(Can’t see the video in your email? Click through to the post)

I asked you guys in my max sit-ups finale whether I should go with burpees or handstand pushups next. When all the votes were tallied, I heard more for handstand pushups so that’s what I went with.

Calling my first round “pretrained” is a bit of a misnomer. I did lots of handstand pushups as a nationally competitive gymnast, and even did a few while on stage at the Palms in Las Vegas singing Brown Eyed Girl with my buddy Ryan Hupfer.

But regardless, the point of these challenges is to see how much I can improve over the next month. I did 19 ast my start, and my goal is 30. I’d love to have you train along. There are a couple handstand pushup tutorials on Youtube you can check out.

I’ve found that I’m more motivated to work out when I have set goals for myself. Last year, I was on a big running kick and did my first half marathon, first triathlon and my big goal was to run the San Francisco Marathon.

This year, I am still running a couple times a week, but the SF cold has kept me from doing a lot of long runs on the weekends, especially without a big race to train for. I do plan to do more racing, but I’m not sure when. So I’ve decided to mix things up this year.

Here’s how my Monthly Fitness Challenges will work:

  1. At the start of each month, I’ll post a blog post of me doing a particular fitness challenge
  2. If you want to join in, you can post your own time/score in the comments
  3. During the month, I will train for the exercise and share what workouts I do for it
  4. At the end of the month, I’ll post again with my final results
  5. If you’re following along, you can share your results too!

This coincides nicely with my goal to try new stuff on the blog —  as I’ll be trying to shoot videos for every one of my challenges. I’m sure I’ll make lots of mistakes along the way, but I’ll try to fix them as they come up. Let me know if you have thoughts or suggestions!

Note: I know it’s already halfway through the month, so I apologize for taking a while to get this post up. Future posts should come up at the beginning of the month.

Without further ado, here’s my first one: Continue reading

step by step (meditation)

photo credit: AlicePopkorn

Last week I posted on my new challenge for the month of April: logging 900 minutes of meditation. I thought I’d share my progress so far and also highlight a few of the great pieces of advice I received from readers.


230/900 (7 days * 30 + 20 mins this morning)


Doing 20 minutes in the morning and 10 before bed has worked pretty well so far. I try to get out of bed immediately upon waking and sit. Correct meditation posture involves keeping your back straight, which is great for keeping you awake when you might be a little sleepy

The Simply Being App

I am definitely enjoying the Simply Being app. Even though I think the 10 and 20 minutes of “meditation reminders” is the same every time, the instructors tone, comments and timing are just what I need to stay on track with the meditation.

Getting a Partner

right after I posted about my challenge, my friend and fellow entrepreneur Scott Allison (Teamly) hit me up about partnering for accountability. It turned out he was trying get into meditation as well. We’ve been able to keep each other on track by texting each other once or twice a day to check in.


Probably the biggest challenge I’ve run into is that sitting up straight for 20 minutes gets my back pretty tired. The last 5 minutes of my meditations are often a big of a struggle dealing with the back soreness. Additionally, I often get the seeds of (what I think are) really great ideas during my meditation and it’s tough to brush them away and stay in the moment – it’s something I’ll keep working on.

Reader Advice

In my initial 900 minutes of meditation post I asked readers to send in their best advice on building this habit and got some great responses. You can check out the post for all of them, but here are the highlights:

  • Tie the new habit to triggers: Swizec talked about tying his new habits (writing and working out) to things he already does every day like brushing his teeth and eating breakfast
  • Find a partner – Frank mentioned that he has successfully started a meditation habit and part of what made it work was doing it with his wife
  • Look beyond your current goalsMountain Evan Chang suggested reading a book on meditation which might help me see meditation as something I could do throughout the day, rather than just logging in my time in the morning and evening.

Yogi on Meditation.Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Beni Ishaque Luthor. via Compfight

The conundrum

One habit I’ve been wanting to add into my life is meditation. Recent research in mindfulness meditation indicates that regular practice “increases the brain’s gray in regions closely associated with memory, learning, and emotional regulation” (Greatist). Great stuff right?

I’ve had an ongoing battle with meditating since high school, when I was first introduced to it as a technique for increasing my focus and improving my ability to perform in clutch situations on pommel horse.

In college, I used an iPhone app called Habits and meditated 8 minutes in the morning and evening everyday (90% of the time) for about 6 months. Then I got some major knee surgery, throwing off my schedule and never got back in the groove of things.

The enlightenment

I recently was having a conversation with entrepreneur who is also a dedicated meditator and relayed my frustration for 1) losing this habit I had struggled to maintain for 6 months and 2) not feeling like I was getting much out of the meditation and thus having low motivation to continue my practice.

What he told me that his medication practice is one of the most important things he has in life (strong words!) and that it takes a deeper investment of time to see the returns. The longer the blocks and the more total time spent on cushion the bigger the gains.

The challenge

So I’m dedicating April 2012 to be the month where I log 900 minutes of meditation. Here are the details:

  • 900 total minutes of cushion sitting
  • shooting for 30 minutes a day – 20 mins in the morning, 10 mins at night
  • using guided meditation via the Simply Being meditation app
  • weekly updates on this blog about my progress

The request

So my request to you, dear reader, is to share with me your best piece of actionable advice on building a habit, based on your own experience (or the experience of someone you know well). Please share your comment below – I will repost the best ones in a follow-up blog post on building habits!

So one thing I had sort of meant to do is write about how my experience has been blogging 5 days a week (as I outlined in my post “Writing More”). I plan on doing a full recap after the four weeks eventually but here’s something interesting: a minute-by-minute break down of how I write my blog posts.

I tracked exactly what I was doing in 5 minute increments for two posts and here are results. I was honestly surprised at how long it took me to write each post – but that’s the power of actually measuring what you do, right?

First breakdown:

Step Up and Deliver: What Gymnastics Taught Me About Performing Under Pressure

This was definitely going to be a substantial post, though I didn’t realize how big it would be at the time. It’s funny how taxing an exercise writing can be. You’re not just hitting keys on a keyboard – it’s like doing pushups with your mind. You get tired and need to recharge. The dashed lines delineate different writing “sessions” – sometimes it was the same day sometimes it was a different days.

10 mins – getting bullet points for post in shower
10 mins – rapidly putting down an intro in wordpress
10 mins – listing bullet points in wordpress
20 mins – watching youtube videos of jordan, paul hamm, li xiao peng, jonathon horton looking for clutch performances,
10 mins cleaning intro, organizing bullet points, embedding video
10 mins distraction watching unrelated videos
20 mins – fleshing out the first half of the bullet points
10 mins – fleshing out half of the first bullet point
10 mins – more distractions
20 mins – more fleshing out

10 mins – re-reading, editing, adding picture
20 mins of editing
10 mins – final touches

Total time: 170 mins (2 hrs 50 mins)

Second breakdown:

How Blogging Can Increase Your Luck Surface Area

This post originated as a response to a question posed on an email list – so it has a different profile, which is why I thought it would be a good one to look at. I dashed off the original email quickly and then thought it would make a good post – but of course it would require a bit of touching up. It turned out that I would spend 7x the amount of time it took to write the original email to finish a post.

15 mins – writing email response to question from the list

10 mins – added two 2 paragraphs

5 mins – reread, kill intro
20 mins – write new intro / 1st half
10 mins – reading posts from Lingbo, who I quote
15 mins – writing more
10 mins – getting a picture, formatting it, getting photo credits
10 mins – adding in links to certain sections, formatting changes for quoted sections
25 mins – edits, clarifications, making it tighter, adding more links, scheduling post

Total time: 120 mins (2 hrs)