Chin-ups or Bust!

Today is my first day back to work after a week of vacation.  I could live in Northern California.  The weather was wonderful ~ sunny and in the 60’s almost every day.  Not bad for January.  While “wine country” was beautiful and a good time, it’s not something I would rush back to do.  I like wine, but I don’t need to go to very many wineries before I start losing interest in the tasting thing.  We did eat at some amazing restaurants (if you plan to go, our favorite was Redd in Yountville, followed by La Condesa in St. Helena, the later having great tacos and killer cocktails).  I would also highly recommend our hotel, Bardessono.  It is a LEED certified hotel ~ 50% of their energy is derived from solar panels placed on the hotel, and all kinds of eco-friendly materials were used in it’s construction.  It was also a truly luxurious hotel with wonderful attention to service.  If you’re going to Napa, you should check it out.

As you can imagine, I have a lot of “catching up” to do today, so I am offering a shorter blog post.  I have lots of good stuff in the pipeline, but just need a little more time to get it together.  Today I do want to continue a bit with the theme of my post last Monday, “How’s That Workin’ for Ya?” by sharing an example of my own re-assessment of how something was working for me.  Some of you might recall that late last spring I set a goal of being able to do 5 unassisted chin-ups by my 50th birthday, which was July 30th…”was,” as in last year, 2011.  At the time I set this goal I was doing 2, and it seemed reasonable that with a few months of work I could achieve the goal of 5.  Wrong.  My big birthday came and I was stuck at 3.  Disappointment.  But I didn’t want to give up on my goal, so I kept at it.  I got derailed a bit in the summer as I had cut back my strength training to 2 days a week from 3.  I did chin-ups one of those two days.  By the end of August, I realized twice a week just wasn’t cutting it for me.  I felt I was stagnating, not making any progress in any of my training.  So I went back to 3 days a week.  I got more focused, got to the gym the two days a week on my own and worked my butt off on my training day at Cressey Performance.

September, October, November, December…very consistent, very focused, dedicated, doing those damn chin-ups every week…and still stuck at 3.  FRUSTRATION!  And then I happened to read a wonderful blog post that proved to be one of those “aha!” moments.  Neghar Fonooni, of Girls Gone Strong, was struggling with a roadblock similar to mine, albeit instead of trying to do 5 chin-ups, Neghar was struggling with doing a strict pull-up with a 24 kg kettlebell strapped around her waist (for those of you who can’t remember how many kilos are in a pound, 24 kg is almost 53 lbs.) as part of the RKC Iron Maiden Challenge.  In her article titled How I Stopped Sucking at Pull-ups Neghar made no progress for over a year.  Like me, she was frustrated.  And then she realized if you want to be good at something, doing it once a week is not enough.  When she asked herself “How’s that workin’ for ya?” the answer was “not so good.”  So she set about to change that.  If something isn’t working, you need to step back and reevaluate.  Instead of giving up, instead of being constantly frustrated with your lack of progress, change something.  In Neghar’s case, she started doing pull-ups 3 times a week.

I was excited…this made sense to me.  If I really wanted to get to my goal of 5 chin-ups, maybe I just needed to do them more often.  What a simple idea.  I emailed my coach, along with a link to Neghar’s article.  My coach was one step ahead of me, having already read it (my coach loves Girls Gone Strong).  And this is what he proposed…doing chin-ups every day for a month.  Just 6 to 8, scattered throughout the day one at a time.  I found myself excited by this challenge.  I had a pull-up bar that I had asked for last Christmas that I had never used.  I assembled it and started doing the chin-ups as instructed.  Within a week I had my 5 chin-ups (2 sets!), but I imagine I was also on the brink of making this jump even before doing the daily chin-ups.  Not to say the daily chin-ups didn’t factor in, but I don’t think doing them for a week is going to always add 2 chin-ups.  So I achieved my goal…which means I have a new one…8 chin-ups.  Now, being back from vacation, I am going to focus for a full month on doing my daily chin-ups and see where it takes me.  I am also working on push-ups, as I feel a bit stuck on those too (I can do 8-10 very strict push-ups but I want to do more).

I will let you know how the little experiment goes.  Change is good.  If something is not working, figure out why not, make a change, re-focus and move forward.  Ask yourself, “How’s that workin’ for ya?” If the answer is “not so good,” make a change, rechart your course and find another way to achieve your goal.  Good luck!

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About Lisa Van Dore

I have lived in Sherborn, Dover and most recently North Walpole, for a total of 15 years (and counting). Having recently been through the process of selling a home and buying (and renovating) a new one, I understand the conflicting emotions of excitement and anxiety inherent in the process, whether you are a seller or buyer, whether this is your first home purchase or your tenth. I have a BA from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Indiana University. My early career found me working as a CPA, and later as the controller of Crate & Barrel. More recently I spent seven years running my own personal training business. I understand the hard work and dedication necessary to build a business and a reputation...most of my personal training clients came to me by referral and my first client was still with me when I decided to leave personal training. This speaks to the level of effort I put forth for my clients, week after week. On a more personal note, I raced triathlon for seven years and more recently completed my first half marathon. In my free time I enjoy cooking, reading, Maine, hiking and, in the fall, following college football...my teams are the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) and Texas Christian University (Go Frogs!).
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2 Responses to Chin-ups or Bust!

  1. Alison says:

    What if you can’t get one full chin up? What is my “in between” move???

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