Burpees and Excuses
I’ve struggled with getting the appropriate amount of daily exercise for years. I’ve tried P90X, sprint triathlons, swimming laps, walk-a-thons, and all manner of motivators to get myself going. I rowed in college and like to row, but I travel a lot and don’t have regular access to an erg, let alone a river; I tell myself.
I love to walk, and when Bodhi was younger I was powering through 10,000 steps daily with no trouble. As Bodhi has slowed down, my steps have decreased significantly. Walking 10K steps takes roughly 90 minutes at a steady pace, and I don’t always have time for 90 minutes of walking; I tell myself.
I don’t run, I don’t lift weights all that often, and I my bike has gathered dust in the garage for three years since I tuned it up and promised myself I’d get out more. Life is busy, and I just haven’t had the time for long rides; I tell myself.
I love to hike, and watched with envy as friends subtracted themselves from the regular turns at drinking together on weekends and tackled the 48 4000 footers in New Hampshire. I celebrated their completion of this goal after a year of getting out there almost every week for a year. I could accomplish that goal too, but I travel and the weekends are the only time I have to get things done around the house I tell myself.
Over the last couple of years, I’d read a story that burpees were the perfect exercise. I then started following Joshua Spodek, who writes about his daily burpee routine and how that’s improved his overall quality of life. Small daily habits make all the difference. Discipline equals freedom, as Jocko Willink says. I understand this, and I’d tried to introduce this daily habit before, starting with 20 burpees per day. After day three one of my abs felt like it had torn and I quick.
I’ve decided to start again, but more slowly. I’ve been doing burpees for almost a month. I began on September 20th with 10 burpees. No more. The next day I added one burpee, and the next another one burpee. Eventually I got to 20 burpees per day and stopped at that for a while. Then I increased it again, and again. Yesterday I did 50 burpees with relative ease, so I added 20 decline pushups when I was done.
I’m under no illusion that I’m fit yet. I’ve lost a couple of pounds, but I have a long way to go still. No, my goal is to establish a habit of daily exercise, and see where it takes me from there. So far the habit has continued through a trade show in Vegas, two long trips to Upstate New York and 12 hour days of driving and meetings. I missed one day during this, when I got up early and drove to Vermont for a service and got home late. That was on day 10 of what has been 28 days of burpees. I’m now trying to do a minimum of 30, and trying to hit 50 per day. This increase in production isn’t costing me a lot in time as I’ve become more fit and I’m not out of breath after 7 or 8 burpees.
Where this takes me I don’t know, but I like to do them, I can do them in my hotel room without waking up the hotel neighbors, and it gives me a minimum threshold to reach daily that I can then mark as success. And success builds on itself. I’m trying to do more of the other activities that I’ve put off now as well. I’m 651 burpees into this, and look forward to reaching 1000, and then 10,000, and then 100,000 burpees. It’s a small daily thing, but small daily things are everything.