Saturday Blueprint on Press Ups and Stress

Actionable lessons to start a new daily exercise habit.

Saturday Blueprint on Press Ups and Stress

Hi 👋. Here is this week's Saturday Blueprint.

🤔 Quote I’m thinking about:

Life is really just a lesson in finding balance between fear and courage

I like this because courage is freedom - having the courage to be true to yourself, to stand up for our values. But this is easier said than done - we all have fears and worries. This quote tells me that it’s ok to be in the middle, treading the balance between fear and courage. And actually that is all life is - trying our best to find our way between fear and courage. We can strive, and feel good for striving. And we can get anxious and recognise that it’s ok to do so. Just being aware that you are worried shows that you are on the right and are paying attention along the way.

💪 100 press ups for 28 days

For May I made a public commitment that I was going to do a 28 day micro challenge of 100 press ups a day. Each day. Every day.

Well I did it, and I’ll make a video on it soon. But here is the before and after photo.

I can see an improvement in body composition and I certainly feel stronger.

The first week was particularly hard and it sometimes took 5 or 6 sets to get to the magic 100 number. By the end I was comfortably able to do 100 press ups in 4 sets of 25.

It only took about 4 minutes a day to do 100 press ups. That’s nothing, and no special equipment or gym membership is needed.

Everyone has time to do a few sets of press ups a day

I did press ups waiting to join the next Teams call at work (no need to change into sports clothes), while watching my daughter at the play park, while waiting for the kettle to boil.

My weight stayed exactly the same over the 28 days but my waist size decreased by 1cm and my body fat dropped by 1% showing that I decreased fat and gained muscle.

But it’s not about me - what about you - what micro challenge are you going to do? To help, if I think about what was holding me back and what eventually got me to make this positive change I can summarise the advice.

Tips for making a positive change:

  • Make it public. Make a public commitment to do it and you’ll have instant accountability.
  • Make it simple. It needs to be laughably simple - very basic exercises that need no equipment, no special clothes. Things like press ups, squats, jumping jacks, burpees, whatever.
  • Make it daily. This is a big one for me because I’ve done press ups on and off for a while but making it a daily habit is what made it stick.
  • Make it evident. By this I mean take a before picture - this is evidence of your starting point. You don’t need to share this with anyone, ever, but it will mean you can see the real evidence of your process. And that’s something to celebrate.
  • Make it personal. A few years ago I read Atomic Habits by James Clear (a truly exceptional book) and one thing that I've never forgotten is:
Every action is a vote for the type of person you want to become

I wanted to be the type of person who exercised daily - there is no talk of goals or numbers here - it’s about who I want to be. It’s about identity.

There might still be something holding you back - what is it? Ponder over what is stopping you? What are you waiting for? There might be something that really is a blocker, or with some introspection perhaps the block just disappears when you try and look for it…

🙋‍♂️ Stress and Journalling

As if sharing shirtless photos isn’t enough 🙈, I’m going to share something really personal now.

In January 2022 I had time off work due to stress. I describe it as a combination of burnout, mental breakdown and mid life crisis. I was in disarray. The extract from my journal at the time is below, and I’ll share in the future the steps I took to get myself well again (spoiler: cold therapy!).

my emotions are right at the surface now - not buried. I can feel. Really feel them. I feel waves of gratitude, or love, of melancholy, of sadness. And it's beautiful. I am a being that is alive because I can feel. Because the barriers are down. Because I'm perfectly broken, heart exposed to the elements. Wind-swept, raw, the difference between pain and pleasure a hair's breadth. Alternating between the two. The emotional rollercoaster is exhausting, but in a good way. I'm not numb, I'm alive. Seat-of-my-pants alive, but definitely alive. I'm here in the present. Feeling every feeling. Pondering every thought. Taking each day as it comes.

What I like about reading this again now is that it’s like looking objectively at the journal of a different person. That’s one of the powers of journalling - it’s instant relief at the time, and provides a wondrous source of future reflection and objectivity.

The trials and tribulations of life are life. Whatever it is you are feeling right now is perfect evidence that you are alive. You can feel. The fact that you can feel is at the very heart of you. And is the starting point for everything and anything.

If anyone wants to talk about stress I’m here. You are not alone.

💍 Cool finds

A quick list of things I've read or found this week that I want to share.

The ZOE science and nutrition podcast - absolutely exceptional - information dense and clearly presented.

Podcast — ZOE
The world’s top scientists explain the latest health, nutrition, and gut health research in an accessible way to help you improve your weight and health.

It’s a pleasure writing to you. Have a great week. 😊

About the Saturday Blueprint

The Saturday Blueprint is a weekly newsletter every Saturday on health, vitality and philosophy by Nick Stevens.
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