What Are You After?

When it comes to your fitness, what do you want?  Though this may seem like an easy question, you may be surprised how uncommon it is for a person to pause, think, identify, and pursue a fitness goal.  In today’s article, we’ll explore how you can identify what you want when it comes to your fitness and start on the path to reaching it!

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What Drives You?

Perhaps, like most people, you’ve had in the back of your mind for a long time the notion that, “I should really lose some weight.”  But, if you’re anything like most people, that’s about as deep and as far as it goes.  While that’s a fine place to start, we need to go deeper and get more specific.

Start by thinking along the lines of your primary motivations.  Imagine your ideal life:  what would you do with your time?  Who would you hang around with, where would you go?  What would your energy levels be like?  Would you feel strong and healthy or fight colds and achy joints perpetually?

Perhaps you see yourself as a protector of those around you, or perhaps you desire to experience the full extent of what’s possible in order to fully embrace the life given you by your Maker.  Whatever your motivators are, take the time to think, brainstorm and write down ideas, and craft the essence of what you want into a concise statement.  My personal example is as follows:

I will excel in physical strength, stamina and endurance, such that others are in disbelief of what I can do, in order that I may protect others in dangerous situations and discover and enjoy the maximum capabilities of the body God has given me.

Discovering the Right Action

Writing out your fitness mission statement will help you to identify which activities are the right fit for you and how you can best use your time and effort.  Your mission statement will help you turn a goal like, “I should lose some weight,” into a measurable, timely goal like, “I will lose 10 pounds by October 1 and reduce my 1-mile run time to 7:00.”

Evaluate your new goals using your mission statement, ensuring that they match and you are taking action that compliments your primary motivations.  As another personal example, my goals include reaching 20 uninterrupted muscleups by 2014 and increasing my maximum deadlift to 415 pounds by October 2013.  My ongoing goal is to consistently complete workouts faster and with heaver weights than I had donethe previous year.  I track this using the Records page of this site, and encourage you to do the same!

Finally, seek out a friend who you can share your fitness mission statement and goals with.  Doing so will motivate you, keep you accountable, and accelerate your progress.  Be sure to let us know how you’re doing along the way, and enjoy the journey to thriving in your fitness!

The Heart of a Fan

Do you know any, or would you perhaps consider yourself to be, a football fan?  How do you know that this person is a fan?  Do you have to search hard for clues in order to determine that they love the game?  Do they keep a checklist of duties, such as buying tickets to games, talking about football for a prescribed number of minutes per day, or reading football blogs and magazines?

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What Drives Action?

If a person doesn’t do these works out of duty or off of a checklist, what does cause them to spend their time in such ways?  It is this:  they simply love the game.  Perhaps it is the thrill of victory when all seems lost, or maybe the sounds of a roaring crowds and clashing helmets.  But whatever the origin of their love of football, that is the driving force behind their actions and activities.  Their cubicle walls are plastered with team memorabilia and they talk of their favorite team at every opportunity precicely because this sport is their passion.

The Long-Term Investment

Now, what does all this have to do with living a thriving life?  We just described devotion to a fun and enjoyable activity, but consider this: what is the ultimate end of this pursuit?  One hundred years from now, all the players we idolize now will be dead and gone.  All of the games will have been forgotten, save perhaps an entry in a museum.  While all this distraction occupies our time, the One who made the earth, grass, and sky under which the game is played stands by ignored and forgotten.  Oh, perhaps every now and again we’ll toss a “good work” his way, maybe out of guilt, duty, or in order to check it off our list, but like Cain’s sacrifice, our Lord does not find these things pleasing. But imagine if we were to commit ourselves to Jesus the way so many commit themselves to football!  What if we loved Him the way fanatics love the game?

An Overflow of the Heart, Not a Checklist

You see, God does not want a checklist of works from us.  Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, and died a gruesome death in order to pay the penalty that our sin created for us.  He is the one who has done the good work, not us.  Our responsibility is only to accept the gift of grace he freely offers, turn from our sin and turn to Jesus.  In so doing, God will confer upon us new life, and a new self capable of loving Him every bit as much as the most committed fan loves football.  It is from this place that our good works will naturally flow, just as a true fan naturally buys tickets, watches games, and talks about his team.  Will you decide today to turn from your own way and follow Jesus?  Commit your whole heart to Him, and watch as he transforms every area of your being from death into life.

What Are You Pouring In?

In my garden out back of our house, I planted tomato, pepper, and squash plants this spring.  I did not plant only a single seed of each, but many seeds of each type.  What would you think of me if I say I am disappointed today that I have no apple trees, cactus plants, or strawberries growing?  Would you think me foolish?  What if I went further to say that I am frustrated that so many tomato, pepper, and squash plants are growing?  Surely then you’d think me strange, right?

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What Are You Growing

While we might think this sort of behavior foolish, we tend quite often to act this way when it comes to what we plant in ourselves.  We desire to have good things happen to us, to have a life full or rich relationships and success, but how can these things grow if they haven’t been planted?  Take this past week for example:  how much time did you spend around positive, excited winners?  Did you learn things directly from leaders or mentors of yours by listening to their wisdom as they poured their experience into you?  If not, how can you expect the plants of success to grow?  There are no seeds to even start with!

Conversely, how much time in the past week have you spent letting negative messages pour into your head?  Have you listened to others around you complain about things they don’t like or blame others for the situations they find themselves in?  Have you spent many hours letting the TV be your teacher?  Are the shows than you watch filled with positive messages of overcoming difficulty through persistence and teamwork, or are they overly-sexualized sitcoms that display selfishness, destruction, or belittling others.  If the latter, what do you think these seeds will grow into within the garden of your mind?

Understand the Connections

Our lives are in much more of our own control than we often realize.  Wise men make the connection between what’s poured into the mind today and the situations we find ourselves in tomorrow. Will you take the step of intentionally pouring in an shielding yourself from the bad?  Put distance between yourself and the habits of the masses, and watch your life of success grow and flourish!

The Power of Questions

If you desire to assert something, how do you typically do so?  Often our first action when we have (what we think is) a good idea is to bestow our grand great idea upon the world using a bold and clear statement.  But is this the best way?  Is there another way we could express the idea that could make our hearers more likely to accept and appreciate it?

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Passively Accepting vs. Actively Listening

Though it can be a difficult habit to adopt, the use of questions to communicate ideas can be a powerful tool in your arsenal.  You see, when you make a statement, your listener is put in a position of passively listening.  They may or may not have the same set of beliefs and assumptions as you, and they may or may not have a similar communication style as you.  With a different set of beliefs and a different set of assumptions, how likely do you think it is that they’ll respond to your ideas by thinking, “yeah, that’s exactly how I would have said it, that’s a perfect idea!”

Conversely, imagine that instead of stating your idea or position as a concrete fact, you pose it as a question.  For example, which of the following ways of expressing an idea do you find more appealing?

  • If you want to be healthy, you have to eat lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Do you think adding a few fruits and vegetables to your diet would benefit your health?

Who Wants to Disagree With Himself?

Both statements present the same general idea, but the former creates a rough, antagonistic feeling while the latter comes across as friendly and helpful.  The statement begs the listener to disagree or find an area of inconsistency, while the question invites the listener to think and answer.  Better still than that, once the listener has answered; he’ll tend to have more buy-in to the statement since it came from him!  Wouldn’t it be something, disagreeing with yourself!  🙂

Where Could This Take You?

This practice isn’t difficult to understand, and there is great value of communicating this way.  But if you’re anything like me, you’ll struggle to keep this in the forefront of your mind and adopt the habit.  How easy it is to revert to statements when the point could be so much better made through questions.  But, can you improve a little tomorrow over where you were today?  If you can do that once, can you do it again?  And again?  By improving a little each day, where do you think you’ll end up?  I look forward to seeing you there!