Nearly ten years ago, I was a fifteen-year-old with outlandish dreams and ideas constantly passing through my mind. During the summertime (of '99 I believe), I somehow got the idea to start doing sit ups on my own. Perhaps I wanted to follow my older brothers in their pursuits of increased physical strength and improved physique... Perhaps I wanted to get the attention of girls... Or perhaps I wanted to feel more confident about myself; I hadn't taken a P.E. class during the previous school year, and I wasn't exactly involved in any established sports to speak of...
I can't say exactly what I was thinking or feeling that drove me to do sit ups; it was probably a mixture of all of the above-mentioned reasons. But the part I still can't figure is how I suddenly bridged the gap between a 'few' sit ups and 'a lot' of sit ups.
I started out, as I recall, doing a maximum of 50 in one set... Now 50 sit ups aren't a big deal, but they were to me at the time! I kept on pushing myself, and after a few weeks, I reached my initial goal of 100. Reaching that small goal boosted my confidence immensely, and I started doing a set of sit ups every day to the point of being able to do a set of 200 and not even feel much different after the fact. I decided to step it up one day, and I did 250... without really feeling much of a difference. The next day, I was feeling good, so I decided to aim high: 500 sit ups. "Now I'll feel the burn for sure this time," I thought...
I thought wrong... no burn... so I just kept going... I reached the 750 mark, and having drastically surpassed my initial goal by a whopping fifty percent, I decided to stop. I felt good; I could have done more. But I was just so surprised with my newly increased capability that I stopped...
The next day, I set a new goal: 1,000 sit ups...
But something changed; I got distracted somehow in that short time. Perhaps my pride pulled me down... I don't quite remember, but I'm sad to say that that goal remained untouched all these years... only apparent on an old chalkboard in our basement /makeshift weight room.
Over the years, I thought about my unaccomplished goal every once in a while. I wanted to be able to lay down and just crank out those 1,000 sit ups like clockwork... but I knew I didn't possess the same reserves of strength and stamina that I had built up previously. After returning from an LDS mission in 2005, I had managed to immediately return to my weightlifting habits easy enough, but I hadn't dared to start doing sit ups again.
Towards the end of this past summer, I was looking for ways to develop my core body strength, and so I started to do crunches and sit ups of different types. Inevitably, I was reminded of my sit up goal... of my failure to finish...
I set a new goal on August 20: 1,000 sit ups by my birthday in mid-November. I wasn't sure if I would be able to make progress as quickly as I had in my teenage experience; nevertheless, I was quite confident in my potential. After all, I had reached 750 sit ups before, and I knew I could do it... even if I was to make the attempt nearly ten years later.
Now, lest you think it was a cakewalk this time, take a look at what I recorded in my sit up log:
SIT UP TRACKER ===> GOAL = 1,000 SIT UPS!
Aug. 21 @ 11:45 ===> 200 sit ups ===> 10:05.54 mins
Aug. 20-something? ===> 250 sit ups
Sept. 5 - in weight room ===> 100 sit ups
Sept. 6 - " " " " ===> " " " "
Sept. 9 - " " " " ===> " " " "
Sept. 11 - " " " " ===> 200 sit ups
Sept. 16 - " " " " ===> 250 " " ===> + or - 10 mins
Sept. 19 - " " " " ===> 300 sit ups ===> 12 to 13 mins
Sept. 23 - " " " " ===> 500 sit ups ===> + or - 20 mins
Sept. 25 - " " " " ===> 800 sit ups ===> 32 mins
Oct. 2 - " " " " ===> 300 sit ups ===> 17 mins :(
Oct. 7 - " " " " ===> 500 sit ups ===> 25 mins
Oct. 21 - " " " " ===> 200 sit ups ===> 11 mins :[
Oct. 29 ===> 1,000 sit ups!
2008 =) 'TIS DONE!
1,000 sit ups ===> 25 extra for contingency
TIME = 55 mins 47.84 secs
There it is... talk about a roller coaster! With the start of school, I lost desire to do my sit ups at home, so I started doing them at the end of every workout in the gym. As you can see, I was still all over the place, including this past week or two. Just last night, however, I decided to do a set at home, since I hadn't done any in the previous week; I guess the break paid off!
For your information, if I haven't clarified the fact already, my goal involved a single set of full sit ups, no rests, no cheating in form. I simply placed my toes under a small bar (or cabinet toe kick at home), held onto my head by the ears, and went to town!
I like to compare the whole process to a marathon, or perhaps a mini-marathon (or at least my concept of such). The human body can take amazing amounts of punishment, especially when trained and built-up for such a purpose. Let me describe how the whole process feels, just to give you an idea:
40 to 50 sit ups - oftentimes this point represented the first pain threshold; pain and tightening
150 to 200 sit ups - pain usually subsides in abs; moderate sweating; focus on next hundred or next intermediate goal
400 to 500 sit ups - no pain in abs; heavy sweating (gets in your eyes); other muscles (back, shoulders, arms, calves) tightening; pain in joints (especially elbows, sometimes knees, lower back, or shoulders); focus on final goal (whatever you think you can do based on how you feel)
700 to 800 sit ups - discomfort returning to abs; increased tightening and/or pain in lower back; continued pain in elbows; profuse sweating (to the point of my hands sometimes slipping off my ears); eyes closed (keep out sweat and focus on count); dry throat
1,000 sit ups- all of the above; great satisfaction (and not just because you can finally stop and drink water!)
During the whole process, I was amazed at how much it helps to focus on small, intermediate goals along the way. For example, I would often reach 25 sit ups, in a given interval of a hundred, and tell myself, "1/4 done," or at 67 sit ups, tell myself, "2/3 done," and so on. I was feeling so good and confident last night that I told myself, "1/3 done," at 333 sit ups (in addition to the small increments), and so on until reaching 1,000...
If I ever lost count or was unsure about the previous sit up, I would do the following one at the last number I remembered (usually only off by one in a moment of delirium!). And at the end of every set, I always did at least ten extra sit ups to assure myself and anyone else that I had reached my goal beyond the shadow of a doubt...
I am grateful to have achieved this goal, however immature or ridiculous it may have seemed. I finished what I started. I reached a point that seemed unattainable... perhaps even laughable to my own former, doubting self.
I share this small miracle with the intent to uplift, inspire, and motivate, as well as to celebrate in a small way. You and I can do it; we can realize our dreams if we simply believe and push... and push some more... and even a little more. What else is this life?