Category Archives: Exercise

1,111

I knew I was in serious trouble when my manager called me into his office and asked which type of punishment I’d like: “Biblical or Corporal?”
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I did break my pushup record yesterday. I did 1,111 just to have a memorable number. Today’s forecast: ain’t gonna be no rematch. I’m glad I did it but the obsessive component of it is exhausting.
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I learned several things yesterday. The problem with learning is that it forces you into cognitive dissonance when you’ve learned but don’t apply it to your life.
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Life Tip # 46: If you ensure that you’ve always kept a jar of moonshine nearby, you’ve got both anesthesia and antiseptic.
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Edit: I weigh 150 lbs again. I’m eating a lot more; I ate an entire thin crust cheeseless pizza Monday. I’d be happy with 170. Just in case someone tells me they’re worried about me. All my afflictions are mental and I’m keeping a close, albeit crazy, eye on those.

Law Of Increments

The Law of Increments is such a revelation. A couple Fridays ago I did a thousand push-ups. I used anxiety as a trigger to do each set. It occurred to me Saturday that I could also try to pace myself, using an incremental response. I got up at 3:30 today. If I stay up 18 hours, I only have to do 55 push-ups an hour to hit a thousand. Since I know I can easily do that, I can trick my mind into doing twice that per hour. 110 an hour seems stupid to me now after 10 weeks of pushups. So I’m using today as a test. I’ve got nine hours of incremental sets of push-ups to reach a thousand. 12:30. And If you’re reading this, keep in mind that craziness is contagious. The takeaway is that we can accomplish a hell of a lot if we don’t let our goal wear us out before we even start. I don’t have to do a thousand push-ups. Just 110 an hour.

My Feet Are A Time Machine

I put off laying down until I thought I would sleep like the dead. Thoughts of the day still swirled mercilessly in my head. Because of a promise, I took melatonin. Sleep grabbed me and pulled me under. And at 11:11, it spit me back out, leaving me awake and wondering what had prompted my brain to so completely jostle me out of my reverie.

This time I did as I had promised myself I would. I got up, dressed lightly, and left my phone, wallet, and usual artifacts of life on the stool I use as a table. There are times when walking without distraction can be one’s only peace.

I went outside into the night.

And walked, directionlessly.

Mile after mile, both time and distance unmeasured.

Despite finding the heat of the night and the sights and sounds invigorating, I realized I had to go back. Because I didn’t have my phone, I couldn’t Uber. I made it back to my apartment with time to spare.

But I used the calculus of those who often don’t sleep well to determine that I’d be better off to take a shower and go to work early. I did smile toweling off, seeing all the wonder and color of my new shower curtain.

Now, I’m trying to convince myself that I didn’t dream that long walk. The long muscles of my legs are whispering to me otherwise, though.

Returning, and looking at my phone, I laughed. My thoughtful cousin had sent me a link to read the next time I found myself gripped by sleeplessness. Ha!

I’m frowning at my sleeplessness.

And smiling at all those miles of asphalt and concrete.

A long day lies ahead of me, and a longer night lies behind.

I am here, enough, and waiting for next the next surprise. It’s Wednesday for us all, and yet I feel like I got an extra day between today and yesterday.

Love, X

One Goal At A Time

One Goal At A Time

Okay!

When I humblebrag about starting pushups on June 1st, eight weeks ago, a lot of people ask the inevitable question: “How many do you do?” I’ve carefully avoided saying even a ballpark number. As my daily record has risen, I’ve not lost my surprise at beating what I thought was a ridiculously impossible goal.

Yesterday, I broke my previous record by 11:15. Today, by 10. I left work, happy, tired, and surprised. Needless to say…

I’ve passed the remainder of the afternoon writing, cleaning, cooking, and painting, projects both practical and creative.

Each time I had negative or fearful thoughts, I would do another set of pushups.

I reached 1,000 just now. It’s a testament to the consistency of effort and also an admission that I find myself doubtful more than I expect to.

I’ve been preaching at a co-worker to do the hard work and get to 280 just once so that he tastes that indescribable feeling of knowing he did it. He’s a big man. 280 is trim as hell for someone with his physique. Truth be told, I want everyone to figure these things out and give whatever is in their heads an attempt. Succeed or fail, all of us are going to be dead more quickly than we realize.

Given the other things I committed to doing, I decided that maybe I needed to know what it would feel like to be able to say, “I did 1,000 pushups when I was 54 years old.”

This afternoon’s occupied loneliness granted me the ability.

I took a Friday and turned it to my advantage.

I hope you forgive me for sounding like I’m a vain bastard.

1,000.

I ain’t ever doing this again.

Maybe.

Love, X

Look Up, And To The Left

I have a lot of fun with chalk, odd messages, and tomfoolery.

There are times when I learn unexpected things from doing such frivolity.

This morning, early, I went outside and wrote “Look up, and to the left” in chalk on the dock concrete. In fact, there wasn’t anything noteworthy, neither ‘up’ nor ‘to the left.’ Having said that, there easily might have been. I sometimes go to strange lengths to get an inside joke off the ground. I’ve been known to climb walls, trees, parking garages, and just about anything to pull off something interesting – even if no one ever sees it. I’d estimate a good 75% of them aren’t found for a long time, or at all. A good example? Years ago, I put a laminated note on the underside of a table at Las Margaritas, with my email address on it, indicating I’d pay whoever found it and contacted me $50. I pulled it off myself almost seven years later – though the table had been moved to another spot.

I observed several people approach the chalk, read the message, and then look up. Several of them looked up and to the right. (We all have directionally challenged people in our lives.) A few lingered, their eyes searching the upper part of the dock canopy. A few others read the message and kept walking without looking up. It was entertaining, and I figured many of them hadn’t ever looked up above them in that spot.

It’s those who didn’t look up that give me pause.

Were they in a hurry? Not curious? If I think about those people too long, I draw unfair conclusions. Who wouldn’t want a surprise, even a potentially stupid one, early in the workday? Something new, something interesting.

The other observation, one long known to me, is that most people will read almost anything written in chalk if they come across it. You can use that generalization in marketing, psychology, and tomfoolery.

Anyway, I hope you are the “look up, and to the left” kind of person instead of the “not interested” type.

You never know what might be lurking on the fringes.

A great deal of the world is hidden in plain sight up.

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PS I had picked today as a random day to break my single-day pushup record. Once I started, I regretted the decision. After a couple of hours, I decided to double down and beat my record by noon. I crossed the record with time to spare. Each time I surpass my last mark, I seriously wonder if there is an upper limit and if most of my problems and obstacles are about as accurate as the limit I imagine – until I beat it.

Now, I wonder if the fumes from today’s painting are making me see the giraffe outside. This is a weird apartment simplex, after all.

A Bit Of Vanity And An Admission

“If you’re going to worry, put a saddle on it and ride it out of the barn and into the sunlight. Most worry melts away with activity and exposure. If you’re not riding worry, it’s certainly riding you.” – X

I can’t thrive in the present moment and think about the past or worry about the future. Each of us has a finite amount of time, a limited amount of focus, and each of us probably suffers from the illusion that somehow we’re differently immune to negative thinking. I learned the hard way that intelligence in no way affects these things, other than perhaps to add window dressing to the rationalizations and justifications that people always use to excuse away what they’re thinking or what they’re doing.

Intelligence is both a kaleidoscope and magnifier to our excuses. Creativity grants us further ability to pull the wool over our own eyes. Worse, we push people around us into becoming co-conspirators to our unhelpful thinking.

Every couple of weeks, I find myself able to break my previous pushup record. I started doing them on June 1st, a few at a time, as many times a day I could manage. I’ve experimented with different triggers to do another set: bathroom trips, specific words, times. Friday, I incorporated something I learned in counseling. I started doing a set every time I found myself in a loop of fearful or negative thinking. Though it may reflect poorly on me, I beat my previous record so badly that I know there is no way I will ever do that many again in a single day. I did a lot again Saturday, a normal amount, whatever that is. But for Friday, I committed myself to no excuses. I knew already that I’m like most people and succumb to fearful and negative thinking, probably more than I usually realize. Doing pushups every time I realized I was in a thought loop was an excessive and forceful way to remind myself that I need to continue to do the work to stop fearful thinking sooner. Thinking of the worst possible outcome or scenario is a guaranteed way to rob yourself of happiness.

By taking control and action each time I realized I was doing it, I also learned that my pushup “limit” was as imaginary as a “safe life” is.

And so, despite writing the above yesterday morning, I eclipsed Friday’s record later yesterday. Someone commented to me, “You don’t seem to have done your usual number of pushups today.” I laughed. “I did two hundred just while walking this morning.” Those happened while I trudged through a massive rainstorm and flooded streets. I do hope people saw me and wondered, “What in tarnation is he doing pushups in the thunderstorm for?” Had anyone asked me, I would have jokingly replied, “To demonstrate that nothing will stop you if you’re either motivated. Or crazy.” I doubt saying, “I do pushups for exercise – and I do a set each time I find myself thinking negatively as a means to control my mind” would fall easily into people’s ears.

Likewise, when I finished the day Sunday, I laughed. Goals and records exist to be broken. (Just like the heads of obstinate people who won’t try a different way of thinking to see if it results in a better life for themselves.)

Every time I think I’ve reached my limit, I should assume it’s vanity and simply beat it.

Even though work today was strenuous, I got intrigued by the question, “Can I do this again today and break yesterday’s record?” The answer is yes. And I did.

Friday, I did an unbeatable number of pushups. I did it again Sunday. I woke up with no idea that I’d do it again today. But I did—a Monday.

Friday will stick with me because I channeled unhealthy thinking into a positive outcome. I haven’t mentioned a specific number. It isn’t 1,000. But I realized today that it could be if I wanted to. Now it’s stuck in my head that my pushup curve is congruent with the exact angle of my weight loss.

If you see me doing pushups, you didn’t catch me doing them any more than me putting on my shirt inside out by accident or wearing mismatched shoes. If people can stand outside and do crazy things such as smoke, dip, and ride recumbent bicycles, watching someone exercise shouldn’t be a shock to the delicate eyes of people observing me.

P.S. Not related to the above… today’s prank was that I used a roll of yellow CAUTION tape to make a massive X across someone’s doorway and prevent entry into same without ripping the tape down. No one has mentioned it on social media or to me. I can’t imagine they went inside through the back door. I think not knowing how the prank was received is most of the fun. You can blame the Fayetteville Walmart for reminding me that I needed to do this prank.

The Allegedly Iffy

The Allegedly Iffy

I’m out walking through the allegedly iffy stretch of town. The moon is beautiful and a little iridescent against the horizon, before the sunrise. I can feel the heat of the day waiting to blanket everything. But it cannot bake away the beauty of the morning before the sunrise. Last Saturday morning,  I ignored the lightning and the rain and walked anyway. It turned out to be an extraordinary walk.

My path was different this morning. New things to see, places to find, and streets to mentally catalog. Walking these places touches them into my memory in a way that driving never will. Though there is nothing magical on these streets, I know that I will probably remember this morning. I have been continually surprised by the equidistant nexus of places I can reach in thirty minutes. Because of the campus and the number of people living over here, the ebb and flow of activity never ceases even if it’s difficult to sometimes spot.

My first conversation and interaction happened as I made my first left turn. A very physically fit man was walking a mastiff on the opposite side of the street. He would have to be fit to corral that large dog. Even the leash or rope he was holding looked to be over an inch thick. In his hand he had a travel mug of coffee. He lifted it and said, “This is the most beautiful part of the day.” I agreed and laughed. He told me to have a great Saturday. As I told him the same, it occurred to me that expectations often wildly contradict reality. Sometimes, they render everything with a sheen of mystery; others, with an ache.

Almost everyone waved or saluted me as we passed. Even the Latinos up on the crane against the large expensive building they were working on. So much of the architecture over here is distinctively beautiful viewed without people or complete light to interfere with it. I think all the people trying to enjoy life late at night with crowded spectacle are missing out.

But what do I know? I’m just a dude, walking. I couldn’t have reached the glass and steel of this architecture without traversing the allegedly iffy.

I think that is my metaphor for today. One day, looking back, I hope to discover that the same metaphor will encompass my recent past. If your yesterday wasn’t what you wanted or needed, shake it off and call it your allegedly iffy. It’s damn hard to appreciate the good times without a kick in the teeth every once in awhile. I’d prefer to evade the kick, but if we could vote, trauma would never touch us.

The sun is crowding the top of the horizon now. Although I’m in the deep shadow of this stretch of the trail, slivers of the sun pierce the canopy, like verdant curtains swept open inside one’s living room.

Listen Closely

I’ll start this post by commenting on the picture. This woman is beautiful, no matter what age she might be. She reminds me of one of my aunts, had she had the chance to live an entire life. “Everything’s eventual,” old age included. If we are lucky. A bit of advice? If someone timelessly admires you, take a minute to nod in their direction.

One of the sublime emotions that is hard to pin down is the let-down one feels when others fail to take advantage of the knowledge of someone right there who has been there and done that. At 54, after many failures, I bite my tongue quite often. If someone asks me, I tell them my story and do whatever I can to motivate them. I’ve learned that preaching entrenches people.

My healthier eating journey seemed like a miracle to some; to me, it was inevitable. I’m not saying I have all the answers and certainly not that I’m doing things correctly. But if that’s the case, very few are. No matter what else I’ve mismanaged, I’ve lost a considerable amount of weight, as well incorporated a staggering amount of better choices into my diet. I did all this without feeling hungry. That’s a success.

And because I did it, I know other people can do it too.

And a certain percentage can do it as easily as I did, without upending their life or putting themselves on a literal treadmill to do it.

I see people struggling and unhappy with their weight and some of the consequences it brings.

It’s needless for most of them. Not all, because some people have circumstances or medical issues that prevent them from accepting their body how it is and learning to be happy about it – OR, taking steps now, from where they are. If a non-diet or intuitive eating approach is what they would rather do, then get with it!

People aren’t going to change their habits unless they want to or are forced to by external forces. Wouldn’t it be simpler to listen to a dork like me now instead of waiting for a harsher force to intercede?

We don’t need complicated formulas, expensive supplements, a gym membership, or much of anything, not really, to lose a lot of weight. BUT if you do need those things to get you there, I’m not pointing a finger. If it gets you to your goal, for heaven’s sake, do whatever you need to, even country music. If you do it to prove me wrong, I’ll be happy for you. Success is a beautiful thing. People who’ve achieved a goal radiate in a way that others don’t. We all gravitate toward them.

If you don’t want to, that’s great. Stop paying homage to the diet rat race and stop focusing on external programs you honestly aren’t interested in. I’m here to tell you that you can do it in incremental steps OR with sweeping, immersive life changes. Something will work for you. Please keep trying! My penultimate post was titled, “You Fail Until you Don’t.” Whether it’s weight, work, or any other change you would like, staying where you are is the bigger problem.

But if you are interested, take a moment and pretend that I might know what I’m talking about. I can undoubtedly uncomplicate it in your head, which is ALL the battle, anyway. Once you commit yourself, the road becomes more apparent.

Here’s the first step: tell yourself that you’re going to make changes. Stop focusing on the things you perceive as failures. If you’re smart enough to love yourself for who you are, one of these days, tomorrow or 2026, you will succeed. If you have a fan in your corner, give that flame of admiration some encouragement.

Love, X

You Fail Until You Don’t

On June 1st, I started doing pushups due to my cousin. She’s been going to the gym and building muscles. While I wasn’t willing to start going to the gym for several reasons, I decided that pushups would be the ideal experimental exercise for me to incorporate into my daily routine. They are free, don’t require equipment, and can be done anywhere. I’ve proven that the “anywhere” part can be interesting too. It’s led to many anecdotes, most positive, a few awkward, and all of them interesting. Being able to do pushups in all manner of places is also excellent training to reinforce the idea that I shouldn’t be worried about what people think. People do all sorts of weird things that we accept as normal – even though many of these things are harmful or idiotic when taken logically.

Initially, I promised myself I’d do them for six weeks, allegedly the habit-forming mark. After reaching that point, I decided to do six more weeks. So far, I’ve made it seven weeks. Likewise, in early October, when I had my epiphany, I promised to stay on guard for an entire year. It’s incredible that I’m in my tenth month and have maintained all my goals. Whether true or not, I feel like if I can stay the course for a year, my chances at keeping my oath never to get fat again might become my permanent reality.

Friday, despite being tired from work, I decided to go all-in and do more in a day than I’d ever done previously. Oof! And I succeeded. So I then broke Friday’s record on Saturday. I’m not going to say how many, other than it was a lot for a fifty-four-year-old man. Truthfully, it is a lot for anyone who isn’t in boot camp. Ha! Today, I’ve done 1/3 of my record yesterday. I’m not committing to beating yesterday’s mark.

Even though it’s vanity for me to have been pleased by someone’s comment the other day, a coworker who was enthusiastic about my weight drop since October stopped me; he hadn’t seen me in a few weeks. He asked if I had started boxing. I looked at him quizzically, expecting a joke or jab. He told me that he could tell I was doing something physical, as my shoulders and arms had changed shape. Since he is a decent boxer, I took it as high praise. While I didn’t tell him what I had been doing, he told me to keep it up, and whatever it was, it was working. A couple of days later and another coworker, someone who works out often, told me that I had somehow avoided the curse of looking ill when I lost so much weight. Someone we both knew had lost a lot, but she looked gaunt and frail. In the last few months, I did have a couple of people tell me that they thought I looked ill. I remind myself that two out of five hundred is a great track record.

A few weeks ago, when I saw my favorite cousin for the first time in a while, it was notable how much her arms and shoulders had progressed. The gym is working for her. Seeing people succeed is such a blessing and seeing her do something for herself is a blessing twice over.

Whatever your goals are, I hope you are figuring out a way to fail until you succeed. That’s all any of this is. You fail. Until you don’t. At that point, it seems inevitable. Eating better can be incremental. Exercise can be cumulative. Take small steps, literally, until you see progress. Any progress you make, celebrate and appreciate it. When you find that people aren’t celebrating with you, you’ve at least identified people that probably shouldn’t be squandering your time or attention.

Love, X

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PS The picture is from a couple of Sundays ago, on a hot afternoon. People do tease me about my preference for old school headphones. And that’s okay. I walked that afternoon to time how quickly I could walk to work from my starting point. That kind of consideration is going to be more common as I transition to another kind of life.

Stolen Thunder

I stood under the canopy watching the lightning streaks. I held a cup of delicious dark bitter coffee in my hand, my first cup of the day. I was already drenched, so it didn’t matter whether I was protected from the rain or not. There aren’t a lot of instances when you have the premonition that you might easily recall the moment later. The place was mundane – but they all are, really. I took a little bit of delight and traced it in my memory. A few seconds after the next big streak of lightning, a huge boom echoed and somewhere in the distance someone gave a little shout and said, “Let’s go in!” Apparently, not everyone takes delight in drinking their coffee during a torrential downpour. There is no accounting for taste, is there?

Nearby, the traffic light seemed more vibrant in the dense rain and early morning light. The rain and thunder had attempted to veto my walk. I ignored the imposition and set out anyway. Who knows how many more times I’ll have the opportunity to watch the world duck and run simply because it’s raining. For that matter, or watching people pay $8 for a dessert disguised as coffee.

Despite the intense dark of the sky, I stole a long walk from this morning. During the first part of my walk, I stayed urban; for the second part I abandoned all concern about the weather and rain. Being somewhere new affords a different pleasure and I don’t need to be somewhere exotic to feel alive. (A truth I should learned more distinctly when I was younger.) I could share several pictures, ones I grabbed each time I took my phone out of the ziplock bag I had tucked into my pocket. But these would not be shared memories, and often that makes all the difference. It is why we feel a little empty looking at other people’s vacation photos, especially when the people we love are not in them.It is our presence and our memories that add value to a place or a vista.

So I’ll use my words to futilely attempt a description: I walk alone on this wide expanse of trail.To one side, the angry creek roars. The sky intermittently opens up and drenches me but fails to touch my enthusiasm. The birds carry on their business, and I watch a hawk on the edge of the farm and rows of test corn, probably searching for mice. It feels like I could walk forever, and possibly without encountering other people. The thunder is my applause. Somewhere out here with me there must be a touch of the ordinary. But I don’t see it.

Red is for stop
green is for go
Add this small thing
To the list of things
I do not need to know
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PS Lest you think everything is rainbows and butterflies… toward the presumptive end of my walk, I watched a bitter domestic fight in one of the single story apartments dotting my return. The woman stood outside screaming obscenities and threats as someone inside through her belongings out onto the wet sidewalk. Though she doesn’t know it, her life is both ending and beginning. Worse still, because of my life experience I can mentally chart out the rest of her life. As several of the neighbors stood outside in the light rain to watch the drama, I couldn’t help but think about how needless it all was. Needless and probably inescapable.

How strange to consider how enjoyable of a morning I had just walking, one of the simplest things in the world – while the woman in question probably was having the worst morning she’s had in years.

I’m going to go back to my regular morning, and if I’m lucky, like all of us, I might experience another touch of the divine. And another cup of coffee, one without the kiss of rain.

Love, X
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