100 push-ups

HundredPushups.com is a great exercise site. They have sister sites for sit-ups, squats, and pull-ups. Each site provides a simple program that takes about 30 minutes a week, and promises that over six weeks you can dramatically improve your fitness.

The secret? A graduated sequence of repetitions in five sets. Each sequence is repeated three times (say, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday).

HundredPushups.com can give your workouts a highly effective structure. The goal-setting is done for you. All you need to supply is a bit of will-power. Go check it out!

(Thanks for the tip, Sean!)

Book excerpt: Take responsibility for your mistakes

Apologize, fix it, and move on.

What should you say if you’re caught doing something wrong? Apologize, first. Then, if you can do anything to repair the damage, do it.

All of us make mistakes. The question is, how do we respond to them? If we try to weasel out of trouble, point the finger at others, and deny responsibility, all we do is make ourselves look bad and lose the respect of those around us. All we do is show the adults involved that we are still acting like little kids. So if you get caught, don’t say, “It wasn’t me.” Or, “Those other guys were doing it first.” Or, “I didn’t know.”

If you make a mistake, have the courage to say, “I messed up, and I’m sorry. How can I fix it, or make up for it?” Then follow through. People are ready to forgive you—but only if you’re ready to take responsibility. Apologize, fix it, and move on. That kind of response will earn admiration and respect.

I once saw two students sweeping the entranceway to their school after having been caught for a minor misdeed. One of them saw this task as a punishment, while the other saw it as doing service to the school. The first one was angry at being caught and still refused to accept responsibility for what he had done. The second had admitted his mistake, apologized, and asked what he could do to balance the scales. It wasn’t a big deal, but this incident spoke volumes about each of these two individuals. They were the same age, but one was still a boy, while the other was clearly a young man on the way to becoming a responsible adult.

A few words about cheating
Have you ever copied homework from a friend? Used a “cheat-sheet” during a test? Plagiarized an essay or report? Far too many students would answer “yes.”

Why do students cheat?

First, because they are desperate. Bad habits have put them into a corner: their homework’s not done, they aren’t ready for the test, or they’ve put off writing the paper that’s almost due.

Second, they’re still thinking like little kids instead of responsible young adults. They think that if they “get away” with cheating, they will be better off. They don’t realize that they are only cheating themselves. If they earn good grades for work they didn’t do, they aren’t learning what the work was supposed to teach them. And no matter who else believes them, they will look into the mirror and see a cheater.

What’s the right thing to do if you find yourself in a corner and make the wrong choice? You already know: take responsibility. Apologize, fix it, and move on. Then when you look in the mirror, you won’t see a cheater. You’ll see someone who messed up but was courageous and smart enough to be honest about it.

Don’t drink the water?

A recent news article reports on research that appears to debunk the standard advice to drink lots of water—”8 glasses a day” being the usual formula.

Here’s the way Will Dunham, reporting for Reuters news service, opened his story:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The notion that guzzling glasses of water to flood yourself with good health is all wet, researchers said on Wednesday.

Dr. Stanley Goldfarb and Dr. Dan Negoianu of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia reviewed the scientific literature on the health effects of drinking lots of water.

People in hot, dry climates and athletes have an increased need for water, and people with certain diseases do better with increased fluid intake, they found. But for average healthy people, more water does not seem to mean better health, they said.

The article goes on to cite a long list of ailments that, according to the researchers, are NOT cured or prevented by drinking water.

Fine. But here’s my question: if you don’t drink water, what will you drink instead?

Coffee? Soda pop? Chocolate milk? Even fruit juice can be overdone. And if you think plain milk is a good idea, do a little research on lactose intolerance. Green tea?— only if it’s not loaded up with sugar.

The short answer: water may not cure your ills, but it won’t mess up your digestion or rot your teeth or lead to diabetes, either.

So go ahead: drink the water.

The habit of helping others

One of my Grade 9 students, still learning English, wrote this in an essay:

Helping others are also very easy. You can volunteer only one minute to others. For example, pick up rubbish, five seconds. Wait in the elevator while people are coming, five seconds. You can only use a minute to help others. Then, you will have a habit, helping others. No one forcing to help others, you get habit, that is the greatest habit in the world.

Couldn’t say it better myself.

The bad habits that kill

Heart attacks just come out of nowhere, right? They happen to anybody, without warning, right?

Wrong. In the vast majority of cases, they are caused by years of bad habits.

MyHealthInsight.com reports on a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finding that 90% of the people who suffer heart attacks have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, and/or smoke cigarettes.

In other words, people who are overweight because they eat loads of sugar and fat and processed foods, people who don’t exercise regularly, people who smoke—they are the ones, 9 times out of 10, who have heart attacks.

It’s not just bad luck.

It’s not just luck, either, that some students do well in school and others do poorly. Good habits make good students.

Thanks to The Habit Guy for pointing to this story.

The Homework Workout: exercise your mind and your body

“The experts” say you should take a short break every 20-30 minutes when doing homework. They also say you should exercise regularly. Teachers say the assignment is due tomorrow and if you don’t hand it in . . . .

What to do?

Enter the Homework Workout.

Set the timer for 20-30 minutes and start in on the homework. When the timer goes off, do a set of pushups, say, and a set of squats. Don’t forget to stretch. Reset the timer, and go back to the books. When the timer goes off again, do another set of each exercise. Don’t forget to stretch.

The Homework Workout will keep your mind fresh and alert, your muscles toned, and your homework assignments up to date.

You can do lots of exercises right in your bedroom or study: pushups, squats, ab crunches . . . try some isometrics, too. If you do yoga, try a few sun salutations. If you have weights, do some curls or overhead lifts.

You’ll end up in great shape, and so will your grades.

(Don’t forget to stretch.)

Arrive on time (book excerpt)

It’s a matter of respect.

In some schools, arriving late to class is viewed seriously, with strict rules, late slips, detentions, and other penalties for those who are tardy too often. In other schools, these issues don’t seem so important. Most students attend 6-8 classes each day, along with occasional assemblies, meetings, rehearsals, and practices. It’s a busy life, but it’s also often repetitive. If your school doesn’t stress the importance of arriving on time, it’s easy to slip into the bad habit of thinking it’s not really important.

However, in the real world, arriving on time can be very important. Some cultures value punctuality more than others, but in those cultures where it’s important, arriving late can be a serious problem. What’s the big deal about arriving late? It’s a sign of disrespect. A student who arrives late to class is sending a message to the teacher: “You and your class are not very important to me, and making you and the rest of the class wait for me or disrupting the class by entering late is really not a problem, because you and my classmates are much less important than I am.”

Later in life you’ll be happy to have the habit of arriving on time when you have to get to work each day, attend business meetings, make appointments with doctors, lawyers, and bank officers, etc. Arriving on time for dates can be important, too. In each case, by arriving on time you send the message that you respect others and appreciate the value of their time and attention.

If you are in the habit of arriving late, start arriving on time today.

How to stop procrastinating

Lifehacker cites “the goal-setting web site 43 things“, where it appears that the Number 1 goal of their readers is to “Stop procrastinating.”

This is a nice idea, but it’s not a useful goal. It’s like saying, “My goal is to stop being lazy”, or “My goal is to do better in English”. Goals like these lead nowhere.

Instead, set goals that refer to specific activities that can be repeated daily. Activities that can be counted or measured. I agree that procrastination is a big problem, but when do you procrastinate? If you put off packing a lunch until morning and then oversleep, set a goal like “My goal is to pack my lunch before I go to bed.” If you put off doing homework, set a goal to “Start homework the day it’s assigned” or to “Hand in every assignment on time”.

Then keep a daily written record, and set alarms or reminders to keep on track. Find a partner, or ask your parents to help remind you—most of us do better if we’re not trying to build new habits all on our own.

But don’t get stuck trying to “stop procrastinating”!