The Zen of Exercise: Stop Counting Push-ups

“You can’t hire someone else to do your push-ups for you.”

– Jim Rohn

The best things in life cannot be bought with money, but even still, they are not free. The best things in life require effort.

Mindfulness, loving-kindness, sense of belongingness, physical fitness, and probably a few other “ness”‘es —  all of these require different forms of effort and mental discipline.

In the pursuit of improved physical fitness — and in an effort to “walk my own talk” — I make an effort to do at least one set of push-ups daily.  My goal is to do, at minimum every day, the same number of consecutive push-ups as my age in years.

The thing is, I’ve been holding steady at 30 push-ups for a while… and while 30 is a nice round number, it’s (ahem) short of my goal.

Perhaps it’s a deeply buried denial about the inevitable marching forward of years… or perhaps it has to do with getting too focused a number.

Breaking Past 30

Here and there I get up to 31 or 32 push-ups… but then I slip out of the routine for a bunch of days and then I’m back down to 30 push-ups.

Recently however, I noticed that I never slipped back to 29 push-ups.

Always… with my very last… bit of… energy… and… Captain… Kirk-like… strain…just… barely… made… it… to…  30.


Or much lower…. 20 push-ups if I was really tired.

Still, 20 is a suspiciously round number.


So the other day I stopped counting when I approached the number 25… and, by my reckoning, made it past 35…

..until I realized it, and then I stopped, exhausted.

“The knack of flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.


Clearly, it is the second part, the missing, which presents the difficulties.

One problem is that you have to miss the ground accidentally. It’s no good deliberately intending to miss the ground because you won’t. You have to have your attention suddenly distracted by something else when you’re halfway there, so that you are no longer thinking about falling, or about the ground, or about how much it’s going to hurt if you fail to miss it.

It is notoriously difficult to prize your attention away from these three things during the split second you have at your disposal. Hence most people’s failure, and their eventual disillusionment with this exhilarating and spectacular sport.”

– Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Today I resumed counting and was up to 38.

Onwards and upwards.


About danspira

My blog is at: My face in real life appears at a higher resolution, although I do feel pixelated sometimes.

Posted on July 25, 2014, in Analytics, Exercise, Inspiration, Life, Metaphors, Positivity, Productivity, Psychology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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