Astounding Feats of Arithmetic

The Scottish Government is running a campaign for a healthier nation called Take Life On. Billboard sayz: change your life by swapping plate of flaccid chips for plate of pasta.


Some folks will get all snobby about it and suggest refined white pasta with a token blob of tomato goo isn’t particularly nutritious. Then there’s the billboard with a beer on it, imploring you try one night per week without a pint. But the campaign is all about the value of small changes adding up to a healthier you and I’m all for that. You gotta start somewhere, says she who once Drove Thru four times a week.

Must say though, first time I walked past that billboard I thought, "Ooh. Quite fancy chips for my dinner." I’ve been living here too long!

. . .

100 PushUps Update

Good news: I can now do 12 consecutive proper push-ups! (started out at 3)

Slightly crappy news: I needed to do 16 in order to progress to Week 3. FAIL!

Now I have to repeat Week 2, which had already taken 3.5 weeks to complete. At this rate I will be the World’s Oldest Blogger by the time I get to 100.  But my goal for six weeks was to get to 20, so I’m on my way to being able to respond if someone barks, "drop and give me twenty!"

Well… at this stage I’m only any good if conditions are perfect – properly hydrated, well rested, no kickboxing class the night before, not in a bad mood, etc. One day I’ll work up to a Spontaneous Show-off level of pushup prowess and I’ll drop to the floor in supermarket queues just because I can.

. . .

Any mathemagicians out there? Dr G and I have been having a heated debate about my push up statistics, namely by what percentage I have increased my ability. Could do 3, can now do 12. One of us says 300%, the other 400%. We’veve been sitting here scratching our heads for an embarrassingly long time!

Our excuse is that it’s 1AM and we also had a very very late Friday night. Actually Gareth has that PhD so he really has no excuse at all. I am so brain dead that I just asked him, "Is magician spelled with a J?"

Shauna used to be able to do just 3 push-ups, but can now do 12.
By what % has her push-up ability increased?

62 thoughts on “Astounding Feats of Arithmetic

  1. Nooo it’s back now cat!… temporary pang of self consiousness at lack of intelligence πŸ˜›

  2. It’s 300%.

    100% improvement would mean that you could do twice as much, so 6.

    300% improvement is 300% of 3 (9) PLUS the initial 3 which is 12.

    I hope that makes sense? It makes perfect sense in my head, but that means nothing!

  3. I love those billboards! I just watched that Jamie Oliver special, & it reinforced my belief that real long-term weight loss is about a few bites less, a few bites different over a long time (of course that could be becuase it’s taken me so long to drop the kgs.
    I can do 3 pushups. Following your example, I will get to 20!

  4. I’m with you Cara, I reckon Shauna’s being a bit ambitious thinking her performance has increased by 400%!

  5. Oh noooo, I didn’t know I was taking the Dr’s side, sorry Shauna!

    It’s still 12 more pushups than I can do!

  6. hehehhehe no worries cara πŸ™‚ this is what i get for dropping out of my maths class at the end of Year 11.

  7. You have increased your pushups by 9.

    This is 3×3 or 300%.

    12 pushups is 400% of 3, but you haven’t increased by 12 pushups.

    Yes. I am a nerd.

  8. You have increased the number of push-ups you can do by 300%. You can do infinitely more push-ups than me. (But then that was also the case when you could only do 3. So in relation to that very specific case, no improvement at all.)

  9. Well I’m glad we cleared that up! I also stopped maths before the end of high school, goes to show!

  10. When I saw the drinking one I thought maybe I should start drinking and then stop. Then I might lose weight!?!?! I don’t think the gov considered weird girls thinking like that!

  11. I agree sorry, DG….12 pushups is a 300% improvement…then again, I am a social worker, not a mathematician, so who knows?? lol

  12. hmmmmmmmm….now I think you should have had a fourth option d) none of the above. BECAUSE, I thought it was 200%!! HaHaHa!!! My logic? You could do 3, increase to 6 = 100%. 6 increase to 12 = 100%. 100 + 100 = 200%. Yeah, Yeah, I realised pretty quickly that I was wrong, and I worked it out to 300% before I checked what everyone else said so I don’t mind admitting my initial calculation, and my excuse? It was pre-breakfast and very early. Now I’ve eaten and woken up I see the error of my ways πŸ™‚
    Oh, and 12 pushups? FanTABuLOUSly FanTAStic!

  13. Well look, I’m quite offended that there isn’t an option D on that survey. It should look like this –

    D) I’ve no fucking idea, I did Maths in Society at school and while Mr Quirk told me it would help me in real life situation, I’m stumped.

  14. I asked my husband and he said 400% but I personally think it is 300%

    I hate math! It makes my head hurt!

    Whatever the amount, you can do 12 more push ups than I can!

    Well done!

  15. Hi Shauna – have read your blog a few times – but don’t think i’ve commented yet – sorry about that. Anyway – the 100pushups thing is obviously getting around – i’ve just posted about starting it tomorrow!

  16. I’m in the 400% boat. 0-3 is 100% so you start off doing 100%.. 3-6 is 200% 6-9 is 300% and 9-12 is 400%.

  17. Oh man, I am busting a gut at these comments. Especially yours, crank!

    I fully admit I WAS WRONG πŸ™‚ Just really glad I asked Dr G before I just posted first draft of my entry in which I was all, “YAY! I can do 400% more pushups!”

  18. Aren’t percentages supposed to be out of 100 (100 or less), so aren’t 300 and 400 both wrong? πŸ˜‰

    Not sure if you are aware of this, but Coles supermarkets have started stocking Green & Blacks chocolate (maybe because Cadbury own the company now?). They don’t carry the full selection, but I saw 70% Dark, Maya Gold, and Milk (which I have to stay away from because it is too good). And they were on sale this week for only $2.49 for a 100 gram bar! Usually they are $3.99 (which is still cheaper than the health food store). Mmmm…

    Congratulations on the great push up increase πŸ™‚

  19. Take it from a someone who studied pure maths. Mathematics can be completely subjective…logic will work in your favour this time, even if arithmetic fails to win you the argument.

    My solution:

    Assume: “Women are always right, particularly when it is their hubby they are arguing with” (we can assume this as it has not yet been proven false – not in my household anyway).

    DG = Woman
    Therefore “DG is always right”.
    Therefore whatever she says goes.
    Therefore the answer is 400%.

  20. I think it depends on how you phrase it. Your pushup ability has INCREASED BY 300% of your initial ability — because 9 additional pushups is the amount of increase. But you can also say that your pushup ability has INCREASED TO 400% of your initial ability — because 12 pushups is the total pushups you can now do. I hope this helps.

  21. Tis 300% (my clever husband informs me), because otherwise a 100% increase would mean you’d stayed the same, if you see what I mean


  22. I agree with HK. And I have a B in Higher Maths (OK, it’s now more than ten years ago, but still…)

  23. You increased it by 9 which is 300% of 3.

    You can now do 12 which is 400% of 3.

    So you have increased your pushups by 300%, and now you can do 400% of what you began with.

  24. Hubby & I agree with Jul. But he insist I reveal how I win arguments. The question I ask him “Do you want to see me nekid again?”.

    Our local grocery stocks G&B too! It’s a once in a while treat for both of us. Thank heavens hubby doesn’t know where they are or there’d be 2 in cart every week & we’d go broke. Good thing he likes Hershey bars too.

  25. it’s 400%: you take 12 (the number you can do now), and divide it by 3 (the number you used to be able to do), and you get 4. then, you multiply that by 100 to get your percentage. 400%!

  26. I think Cara gave the answer that explains it the best.

    You asked by how much you had “increased”, which is the key. You have increased by 9 push-ups which is three times your original max (3 push-ups), or an increase of 300%.

    Lyn’s answer explains well, too, giving the explanation of what you “began with” compared to current, versus what you “increased”.

    This reminds me of the time I had to use algebra to help my dad figure out how much to raise his rates to his clients πŸ™‚ The only time after college that I used those skills…

  27. Pretty sure it’s 300%, but anyhoo…

    There’s a new book coming out called ‘Nudge’ that you might be interested in – it looks at the value of small changes when working towards the aim of a big change. I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve seen some reviews and it looks interesting, especially in the context of the small lifestyle changes (which you’ll know all too well!) make such a difference in creating a healthier way of living.

  28. Shauna, here’s my “nerdy” answer.. its 300%. very similar to laura’s response above but you don’t take the number you can do now (12) you need to take the number you have increased by (9) and divide it by your original (3). reason being, you are looking for “namely by what percentage I have increased my ability” .. i did nerdy maths where u actually choose to come to schol earlier .. what planet was i on ?? great work anyway!!

  29. Teehee…in my book it’s always the biggest percentage…you’ve progressed 400%…that’s right! And it’s not a fail, you’re doing 12 PROPER push-ups, that’s saying alot. Keep “pushing” through, you’re doing awesome!

  30. Hi I just subscribed to your feed! Great blog. Good luck with the push ups! I think I’ll be trying the routine this week (shh don’t tell steve I haven’t started!)

  31. I love all the math nerds who read your blog. =)

    And, Shauna, at least you are doing the push up challenge. You’ll get there eventually! I have yet to start (best intentions and all that).

  32. 100% of 3 = 3
    200% of 3 = 6
    300% of 3 = 9
    400% of 3 = 12

    You can now do 400% of your starting push-ups. Can we also agree that any number greater than your original 3 push ups is an accomplishment? πŸ™‚

  33. I wanted to give you that 400% so badly but my smartypants husband reminded me we have to subtract out your original accomplishment. Bah. Buzzkills.

    Anyway, you kick ass. I can maybe do 1 real pushup. So you’re 1100% ahead of me.

  34. Your pushup ability has INCREASED BY 300% of your initial ability — because 9 additional pushups is the amount of increase. But you can also say that your pushup ability has INCREASED TO 400% of your initial ability — because 12 pushups is the total pushups you can now do.

    Bugger I think I just repeated what someone else said….( maybe she is an accountant too)

  35. Am I the only one who saw the billboard and thought “Boobies!”? Just me, eh?

    After the moonwalk, it seemed topical.

  36. Mwhahahaha! Nice one Amy πŸ™‚

    Thanks for your comments everyone. Looks like we’re all winners in a way, certainly not helped by my awkward phrasing of the question!

  37. Shauna, I’m sure it’s been said by now, though I can’t actually see it being said, but the difference is between being able to do 400% of what you could do before (which you can) and being able to do 300% more than you did before. The “improvement” number is smaller than the total number because it doesn’t include the original three pushups.

  38. Congrats on the progress! This week the challenge is really hard for me too, and I used to be a champ at push ups πŸ™

    Way to go ^_^

  39. Hey Shauna! I’m afraid I stink at math as well, but the logic above saying you increased by 300% makes sense to this addled brain.

    I’ve read about the 100 pushups item before, and started doing it my own way, but now I think I’ll officially join in! Go us!!

  40. The discrepancy is in the way it is worded. You can do 400% of your original 3, because 100% of your original is 3, 12 / 3 = 4, 4 * 100 = 400. However, your percentage *increase* is 300%. An increase of 100% is doubling, because it’s the same as saying your increase was 100% of your original.

    Thusly, 300.

  41. Definitely 300%. You didn’t improve by the 3 pushups you could already do. You only improved by the subsequent 9.

    Either way, that’s great! I think I can do 1 proper push-up.

  42. I thought the billboard had something to do with breast health! I imagined the red blotched in the middle were supposed to be nipples. I felt certain it was going to be a campaign about how saturated fat makes your girls unhealthy, so I felt like a bit of a idiot when it had nothing to do with what I imagined it would. πŸ™‚

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