blog- plank smile

We are a pretty predictable family. We like our routines; our after dinner summer night swims, watching The Voice, Wednesday I go to the local market and library, Thursday is coffee with my parents, Sunday is dog-park day……….yes, our life is rather predictable. Predictable and comfortable.

But one of our predictable routines is not comfortable in the slightest. No it is downright painful. You see, each morning we push back the couch, move the coffee table and turn the family room into our own little gym to do a mini family work out. It’s short and simple. A minute of “chair, one of push-ups, another exercise we have aptly named “killers” and then there is “plank” ahhhhh- my nemesis, the plank.

Plank for those who are unfamiliar with this backbreaking core strengthening exercise is where you hold your entire body weight between your forearms and toes, keeping your body stiff like a plank. (not to be confused with the drunken party trick “planking”) Sounds harmless enough right? How about you drop and give me 32 seconds now- because I can guarantee within seconds you will be cursing the day you were born. It’s so brutal that one can only believe it must be good for you! (plus, all the personal trainers on TV are doing it.) So one day my husband Ian, has this brilliant idea that we should work up to doing a 5 minute plank (you know, consecutively!) As I was currently groaning my way through a 32 second plank as if i was in fact giving birth to the plank itself, I didn’t believe there was any way I could achieve such a thing. But he did. So, he suggested it again, and again I laughed. This went on a while until one day he decided to just push himself and gave up trying to push me too. And this was when the magic happened.

He went a little longer, so I went a little longer. Further and further each day- until this 32seconds girl groaned, screamed and swore her way up to a 4 minutes and 30 seconds girl. Throughout this grueling process I learned the following 4.5 things that may or may not be of any use to anyone.

1.   When someone else believes in you it is easier to believe in yourself. I’d like to think that all the confidence you need comes from within, but it sure is nice to be surrounded by people who cheer you on before you even know you’re worth cheering for.

2.   A competitive spirit can be useful when harnessed. I could fool myself into believing every second I pushed myself further was simply to beat my previous record, but truth be told- beating Ian had played a small but vital part too.

3.   Your mind is made up of 3 different voices. One voice tells you that you really shouldn’t push it because remember how scratchy your throat was this morning as you’re most likely coming down with strep. And if that doesn’t work it tells you how surely you’ve done enough for today, that your back will snap in half and then where will you be? Oh, and didn’t you leave the oven on? The second voice screams like a drill seargent yelling that you were born to do plank, that if you gave birth to three children drug free how could you let a little plank break you? What are you a cry baby? A quitter? Meanwhile the third voice says ommmmm to blockout all the fighting. It breathes deeply and stares at a piece of fluff on the floor admiring it’s fluffiness and doesn’t care whether you are sleeping, being chased by wolves or shopping at Target. To get to 4 minutes and 30 seconds, I suggest using the ommmmm voice.

4.   You are stronger than you know. Your mind thinks it knows, but it doesn’t really know. There is absolutely no way of knowing until you just do it. Or not do it. Then you will know.

4.5  Perseverance pays off. This is a half point because I am not at my 5 minute goal yet and perhaps I won’t ever get there. Perhaps I just can’t. But I am not going to listen to the voices, I will just do it or not do it. But so far-so-good. I am persevering at learning this lesson- it never ends, that’s kind of the deal.

So tomorrow we will once again push back the couch, move the coffee table and begin our routine. Our uncomfortably comfortable routine. And maybe tomorrow I will crack the 5 minutes. And maybe I wont.


Footnote :

The above photo is how I would like to look.
The photo below is how I actually look. 


blog-plank face


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  1. Sandy says:

    WOW! How well you know what goes on in my mind. I was resisting going over to the gym which is across the street. Your essay gave me the nudge…I”ll go on the cycle, do some crunches, the balance ball, and weights….but not ready for the plank. Thanks!

  2. Bernadette says:

    I should actually time myself doing the plank because I’m pretty sure I count faster than the clock. (I’m nowhere near 5 minutes.) Meg, this is an impressive accomplishment and keep at it! Let us know when you hit 5 minutes. I love your observations of life. Thanks for sharing them with us.

  3. Margaret says:

    Well done! I am only up to 90 seconds, and I suspect my counting goes more quickly toward the end!

  4.  I agree with all 4.5! Especially number 1. I feel like I push harder during workouts when I have the fiancé with me. I have a love/hate relationship with the plank…we plank often in our yoga class. I can tell a big difference in my core strength!

  5. Joan cook says:

    Love you Meg, lots n lots.

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