By Lisa Bradford, Member, Oklahoma City Chapter
When I was a sophomore in college I was diagnosed with 4 herniated discs in my lower back and 3 in my neck all pinching on the nerve in my spine. Along with the herniated discs I had stress fractures in three of my vertebras in my lower back. All of this was due to leaning over a drafting table too long without taking regular breaks. My physical therapy was geared toward strengthening the muscles in my torso to properly hold my spine in place. After about a year of doing these exercises, the pain subsided I quit doing the exercises.
Over the years I really haven’t been doing any strength training. I have had issues with my body because my muscles aren’t holding my bones in place properly. I would take physical therapy for a few months, but never really continue any weight bearing exercises. My fitness program pretty much consisted of walking, hiking, doing stairs, and riding the elliptical. I kept telling myself I need to improve my upper body strength and do more weight bearing exercises. I would start a program, but after about a month I was back to not doing anything. Too many other things came first: Work, kids’ activities, “life”… All came first, then I was too tired to do anything else.
About 5 years ago my office had a number of employees hit with some major medical issues. This spurred the company into promoting a healthier lifestyle and starting a Wellness Program. We have speakers come in to discuss topics like diet, skin cancer, benefits of weight bearing exercises, etc. The office created different activities to spur people to participate in physical activities. One program that started two years ago was a fitness challenge. Each month an employee, if they choose to, could put $5 into the pot and were challenged to complete a minimum of 12 activities that were a minimum of 30 minutes long. If you met this requirement your name would go in a drawing for that month’s pot of money. I would join, but pretty much limited my activities to the elliptical and hiking.
As part of the Wellness Program, and to encourage reducing body fat, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol, the office paid for employees to have their blood tested. To get people interested in doing this, they provided a financial reward for improving your levels. A team of nurses from a local hospital was brought in to take our blood pressure and draw blood. The office also bought a scale that would measure your weight, body fat, muscle density, and other BMI categories. It isn’t as accurate as a trainer or doctor would be, but it was a baseline to get an idea of what your BMI would be.
I started the A Girl & A Gun Push-Up Challenge on August 25, 2017. My goal with this challenge was to increase my upper body strength. It was more important to me to focus on improving muscle strength and endurance than it was to lose weight. Throughout the Challenge, I adjusted my form to alleviate the stress on my back and pressed on. After the first six weeks of the Push-Up Challenge, I wasn’t sure what to do next, but continued doing stretches and the elliptical. Two weeks later I began the Challenge again, this time trying to improve my form in each activity.
In December 2017, the office checked our vitals again. I was surprised at the difference in my cholesterol and blood sugar levels as well as the BMI changes. My cholesterol and blood sugar levels dropped from where they were during the same time frame in 2016. My body fat dropped 9% and my muscle density increased 5%. The only thing that changed from 2016 to 2017 was the Push-Up Challenge. My diet has stayed the same and I’ve done the same amount of elliptical, walking, and hiking as in the last few years. The changes had to be due to weight-based strength training.
The AG & AG Push-Up Challenge was a small change in the grand scheme of things, but it made a big difference to me. Now I am contemplating what weight based activity I will do next. Whether it’s Larry St. Clair’s “One More Mindset”, working with a local trainer, or something else, I plan to continue what the Push-Up Challenge started.