Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September push-up challenge: rocky start but making progress

The title says it all.

Saturday was September 1st and thus the beginning of my 1000-pushups-in-a-month challenge. Unfortunately I was too distracted by playing video games to notice. So I actually started doing push-ups on the 2nd — a measley single set of 20 — and I've been ramping up since then.

Before I show my numbers let me go knock out another set of however many push-ups I feel like doing. (In case you can't tell, I love goals that I can complete at my own pace before some long-in-the-future deadline).

Okay that was another fifteen. Let's see all the numbers:

9/1 SaturdayNone0
9/2 Sunday2020
9/3 Monday15 10 1540
9/4 Tuesday15 2035
9/5 Wednesday15 15 1545

140 down, 860 to go. At the beginning of the month I needed to average 33.3 push-ups per day to hit my 1000 target. That's without any rest days. As of today that number is 34.4 per day.

After my disappointing Saturday, I overcompensated on Sunday. I realized as my shoulders started tightening up that I shouldn't push myself too hard at first. This challenge is eminently achievable as long as I'm consistent about completing sets. The strategy I've settled upon is completing more sets of fewer push-ups, both to give my body time to adapt and so I can get a feel for the right posture (i.e., one that won't kill my shoulders). That should warm me up over the first week or two, and then I can push myself for larger sets later in the month.

Remember that this challenge is mostly an excuse to get me to my 40-pushups-at-once goal, which I set to be completed by the end of 2012. As such, I do want to try for more push-ups per set, just not at the expense of doing too much too fast and burning out.

Other stuff

I'm in the middle of cooking as I'm writing this post. It's a dish that I can't believe I haven't blogged about yet: Pasta Lentils! I'm capitalizing it because it's its own thing, a recipe I invented all by myself, and one of my three favorite foods. I'm totally going to write another post devoted entirely to Pasta Lentils, but to give you a sneak peek: you basically cook a pound of lentils and use it as pasta sauce for a pound of pasta. Voila! All the protein and carbs a growing grad school student needs in convenient Mustachian form. It's easy to cook, easy to store, easy to reheat, and delicious. It's great with red pepper flakes or parmesan cheese. Dinner is going to be awesome tonight (and so will lunch for the rest of the week).

From skimming my old posts it looks like my last student loan update was over a month ago. I've been throwing money at my loans as it's been coming in — I have less than $400 in my primary checking account — and my balance is at $12,442.34. At around $2000 per month that puts my payoff date some time in the February to March 2013 time frame, well in advance of my end-of-2013 goal. And who knows, maybe I'll get a bonus at work and bring that date in even further.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how excited I am to see Dividend Mantra blogging again. I missed his clockwork updates while he was taking his summer vacation from blogging. I continue to find his slow-and-steady march toward financial independence inspiring. Every time I read one of his Dividend Income Updates or Freedom Fund Updates, it re-kindles my excitement for dividend growth investing. The day when I start building my own Freedom Fund will come soon enough, and until then I'll just be working on my student loans.


  1. Great job on the push ups! I have a pull up bar whose main purpose is to hang laundry on. I should start a challenge like you for maybe 500 pull ups a month.

    I'm right there with you on Dividend Mantra being back up and running. It actually seems lots of FI bloggers are back in the saddle. Good times!

    1. Thanks! Those pull-up bars are awesome, though I find I can ignore them after they blend in with my home's decorum after a while. 500 pull ups in a month though, that's pretty ambitious! Good luck, definitely let me know how that goes.

      :) hooray for FI blogging.

  2. MA,

    Great job towards your goal here. I used to be a competitive bodybuilder in my younger days, and I can honestly say that push-ups are one of the best overall exercises one can do. In fact, burpees, which are an extension of the push-up, is probably the single greatest exercise you can do...especially if you don't have access to a gym. Burpees and bird-dogs along with some jogging are all one needs to stay in excellent shape. I failed at my last attempt to forgo my $30/mo gym expense, but I will try again one day.

    Thanks for mentioning me in the article. I'm humbled that you enjoy the blog so much. I'm really happy that you find inspiration from it. I've said it before, and I'll say it again...inspiring others is the main reason I do it. Keeping myself honest is also very important.

    Keep up the great work. After you have the student loans paid off, you'll be able to build your own Freedom Fund. It's all gravy from there!

    Best wishes!

    1. Hey DM,

      That's good to hear. I didn't even know about burpees until you mentioned it, and judging from YouTube they look really intense! I definitely want to give these a try next month as part of an enhanced gym-less exercise routine. In your case I totally think the $30/mo gym expense is worth it, since there is a huge benefit to the equipment and facilities a gym provides to those who are more than just casual fitness practitioners.

      I'm glad I could give you a shout-out. I honestly believe you add a great deal to the Personal Finance / Financial Independence / Mustachianism conversation happening in the blogosphere.

      See you around.