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I've done 150 burpees every day for the past 3 years. I started after a medical emergency that should have killed me.

I've done 150 burpees every day for the past 3 years. I started after a medical emergency that should have killed me.
  • Ryan Peck, 38, had multiple blood clots in his lungs that could have been fatal.

  • After a long recovery, he wanted to regain his fitness, so he started doing 150 burpees a day.

  • Now, he completes the burpees in about eight minutes first thing in the morning.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Ryan Peck. It has been edited for length and clarity.

About eight years ago, I woke up one night, and I couldn't breathe. I was a fit, healthy 30-year-old, so this was out of the blue. In the emergency room, doctors told me I had multiple blood clots all over my lungs. About one-third of people with these kinds of pulmonary embolisms die within a month, and I had many of them.

I was on bed rest for about three months. I couldn't even pick up my six-month-old son. That was hard, but the more difficult part was the emotional toll. I was a self-proclaimed health nut. Facing a debilitating health crisis turned my world on its head.

Slowly, I started regaining my fitness. I was walking rather than going to the gym or playing soccer, but it was better than when I was on bed rest. Then, almost exactly a year after the first hospitalization, I had another blood clot. Doctors still don't know why. I had to start the rehab process all over.

I recovered but never got back to the same level of fitness

Luckily, I recovered from the pulmonary embolisms. And yet, I never fully got back to the level of fitness I was at before my near-death experience. I had gained some weight while I was on bed rest and quit the intense workout routines that had fueled me through young adulthood.

My doctor cleared me to exercise about six months after the clots. But even with that go-ahead, I was still achy and tired. I just couldn't do the types of exercises I used to, which included CrossFit, running, and a soccer league. Looking back, I think I needed to heal physically and emotionally.

About three years ago, I was talking with someone at the gym who knew me before I got sick. He said I was a natural athlete. If I could just get back to my old routines, he told me. I knew he was right. I decided to take 90 days to reset my physical and mental health.

Ryan Peck and his family swimming in a pool.
Ryan Peck was determined to regain his physical and mental health after he recovered.Courtesy Ryan Peck

I focused on burpees because they're so hard

I hate burpees (doesn't everyone?), but they're such a great marker of fitness. Even a friend of mine who can run a six-minute mile has a hard time doing 25 burpees in a row. They're the ultimate fitness test. There's fit, then there's burpee-fit.

I wanted to push myself to the limit, then beyond, so I decided I would try to do 100 burpees a day. It was so much for me. At the beginning I would do 10 at a time, then rest. Completing 100 burpees took me about 35 minutes.

Doing the burpees wasn't fun — truth be told, it still isn't. But I felt incredible once I completed them. Now I like to say that burpees are better than a cup of coffee. By the end of 90 days, my body and mind were transformed. I didn't want to stop something that was working so well.

I've done more than 200,000 burpees

Today, I do 150 burpees a day. It takes me about eight and a half minutes, and I can do them all in a row, without taking a break. I wake up, put on a podcast, and hammer them out. Sometimes I do them in my bathroom, sometimes on the deck; sometimes with my kids jumping under me, and sometimes alone.

Something so simple has been life-changing for me. I've learned that I can be consistent. I don't pressure myself to get the fastest time, I just want to get it done. That persistence has crept into other areas of my life.

At the same time, I've learned I can push myself. At first, that looked like stringing longer and longer sets together. When I started, doing 10 burpees in a row was really challenging. Recently, I did 225 unbroken. I've learned not to limit what I'm capable of by telling myself it's impossible.

After more than 200,000 burpees, I still don't enjoy the movement. But I love the physical strength and mental fortitude that they've given me. My medical history taught me we only have one life and one body. My dedication to burpees has helped me make the most of both.

Read the original article on Business Insider