Home > Advice, Personal > Drop and give me twenty! — My personal challenge to you

Drop and give me twenty! — My personal challenge to you

Growing up I was the fat kid. Actually, I was skinny-as-a-rail until about 11, when my mom started buying husky pants and telling me they were for “husky kids.” Of course I had no idea husky was a nice word for fat, so I didn’t take it to heart.

I think it was in 7th grade when I started noticing I wasn’t normal. It probably happened in the locker room on the first day of PE, when this kid, who will remain nameless, made fun of my and didn’t let up for six years.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Why didn’t I do anything about it? Well the truth was I did. I ran four days a week, ate with some sort of a conscious and even took weight training. The problem was, no matter how active I was, or what I did, my body more or less didn’t care.

You should know this isn’t a pity party, so before you decide to click out, there is a reason I’m divulging into something I still grapple with today. You see, when I was in ninth grade we participated in the Presidential Fitness Challenge. According to the challenge, I was supposed to do x-amount of push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups and run the mile in under 7:30. I failed miserably and was told by my PE teacher, that according to national statistics, I was in the bottom 15 percent. Harsh words for a kid who could backpack for weeks on end, ride his bike up pipleline road and climb a redwood tree almost as fast as his best friend.

I guess this all came flooding back tonight when I read a recent article the New York Times wrote about the simple act of Push-ups. To my surprise the underlying message was,“To develop enough strength so they can break a fall safely without hitting their head on the ground. If you can’t do a single push-up, it’s going to be difficult to resist that kind of loading on your wrists in a fall.”

In other words, what simply defined me and gave me a complex for years was to keep me healthy enough to not get hurt while falling. Awesome.

About a year ago while training for an Olympic triathlon, my running coach challenged me to a simple workout routine, which he said, “would change my world.” Once during the day, starting at week one, I was to do one push-up and one sit-up, three times. Each week the number would increase by one, until week 50, when I would be doing 150 push-ups and 150 sit-ups a day. I foolishly took him up on the challenge and was quickly humbled.

Just this Sunday I finished the challenge and took a moment to reflect. When I started I could do 30 push-ups no problem, but not every day, and not three sets. I did push-ups in airports, Wal-Mart parking lots, strangers houses, National Parks, the back of my car and on the bank of several rivers. There were days I didn’t want to do them but kept going. Days that I skipped and now regret. But most of all, there is now the understanding of a slow long-term goal that takes patience and commitment. A goal that for some is feasible with relatively no effort at all.

So I challenge you, my friends, to do the same. I’ll even do it with you, sending bits of encouragement back and forth. If you laugh at the thought, or think it’s too easy, then I’m afraid you’re simply not getting the big picture.

If you’re interested, send me a note and we’ll start next week.

Categories: Advice, Personal
  1. March 12, 2008 at 10:16 am

    You’re on! All I needed was a bit of motivation (and competition is like a drug)
    Let’s go. I’m starting right now.

  2. March 12, 2008 at 10:19 am

    Oh rats! I missed the ‘next week’ clause. Okay, fine. So Sunday, right?

  3. March 12, 2008 at 11:19 am

    sounds good to me. currently training for a half marathon. a 1st for me.

  4. wandersfordistraction
    March 12, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Count me in!

  5. fishingaround
    March 13, 2008 at 5:40 am

    I read the same article this morning!! Then thought that I should learn and start doing push-ups in order not to break anything important. ha.

  6. March 13, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Count me in buddy! Starts Sunday/Monday?

  7. Justin
    March 13, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    I’m game

  8. Wendy
    March 15, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    I am going to try like heck not to fall!!!

  9. Dana
    March 15, 2008 at 6:10 pm


  10. Justin
    March 19, 2008 at 2:53 am

    So I started Sunday, and I’m happy to report that it’s still no real effort to do three of each. I’ll have to see how things shape up in forty or forty-five weeks.

  11. Hannah
    April 20, 2008 at 10:07 am

    ok I’ve decided to do it. I’m joining Wendy though so I started in week 2. Probably could have started further than that, but I guess begining small is good.

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