2020 was the year I learned to do push-ups

How changing a false belief I had about my own strength became a stress relieving habit

Thrive invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

The first time I learned about the push-up challenge was when I began sheltering in place, and I got tagged on Instagram by a friend to do ten push-ups and share it to my stories. Ten? I couldn’t even do one proper push-up! I filmed a very embarrassing video of me doing some bending of my arms while in planking position, called it a set of push-ups, and uploaded the video online. We laughed about it.

After that day, I started thinking, why did I believe that I was not capable of doing push-ups? Where did I learn that belief? A couple of phrases I said included “because I don’t have strong muscles” and “I have not ever done a proper push-up” and “push-ups really hurt”. As I thought about it, I realized that my belief about push-ups did not have a basis in reality, and I could prove it wrong! At that time, I felt overwhelmed about how little control I had over 2020, I was very stressed out as a first time mother, and I needed a way to get over this stress.

I gave myself a baby goal to start

At first I told myself that I would commit to five push-ups of some form each day. I started with doing them against a vertical wall! It was super easy and did not hurt. A baby goal like this made me more likely to set bigger goals because I could feel accomplished at the end of the day.

I sought advice from people who had push-up expertise

I looked up multiple YouTube videos to identify where my push-up form may be incorrect. I also filmed myself doing push-ups and sent them to friends who knew how to do push-ups, to get their feedback. They helped me correct the angle of my arms, gave advice on my drooping head, and told me to progress to knee push-ups and then elevated push-ups.

My push-up challenge was public so I could get accountability

I had over 30,000 followers on Instagram at this time and I decided, why not share this goal with them? It’s an area where I am not perfect, and it’s a goal that I tend to skip when I am not feeling great. By sharing my imperfect journey, I got a lot of encouragement from my community, which helped me feel not so alone. Apparently, I’m not the only person who can’t do a good push-up!

I tied the goal to a habit that I could easily remember

“Five at five” was the trigger phrase I used to remember to commit to my push-up progress every day by attempting five push-ups at 5PM. There were days I skipped doing my push-ups, but this was a very easy phrase for me to remember, and by making an easy trigger phrase meant that I had a greater chance of sticking to my habit every day.

So where am I now with my push-ups? I’m very proud to report that I do feel like after six months of this, I can do a proper full-body push-up without feeling completely winded. On days I feel really stressed or unhappy, I do a few push-ups to feel better. Are there still areas I would like to improve? Of course, but I am giving myself a lot of grace! I feel proud and strong that I achieved something I have never been able to do before, in an area where I initially felt very weak. This push-up challenge, that started on a whim on Instagram, has given me renewed hope that I can do great things with my body, no matter what I look like, how old I am, or how stressed I might feel.

Photo by Ivan Samkov from Pexels

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.