On Tuesday this week it was my birthday and, as I’ve done for the past 20 years or so, I completed the four exercises I do every year. It’s my ‘rule’.
The number of repetitions I do is my age plus one and obviously each year the reps increase. In case you’re wondering how many it was this year let’s just say there are less years ahead than there are behind 😉! This year I took a different approach to counting the reps.
Bear with me because there’s more explaining to do. Two years or so ago, I started learning Spanish. I was travelling to Spain fairly often and I wanted to get more from my visits and not be a Brit that relies on the locals to speak English or shout to be understood!
My timing wasn’t great, as we all now know, and, just after I returned from my first trip to a language school in Barcelona, international travel shut down. No worries and I found a teacher online and have been having lessons most weeks since.
Part of the process of learning a language is doing using it outside of your lessons and, as I was doing my 2022 Vision/Goals Board, I came up with the idea to write my 10 daily press ups in Spanish on my board. You’ve got to love Google translate! I didn’t stop there and decided I would count in Spanish whenever I had to count. Like all things we now know, it seems so obvious after once we know it. The flaw in my plan was that I couldn’t count beyond 20 in Spanish and being way past that and wanting to do my birthday reps it was time to learn!
So how did saying the reps in Spanish on my birthday make the exercises easier? From our previous experiences, and the beliefs experiences create, we make a connection between a number and the amount of effort it takes to reach that figure. Generally this means a higher number of reps equals more effort – 50 is harder than 24 which is harder than 7 type of approach.
As I did my birthday workout and focused on remembering and saying the numbers aloud in Spanish, I noticed I had stopped focusing on how I believed I would feel at a particular number. I’d get to my target and double check if I’d got my Spanish correct!
Of course others things were going on. I might be much fitter this year or been distracted as I struggled to remember what’s Spanish for 45 – its cuarenta y cinco 😉 – and even miscounted. What I do know for certain is that my birthday exercises felt much easier this time around.
This got me thinking of how the connection between numbers and effort turns up in other ways in our lives. To earn a million pounds, run a marathon, get more clients or reach an ideal body weight all require effort though how much of that effort is in our heads and the language we are using?
Now I do daily my press-ups counting them aloud in Spanish. 10 is the minimum I have to do – the influence of Atomic Habits by James Clear – and most days go way past that number. The benefits are I’m get fitter, learning Spanish and having fun. It doesn’t stop with my press-ups either. I even know how many steps there are from the beach to the top of the cliffs where I live which I’d never have bothered finding out otherwise! 🤣
Over time I know I’ll have to use another language to count in. For now though, with the benefits of improved mental focus and memory that come from learning a new language and adding that to exercise, I may have unwittingly found the perfect approach to my mind and body work outs! 🤣
Till next time or hasta la proxima…😉
Enjoy the day you create.