Saturday, February 7, 2009

Routine, Pushups and Personal Development

In my first blog post I mentioned that I'd like to speak about Personal Development. So far I have yet to "tag" anything in such a category. I'm getting there... slowly. Before I left NYC I started quite a few things that I think were helping me grow into a smarter, stronger person. I believe this was because some portions of my life had become SO routine that I was able to start to push those routines around a bit to make room for new ones. My life in this new place is different. It is starting to feel better, more comfortable and easier every day. In a later post I will write about my problems with this concept but for now I'll say this: Pushing myself into new personal growth routines is difficult when I have to move towards an entire new set of routines that are just based on Survival.
I talk about one routine; Get home, make dinner, write blog. I've done this sequence almost every night I've been here, for better or worse. I'm basing this routine concept on the writing of Leo Babauta from ZenHabits. This is a blog I've read for a little while and is generally pretty motivation to get off your butt and do something new. A lot of his writing comes off as repeated fluff, but some of the more simple posts click with me. He came up with a challenge this new year to "begin a new habit." The idea being that you make 5 minute concrete goals on a daily basis always after a similar "trigger" event. This is how I am doing my blog... though its not really a 5 minute habit. I had a little more practice with this idea from summer of 2007 until I left.
In the months leading up to New York I started practicing a bunch of different daily rituals and other things to test me physically and mentally. Two I really enjoyed were basic Arithmetic and Push-ups. Arithmetic... sounds dumb for a 24 year old to practice, but even before I left I learned the idea that Americans have an awful upbringing in mathematics, specifically arithmetic. Eastern cultures teach the basic algorithms like adding and subtracting in a completely different way. I began practicing these methods for a little while every day and it was very satisfying how much growth I saw in a very short period of time. After about a week of practice I could add a stack of five or six digit numbers in a fraction of the time it used to take me.
Secondly: push ups, lots and lots of push ups. I will be the first, and maybe second person to admit that I am not a physically in shape person. I'm pretty sure I paid fat tax (wherein you belong to a gym and don't go for a month) more than once in the year I belonged to my gym. I found some challenge on a website to do 100 push ups in a row. I have absolutely no idea what attracted me to this concept except that it had an incredibly structured spreadsheet for me to follow. It had a plan for three days a week for three different levels of competence and lasted for six weeks. This was something I was dumb enough to follow. Let me tell you, the first week was rough and I have no idea why I followed up. The second week the numbers jump up enough to scare you... but you can do it. It wasn't the adrenaline of push ups that drove me to continue, it was the results of small daily growth that pushed me further. I made it through four weeks and was doing five sets of over twenty-five push ups in a single session. I recognize the fact that that is more than 100 push ups but they had timed rest sessions in there. In a relatively short period of time there was not only a noticeable difference in how MANY push ups I could do, but in my physical appearance. Then I took off a day for a dumb reason and stopped doing them all together. AWESOME!
(Now for the meat and potatoes of today) In a previous post's comments someone suggested they would start doing the 100 again if I did. SO, I will. I'm starting from scratch because it helps build the routine more than the muscle. In addition I will be adding two more small exercises to my morning routine. I found a similar challenge for sit ups... 200! sit ups in a row. Look it up. The last exercise is the most fun for me, the Indian Push up. LOOK IT UP. Now, to keep me honest I will do one of two things. I'll make a once weekly post of my daily commitment: What percentage of the exercises I completed, was I happy with my routine, my morning timing? what are my triggers? Did I do it no matter what? If I find I'm not keeping up with it, I'll move to keeping up a side bar post to show my day to day progress. You can track me loosing my mildly overweight American butt daily or weekly, its up to how lazy I am. I'll post tomorrow about other things I'd like to add to my growing list of things to do. But for now its late and I have work tomorrow (yes, Saturday... maybe no extra tourism reports for a little while).


  1. Hey! Your mom sent me your profile and I am reading - and finding out that you are a very good writer! Keep it up! I'll keep reading :)
    Jerusha Harvey (from ISPOR)

  2. why do you make me look stuff up? why not just provide your readers with links? I hear that linking to other blogs is a good way to get more readers, and happier ones, think of it as blog development...

  3. An insightfull post. Will definitely help.

    Karim - Positive thinking