I do love a challenge..

February 20th, 2010 by Rebekka in Uncategorized

Those who’ve followed my flickr or facebook page for a while probably know i’m a bit obsessed with staying in shape.  Instead of diminishing as i’ve gotten older, my interest in weightlifting, yoga, running and nutrition has instead increased,  in tandem with the realization that I somehow have reached the age of almost 32, even tho I feel very much 23, and probably will continue doing so until 45 or so.   Funny thing is, i’m in far better shape now than I was when i was 16 or 17,  aside from my lower back problems, which ironically stem from a weighlifting accident 5 years ago.

But I digress.

The point of this post (the first in far too long, i apologize)   was to point out two great websites I came across last week.  Both have encouraged me to add some variety and serious ass kicking to my workouts.  It seems that no matter how hard you feel you’re pushing yourself, you can always push harder.

Now, this first site i’m going to mention is a fitness blog called bodyrock.tv. (click the logo below)

Zuzana is this insanely fit Czech girl who generously shares free fitness and nutrition tips, including very detailed workouts that can be done at home, in less than half the time that it would take to go to the gym.  Also, they’re seriously hard.  I’ve so far done two of her routines,  and they left me begging myself for mercy (which of course was not granted until the last grueling rep was complete) .  I will admit, when my friend first sent me the link to her “sexy beast” workout, i was sitting at the computer in a bad mood eating Ben & Jerries ice cream, hungover and mourning the loss of my purse which had been stolen the night before,(along with my keys, phone and some cosmetics) and really did NOT feel like watching this chick with her boobs spiling out of her tank top, so I closed the window.  An hour later my curiosity got the better of me, and i reopened the link and realized that despite her obvious and blatant sexiness,  this girl knows her workouts.  This blog was just what i needed to yank me out of my selfpity and get me seriously psyched to try out some new moves.

I tried the before mentioned sexy beast routine, substituting the last exercise (which i was unable to do because of my back acting up) with 6 30 second sets of hanging knee raises.  And then I added on 6 sets of dumbell shoulder presses , done in the same way as the others, just to ultimately murder my arms.  The entire workout was done in less than 25 minutes and i was sweatier than after an hour lifting weights at the gym.

I also did the 550 rep killer workout, and it needs no further description.

This second site i’m going to mention is the 100pushups program.  (Click the image below )

This is awesome.  I’ve had a love-hate relationship with pushups since i was 12 or so.  I could do 100 nonstop when i was 13, and would take these phases off and on where i’d do pushups all the time, and then stop doing them completely and hate them.  When this site was pointed out to me, i was in a sortof in-between phase.  I managed 45 on the initial test, so was able to start on week 3 (column 3).  After one week of the program I  managed 60 nonstop today, on my second test.  Very encouraging.   In fact, I found this program so logical and sensibly set up, that I decided to use the same approach to my pull-ups.  Now, unlike most people, I happen to have a pull-up bar installed at home.  I can do 10 from a dead hang, military style, but i’ve been stuck at that number for over a year.   My goal is to reach , i dunno.. 15-18 at some point.  Because that would be totally awesome and kickass.

In my next post, i’ll be discussing my upcoming trip to NYC in March, where I’ll be taking part in an exhibition as part of my reward for winning the peoples choice in that ArtistsWanted contest.  I’ll include details about the show, for anyone who’s nearby that would be interested in seeing it and perhaps saying hi to me in person.  Ciao for now.

(the picture above, and the one at the top of this post were both taken today , (feb 20th) to see if my extra enthusiastic workouts of the last few months have been paying off at all)

Read 52 comments

52 comments for this post

You sound like someone who would really benefit from practicing tai chi, although, I don’t know if that’s popular or if there’s any interest in it in Iceland.

Im sure i’d love to try it.. not sure if there are classes for it here tho.. probably. I’m a bit of a loner usually and the only class i’ve ever taken was 6 weeks of hot yoga last fall, which I very much benefited from (even tho i stopped going, i’ve incorporated the stretches i learned there into my regular workouts)

You’re doing wonderfully, Rebekka. You’re at the perfect age to pursue this at that level, physically/mentally. The real trick (and the big fork in the road of life) comes in the 40′s. I made it onto the high road, barely :-) but most of my friends did not. I’m pretty sure you’ll shoot right through that :-) Have fun in NY!

(ps. thanks for the inspiration!)

Hello Rebecca, Wonderful inspiring shots on this site. Though I have to say I have really loved your sweater pictures to and many others. I will be sixty next month and am feeling inspired to focus as well on my fitness as I did in my thirties; I will be checking in with you regularly here as well as flickr. I am also very interested to know when and where you will be in NYC in March. p0ps and I have been here thirteen years but are heading back to California. We hope to see you before we go. Best wishes to you from us both!
p0ps harlow and ruth

oh dear rebekka! please forgive me to misspelling your name. may i also share that i am an american of 1/4 icelandic decent with a strong affinity in that direction of the world.

Mauricio wrote on February 20th, 2010

A fitness *nut, perfectionist who loves photography and is constantly trying to reach the next level in every aspect of life… sounds a lot like my younger self when I was in the Marines.

My formula for increasing number of pullups:

1) Start in the “up” position
2) Lower your body slowly (focusing on the negative part of the movement instead of the positive)
3) Do as many of these as you can in one to two sets every other day
4) Wait at least an hour to do your normal pullups for the day (If you still feel the need to)
5) Push yourself, but don’t overdo it. Your body will do what you want it to do (it takes time, but like everything else in life, it will happen)

Let us know what happens to your number of pullups in three weeks :)

thanks for the tip. I’ve been doing a lot of hanging “frozen” in the mid-position, at the end of my sets, for up to 30 secs, but i haven’t really done any focusing on the negative part in particular. I’ll definitely give that a try ;)

Highly inspiration post, Rebekka. You are definitely doing something right to look so strong and sculpted. I’ve done the 100 pushups program a couple of times and it is amazing how strong and cut it makes me. But these days I just try to get out and ride my bike in the woods for a couple of hours. I find the mixture of slow and fast really helps me burn calories and feel great! And we got a Wii Fit a while ago which is a fun change every so often (even if the weight check thing tells me my BMI is too high when I’m just more muscular than other men who are five nine).

Anyway, thanks for sharing. Maybe it’ll be enough for me to shake off my strength training malaise as well.

Thank you for this. I’ve been in a funk lately with my life. Restless, fatigued, bored. Haven’t taken a personal photograph in well over a month. Kinda disgusted with myself. But then I see this. Hope resurfaces. I believe I just found my new obsession. :) My trip to NYC got postponed till May :( Wish I could go to your show. Perhaps one day…I’ll buy you that beer. or a Jamba Juice (aka tasty, yet highly priced fruit smoothie.)

Just saw that same Zuzana video a few days ago, and though it is distracting (and perhaps intentionally provocative), I found it to be inspiring too. Particularly since I’m allergic to gyms, and work out exclusively from home.

as I started reading your post I thought wow I must point her to Zuzana’s videos lol
the 110 pushup thing is interesting thanks for sharing
congrats for the shape you’re in


I loved your blog post. My only (minor) objection is your quote about 45 or so….

“… almost 32, even tho I feel very much 23, and probably will continue doing so until 45 or so.”

Trust me, when you’re 45, you can fee the same way. Just keep doing it. I just turned 45 and I trail run over 8 kilometers per day 6 days a week with 550 meter vertical at less than a 6 minute kilometer – I see nothing changing other than my wisdom. My wife is older and does the same.

Age is in your mind. Keep doing what you’re doing daily and forget about the calendar.


hehe. i suppose all i meant was that maybe by the time im 45, “23″ will have changed to “32″ ;)

But yeah, i plan on always feeling young, no matter what age..

I came across Zuzana’s website a few weeks ago and I was indeed inspired by her athleticism… until I found her other videos, of more X-rated nature hanging all around the web. I wasn’t able to see Zuzana doing her workouts other than naked afterwards, so I gave up. But I will agree with you, she turned into a rather powerful fitness beast. Kudos to you for being so determined in everything you do. I have also started exercising regularly, but I only do the EA active workouts and jogging. I used to be a lot fitter and I miss being in shape. After I lose 20-25 more pounds I should be light enough to be able to lift my body in the 100 pushups program. I am looking forward to it and I will sure continue to be inspired by you. Good luck!

Nike van der Molen wrote on February 20th, 2010

Rebekka, you look fabulous, i know its takes a lot mentally too to keep in shape..
im in my 40′s now and started martial arts in my 30′s and keep in fine shape, never had a better booty ha!
you go!!!

joejoejoe wrote on February 20th, 2010

Thanks for sharing your experiences. Whatever you are doing it’s producing some vibrant and beautiful results.

James Holroyd wrote on February 21st, 2010

Nice work!

You would like Crossfit. You would definitely like Crossfit. Pullups, pushups, and all sorts of other fun things. http://www.crossfit.com.

Thanks for reminding me about how lazy I have been in 2010. I am slowly drifting out of shape, and need to be set on the right track.

I’m way way waaaay older than you and took up spin about 6 months ago and now feel fitter than, well, ever. Have become addicted to the endorphins I suppose, it’s a pretty tough session. But more than that, the instructor has impeccable (to me) taste in music and there’s nothing more pleasing than sweating your guts out to a few happenin’ tunes. Yeah, did Tai Chi a number of years ago and mostly enjoyed it, would probably still be doing it but for an altercation with my instructor who turned out to be an idiot.

Love the image on flickr that brought me here, your photography is outstanding as usual. Be good, Hugh from Dublin.

It sounds encouraging, and indeed I feel that the little exercise I do makes me younger…I should try those push ups, i can´t even do two in a row! :-S

zaphod bleebox wrote on February 21st, 2010

I´m 43, but your post is inspiring to me as well. Agreed with Craig, no matter the older you get, the challenge is the same (also for me, with some overweight to cope with..)

greetings from spain

Thank’s for sharing the 100 pushups site. I was thinking about starting pushups last week while riding the train and this is EXACTLY the sort of thing I’m looking for. It’s got structure and it looks very reasonable in terms of time requirement. Plus it sounds like the perfect thing to do before going to bed. Then again, it’s not like I’m not exhausted enough as it is every night already. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Sounds to me like you’re OBSESSED. I generally think all obsessions are unhealthy, apart from one: an obsession with health. ;)
I’m so weedy I can never do more than 15 push-ups. I was never one of those people who likes to “feel the burn”, except when I’m having my first cigarette of the day.
I keep meaning to try and get fitter, but it sounds too much like hard word.
It’s been a long time since anyone called me a “sexy beast”, though, so maybe I should make an effort.

well hey. I’m a bi-polar visual artist, still dealing with issues of inadequacy stemming from my near-anorexic and depressing teenage years during which my only friends were my brother and my cat.
Of course i’m obsessed ;)

Heh.. saw your self portrait on flickr and thought of Zuzana. Then followed link to blog post.. looking for a video. ;^p

Lookin Good!

For the record, brothers are great! :)

You physique in these photos is fantastic, but long before today, even though it is rarely mentioned, your draw towards fitness has been apparent. I’ve noticed at points in time a change and have thought to myself, “boy she must be working out” because there has been change since when I first started following you.

Much kudos. After I quite Capoeira when I injured my shoulder it has been difficult for me to get back into fitness and I chastise myself all the time. Of course now I have a little munchkin who gives me many more excuses.

Thanks for the inspiration. I was just wondering the last couple of days how to get rid of that extra belly fat. I guess I don’t have an excuse anymore. :-)
BTW your great shape shows on the photos! Beautiful.

I’m not sure the extent of your back injury, but have found that ‘rack dead lifts’ are excellent for the overall type of exercise to strengthen the whole back. This might add a couple of pullups in a cyclic manner. Perhaps an 8 week cycle of slowly building. It’s not a full movement, but the starting point is just above the knee cap via a barbell. Also varying grips of pulls, underhand, parallel and wide to give variety, but given your time in the gym, I’m sure your aware of this.

i actually injured my back (the lowest vertebrae) doing stiff-leg dead-lifts with a 110 lb barbell. I changed my entire lower-body weight training after the injury, incorporating a lot of one-legged exercises in order to lessen the weight i use and strenghten a lot of stability muscles at the same time. I just last year started doing squats again with more than a tiny bit of weight on my back, am slowly working my way up to heavier weights on those, but am just going to steer clear of dead-lifts from now on. Except for the one-legged ones, with dumbbells. My back accepts those ;)

I kind of thought your fitness regime was something you were using as a healthy “replacement” for previous less healthy habits, so it’s good to know you are aware of “why” you do it. Some people get obsessed with going to the gym, or dieting, or working 24 hours a day, and they don’t think it’s at all weird or a signifier of some sort of psychological issue. That sort of denial really bugs me. I think it’s much better to just say “Yeah, I have issues, so sue me” and like I said, working out is a healthy obsession. :)
If I were to analyse my obsessive photo taking of other people (and uploading the pictures), I’d probably come to the conclusion that I do it partly out of a desire to understand human behaviour, and partly because of loneliness. When I was a happy (and busy) person, it wouldn’t have occurred me to take photos of strangers; I was too busy having a social life. Being on flickr is a pale imitation of real life, but it’s about all I’ve got the strength to do. Maybe I should take up push-ups instead of uploads.
“There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” (Albert Schweitzer).

P.S. When will you be releasing your own workout video? ;)

Jóhanna wrote on February 21st, 2010

Hæ Rebekka. Ég er búin að fylgjast með á síðunni þinni af og til seinustu mánuði……rakst óvart á hana þegar ég var að google-a einhverju….. Allavegana, geggjaðar myndirnar þínar og ég væri meira en til í að sjá sýninguna! Ég bý í NYC, þú mættir alveg emaila mér upplýsingum, hvenær og hvar sýningin verður.
Og……hólí smók hvað þú ert í BRJÁLUÐU formi kona!!! Ég verð að viðurkenna að ég verð bara abbó!! En náttúrulega á góðann hátt……ýtir á mig að taka mig til og gera eitthvað í mínum málum! Og takk fyrir linkana að síðunum, kíki á og ath hvort maður fari ekki bara á fullt að byrja nýtt líf!;)

A few weeks ago, I hada the oportunity tu discover you work, and it is very pleasant to discover you creativity in all aspects…, it is a pleassure to discover how such a creative woman has such a very good self steem and that you are happy and very generous to show all your beauty, and whe I said all, it is ALL.

Thanks for your generosity, you are right you look like or I would said much much best than many women in their early 2o´s, EXCEPT…, and why I said except…; it is more difficult to have a women in their 20´s with such a generosity to show us your work and and beauty incluiding the very nice amd sexy looking self portraits.

The best of luck´s in NYC and recover soon from your foot.

From Mexico, Pablo

Steve Smyth wrote on February 22nd, 2010

As always great work, and I see one of many followers of your work on Flickr.! Your muscle tone must add a whole different element to your creative style. Fitness is a lifestyle, mainly a pursuit of my wife’s also as her work demands it. She keeps me in line.lol..we love your photography and creativity. Thanks for the links to Bodyrock! holy crap, she is in shape! what you can accomplish with a few chairs and a broom.! Keep up the pursuit. Thanks again.

Great post Rebekka, much like you, I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life (I’ll be 32 this year too :) . I started running last fall and I’m doing my first race, a half marathon in 2 weeks! Someone actually pointed out the 100 pushup website to me last week and I’ve been meaning to start that soon (hopefully this week). Between running, power yoga, and playing ultimate frisbee… it’s pretty addictive being active (especially if you’re seeing results ;)
Keep up the great work!

Rebekka, Thanks so much for the post! My g/f and I jumped back on the fitness wagon a little over a year ago and are always looking for a challenging workout. We have a few but I love the idea of being able to do them in hotel rooms or on beaches etc. Let me know if you are interested in any of them.

I would love to see the exhibition in NYC when you are here!! Meeting you would be even better. Please email me the details and keep up the amazing work you do.

Ha, yeah… can’t stand those web pages where the first thing you see is some girl spilling out of her tank top ;)

Great work on the workouts!! Those are some serious muscles :)

I really recommend rock climbing: I started indoor rock climbing one year ago after not doing any real sports for about a decade. In less than a year my shape and my strength have changed dramatically. As an example, I had never been able to do more than two or three chin-ups. Now I can go up to 15. But the benefits haven’t only been physical, it has also helped mentally: I feel more confident and secure about my abilities. Another great thing is that it helps me clear my mind of problems, cause you need to be really focused on the activity, or you fall. An apart from all the mentioned above, climbing is great fun.

Excellent work Rebekka. I feel inspired to do more, which is great since I have been pusing more miles with my nike+ runs. I usually do 10 pullups myself but I think I will try for more here on in as well.

Well done Rebekka! There is a saying that what one does need to do most is what one avoids most. Strenuous physical exercise is excellent in this regards because it does make it “easier” to do harder things. I personally slacked off for a few years and it is really hard to get back.
The neat thing about all ‘practices’ is that if done well they all seem to agree on a few basic points. Seems like you would enjoy incorporating the advances J. Pilates made.
All the best in your continuing evolution ;-)

Rebekka – After 45, you won’t feel any differently than you do today, especially if you keep up with the fitness programs. Check out this site – http://www.beachbody.com and try the P90X program. It’s fantastic. If you’re on Facebook, you can read what people are saying about it and from my own experience, it really works. If you want to improve your pull-ups/chin-ups, this program will do that for you because they’re incorporated in several of the routines. For what you get, the price is very reasonable and the results are undeniable. Good luck and keep up the great work.

Hi rebekka. While you’re in NYC, you should consider doing some crossfit. If you’re interested, let me know!

I surprised myself by actually clicking on the one hundred push-ups link. That sort of programme is just what I need: start off simple, have one day of exercise and one day off. Admittedly I didn’t have a great baseline to start with (I only managed a lousy 11 on my initial test) but I’ve been at it for a few days now and already feel a bit fitter and stronger. I’ve even had my bike fixed (picking it up in a couple of days) so I can start riding around for the first time in years. By midsummer, I’ll be running marathons and winning arm wrestles. Or perhaps not. :)

hey, anything is better than nothing. Now I feel absurdly proud to have gotten you off your ass and doing pushups :p

Yeah, you’ve got me under your spell. My shoulder muscles are hurting a bit today though. I think I overdid it yesterday. I’m glad it’s a day off for me today. I don’t think I could even lift a knitting needle, in case that’s the next thing you get me doing!

Góð ábending með vefsíðuna. Líkamsrækt getur svo sannarlega verið fíkn en góð fíkn. Hins vegar tel ég að uppbygging á líkamlegri og andlegri heilsu sé best borgið með Jóga og Qi Gong. Það er samt ekki þar með sagt að það sé verra að nota bara “Resistance training”. Ég get sagt náttúrulega mikið meira um það en geri það ekki í þessum stuttum skilaboðum.

I have to admit, you’ve motivated me. Or rather, you motivated me many months ago (this post: http://rebekkagudleifs.com/blog/2010/02/20/i-do-love-a-challenge/). While it may seem an exaggeration to claim that the older post changed my life, it certainly helped steer it.

I found: doing a general bodyrock excercise (customizing to my own level of fitness & results desired) drastically improved my endurance. I can now run for an hour, whereas before 20 minutes were difficult. I typically put on 10 pounds over the summer, to lose them in the winter (skii season). This year I dropped 25 pounds from March to June (held steady after that). I followed the 200 squat & 200 situp excercise programs, and found leg strength that was completely unexpected. I followed the 100 pushup program (still working on that, after 26 weeks!), and have found myself stronger than I was in college (weight training/power lifting).

So what I’m trying to say, I think, is “thank you.” You’ve improved my life.

BTW, you mentioned before that you were starting the 100 pushup program. How did that go?

I’m very happy to hear that I actually manage to make a difference in peoples lives with what I write here:)

I actually didn’t finish the 100 pushups thing. I was pretty far into it, had reached 75 in a row, right before leaving for a weeks trip to NY, that ended up being an emotional roller-coaster ride, plus i got food poisoning while there, and continued to have no appetite for 2 weeks after returning home.. lost about 10 pounds i wasn’t trying to lose. Needless to say, that all sortof threw me off track. Of course, I’m doing loads of pushups in my other workouts now, but I’m pretty sure i can’t do 75. Knowing me, it will probably nag me that I never finished, and I’ll end up starting the program again until i reach 100 ;)

I likes Your New style boy

I likes Ones style guys

Hay Friend , i like with ur article. LOL Please come to my blog

Only wanna state that this is very helpful , Thanks for taking your time to write this.

Leave a comment