Adjusting Others’ Expectations To Better Fit Mine

A year ago, one of my friends told me of this website, 100pushups.com. You take an initial pushup test, seeing how many you can do at once and then that number puts you into category 1, 2 or 3, which decides your workouts for the next 6 weeks.

Each week you take another pushup test, and you can move around your workouts, decided by that number. The goal is to work up towards 100 consistent pushups in 6 weeks. Throughout the pages of the website, they say you can repeat weeks if needed, but aside from that comment, the progression you’re supposed to keep up is aggressive.

I tried this workout last year, and I think I stopped after completing week one. My arms were very sore and mentally and physically, it was too much for me.

Randomly, someone mentioned the 100 pushups site a couple of weeks ago and I decided to do it again, but this time, without hesitation, I knew I wanted to alter their workout to better fit my physical and mental ability.

Even more important than my physical ability, I had to make sure that I tailored the workout to encourage me and excite me so I would want to continue it, as opposed to discouraging me to the point of quitting, like the year before.

I did just that. Before, I dreaded doing pushups, something I had always loved. Now, I love doing them again. I almost can’t wait for my next pushup workout day.

I took my initial test, and I put myself in a category below the one they suggested. And by their program, I would be increasing reps every workout, but I don’t. I increase them when my body is ready to increase them.

If I went by their schedule, I would be doing pushups with poor form, which would be pointless. Instead, I’m taking my time with them, focusing on my form, my breath. I almost do them as if I’m doing Yoga, when you go down into X move before you push up into downward dog. Doing pushups now is relaxing, and it’s fun.

Will I reach 100 pushups in 6 weeks like the program intended? No. Do I mind? No. 🙂 It may take me 3, 4, 5 or more months to reach 100 consistent pushups. But I don’t care to reach 100 pushups. It would be a cool accomplishment, but I’m happy with where I am now. I’m happy to continue my pushup workouts. I’m happy with however I will progress. I’ll continue to do them as long as it works for me and my body, and if at some point I decide to stop, or do some other exercise in its place, I will be happy with that.

I was talking to a number of other people who have done this 100 pushup workout in the past and none of them “completed” it. They all gave up and some of their encouragement to me was embedded with discouragement, reflecting their own mind frame, implying that at some point I will fail because it will become too hard to progress.

The answer seemed so simple, this isn’t something that I have to “fail” at. If I want to do this, I will, and I will enjoy it. Anybody can do this if they want to, and it’s simple.

All they have to do is adjust the workout to fit their needs. They have to realize that the expectations created by the website are just a guide and that most people are not built to complete the workout that they have laid out.

I suggested to multiple people, who showed interest in trying it again, that all they had to do was lower the reps. If they stopped in the past because it was too hard, do less. But they all seemed resigned on failing again, like my comment went past deaf ears. They seemed stuck on the expectations promoted by the site, 100 pushups in 6 weeks, like no other options existed.

Recently, I was taking a cycling class with my sister. It was my 2nd time taking a class that week, and my 3rd time ever. I never had instruction on how to adjust my seat, etc. until that class.

I was having trouble getting comfortable with the new adjustments and I felt like leaving the class early from frustration. The instructor was suggesting we cycle at incredibly high speeds (for me), and I was reaching 50 to 75% of the speeds she was suggesting. Mid class, she came to me and asked me how the adjustments were, I told her I wasn’t sure. She asked me how many classes I have been to, and I said three in three years. After she realized I was a novice to the cycling class, she told me to just enjoy it and to have fun.

That made all the difference. Instead of thinking that I was doing horrible and couldn’t keep up, I relaxed and ended up pushing myself harder than before because I let go of the frustration in my mind and I let myself enjoy the process.

A similar instance, I was taking a Yoga class, and I realized that everybody else was going at a pace much faster than my comfort. I like to take slow breaths and match my movement to my breaths.

The Yoga instructor repeatedly said, this is your practice. Don’t focus on what others are doing or what I’m saying. Do what you need to do. That helped me to ease into my Yoga practice and to go at my pace.

What I have been realizing through my exercise is that when you go at your own pace, it makes exercise more fun, more relaxing, more energizing and upbeat. It becomes enjoyable when it’s not about meeting others expectations, or even your own, but when it becomes about enjoying the process, and going at your own pace helps you to enjoy the process.

This can be applied to more than just exercise, I have been applying it to my work/life balance. When I go at my own pace, when I listen to myself and my body and act on what we need: more sleep, days off, down time, social life, movement — when I go at my own pace, I naturally begin to give myself what I need, I decrease my stress, I begin to live more in the present moment and I become happier.


Emelina Minero writes for Curve Magazine and EDGE Gay Media Network, and is Curve’s Social Media Manager. She’s launching her own progressive LGBTQ publication, The Human Experience. She’s a Connection Connoisseur, Networking Maven and Self-Love Enthusiast. She founded Community Bucket List and co-founded the Love Warrior Community. Find her on Twitter, @CommKr8veWriter.

About emelinaminero

I'm passionate about people, community, self-love and the diversity in the human experience.
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