Me vs. the simple push up: a decades long struggle to kiss the ground.

Granada, Nicaragua, strength training, push ups now

So once upon a time I was kicked out of a university dance class because I wouldn’t do a push up. Thinking back upon the event, it wasn’t so much that I didn’t want to do the exercise, I had tried and was mortified that I could only lower myself a few inches. I knew that this was the range of my ability and was extremely frustrated with myself for not having the physical upper body strength that I needed. So I just refused to do it.

Today, I can see that experience for what it is. Fear of failure often creates mental resistance. The question is what am I going to do about it? I don’t think that today that I am any stronger than when I was eighteen years old, but I do believe that with discipline I can accomplish more. I suppose the difference between the 18-year-old me and 43-year-old me is that I can work out some of that resistance with logic and by also by having the right teachers.

When I told Chris and Bertina that I wanted to be able to do full-scale push-ups to the ground, they were full of enthusiasm and support for my goal. Chris let me know right away that training to get to the ground wasn’t going to happen overnight, he explained that it was more doable in about a year. Like American football, the push-up was a struggle of inches, (or even quarter-inches!) that you gained one by one until you reached your goal AND repeated in reverse to get back up (I have only really visualized getting half-way there to be honest).

From the beginning of September, Chris has encouraged my very slow efforts to do a real push-up that to my eye appear just as disappointing as twenty-five years ago. But he assures me that each advance, no matter how small a success is an essential part of the journey.

When we practice push ups he only asks me to go a short distance to the ground and then immediately has me come back up. Small successes are integral to building confidence. He never wants me to walk out of a training on a low, feeling like a challenge is too great for me.

This is the type of thinking I needed years ago. I understood goal setting in small-measured advance in regards to learning and in life but some physical goals just felt like they were always going to be out of reach. Who knows where these negative assumptions come from? We may never know, but the important point is to question these ideas that hold us back so that if they are not proven valid, we can let them go.

I do believe that I can get to the ground, give it a smooch and get all the way back up again the same way I came. Trust me that when I do, I will have video and photography on hand to record it. It may take a me year to get there, but the wait in its own way will make it all the sweeter.