Sunday, August 26, 2012

Non-financial goals review

I can't believe how late in the year it's gotten. I've been thinking about my New Year's Resolution goals I set all the way back in January. Unlike most people who abandon their resolutions in the February/March timeframe, I tend to put them out of my mind until the subconscious nagging becomes too much and I decide to face them head-on.

Sometimes I'll fall into the trap of writing only (or mostly) about financial matters. Let me reiterate that Mustachianism is only ostensibly about money and personal finance. It's much more about continual self-improvement: increasing one's badassity. That's where these non-financial goals come into play.

I have my goals listed for all to see on the "Goals" page up there on the navigation bar. To recap, by Jan 1, 2013 I want to: be able to do 40 consecutive push-ups, lose 10 pounds (be 158lb or less), and learn to cook five meals my girlfriend will enjoy.

To date I've made the most progress on my cooking goal. I think I've got three or four recipes that I've prepared that my girlfriend has found edible. For those just tuning in now, while I wouldn't necessarily describe my girlfriend as a picky eater, she's significantly pickier than I am. I'm the kind of guy who has lived off of Ramen noodles (occasionally with an egg or some frozen veggies added) and frozen microwave burritos (with melted pre-sliced processed cheese on top when I was feeling fancy) — and I loved every minute of it. To my girlfriend, things like food temperature and consistency play a large role. Learning to sense properties of food I never previously considered has been a challenge, but I'm making progress. I'll detail the meals that fulfill this goal once I sit down and put a list together.

I've made the least progress on my weight-loss goal. I weigh between 168lb and 172lb, depending on what time of day I weigh myself. That's about where I was when I started the year, or even a pound or two worse. Biking has basically been a wash as for how it affects my weight: I think I've lost some fat and gained an equal amount of muscle. The other side of the equation is consumption: in the past week or two I've started cooking beans and rice and lentils to bring to work for lunch. My hope is that these less calorically-dense foods will get me on the right track, and be an ally in my personal war against snacking. My company is nice enough to stock a snack cabinet full of all the high-carb high-sugar processed snacks that Costco sees fit to provide. It's all too easy for me to consume a few hundred extra calories than I was expecting in a day, and to reach my goal I'll have to run a deficit of the same amount for the rest of the year. Here's hoping vigilance and a new lunchtime diet pays off.

As for my push-up goal, I've flirted with tackling it from time to time. Every now and again when I'm bored I'll do a set of 20 or 25, which is just enough that it starts to burn. I'm guessing that with two weeks or so of concerted effort, I could hit the 40-consecutive mark.

This brings me to an idea I had: how about a month-long push-up challenge? I want to structure it as "do X push-ups in a month". That way I can make measurable progress toward my goal every day, and still take a day off now and again. I realized from playing World of Warcraft that I enjoy having long-running goals that I can spend short chunks of time making meaningful progress on. A push-up challenge gives me one such long-term goal in the fitness area of my life.

I think I can do 1000 push-ups in a month. It's awesome because it's a big round number and it seems like a ton, but it should still be do-able. 1000 push-ups in a month is a little more than 33 per day. Alternately it's two sets of 20 per day, with every sixth day as a rest day. That doesn't seem so bad! Then again my body might start breaking down around the third week, though that could be as much a feature as it is a bug. I think I want to go for it.

So, what do you guys think about my push-up challenge? Is this something I should look to tackle come September?


  1. Nice post. It's important to keep the big picture in mind, although I also tend to focus on money (perhaps because it is the easiest thing to track and measure?)

    The only thing I would disagree with is the weight goal above: as muscle weighs more than fat, body weight is completely meaningless, as you could be a fit and muscular 170lb or a flabby and weak 158lb. Could you perhaps change the goal to a body fat % or a waist size? This would allow you to claim credit for the good work on the bike :)

    1. In theory I definitely agree with you. But I'm a long way away from the margin where I'd lose weight mostly through muscle loss. Once I attain a weight I'm happy with -- which could be 160lb or might be closer to 150lb -- then I can set more complicated fitness-related goals.

      Thanks for the encouragement :)

  2. My husband is 52 next month.

    He has been doing push ups for years now.
    He does his push ups 3 times a week. His
    goal is 3 sets of 25. He will go beyond
    this 25 at times, simply to challenge his

    The point being, he has been able to stick
    to this for years. At 52 his chest and, arms
    look great. :)

    I realize his plan is shy of 1000 a month.
    Yet, he gets more time off to recover.

    Wishing you success on your challenge!

    1. That is fantastic. I bet he has thousands or tens of thousands of pushups under his belt. I hope I can maintain a consistent exercise routine over a period of years, even if it's just a few push-ups here or there.

  3. Hey! 1000 Pushups is a great challenge. I think you should do it and you might be surprised how good the results are.

    We need a new reader challenge over at MMM, and some more articles on fitness. So I just might copy your idea - with the added feature of some scalability for a person's current level of pushup ability.

    1. Hey MMM. Thanks for the encouragement. So far so good! I think sit-ups are another strong option, and maybe pull-ups.

      Looking forward to reading your fitness article(s).