Our capacity to find value even in the dark moments might be the sole reason we are able to keep taking steps. – x
Thanks to the Blue Dress Project, I’ve been doing pushups since the beginning of the month. Not continuously, though. The world record for most pushups in a day is 46,001, while the record for non-stop is over 10,000. Keeping that in mind, don’t admonish me too angrily for doing this at my age. The record holder for most in a year was 45 when he completed over 1.5 million in one year. I’ll let you know if I decide to break his record. You can start holding your breath now.
I do them in increments or sets, whether I’m on the way to the bathroom, waiting by an elevator, walking, or going to the kitchen to get a bag of PopChips. I’ve had a few surprises while doing them in unusual places. While I might not drop and do twenty next to the open casket, for example, I don’t see what’s so weird about doing pushups while listening to someone complain about how much they are being overworked. What amuses me most is the idea of having someone in great shape do them continuously near the vending machine area to determine if their subtle presence decreases junk food sales.
I have to be cautious with my shoulder, of course. Technically speaking, the medical term for what I have is “Old & Busted.” I’ve noted that a couple of surgeons seem to be following me around at work while holding scalpels. It could be my imagination. I’ve been told mine is overactive.
There are days when I reach a surprisingly high number of repetitions.
I’m not promising I’ll do them long-term, but I will do them for six weeks, until they become a new habit that I can keep if I wish to. I made a deal with myself that pushups are an exercise I like, cost nothing, and require only time, of which I have an abundance. It’s stupid NOT to experiment. That’s pretty much my take on a lot of things anymore. Including mushrooms. The la-la land variety, not the kind one finds on pizzas. I’ll report back when I’ve tried mushrooms, assuming I’ll still be able to write English or speak in complete sentences at that point.
I don’t have a goal. Other than continuing to not drop dead, of course. It is a great goal, despite all the mortuary owners secretly hoping that a lot of people might have particularly bad days. It’s nothing personal. The odds are in their favor, though. Keep that in mind as you continue to not make changes you’d like to see in your health and life. No matter what you choose, keep it in mind – and not in a superficial way. Every important thing you put off, challenges included, could forever elude you based on today’s choices. It’s nuts, isn’t it? We trick ourselves into thinking we’re making small decisions or foregoing things of no consequence only to discover that we’ve sacrificed an opportunity that is gone forever.
Many days I just stop counting as I do the pushups. If I need to practice counting, I can count the years of my life remaining. For small numbers, I can count the remaining hair on my head.
A friend at work quotes one of his many ridiculous sports heroes by saying, “It doesn’t matter how many you do. You don’t start counting until it hurts.”
My response to him is this: “You’re only as old as the woman you feel.”
I can feel a difference already. Not in my friend. He’s a musclehead.
If I had a sedentary job, I’d do 500 every day. Pushups, I mean. I’m not Wilt Chamberlain if that joke doesn’t fly over.
It’s true that a couple of people have mocked me for doing pushups. That kind of asshole is going to always find something to complain about. It doesn’t matter how I manage my life or what I do – there will be people who roll their eyes or want me to fail. Luckily, most people are great, and even if they don’t understand what the hell my point is, they play along, if only so that we can reciprocally overlook each other’s craziness.
This brings me back to the idea of incrementalism. You might not be able to do a pushup. But if you start slow and with a hint of enthusiasm, you can reach just about any goal you want to. You can learn a language by learning one word a day, walk a mile by focusing on reaching a little farther as your energy permits, or read a book a month by translating your interest into doing so into a plan that’s broken into bite-size increments. (No pun on the bite-size, by the way.)
Likewise, and just as important, if you’re happy with yourself, your life, or things about yourself, don’t get tricked into adapting because you think you should. You should be happy, and anyone who finds satisfaction in themselves has magical power.
PS: I’m rooting for Blue Dress Project to make the weight. I’ve found a renewed enthusiasm for people doing things that they’ve put off, or for finding success, no matter how large or small. If I can do it, anyone can.
Today, when I walked in to see the counselor, I handed her this card. She’s accustomed to my sense of humor and laughs authentically when I catch her off-guard. I was incredibly lucky to randomly find her.
There’s a punchline to this. I told her that I came up with the perfect tagline for her as-of-yet written proposal for workgroup mental health discounts: Crazier By The Dozen.
“I’m not sure prospective clients would understand the humor.”
“Well, then they ARE crazy, aren’t they?”
I feel like I won at life in that brief moment.
You have to start small. But sometimes, you have to stop thinking and trust yourself. In my case, I know I’m an idiot. So worrying about s-t-a-r-t-i-n-g to think is a bit excessive.
Because I lost so much weight, I now get these ideas that seemed ridiculous to me before. Losing weight erased much of the sense I could fake and replaced it with a noted capacity for more what-could-go-wrong thinking.
One of my favorite places here has a couple of picnic tables. It’s not that they’re tall, but rather that they’re wide. (A problem I used to have personally, too.) So if you’re going to take a run and jump, you better be prepared to lunge with a wild enthusiasm that will clear you. Otherwise, you’re going to figure out what a somersault feels like, one with splinters and a broken head. (If you’re a masochist and reading this, it still isn’t advisable, so take note.)
This tendency to fail to jump with all your enthusiasm and effort is one of the biggest reasons so much goes wrong in life.
Yesterday, without any preparation, I cleared my head of reason and restraint and ran ten steps… and jumped. To my horror, I cleared the table. Today, I walked around to gauge the logistics of the other table. Instead, I took off running and hurdled it like an ice cream buffet on weigh-in day. I landed a foot further than I needed. I applauded myself like I had brain damage and took a bow.
As I sat on the bench of the picnic table, rubbing my victory in, so to speak, a woman came around the side of the building. She had watched my jump from the vantage of one of the many windows along the back, unbeknownst to me.
“But can you jump the table lengthwise?” she asked.
Although I wasn’t sure I would be able to, I knew that I could, if conditions were perfect. And if they weren’t, at least the witness would have a great story to tell, the one about the middle-aged nutcase jumping a picnic table lengthwise.
The table in question wasn’t much longer than its length. In any case, I’ve lived a good life. I jumped up and turned. Just as I was about to run and jump (or try to), the woman said, “NO! I didn’t mean for you to try it!”
I laughed. I didn’t attempt the jump. Not today, anyway. I’ll call Blue Cross and ask a couple of questions. And reconsider my options tomorrow.
A year ago, I wouldn’t have tried to jump a picnic table. Now, I see metaphorical picnic tables everywhere.
Not that 160 lbs. is sustainable…
But I’m 90 lbs. less than my highest weight.
I joked about getting to this.
I hate that I paid such a high price to get here.
But I chose my hard.
At 54, I’m glad that I can surprise myself.
And that people can surprise me.
54 years old, 161.5 lbs, zero prescription medications.
I didn’t have a say in the first and the last two seem impossible compared to a year ago.
(On the other hand, I didn’t expect to get derailed in ways that I hadn’t anticipated, either; this is probably a common human circumstance. We’re so busy watching the sidewalk for hazards that the falling anvil goes unnoticed. I failed on a personal level more than once in the last year, ridiculously so. And without therapy, I might have not only derailed my life but done so in the widest possible ravine.)
I still don’t take credit for the second, the weight loss, either. I knew on that day in October that I wasn’t going to be fat anymore. I think that idea of it has taken on a life of its own though, one not entirely anchored to reality. When I think back to it, I didn’t feel the ‘snap,’ but it echoed in me. And still does. The more I explain it to people now, the more they squint at me a bit – unless they’ve experienced something similar.
Although I wasn’t trying to lose more weight, I got on the scale after noticing my belt was wonky again. I weighed in at 161.5. In January, I wrote about the idea of reaching 160 lbs just once. It’s not sustainable, especially as I start doing pushups or anything that builds mass.
One of my favorite people asked if 160, or 155 would be ‘enough.’ I answered easily: “Yes.” 160 isn’t sustainable for me, not really. She was worried I might succumb to the idea that no amount of weight loss would be enough. Addressing that, I do admit that I got on the scale again this afternoon to weigh. And it just didn’t seem right – or even possible that I weigh 161.5. That’s about 90 lbs lighter than my heaviest. What balances my head out about all this is that I also know that I will never be fat again. That kind of confidence can be dangerous.
…which leads me to my next stupid fear. The more on track I stay in regard to eating better and staying the right weight, the more likely it feels like the other shoe might drop. Any of us at any moment can have a seemingly random event derail us. It’s one of the bitterest parts of life. All of us know people who’ve done everything right and still find themselves dealing with crazy health events, ones often impossible to see approaching.
Note: I am not saying I did everything right, not by a long shot.
Thanks to Blue Dress Project, I’ve also been doing push-ups. Although I have to be very careful due to my back and shoulder, it’s been interesting trying to incorporate them into my daily routine, whether in groups at the end of my work shift, or each time I go to the bathroom. (Which sounds misleading, I will admit.) It will be interesting to see whether such additional strength training will add weight. Or kill me. Haha.
Yes, I do know that muscle mass burns more calories. I’m just not sure I want to do pushups for the rest of my life. On the other hand, it seems a great percentage of adulthood is having to do things that we’d rather not. Or we’re doing it wrong, the adulthood thing, I mean.
Someone smart asked me in all seriousness, “If life is so short, why do you persist in doing so many things you don’t like? Is it that you don’t like life or that you don’t like yourself? You’re losing a little bit of both each time you do it.” Of course, I pithily answered back and received this barb: “An occasional compromise is totally normal, of course, because so much of life is doing exactly that, but why would you let another person frequently put you in the position of using the finite minutes you’ve been given doing things you don’t like to do.? That’s not their issue – it is yours. And the longer you wait to learn how to get out of this sort of thing is more of your life flying past. It’s gone forever.”
You can’t control your addiction, your weight problem, or drinking? Tell someone. And then tell another person. Chances are you have someone in your life that knows exactly what you need to get through it or over it. Being cautious and secretive only blocks you from the possibility of others helping you. You might not want other people to know your secret. But they’re damn sure going to find out when your life explodes, aren’t they?
Pardon my great photography.
This is a pound of pico de gallo, iceberg lettuce, Tajín seasoning, and coarsely chopped aluminum-foil wrapped/baked lemon pepper chicken breast, along with two bags of Popchips. Of course. Grilled chicken is preferable, and if given a choice, I’d use shredded lettuce. Iceberg lettuce is less expensive and seems to last a day or two longer than shredded lettuce, especially once opened. Foil chicken is infallible to make, too. Since I don’t reheat the chicken, it’s very convenient, too.
Although I don’t count calories, it’s somewhere around 350. And it’s a LOT of food, so much that it is difficult to eat it comfortably. But because I’m dedicated, I, of course, devoured every bit of it.
I ate a very similar lunch yesterday, using Mr. Taco Loco chicken as the foundation.
I had a can of diced tomatoes, hot sauce, and tomato-chicken broth for my early meal today. It might sound ludicrous, but I can eat it on the go. It’s also inexpensive and impossible to make incorrectly unless you stick your tongue in the microwave outlet.
People are constantly surprised I don’t really get hungry.
Sometimes, I tell them outrageous lies just to see how they respond.
I experimented with variations of this until I realized how much of the things I might have previously thrown in there were superfluous.
I still take fiber and other basic nutrients apart from my natural diet too.
I’m evaluating everything I do as I go. And even if I make a few missteps, anything is better than when I had another 65 or more pounds on me.
I’m confounded by people who can’t get full without indulging.