Powers Unfiltered

An entrepreneur’s journey into grid computing and partnering with Microsoft, by John Powers

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The Pushup Thing

December 23rd, 2006 · 2 Comments

OK, I’ve resisted the temptation to blog about this all year, but since Dan has a long post about it today I might as well toss in my two cents worth. 

As any reader of WestCoastGrid knows, the Pushup Thing is a New Year’s resolution that has been handed down from Dan’s brother Dave to Dan to some of Dan’s friends.  It goes like this:

On January 1, do one pushup and one crunch.  On January 2, do two pushups and two crunches.  Continue for 365 days.  It doesn’t matter how many you do at once, or when you do them — you can break them up into sets, do some sets in the morning and some at night, or whatever, but each day you do one more pushup and one more crunch than the previous day.

When Dan started this on January 1 of this year, and began cajoling his friends at Digipede to join the program, I resisted.  I had made a New Year’s resolution already (lose half a pound a week all year, but I’ll get back to that), and sticking to two challenging resolutions would be a personal record (by two, I think).  But Dan is persistent and persuasive, and by January 13 I got onboard, as did others at Digipede.

Those who know me know that I have never been, how shall I say it, fit.  More precisely, I began the year as a big fat sedentary middle-aged guy.  But 13 pushups isn’t that many, so I did them, and then 14, and then 15, and by the 16th it was pretty clear I was going to stick with it as long as I could. 

I doubt I had ever done a set of more than 25 pushups in my life prior to this year.  But soon I was doing 25, then 30, then 40, then 50 at a crack.  While Dan set the standard (missing only 2 days this year, if his testimony on his blog is to be believed), I have to say, I did pretty well.  I missed a couple of days in March with a sore wrist, a couple of days in late July after taking a nasty fall while on vacation in New York, and a day or two here and there in August and September when I had beer with dinner (beer is the mortal enemy of the 200th pushup), but by the end of September I was doing something insane like 1800 pushups per week.

Which is a lot.  And “a lot” gets to be more every day.  My partner Nathan Trueblood at one point coined the phrase “pushup monkey” to refer to the feeling of waking up with a monkey on his back, which he could only remove by doing hundreds of pushups.  And while there were days when I got all my pushups and crunches done before work, those days were the exception, not the rule.  What’s more, for much of the summer, and into the fall, at least four (and sometimes five or six) of the folks at Digipede were on this program.  So for a pretty significant fraction of the year, there were times when, say, someone would have to recompile something, and he’d get up and do a set of pushups — and three or four more guys would jump up and do the same.  Now I realize most of you have never seen Digipede World Headquarters, but let me just say it’s not big, and it’s quite a sight when four or five large-ish guys jump up and start doing pushups.

Given that I had almost certainly not done 1800 pushups in the 45 years preceding January 1, 2006, 1800 per week was pretty remarkable.  But by October my wrist and shoulder joints were getting really sore, and I started taking a day off here and there.  In early November, I tried to get serious again, but when I did days 308, 309, and 310 in a row, my right shoulder began to scream.  Enough. 

So since the second week in November, I’ve been doing 100 or 150 pushups and crunches per day, which is about 100 or 150 more than I’ve done most years, and it’s plenty.  I plan to do 365 on New Year’s Eve, just to prove I can.

Despite Dan’s protestations to the contrary, this is not a fitness program.  This is more like a dare.  I am still nothing like fit.  I am now a big, slightly-less-fat sedentary middle-aged guy who can do a pile of pushups. 

But it’s a start — and it helped keep me motivated on my first resolution, too.  I have indeed lost an average of half a pound a week, and should finish the year about 26 pounds lighter than I started.  So I’ll just conclude by joining Dan in supporting any of you who want to give this a try in 2007 — what have you got to lose?

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 JackBravo // May 30, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    Nice. I have used your site as well as other blog-types to start doing pushups myself. Did you do the 365 pushups at the end of the year? :)

  • 2 john // May 31, 2007 at 12:59 am

    I did indeed.

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