Fitness as a Metaphor

This is the final post in a series of six articles on how fitness benefits many other areas of your life.  So far, we’ve discussed how a challenging fitness regimen can improve your productivity, disposition, relationships, finances, and your appreciation of the glory of God. Today, we’ll discuss how success in your fitness can be a powerful physical display of positive changes in your heart and life.

This topic is right at the heart of what we are all about here at TotalThriver.  Oftentimes in life, we can overlook the strong connections between the various components of our lives.  We think that we can be sloppy with our money, without having that sloppiness affect our relationship with our spouse.  Or we think we can neglect prayer and the study of God’s word, yet still succeed in our career and find contentment.

Not only does this compartmentalized approach fail in practice, but it goes against the clear teachings of Scripture.  In Matthew 12, Jesus said:

33“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. 34“You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.

Here, Jesus is confronting the self-righteous Pharisees for their pride, arrogance, and wrong judgement.  They rebuked Jesus for healing a possessed man, using the illogical argument that Jesus obtained the power to rebuke demons by serving the prince of demons.  Jesus clearly taught us here that the evil words that proceeded out of the mouths of the Pharisees were only a symptom of their problem.  The root of the problem was the hearts of these men, which were hardened against God.  They cared only for themselves and the praise of men, and their words revealed their character.

This truth applies to you and me just as it did the Pharisees.  Our words and actions in a certain situation are nothing more than a natural demonstration of the state of our hearts.  So, our unorganized finances are rooted in a heart of poor stewardship, for example.  Can this heart of poor stewardship with money do anything but be a poor steward of time with a spouse?  Our words and actions are indications of who we are, and when we let failure reign in one area of life, it tends to manifest itself in other areas as well.

Thankfully, as Jesus goes on to explain in Matthew 12, this principle works in the reverse, too:

 35“The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.

By His grace, God allows any of us sinners who will forsake our sin and trust Christ for salvation to be washed clean by his blood.  Christ paid the penalty of our sins through his death on the cross, and by trusting Him we are made into a new creation.  Day by day, Christ leads us to walk like Him, becoming more like our Savior each day.

This goodness spreads to each facet of life–as your heart is made new, your actions change to demonstrate the change that occurred in your heart.

The beauty of the process of adopting and following through with a challenging fitness regimen is that it is a powerful and dramatic example of new life.  Before you began making fitness a priority, you lived with all the negative consequences that come with physical apathy.  But once you turned from your old way and started down the road to fitness, your heart had changed. Your new behaviors began to reflect the new heart that you have–one recognizes the value of using the body as it was made to be used.

As you progressed through the weeks of training, you experienced the benefits of challenging exercise–improved disposition, productivity, and appreciation for the glory of God.  These benefits encouraged you to commit to the program even more, and your habits gradually strengthened until fitness is a natural part of your life.

The physical transformation and the adoption of a new set of habits is a living metaphor of the life-changing power that Christ offers.  Just as your fitness journey began with a change of heart, becoming a Christian begins by admitting that the self-centered road we’re on is the wrong path.  Will you turn from your sin and trust Him today?  His love is eternal, and although your fitness habits may fade someday in the future, Jesus will never let one of his children fall away.

 

Our Awesome Creator

This post is fifth in a series of six articles on how fitness benefits many other areas of your life.  So far, we’ve discussed how challenging fitness regimen can improve your productivity, disposition, relationships, and finances. Today, we’ll discuss how embarking on a fitness regimen can awaken your heart and mind to the glories of God.

Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Can you sing this Psalm with the psalmist?  Is this the sentiment that flows through your soul today?

Monotony

Unfortunately, for many of us, the drudgery of everyday life can suck the praise and admiration of our Lord right out of us.  Demanding clients and rude coworkers can pull our eyes off the simple beauty of the world around us, and by the time we get home in the evening, we’re more likely to ignore or mistreat our families than lead them in a song praising the awesome power of our Creator.

So how can a challenging physical regimen help us reclaim a child-like sense of awe for our God?  First, by stimulating bloodflow through the body and serving as a outlet for frustrations, as we discussed a few weeks ago. But there is another element to fitness training beyond these simple chemical responses.

Incredible Design

Have you ever seen someone drive up in a fine-tuned Corvette or a shiny new Harley?  The moment you see the sleek exterior and hear the engine purr softly, you are flooded with a feeling of admiration and appreciation beauty.  If you bask in the moment a bit longer, you’ll find you have an appreciation for the designers and builders of such a fine automobile.  You think about all the planning that went into the production of the car, and you’ll see how each individual piece gracefully fits into the complete package, each part fulfilling a particular role in harmony with every other part.

This simple example is merely a slight glimpse into the appreciation of the human body that can come with an ongoing commitment to fitness.  When I first began exercising in high-intensity functional movement training, I had a certain level of appreciation for what my body could do.  But as I progressed in various compound movements such as squats and snatches, I became more and more amazed at the amazing intricacies and harmonious interaction of the body’s many systems. This machine that God built by his infinite divine creativity is indeed something to be marveled at, not only for its beautiful cohiesiveness but for it’s incredible ability to adapt to new challenges.

See His Glory

It is very easy to neglict our bodies and take for granted the life we are given each new day, and many in our culture have done just that.  They spend their time on other things and allow their bodies to slowly decline–allowing flexibility to wane and strength disappear.  Along with the loss of these capabilities comes a loss of appreciation for the miraculous systems that make up their body.  If you want to gaze on the glory of God the way an art patron might gaze on a beautiful work of da Vinci, start your journey by visiting the ThriveFit page and trying out Workout 1.  Although it may take many workouts for you to reach a deep appreciation for all the capabilities held within your body, in time you too may just find yourself singing with the psalmist, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made!”

Fitness and your Finances

This post is fourth in a series of six articles on how fitness benefits many other areas of your life.  So far, we’ve discussed how challenging fitness regimen can improve your productivity, disposition, and relationships.

Today, we’ll investigate the connection between your fitness and finances.  Although at first glance these two subjects may seem to be unrelated, in fact there are many aspects of these two areas that affect each other.

Money money money money

Your Premiums

The first and most obvious way that your fitness affects your finances relates to your medical care.  As we all have become clearly aware, medical costs have skyrocketed in this country in the last several years.  Medical insurance premiums climb and climb, and take a big chunk out of your paycheck when payday comes.  Oftentimes, we can feel powerless in this situation–but there are things you can do to improve this situation for yourself and your community.

Much research has been done relating the effects of exercise on a person’s health.  It has been clearly demonstrated that regular exercise benefits the body in many ways, including improving heart health and reducing diabetes.  Insurance companies do a myriad of tests to see what kind of shape your body is in before issuing life or health insurance, since they know that your fitness and health have a strong impact on the amount of medial care you will need.

A Grassroots Solution

While our politicians argue about the best way to handle healthcare from a federal perspective, we can take steps now to improve our own health personally–helping to solve the problem from the ground up.  Over time, a nation of healthier people will require less medical care, and insurance companies will be able to charge smaller premiums while maintaining their margins.  As we’ve stated before, there’s no question of the link between exercise and good health–the problem is that so many just aren’t doing it!

Making Time

Often, when people are asked why they don’t exercise, even though the health benefits are so clear, they will answer, “I just don’t have time.”  While I’ll always contend that such an answer is always just a cop-out and should really be translated, “it’s not a high priority in my life,” it is certainly true that we Americans are busy.  It’s easy to fill our schedules with work, family, and play, and if we’re not careful, our week can full up and we’ve never made the time for a fitness regimen.

But by recongnizing the link between exercise today and health tomorrow, we can find the motivation to put on those gym clothes at 5 AM.  By further recognizing the connection to our health and our pocketbook, this motivation can become even stronger.  As we’ve discussed, the more of us who make fitness a priority and improve our health, the lower our healtch care cost as a nation can be.  And of course, insurance premiums aside, going to the doctor pulls directly from your account as well via co-pays and deductibles.

Get Wealthy and Fit

So, the next time your buddy gloats about the Carrabean cruise he’s going on that you can’t afford, think about the connection between your fitness, your health, and your pocketbook.  Use that understanding to motivate you to get in the gym and fuel a total commitment while you’re there.  As you know, the beauty of the ThriveFit program is that it’s a very short time commitment (most workouts take less than 10 minutes), but in order to reap the fitness benefits you want, your workout must be at full throttle.

Years later, when you invite your buddy out to your lake house for a summer vacation, you’ll not only have surpassed him financially, but will look better in your bathing suit too!

To Find a Mate

This post is third in a series of six articles on how fitness benefits many other areas of your life.  So far, we’ve explored the dividends that a challenging fitness regimen will pay in your productivity and your disposition.

In the previous post, we noted that the improved disposition that comes with a challenging fitness regimen can have a dramatic influence on your relationship with your spouse.  If you’re single though, you might have felt a bit left out…

Tuscaloosa Picture

So, today’s post is for you singles out there.  Believe it or not, embarking on a journey to better fitness will not just benefit your physically, but bring you success in your search for a great mate.  The heart of the issue lies in the following bit of wisdom, courtesy of a few wise old men I know:  “to have a great marriage, don’t focus on finding the right person, focus on being the right person.”

It’s not you, it’s me

Most of us have experienced the converse of this firsthand from going about this in the wrong way.  Maybe you’ve caught yourself complaining to your friends, “how come every girl I date is argumentative and emotional?  Why can’t I find someone who’s kind and easygoing??”  Here’s the shocker–the common thread in all your relationships is you!  Perhaps there are things you are doing, attitudes you have, even criteria you use for selecting dates that are bringing you the results that you don’t like.

The way that a fitness regimen can benefit you in this situation is that it takes your eyes off others, and helps you focus on the things you can control–namely, yourself!  As you progress in your fitness program, you’ll see tangible results: your pants fit better, you can lift heavier weight, your arms look more toned, and so on.  Your disposition will improve from your body’s natural reaction to exercise, and you’ll feel good about the work your doing and the progress you’re making.

Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks

These internal changes tend to be more visible to others than we would imagine.  After you’ve completed a tough lunchtime workout with a new record time, you’ll find yourself smiling at people you meet, genuinely interested in them and more patient with their shortcomings.  It’s somewhat like how you feel after you’ve won a race, gotten a raise, or finished painting a house–you’re just feeling good, basking in the work you’ve done, and no little inconvenience is going to get in your way of enjoying this moment.  That elated feeling can become part of your everyday schedule, especially when you adopt a strenuous program like ThriveFit and give it your all.

Living in this state of mind where you genuinely care about others and are patient with others’ shortcomings will take you a long way down the road to being the kind of person who attracts a quality mate.  Not only that, but this pattern of bettering yourself can be used to refine other areas of your life as well.  Perhaps you’ll make time to learn a new skill to improve your capabilities at work.  Or, you’ll join a Bible study to improve your relationship with God.  By making a dedicated consistent effort to improve yourself, then meeting your objectives with excellence, you’re growing your character and confidence.  Not only will these changes naturally attract members of the opposite sex to you, but God tends to reward those who seek after Him and live as He instructs.  So, as you take care of the body He gave you, seek Him in His Word, and learn to forgive and love as Christ did, He may just send your future spouse right across your path…

Fitness and Your Disposition

This post is second 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.

Be Honest

Are you ever grumpy?  Most of us would grudgingly answer this question in the affirmative.  Even though we enjoy so many blessings, comforts, and advantages in our modern society, we all sometimes get upset and unpleasant.

One powerful tool in the battle against grumpiness is a consistent fitness regimen. In particular, a workout that involves moving heavy objects and barbells (the program we recommend here at TotalThriver) tends to take you from a state of irritability to a state of contentedness and confidence.

There are certainly many physiological reasons why moving heavy weights around or doing burpees makes you happier and more relaxed, but to make things simple, let’s just say it this way:  workouts are satisfying!  Sometimes, you have a rough morning.  Nothing seems to go right.  And on top of that, your coworker yells at you for not doing a task in the way he would have done it.

Use It

All this junk is your fuel for your workout.  When you step up to the barbell, remember those frustrations you faced in the first part of your day.  Focus your anger and frustration into the movement you are doing.  Not only will the weight move more swiftly, but you will get a better challenge to your muscles and cardiovascular system.  And now for the best part:  when it’s all over, you won’t care about your morning frustrations anymore!

There’s something about overcoming a difficult physical challenge that melts away a grumpy attitude.  Perhaps your coworker was rude and demanding in your morning meeting, but when you return from your workout, you don’t really care about it anymore.  By moving your body through this fitness regimen, you’ve burned off your frustrations, and you can start the latter half of your day with a fresh and positive attitude.

The Bonus

And what do you think this does to your life at home with your spouse?  If you’ve been married for any length of time, you know that a great many of the fights (and especially the big fights) have lots to do with the disposition of one or both spouses in the moments leading up to the battle.  The husband got chewed out by his boss just before leaving work, and the mom was puked on by a sick kid just as dad rolls up the driveway.  The smallest conflict between these two is likely to set off a firefight, and both spouses are apt to say things they’ll later regret.  Why not take a step to diffuse this situation before it even starts?  Take those derogatory comments from your boss with you to the gym, and pour your frustration into some heavy clean and jerks.  The fruit that a good fitness regimen brings to your marriage is some of the sweetest you’ll find!