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Posts Tagged ‘pushups’

100-Day Game completed! Wow, lots of great experiences, results, and insights these past 100 days. I haven’t blogged much about it because I was more focused on living it, but here are some of my first thoughts and reflections:

1. My “emotions” aren’t always emotional

By bringing more consciousness to my choices, I started to discern subtleties in how I feel emotionally and physically. One example is when I’m feeling emotionally down or low. In the past I just thought this must be who I am — a sad person — because I so often feel low. What I discovered, though, is that many times it’s a physical low, a tiredness or dip in my physical energy level, that I misinterpret as emotional. And often it can be solved by a short nap or meditation.

Another example: I’ll notice that I’m feeling anxiety and can’t figure out why. It’s not like there’s something specific I’m worried about. Then I remember that I had caffeine earlier and realize that the “anxiety” is actually a physical experience that I’m misinterpreting as an emotional one.

In short, I’m tuning into my physical triggers that create emotional-ish experiences.

2. The best thing to do is nothing (a.k.a. Full-stop for inquiry)

One of the biggest lessons I learned during this Game was that I don’t need to tolerate bad feeling thoughts. If I’m writing, for example, and I start to feel negative about it (I’m judging the writing as bad, or I’m telling myself I won’t meet the deadline, etc.), then more of the same is not going to make me feel any better.

The solution is to simply stop. But not stop and avoid the feelings. Stop and listen to the feelings; experience them so that I can understand them. It’s what I’ve started referring to as a “full-stop for inquiry.”

The path to a better feeling thought is not to tough out the bad feeling thought. The solution is to stop, inquire, listen. Then when I do feel better, I can resume what I was doing from that better feeling place.

3. Redefining “difficult”

One day I found myself avoiding/procrastinating a writing job, and it was creating a lot of suffering for me. So I did my full-stop for inquiry. I put everything on hold, I turned off my phone, and I sat and meditated on what I was feeling to discover the beliefs that were fueling that pain.

I discovered I had a series of beliefs that were causing these uncomfortable feelings. I’ll call this my Old Belief Sequence:

  1. If something is difficult, it means I’ll fail
  2. If you know you’re going to fail, don’t do it (that’s only logical)
  3. The process itself has no value; only the result has value

This was quite shocking, actually, because I think of myself as a person who really values process. “Life is a journey” and all that. So no wonder I was suffering. I had this belief system causing me to feel and act in a way that was in direct contrast to one of my deepest values.

So as a result of this inquiry, I chose to rehearse a new set of beliefs that are more consistent with my values. I’ll call this my New Belief Sequence:

  1. If something is difficult, it means there’s an opportunity to learn/grow
  2. It’s my choice to decide if I want to learn or grow in this way
  3. If my choice is yes, the task is worth doing for its own sake

This feels so much better, so much more open. I have options, possibilities. If I choose to do something challenging, it becomes an exploration, an experiment.

And as you might imagine, after I made this mental this shift during that first inquiry, I couldn’t wait to write! 🙂

4. Small actions repeated consistently produce big results

Part of the reason I included a physical challenge in this 100-day experiment was to test my theory that small actions repeated consistently will produce big results over time. My favorite illustration of this is how water carved the Grand Canyon.

Even after just 100 days, I can see a change in my body shape. The pushups and pullups have given my chest and back some nice definition. If I were to add some exercises that worked my shoulders, I’m sure that would make the change even more pronounced. [My intention is to maintain and build on these physical gains with a new Game I haven’t defined yet. I’ll post here when I do.]

On a longer time frame, I’ve also seen a shift in how my mind operates. Through weekly conversations with a good friend and weekly support group meetings, I’ve spent the past 2 years rehearsing a more optimistic outlook on life. And within these past 100 days, I experienced a qualitative difference in how I’m perceiving the world.

For example, my mind spontaneously anticipates positive outcomes. And if multiple outcomes are possible, my mind spontaneously defines them all as positive so no matter what happens, I feel like I won.

For someone who thought he was doomed to be a sad person his whole life, this is both exciting and terrifying — like the Kingda Ka at Six Flags! I find myself wondering, am I becoming a happy person? And if so, what does that mean? I’ve gotten quite comfortable being sad. Giving up that comfort is scary.

This all brings me back to the theme of these 100 days: conscious choice. I choose to continue, physically and mentally, on this uncertain path. Despite the fear, life feels so much better than what was. And I trust it will feel better still.

Summary of Physical Challenges

Here’s the final tally for the 100 days:

10020/10000 pushups (100% of target)
starting max: 41
ending max: 60

1002/1000 pullups (100% of target)
starting max: 4
ending max: 10

1500/1500 burpees (100% of target)

5/5 hrs plank (100% of target)
starting max: 220 seconds
ending max: 240 seconds

3.6/20 hrs sitting meditation (17.9% of target)
This was the weak link in the chain. I’ll give it more attention in my next Game.

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Update

My focus is clear and I’m doing well. Physically, I have a plan to get current with my goals. I’m all caught up with burpees (225/225) and making great progress with pushups (1100/1500), pull-ups (81/150), and plank (26 min / 45 min).

I haven’t practiced a whole day of “What if I…?” yet but I’m using it periodically throughout any given day to widen my perspective. I do intend to schedule a full day of inquiry soon.

Riding the Wave

Monday and Tuesday were doosies. For much of that time I was lost in a fog of hopelessness. All that seemed real was how far I am from where I want to be. An illusion, of course, but it held me under its spell for almost two full days.

I have practices I know I can use to create different states of being; I have people I know I can reach out to who support me unconditionally. But that’s the mind-fuck of hopelessness. What’s the point of any of it? Nothing matters, yada, yada, yada.

Wednesday I woke, and the fog had lifted. I didn’t “do” anything to cause that change. My feelings simply evolved to a higher state.

The sense of relief was two-fold. First, the weight of hopelessness was gone. I felt free and flowing. My actions had meaning, life had value again. (Also an illusion, by the way.)

Second, I felt free of the responsibility for my state of being. I didn’t have to do anything to feel better. I simply waited for a change: This too shall pass.

Yes, I can make choices that affect how I feel — and I do believe we are powerfully creative creatures that can control how we experience life. I value responsibility in the most empowering sense of the word: response-ability, our ability to respond. And at the same there are waves that we ride, up and down, and sometimes we don’t need to try so hard.

Sometimes it’s enough to be patient. Just as suddenly as it disappeared, hope can suddenly and magically reappear.

The trick, of course, is remembering to appreciate this period of peacefulness, this time of hope — while it lasts. This too shall pass…

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Emotional state today: Up

Today is the final day of these 100 Days of Fitness. What began as a question (“Can I really do this?”) was answered in the affirmative by simple day-by-day persistence and commitment. To celebrate, I’d like to summarize in today’s post what I’ve learned and achieved.

Diet & Exercise

My intention when I began was to create a new, healthier relationship to food and exercise. I believe I have indeed achieved this. Most of the time I don’t miss the foods that I’ve cut out of my diet, and when I do miss them there’s a clear emotional need behind the craving. I only remember 4 “cheats,” all of which I’ve documented here: naan and a lassi at an Indian restaurant, homemade chocolate and bread that was a gift, a single beer (also a gift), and the 1 pretzel nugget and 3 jelly beans I had the other day.

I can feel that there’s been a shift in my eating habits, and I’ve decided that I want to continue eating this way at home. When I go out to a restaurant or friend’s house, I will have the option of loosening my guidelines, but I want that to be a conscious process. I believe this is a healthy next step for me.

Regarding exercise, I focused primarily on Vic Magary’s 31-Day Fat Loss Cure “Beginner Home” workout. I did not advance to the later workouts like I thought I would. I’m okay with that because even after 100 days, there’s still room for growth for me with this first workout routine. My intention is to stick with it until I complete the maximum sets/reps for each exercise. Then I will move on to the “Beginner Gym” routine.

Here’s a quick tally of various stats:

  • Weight lost: 6.6 lbs.
  • Burpees, max: In one workout, 92; consecutive, 50
  • Body squats, max: 125
  • Body lunges, max: 90
  • Squat jumps, max: 200
  • Pushups, max: 197
  • Workouts completed: 5 out of 7 (all but Workouts A and C)

I also learned that my capacity for intensity is a lot higher than I thought it was. The lesson I take from this is that I am capable of giving (and getting) more than I think I can, as long as I’m willing to do what’s uncomfortable.

Emotions

Underlying my intention to create a new relationship with food and exercise was a desire to confront some of the painful thoughts and feelings that lead me to make unhealthy choices. This was probably the biggest victory for me. I feel so much more capable of identifying what I’m feeling and why I’m feeling it, as well as how to shift that feeling to something “better.” By “better” I mean more aligned with my values and goals.

Just today I had two experiences that I noticed were sending me into a downward spiral of mood. One involved an interaction with a stranger that I was giving too much meaning to. I recognized this, asked my sister for some help to support me, and together we turned my mood around 180 degrees in probably 15 minutes or so. The second instance involved an interaction with someone very important to me. I noticed what was happened and chose to look at the situation differently and to play a different role, and all of the “problems” vanished as a result.

I’m also seeing just how closely productivity and mood are related to me. I define productivity as “the feeling you get from making progress on the things that are most important to you.” When I spend my time on things that are not important to me, I don’t feel good about life. I feel like I’m avoiding life, just like how I’ve avoided life by resorting to comfort foods. All of this stuff is connected, and I’m seeing those connections so clearly now.

Emotional State

Since I started tracking my emotional state, I’ve had 15 “up” days, 7 “down” or “very down” days, and 17 “not down” days. This blows my mind. 82% of the days were “not down” or “up.” This is a great life! And a stark contrast to the sad story I’ve been telling myself about my life. I think the key was realizing that the old story was based on the assumption that if a day wasn’t “up” it must have been “down.” This isn’t true. With that old story, I would have experienced 61% of my days as being “bad” days, versus 82% as being “good” days. That’s a huge difference. This tracking of my emotional state is an important tool that I plan to keep using.

In fact, the three most valuable tools I’ve discovered that will further my growth here are tracking my emotional states, using my “positivity playlists” on my iPod, and sitting meditation.

Sitting Meditation

Another one of the most important lessons from these 100 days is that sitting meditation is my clear priority in life. It’s the single most important thing I can do for my personal growth. And I’m starting to believe that by extension, it’s also the single most important thing I can do for the benefit of others.

I will keep sitting first thing in the morning. I’d like to create a habit of a solid 7 AM start time, but I’ve been struggling with getting to bed early enough for that to happen consistently. That’s my edge, and I’ll continue to focus on it.

A quick tally of my sits: I added sitting meditation to these 100 days on Day 65. In those final 35 days, I sat in meditation 35 times. There were days I did not sit, and there were a few days I sat twice.

Conclusion

I am so grateful for all of the people (including me!) and opportunities that have conspired to make this 100-day experiment possible. I’ve done this many times, and this has been the most valuable one yet.

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Emotional state today: Not down

I felt drowsy during my sit this morning because I stayed up late last night. I must remember that the quality of my sit is affected by how much sleep I get. My practice of meditation does not live in a vacuum. This is a holistic perspective of my life.

I did not workout today. I had an opportunity early this evening to do some pushups when I got home from my meetings, but I got distracted from that thought, and so half forgot and half blew it off.

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Emotional state today: Not down

I noticed during my sit this morning that much of my suffering is the result of imagining conflicts with people over things that may never even happen. I can get lost in these negative fantasies for 5, 10, 15 minutes. And at the end of it, it feels almost as if I’d actually had the argument or fight. It’s total insanity. At least now, though, I seem to be able to smile at this mental process after I’ve caught myself doing it. And I have a strategy (using my iPod) to preempt these negative fantasies during certain “risk” activities (like washing the dishes, brushing my teeth, etc.).

I wrote today!

I also fit in a short pushup workout, 4 sets totaling 100 pushups. (I also sat for a second time tonight at my meditation group.) Triumvirate complete!

But I deviated from the diet slightly. I ate a pretzel nugget and 3 jelly beans at my nieces’ neighborhood Easter egg hunt. I think I slipped into “check out” mode. I’m so close to the end of these 100 Days of Fitness that I’m starting to project myself beyond them. The temptations are getting stronger.

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Emotional state today: Not down

I listened to Alan Watts on my iPod tonight while brushing/flossing/etc. and it helped a lot. I still caught my mind drifting to negative thinking, but it was brief and only happened once.

Instead of doing Workout E today (my left knee is still sore from yesterday) I did 4 sets of pushups and 4 sets of body rows. That’s going to be my strategy from now on, to work my upper body on days I experience soreness in my knee.

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Emotional state today: Not down

I sat later in the day than usual, early afternoon, and heard my housemate come home. Knowing I planned to workout following my meditation and knowing that he usually watches television or plays video games in the same room, I found myself getting anxious about the idea of working out with him around (normally my workouts are private). So I explored the emptiness of that anxiety and very quickly saw that I was constructing it. A deep sense of peace came over me with the knowledge that any “problem” was only a story in my mind.

For my workout, I did Workout C and it was my best one yet. I did 6 sets (I working towards 8 sets), which I had only done once before. They consisted of 90 lunges, a 20% increase from last time but they same as my previous best; and 142 pushups, a 13% increase from last time and a 3% increase from my previous best. It was challenging but I can now see the possibility of doing all 8 sets.

I noticed that the top of my chest is filling out in a way I’ve never noticed before. It’s the power of consistency. Sticking with something produces results, but more than that, it leads to experiences you’ve never had before. I’m now convinced that they key to growth in any area of my life is consistent action.

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