Experiment #11: Drop and Plank

This is likely the least exciting (posted) self-experiment of mine yet. I mean, with progenitors like falling off a cliff (Experiment #4) and admitting to online dating (Experiment #5), sometimes it's hard to compete with myself. I am writing this up, however, not for lack of blog fodder but because it's been legitimately tough to do this.

Yep. A plank in all it's glamor.
For the past year (actually, er, more than a year at this point. I started in October 2015), I've been doing a 1 minute plank everyday. Every. Single. Day. Except the days I miss (approximately once a month and when ill...)

Why? I read an article kind of like this one that discussed the benefits to a daily (elbow) plank. I mean really, it's a ONE minute exercise with a lot of positives (better abs, stability, etc.) in addition to almost zero time commitment. At the time (think back to October 2015... I was in the throes of graduate school trying to finish my thesis), I thought it would be a great way to maintain some semblance of fitness while not exercising that much.

Plank Selfie... it's a really long minute
The problem? Planks suck. They never stop sucking either. Everyday I am guaranteed to have one ultra long minute where my entire body screams "WHY? WHY ME?!" as I look at my little iPhone time count down to zero. It's the longest minute of my day.

But I saw those list of health benefits and the deterioration of my core while I worked on papers and... I decided to give it a real try for as long as I could. I never intended for it to go a year - just to do it for as long as I could, once a day.

After 2 weeks, I was pretty hooked. Yes, let me re-emphasize, it totally sucks. Always, but my abs looked great and I felt... strong. Even though I wasn't working out, I felt better and more capable. The planks continued - one minute, once a day. While at conferences, while in South Africa, while traveling - once a day, one minute, usually before bed (a great way to get warm before bed!).

Sometimes my room mates would join me (high five Kristie Llera!), sometimes I self-consciously hid my planks from people. There was definitely an early date with Harvey where he went to the bathroom and I surreptitiously did my daily plank. If you decide to give this a try, I'll warn you, people do think you're weird.
Working on those abs! 

However, the real benefits started to show after 6 months or so. After not doing intense cardio for months, I picked up biking quickly because... I had awesome core strength. When visiting Amelia in Bend, we went on several trail runs where I was able to make it several miles before quitting because... of my core strength. I've been an active person for years who lapses occasionally, but I've never had anything like this before - where I can just NOT do an activity for months and pick it up quickly again... and it's because of that (stupid) daily plank.

Do I look forward to my plank? WTF? No! UGH! It's not the worst moment of my day, but it's not fun. However, after 3 months of doing the plank, I found bearable ways to get through it. Like I check Facebook while I plank or I think about something intensely - maybe a problem with work or about cats or I try to meditate for a minute and deep breathe, feeling grateful for the ability to plank. These help a lot.

For now, a daily plank is just ingrained in me, like brushing my teeth. Harvey actually complains about it:

Harvey: I want to sleep!
(Lo is planking)
Harvey: grumbles, starts talking about a podcast
(lights off)

That's a daily plank ladies and gentleman
(OK and a lot of biking too) 
But it's something I plan to keep doing for... as long as I can. The pros outweigh that small minute of daily torture by far. I do take breaks - if I have a hard bike workout or am backpacking, I usually don't plank. Sometimes I just miss a day (but only one! Slippery slope!). But here I am... still planking. Maybe give it a try it for 2 weeks, once a day, one minute... then try going for a run or something. It's doesn't matter what your age is, core strength is achievable by a healthy individual and it's a great thing to have.

You're not going to wake up with a six pack tomorrow... but you might be able to lift a heavier box in a month :) Be inspired! Happy New Year everyone!

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