It’s my birthday today. I’m 47, and as one of my good friends pointed out in a Facebook post last night, 47 is officially ‘middle aged’. Jeez… today I am middle aged! How on earth did that happen??? I don’t feel middle aged. Actually I don’t feel any different than I did at about 28!
When I turned 40 (and a the time, that was the biggest, scariest milestone birthday I could conceive of), I decided that I was going to set myself an annual physical goal on my birthday. That year, I was determined to be able to do 10 full push-ups on my birthday (no knees!!). I was reasonably fit, and with a bit of training in the weeks leading up to my birthday, I blitzed it, doing 15 before my arms and shoulders gave way. Pretty pleased with myself, I decided that I’d match that figure every year on the 27th of August. It was my way of checking in on myself, and ensuring that I was keeping fit and strong.
A couple of years after that, I was at the gym on my birthday and getting ready to do my 15 push ups and realized that I could do better than that. Why do just 15? Why not set myself a more ambitious goal? Sure I was a year older, but I certainly wasn’t decrepit! So that year I set myself the goal of matching the number of push-ups to the age I was turning. 15 push-ups suddenly became 43!
I love this goal. More than 40 full push-ups is a really big number. It’s a challenge. It can’t be done without maintaining my strength training and fitness. It’s an achievement that I can be proud of.
So today after I smashed a spin class, I got down and did 47 push-ups. All on my toes, in sets of 10, with a 5 second break between sets. It wasn’t easy, and I admit that those last 2 push-ups were a struggle, but I did it! Yay me!!!!
I use my annual push-up challenge as a yardstick to gauge how I’m performing physically. This simple challenge keeps me motivated and on track with my big-picture training in a very simple way. I could of course add in a raft of additional annual physical yardsticks. Things like being able to run 5kms in under 30 minutes, or squat 100kgs – but I like that I’m keeping things simple. It works for me as this one challenge has a flow on effect into my fitness generally, and I know that I’m on track. I also like that I’m making the challenge just a little bit more of a stretch each year. I’m not matching my results from last year, but improving on them.
I do recognise that at some point my body might say enough! I may not be up to doing 70 push-ups when that time comes, and I’ll acknowledge it, and adjust my goal accordingly (70 on my knees perhaps ). But in the meantime, I’ll keep doing my birthday challenge, and enjoy feeling strong, and fit and 47 (or 48, 49, 50…) – and definitely NOT middle aged.