The Effect of Fitness on Productivity

This post is first in a series of six articles on why you should care about fitness.  We often don’t realize how investments in one aspect of life provide benefits not just in their own realm, but in many other areas of life as well.

Adopting a fitness regimen will not only make you more fit, but will also affect your career, your marriage and other relationships, and your disposition.  In this post, we’ll explore how fitness pays dividends in your productivity.

The enemy

Many of our jobs involve something quite harmful to the production of quality work and creative thinking–a desk chair.  Study after study indicates that one of the most dangerous things we do in our daily lives is spending long periods of time sitting in a chair.  Read here for more detail on the studies backing this claim.

Desk Chair After

Look at it this way–your body was made to move.  God did not give you muscles, joints, a cardiovascular system and a digestive system so you could sit still all day.  Your body is a machine designed for a purpose, and when you don’t engage your body’s systems properly, it doesn’t work properly.

The first step

The good news for those of us who’ve adopted poor fitness habits is that the body is incredibly adaptable.  If you will start incorporating movement into your daily life, your body will adapt and get stronger and fitter in a remarkable way.  One very simple way to get started is to find a coffee machine, water fountain, or any other excuse that’s a good distance from your desk.  Make a habit of getting out of your chair and walking to your excuse of choice once every 1.5 hours or so.  If you can walk up and down a flight of stairs along the way, that’s all the better.

The next step is to find 15-20 minutes a few times a week to start engaging your body in a more strenuous workout, pushing your limits and giving you big gain potential.  Walking around the office is good for getting your blood moving and keeping your chair from killing you, but to truly engage your body’s systems and reap the productivity benefits, you’ll need something more challenging.

Where can your workout fit?

I’m blessed to have a small gym and shower facilities at my workplace, so I’m able to workout over lunch most days.  This is ideal, as it really allows my body and brain to be kicked into high gear for the afternoon.  It’s amazing how a morning that was quickly turning into drudgery and poor quality output can be turned around by a lunchtime workout.  Even if you can’t make this happen at your job, can you get a workout in before you come in in the morning?  Or ride your bicycle into work to get your body’s systems going before you boot up your computer?  Use your creativity to find how a workout can fit into your day.  Remember, our fitness philosophy here at TotalThriver revolves around short, high-intensity workouts with functional movements requiring little equipment, so there’s incredible flexibility in terms of where and when you can workout, and the time commitment is quite minimal.

In summary, we’re advocating a strategy of moving from your chair every few hours and working out as near to your work time as possible.  The most dramatic evidence for just how effective this is at boosting productivity and creativity is available directly to you.  Try this:  ramp up over a period of a few weeks until you’re doing a challenging workout 4 out of 5 workdays per week.  You will notice a dramatic difference in your capabilities when compared to where you were before you began the regimen.  Also, you’ll notice that anytime you have to miss a workout (for a meeting, a sick kid, etc.) that you’re just not at your best on those days.  It almost feels like someone stuck with you with a needle and is sapping energy out of you.  Once you feel the new capacity that this fitness regimen gives you, you feel like you’ve been cheating yourself out of so much latent ability that you never knew you had.

Test the claim

The great part is, this new productivity and energy level that you get from the fitness regimen can be a great motivator for keeping with the program.  On days that I miss a workout, I know that I’m not able to put forth my best on the work I’m doing, and I desire that workout tomorrow all the more.  When I get back in the gym and pour my all into a hard workout, I get such a feeling of satisfaction and my body is so thankful to get it’s systems moving again.  Best of all, when I head back to my office for the afternoon, I’m energized and refreshed, and my tasks are knocked out with quality, creativity, and excellence.  If this sounds like the kind of productivity boost you’d like to add to your day, why not head over to the ThriveFit page and give workout #1 a try?  You can test these claims for yourself and see the tangible benefit in a very short time.  Be sure to ramp yourself up gradually into any new program to reduce injury likelihood and to keep you from falling off the bandwagon after a week and a half.  Keep the workouts short, the form correct, and the intensity high!

Why Train?

Today, we’ll begin a series of articles on the topic of, “why is fitness valuable?”  Here at TotalThriver, we’re always working to provide you tools for how to win in all areas of life, but sometimes it’s the why that is missing between you and the person you aspire to be.

Fitness is so important to thriving in life because it touches so many other areas, increasing your capabilities for success in those areas.  In the coming days and weeks, we’ll look at how adopting a challenging physical regimen pays dividends in:

  • your productivity
  • your disposition and your marriage
  • the search for your mate (singles)
  • your finances and long-term health
  • your appreciation of God’s glory
  • your control of your habits

Each of the next six articles on our main page will search out and explain how success in the fitness realm will awake new thriving potential in these other areas.  Join us in the journey to thriving in all aspects of your life, and be sure to check out our ThriveWealthy and ThriveFit tools to help you along the way.

Planning for Unusual Expenses

Last week, we discussed the importance of including unusual but predictable expenses in your budget.  Items on this list include things like car repairs, home improvements, large gifts, or vacations.  By allocating a fixed amount each month, these big expenses don’t have to catch us off guard.  For example, my wife and I set aside $60 each month for car repairs, which has been plenty for the minor repairs and maintenance that our vehicles have required.

This brings up a small wrinkle in your budget, though, since you’ve allocated money to be spent on a certain day, but since you likely won’t have a $60 car repair this month, your account will be out of balance if you don’t correct for this.

Thankfully, this feature is built right into the ThriveWealthy advance cashflow planning program.  If you’ve not downloaded a copy yet, be sure to head over to the ThriveWealthy page and download the latest version.  Start budgeting next month’s income in the colored boxes, along with the dates your paychecks come.

Once you’ve entered your income and expenses in the appropriate categories, notice the orange box in the upper left part of the screen.  This section is called, “pending expenses” in the example tab, and is used to balance your budget with your current bank balance.  This section is also where you’ll keep track of your car repair fund, and any other “funds” for big items that you’re saving for.

Keeping with our example of $60 per month for car repairs, let’s say that we’ve reached the 15th of the month, which is the date we entered the car repair fund to be spent.  But, since we’ve not needed any repairs or maintenance this month, that $60 is still sitting in our account.  To ensure that the budget matches the actual bank balance (ascertained by logging into your bank’s website), we need to enter the $60 as a pending expense.  Next to the value of $60 that we enter in the orange box, we need to title the expense as, “car repair fund.”  The spreadsheet will automatically adjust the budgeted balance, and the “difference” value in cell C25 should drop to 0.

Next month, we’ll have the same thing happen, and assuming no car repairs are needed by the 15th of that month, we’ll follow the same procedure.  On the 15th, we’ll replace the $60 value in the orange box with a value of $120, and so on and so on, month after month.  Anytime money is spent at the auto repair shop, simply reduce the pending amount by the total amount spent.  So, if on the 18th of that second month, you spent $20 on wiper blades, simply reduce the pending amount from $120 to $100.

Following this plan will bring you such a sense of peace–bring ahead of these unusual expenses instead of getting knocked down by them.  Please enter any questions or clarifications you have in the comments section, and as always, remember that we’re here to help you thrive!

To get where you’ve never been, do what you’ve never done

If you’re ever began a new fitness program, you’ve probably found great results (and the associated soreness ;)) in the first few weeks.  The amount of weight you can lift jumps up and up.  The time it takes you to run 400m drops by large margins.  But after a few months, you seem to stall out.  It can feel like you’re hitting a glass ceiling.  Where you used to gain 30 pounds per week on your deadlift, you now strain to add 5.  What’s going on??

To avoid these frustrating plateaus, it is essential that your fitness regimen be varied.  As Arnold Schwarzenegger explains in Pumping Iron, “you have to keep zee muscles guessing!” If you repeat the same program week after week, your body will adapt to the stress, and what challenged you last week won’t stress your body this week.  This is good in one sense, because it means that you’re making progress.  But it’s bad if you don’t vary your program at this point.  You’ll find yourself stalling out, leading you to frustration and tempting you to drop your fitness program altogether.

In order to provide you with the best long-term results, our ThriveFit program includes dynamic and varied programming.  We use a plethora of different functional movements, training your whole body as an integrated system.  This keeps your body perpetually “on its toes” so that your muscles are always adapting to new stresses–thereby avoiding plateaus and promoting a high rate of improvement.

As you progress through each workout posted in the ThriveFit section of the site, feel free to be creative with the exercises involved and rep and set schemes.  And don’t forget to post those scores to build the ThriveFit community–as we compete with each other, everyone is motivated to push their limits and we all win!

Overcoming the Unexpected

Most of us have been through the following story at some point in our lives: We resolve to “do better” with our money. That credit card company has taken advantage of us for the last time! We’re angry that we let ourselves get into such a vulnerable position and we’re angry that the credit card company hit us while we were down.

So, we get out the yellow pad or the computer spreadsheet and we get to work on a budget. We allocate our money carefully, taking our best estimate at what we’ll spend in the following month on groceries, gas, and utilities. Everything’s going fine until the 9th of the month…

That sinking feeling

On that day, two tires go flat on our usually-reliable family car. Your dentist sends you a second bill for the work done last month to resolve a clerical error. And your electricity bill is $30 higher than usual. What in the world is happening?!? Why is this all hitting at once???

Unfortunately, these unexpected things do seem to hit us just when we think we’re getting it all together. However, even though they seem like a string of improbable flukes, the root of the issue closer than the mechanic’s garage or the dentist’s office–the problem is us!

When we get used to living life without an advance financial plan (a budget), we quickly lose touch of what we really spend each month. Ask me before I started budgeting what I spent on groceries each month, and I would have said, “like $150 or so.” (reality = $400) Or ask me how much I spent on car repairs per year: “like $450 I think…” (reality = $60 per month)

The point is, our perception of reality is quite different than the truth of the situation, and we tend to underestimate how much we spend each month on these “unusual expenses.”

So be encouraged–you’re not alone when you’re hit by a “string of flukes,” in fact almost all of us have been there! If you’re starting (or restarting) budgeting for the first time, be generous with your grocery budget, and include $60 per month or more for car repairs. You may not need it in the first month, but soon you will, and having $180 sitting in your account waiting to be spent on car repairs makes that phone call from the mechanic a great deal less stressful!

If you haven’t yet downloaded the most recent version of ThriveWealthy, please spend a few minutes trying it out for yourself now. And as always, let us know of anything we can do to improve your experience at TotalThriver.com! Remember, we exist to help you Thrive!

The Problem of Evil

If you visited our site in the last week, you may have noticed a rather peculiar message on our homepage.  An image of a skull and crossbones was displayed with a message of: “you’ve been hacked!”

Though I’m not certain, I believe the intruder gained access to the site because my password was too simple.  Hackers today can use programs to guess many common passwords automatically, so if you have a simple password for your sensitive information, take this opportunity to change it before thieves get into your accounts too!
I’m very grateful to my hosting company, namecheap.com for automatically saving backups of all my content.  A few quick emails back and forth with the support team had be back in business again!  And yes, I’ve improved my passwords and backed up my files locally so I’m prepared for next time.

Pointless Destruction

It’s odd, but from what I can tell, the hacker didn’t use their access to do anything useful for themselves.  They hacked in, deleted my content, and displayed the “you’ve been hacked” page.  But there was no gain for them in the whole thing.  All that was accomplished was that they destroyed someone else’s work, requiring many hours from me and others to repair the damage.

This brings up a few key issues.  First, what’s going on inside someone who will seek to destroy the possessions of another, not for their own gain, but simply to cause pain and destruction?  Second, how can the all-powerful and all-loving God of the Bible allow these things to happen?

Unfortunately, the hacker from last week is bit a small example of someone who’ll harm others for no reason but to cause harm.  While my site was repaired quickly, some evil acts leave their victims with lasting scars. Murder, rape, and abuse occur everyday in cities across the U.S. and the world. If God created all things and has the power to do anything He wants, why doesn’t he zap these people?

The Story of David

The Bible answers this question very clearly and in many places. One of the most dramatic examples in the Bible is David.  This man was chosen by God to be king of Israel after Saul, who had turned away from God.  But even though David was God’s choice for king, Saul continued to live and rule.  Saul even commanded his entire army to seek out David to kill him, forcing David to flee his home, leaving all friends and family.
Think how David must have felt—all alone in the wilderness, hiding from an entire army, waiting for God to fulfill His promise to make him king.  He must have thought, “God, why don’t you just zap Saul?!  He’s persecuting me, your servant and breaking your Law.”  Many of the Psalms written by David during this time have this theme (e.g., Psalm 42, 43).

But God did not destroy Saul here, even though he did deserve it.  This is the basis of our question too—why doesn’t God destroy evil people?  One major answer the Bible gives us is that God is great in Mercy.

You see, if God were not merciful, He would never have let Adam and Eve live after they disobeyed Him in the garden.  He would have destroyed everyone in the flood, instead of sparing Noah and his family.  God is a God great in mercy, and he holds back the punishment that is deserved, giving us time to turn from our sin, repent, and trust Christ as our Savior.

Ironically, in David’s story, we see later see King David doing exactly the same thing to Uriah that Saul had done to him.  Uriah’s wife Bathsheba was beautiful, and when David saw her, he decided to go to her and sleep with her, committing adultery.  Because he was afraid of being caught, he sent Uriah into the front lines in battle where he was quickly killed.  He then took Bathsheba as his wife.  The same David that cried for God to destroy the evil men that persecuted him in the wilderness, had now persecuted another.  By the rules David asked God to set up, be himself should have been destroyed by God.
Thankfully, God is a God of mercy.  When David was confronted with his sin, he repented in sorrow.  He remembered that God is merciful, and cried out to Him for forgiveness.  This was his prayer (Psalm 51):

1Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.

2Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.
3For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.

4Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgment against me is just.

5For I was born a sinner—
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
6But you desire honesty from the womb,b
teaching me wisdom even there.

Who Draws the Line?

We too can be quick to ask for God’s justice and wrath on those who do evil to us.  But we must remember that we have received God’s mercy, and we didn’t deserve it either.  One of my favorite atrists, Lecrae, puts it this way in one of his songs:

“Some people say that God ain’t real ’cause they don’t see how a good God can exsist with all this evil in the world. If God is real then He should stop all this evil, ’cause He’s all-powerful right? What is evil though man? It’s anything that’s against God. It’s anything morally bad or wrong. It’s murder, rape, stealing, lying, cheating. But if we want God to stop evil, do we want Him to stop it all or just a little bit of it? If He stops us from doing evil things, what about lying, or what about our evil thoughts? I mean, where do you stop, the murder level, the lying level, or the thinking level? If we want Him to stop evil, we gotta be consistent, we can’t just pick and choose. That means you and I would be eliminated right? Because we think evil stuff. If that’s true, we should be eliminated! But thanks be to God that Jesus stepped in to save us from our sin! Christ died for all evilness! Repent, turn to Jesus man!”

You can see the full video of this song here:

Much more could be said on this topic, but I hope this helps give you a better understanding of the problem of evil.  We may be hacked again here at TotalThriver, but we’ll always come back, and will be praying that those who’s feet rush to evil may be changed by the power of God to faith in Christ Jesus.  Thanks for reading and feel free to add your comments or questions.