maximum effort a few weeks ago becomes your daily goal. In push up speak, my first day of over 500+ push ups had me broken, physically I couldn’t do another one. The next day I paid for the 500 with such bad muscle pain. Fast forward a few weeks and I do close to 500 every day and I love it. The pain is not noticeable and the 500 happens easily. Consistency is underrated!
The steps to mastery are about consistency. So put your goals in place, identify your segment you want to target and use that segment to get on the road to reach your goals.
Lastly I would recommend reading a book called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.
If you need any help with achieving your goals, finding your consistency or motivation you are welcome to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
by Theo Pretorius