How Push-Ups Are Getting Me Through Biology 101

I’m a senior in college. An English major. So when I learned that I had to take another science course in order to graduate this fall, I was horrified. Last year I would have tensed up, tossed and turned all night, and convinced myself there was no way that I could make it through a biology course. I said the same thing about push-ups.

The other morning as I was brushing my teeth before class, I felt doubt creeping up my throat like a bad dinner. I swallowed it back, looked at myself in the mirror – literally – and said, "You can do this. It’s not going to be easy, but you can take biology and you will pass." Since I began a regular workout routine on May 1, 2009, I’ve begun to talk to myself differently. For years I always told myself I could not do much except what I know and what I know already how to do. I knew I couldn’t do a "real" push up, I couldn’t hold a plank pose or wall sit longer than thirty seconds, I couldn’t run for more than two minutes, and I sure cannot handle more than three pound dumbbells. I just accepted my weight, the size of my thighs, and the extra bit on my stomach.

Most people associate working out with work; something they are doing for their husband or wife, their trainer, or their nagging mother. Trust me: it is not. Working out for me has become more than just about becoming stronger physically – it has made me mentally more powerful than I ever have been in my life. Whenever a real life obstacle comes into view, like say, a customer giving me a hard time or an exam that I’m having a hard time studying for, I think of how I was this time last year. I was whiny, weak, lacking self confidence, and somber. Now, it is as if I have switched the record from the A-Side to the B-Side (and we all know that B-Side tracks are way more interesting and memorable than A-Siders). I still doubt myself once in a while, but I’ve learned to push those doubts away through exercise. I’m always encouraging myself to pull out five more reps or one more minute. Go faster, go longer, jump higher! Through that I have learned to do that to myself in everyday things. I do not workout for anyone but me.

So now, every morning, when I take my stance to warm up in my blue sneakers, blue sports bra, and black crop pants, I think about that weak girl who never dreamed of being able to lift more than three pounds. Here she stands – the new girl – curling eight pound dumbbells, holding plank pose for one minute, and pushing through Biology 101.

image via simi valley boot camp / flickr

This post was written by Amanda Seebode. Amanda is a senior at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her writing has appeared in Neon Limelight, WINK magazine, and you can find her blogging at

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