Getting Fit and Loving It!

The following article is a guest post from Steven McClain, a member of the TotalThriver community.  Steven recently began following the ThriveFit workout program and describes his experience and excitement for this new fitness regimen.

For the last several years I have been doing workout regimens that didn’t do much besides maintain strength or maybe even lose it gradually. I did what the typical gym rat would do which consisted of bench, dips, tricep extensions, flys, curls, rows, leg curls, leg press, and squats with terrible form.  I’ve always tried to maintain a proper diet with lots of fruits, veggies, good quality fats, and proteins. I thought that I should be feeling awesome from this great lifestyle but one week ago I tried something very different. Chris took me on as his ThriveFit apprentice, and with the aid of some Double X vitamin supplements a new journey began.

Trial by Fire

It all started Thursday with a Metcon consisting of 4 rounds of 5 deadlifts, 10 pullups, 15 pushups as fast as possible. The next workout was called death by squats (one squat in minute one, two squats in minute two, and so on until failure) and here I learned the proper form for squats which engages your entire leg, lower back, and parts of the upper body. Lucky for me Chris was there in the 13thminute to pick the bar up after I dropped it and have me do another rep before failing a second time. The weekend offered some rest to the weary legs that felt like they had been ripped to shreds and stairs had become their arch nemesis.

Powering Through

On Monday the pain of soreness was still there for sure but that didn’t stop the 3 rounds of 8 pullups (kipping), 4 handstand pushups, 16 pushups, and a quarter mile run all in about 11.5 minutes. So far all the workouts had been Metcons which challenged both my cardio and muscular strength. So on Tuesday we did a 4 rep max of cleans (an Olympic lift), starting from low weight and adding on 10 pounds at a time for about 6 rounds. Although I was not on the verge of cardio death the workout was great and provided for some great technique work and its fair share of muscle soreness.

 The Payoff

Most workouts I give a month or more before giving any assessment but after only a week I can’t deny the huge difference I’m feelingand seeing. I went from feeling like a normal human being a week ago to some sort of steel reinforced powerhouse today. Here I sit in my chair with good posture, no tired feeling after lunch, and with the energy to run at least a 5k just waiting to be used. While my shoulders are and legs may be a little stiff from the cleans there is no doubt that the power and energy increase is there along with mental alertness and just feeling great overall. What’s the big secret to this euphoric state? Compound crossfit lifting that challenges both the cardio and large muscle groupings combined with the Double X would be my scientific hypothesis (since I am a chemist J) because all other conditions in life have remained normal during that week. Are there any side effects to all this? I’ve experienced an increased metabolism so I’ve had to eat more delicious food while likely lowering my body fat and increasing lean muscle mass as the weeks continue.

Thanks for all the help and great advice Chris! I haven’t felt this good since being a senior on the high school wrestling team.

 

Getting There

How can we get from where we are today to the places in life where we want to be?  How can we become the people that we want to be—that God made us to be?  In a word, incrementally!

Fitter by the Day

One of the clearest examples I know of this principle is manifested in physical fitness.  No one has ever turned from an overweight couch potato overnight.  But many people have changed from a person 30 pounds overweight to a person 25 pounds overweight with an improved cardiovascular system.  The activities, attitudes, and habits that brought the 5-pound transformation are the very ones that bring the 8-pound transformation the next month, and eventually result in a healthy, fit person with great eating habits.

Follow a Winner

The key in this area, as well as many other areas where this principle applies, is to find people who are where you want to be.  That means people who are 8 steps ahead of you and people who are 2 steps ahead of you.  By recognizing that they have the character, faith, or habit you want, you can then begin to model the life they live.  You can see the choices they make, the council they follow, and the way they press on.  As you watch them thrive and grow, you’ll be inspired to do the things it takes to take yourself to the next level.

One word of caution—do not be overwhelmed when you meet those people who are leaps and bounds ahead of you.  If you go the gym and see someone snatching twice what you’re capable of, it can be discouraging to see that you have so far to go.  Instead of allowing this discouragement to reign, let yourself see this person as having what you want long-term, and be happy for them in their success.  Do not try to reach their place overnight, rather, identify your next level.  What are the people doing who are just in front of you doing that you’re not?  What are they reading or listening to that you’re not?  How do they cultivate optimism and confidence in their lives?

Identify, Model, Own, Repeat

By recognizing the actions and attitudes you need to reach that next level, you’re most of the way there.  As you begin to incorporate these practices into your life and being, you move that much closer to the place you’d like to be.  And now that you’ve done it once, you need only take another step to reach an even higher level.  Be intentional about those whom you choose to spend time around—they must be thriving in at least a few areas to a greater degree than you are, so that you can see what it takes and model their behavior.  Not only that, but they must be growing themselves so that you can continue to learn from them.  As we all walk this road together, we fulfill God’s design as expressed in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

 

No Breaks!

One of the most important aspects of any successful training regimen (or perhaps any pursuit in life) is consistency. Today, we’ll discuss the importance of sticking with your workouts and never letting too much time pass between training sessions.

Here Comes an Excuse

As you may have read in previous posts, I had the joy of traveling to Indiahoma, Oklahoma last week to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the children, youth, and adults in the community. We had an awesome time (more to come on that soon) and forged many wonderful relationships. However, there was one thing we didn’t do while there—workouts!

While I was able to stay pretty active moving rubble from a burned-down building, swimming at the lake, and even a bit of free climbing, I didn’t lift any heavy weights. And, though I intended to go on a few runs and do some bodyweight exercises, I never managed to make it happen.

The Price That Must Be Paid

Consequently, I was in for a rough day back to the gym today. My last full workout was 6 days ago, and that’s much too long to go between workouts. My metcon of heavy squats, dips, dumbbell jerks and pull-ups started off well, but I ran out of steam about 3 minutes in and my whole body began to feel like Jello.

I’m afraid that there’s no good way to get around the rough spot that I found myself in today, should you skip too many workouts. The only way to get past it is to go right through. So, that’s exactly what I did, pushing my Jello-feeling body through the next 15 minutes of punishment. By the end, I was totally wiped, and struggled to catch my breath for about five minutes.

The Reward on the Other Side

However, once I did catch my breath, I began feeling much better, even better that I had felt all day. I spent the next 10-15 minutes stretching my hips and calves, which had grown rather tight and immobile in the two 10-hour bus rides that we’d taken last week. All in all, I felt great by the end, but there were some rough moments in there for sure.

Learn from Mistakes

As you can probably tell, I’ve been through this a time or two in the past, and have learned to avoid this situation as much as possible. Since I powered through today, I’ll likely be back in a good groove tomorrow or the next day. Getting back in a good rhythm requires paying a high price, though, as I experienced today, so I’ll be working to avoid another slip in the future.

Be Good to Your Body

One or two days of resting and stretching can be a great way to rejuvenate your body and recover from a tough workout. But three days can be dangerous and four days is trouble. If you make my mistake and wait six days between, you’re in for a rough day back, so don’t let it happen to you! Make workouts your habit four to five days a week, and even if it’s just a few rounds of sprints and push-ups, your body will thank you for avoiding the punishment of a “first day back!”

What Are You Training For?

Here at TotalThriver, we love to discuss the importance of a challenging fitness regimen, encouraging you to make physical training a priority and reap the many benefits that come with it.  But, there are different ideas of what ideal fitness looks like.  Today, we’ll introduce three measures (or perspectives) of fitness in order to help you identify what type of training fits you best.  By knowing what you want to achieve in the realm of fitness, you’ll be a good way along in reaching your ideal!

You’ll Go Far

The first fitness type we’ll examine is cardiovascular endurance.  This may be your focus if your goal is to have a thin body with lean muscle that is capable of running long distances.  Picture your favorite marathon or iron man competitor, and this will give you an idea of what you’re aiming at.  Personally, when I think of cardiovascular endurance, I think of Lance Armstrong, the seven-time winner of the Tour de France.  He doesn’t’ have a large muscular stature, but he can pedal that bike seemingly endlessly!

Training the cardiovascular system involves long periods of a relatively easy movement, repeated over and over.  Endurence trainers will often spend hours and hours training every day, always staying at a “slow burn.”.  By definition, their effort in training will never be at absolute maximum, because this would be unsustainable.  Rather, an endurance athlete may spend 2.5 hours in a single training session at a consistent 60% effort.

What you Get

This type of fitness regimen gives the athlete a well-developed set of lungs, and muscles that can sustain hours and hours of the repetitive motion that is being trained.  Common applications of this type of fitness include biking, running, swimming, or rowing.  If you focus on this training type, you’ll soon find that many everyday activities which used to make you huff and puff (e.g. climbing three flights of stairs) can now be accomplished with ease.  You may also enjoy the slimmer-looking you that results from long training sessions which burn lots of calories and fat.

Lift a Bus

The second fitness type is strength training or training for raw power.  This kind of training focuses on lifting heavy objects, usually for a very short period of time.  In contrast with a marathon runner training cardiovascular fitness, a strength training individual may push himself to maximal effort during a set of squats that lasts less than 30 seconds.  Then, he’ll rest for a few minutes before attempting another set.

When thinking of strength training, my quintessential example has to be Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Every muscle group on this man is full, developed, and in proportion to all the others.  He can (or at least could, in his day) lift very heavy barbells and perform dazzling feats of strength.  His training involved hours and hours at the gym, pushing with maximum effort, followed by a short rest, repeated over and over for many years to reach his ideal form.

Good to Have Around

You may want to focus on this type of training if you desire to have a strong and healthy “beach body,” look or if it’s important to you to have the capability of lifting heavy things.  Important exercises to include in your program for this type include deadlifts, squats, snatches, and clean and jerks.  These movements should be done in heavy sets at low reps—5 sets of 5 reps or 7 sets of 2 reps, for example, resting a minute or two between sets.  Those who make strength training a focus are great to have around anytime you need to move a piano or large dresser!

Fast and Strong

The third type of fitness we’ll examine today is called metabolic conditioning. In some ways, this type can be thought of as a cross between the first two.  It involves challenging movements like pullups, dips, snatches, and deadlifts, but also incorporates continuous movement and “easy” high-rep movements like burpees, box jumps, and running.  It will generally require significantly less training time than the other two, because the highest possible intensity is maintained for a continuous span of 5-20 minutes.  This is in contrast with the low-intensity “slow burn” of endurance training and the alternating periods of maximum effort followed by a rest period, which make up a strength training program.

Don’t Be Fooled

A metabolic conditioning workout (or metcon, as it’s lovingly called by those who train this way) involves multiple sets of various movements, done in rapid succession while the entire workout is timed.  For example, one might do 5 sets of the following rep scheme:  15 pushups, 10 pullups, 5 box jumps.  Before you make a common mistake that I’m often guilty of, don’t say, “that sounds easy!”   Metcons can be very deceiving!  This one in particular results in a grand total of 75 pushups, 50 pullups, and 25 box jumps, and might take around 4-5 minutes for a relatively fit individual. 

This type of training focus results in a strong and solid body, with a very developed set of lungs.  A good example of a “metcon body” might be Bruce Lee.  He didn’t look big or muscle-bound, but he was a very strong and fast guy, and could kick and jump all around the room with plenty of energy to spare.  While a person who trains this way may not be able to hang with an endurance trainer for a full marathon, he’d likely keep pace just fine for the first several miles.  Similarly, a metcon trainer will not be able to move as much heavy weight as a strength trainer, but he’ll be able to continue churning out reps while the strength trainer has to stop to rest and catch his breath.

When You Think You’re Spent…

One of the tricks of making it through a tough metcon is to push yourself to the limit, then take very short breaks intermittently (by very short, I mean 2-3 seconds maximum).  There will be moments where you think you can’t possibly make it, but keep pushing and you’ll soon find that you’re fitter than you think!

Customize Your Plan

Hopefully you now have a good understanding of three types of fitness focus:  endurance training, strength training, and metcon training.  Each has distinct benefits, and in truth, any good program should incorporate all three types of training.  But, it is a valuable undertaking for you to learn these different perspectives and think about which one most appeals to you.  Do you want to be lean and trim, capable of extended periods of low-intensity movement?  Or do you want to have massive power and full, developed muscles?  Or, do you prefer to run shorter distances yet have the capability to move heavy weights too?  Be sure that your program pulls from each—a run one day, heavy squats another, and a good metcon another.  But spend a majority of days training in your preferred style.  Not only will that take you where you want to go, but you’ll enjoy it more along the way too!

As always, check out the ThriveFit page for several sample workouts to get you started, and be sure to comment on that page or this one to let us know how you’re doing!

Seeds of Success

When you decide to pursue success in an area of your life that needs improvement, you’ll face many large obstacles standing in your way. Perhaps the greatest challenge of any new journey on the path toward thriving is keeping your resolve when the results you want aren’t coming.

Typically, the first few weeks of a new fitness regimen will be filled with excitement, enthusiasm, and passion. But by week 3, all you are is tired, frustrated, and wondering if it’s all worth the trouble. You have the testimony of those who’ve gone before you that this program will make you look better, feel better, and help you thrive in all areas of life, but that’s not what you’re experiencing right now and there’s a strong temptation to give up.

In these times, I find it helpful to take a moment and consider my position. First, have I done the things that my mentors have recommended? In the case of a fitness regimen, am I doing the workouts as prescribed? Or, do I skip the parts I don’t like, or not give my full effort?

If I am doing what I’m supposed to, yet still not experiencing the success I expected, I’ll do well to step back and reconsider whether my expectations were reasonable. Oftentimes, the instant success I imagine on day one is simply incongruent with reality. Growth takes time, and as long as you are moving in the direction of success each day, you’ll get there in time.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I find it helpful to remember a poignant example from nature—the simple vegetable garden. I keep a small garden in my back yard, planting seeds around mid-April. To date, I have spent many hours tilling the soil, measuring and planting rows of seeds, watering, fertilizing, and weeding. For all this time and effort, done skillfully and with the help of experienced experts, I have harvested nothing but one bowl of salad. A green pepper grows on one plant, and tiny tomato flowers have sprouted, but I have tasted nothing but a few leaves of lettuce.

As in my garden, many great things in life require hours and hours of effort, guidance from good mentors, and time. If I will take this view on new ventures I pursue, I will be able to resist the discouragement that comes in the early days of hard work and few results. The effort I put into my venture today may not produce results today, but as I grow and God grants me His blessings, they may just turn into delicious fruit tomorrow.

On this point, here’s a curious fact from my garden story: the lettuce I’ve harvested this year did not come from my efforts this year—I didn’t plant any lettuce this year! Rather, this plant sprung up of its own accord near the spot that I had planted last year! When I tilled the soil and planted those seeds in April 2011, little did I know that I’d be satisfied by that produce in May 2012! Perhaps the seeds you’re planting today will surprise you in the future at just how great a harvest they’ll bring!

Your Habits Are Showing

What’s one thing that will produce dramatic results in your life, for good or for ill?  Habits.  Today, we’ll explore why habits are so powerful and what you can do to take advantage of an amazing source of power within your own life.

Your Stomach Has Habits

For our purposes, we’ll define a habit as something you do consistently, with little or no conscious effort or decision-making.  One simple example that illustrates this point is a habit most all of us have:  eating breakfast.  When you wake up in the morning, how much time do you spend thinking about whether or not you’ll have breakfast?  If you’re like me, none.  I may spend a minute thinking about what I’ll have for breakfast, but I never deliberate on whether or not to eat it–I’m hungry and breakfast will be eaten!

Other examples of habits may include listening to a certain radio station on the way to work in the morning, visiting the vending machine at 2:30 each afternoon, or taking your spouse our for dinner one Friday each month.

So what does this have to do with finding incredible power and effectiveness on your path to thriving?  The secret lies in the cumulative force of months and years of positive habits.  One clear example of this power is shown by bodybuilders, strength trainers, runners, and Olympians.  Look at an athlete who engages in one of these activities and experiences success.  What did they look like last week?  Last month?  Last year?

The answer is that they made it to where they are currently via steady progress.  Like the stream of water that eroded a large rock, these athletes made gains one day at a time.  They ate right and hit the gym while everyone else was pigging out and goofing off, and now they sit at the head of the pack as a result.

Winning in Your Life

You don’t have to have the fire of an Olympian to benefit from this concept.  Just take this principle and apply it to whatever area of your life where you desire dramatic improvement.  If you want to be a great dad, but have thusfar been lacking, decide today to spend 30 minutes every day on improving.  This could mean helping your daughter color for 30 minutes, going for a bike ride with your son, or reading a book on parenting.  The point is, it’s got to be a habit.  30 minutes, every day [or 5 days a week, at very least].

Perhaps you’re dissatisfied with your financial life–you know you should be doing a budget but you just can’t stick with it.  The answer is habit.  Block out a set time each week to spend time on your finances.  During this time (say Monday nights from 7-8), balance your budget, pay your bills, set and track your goals, or read a good book on personal finance.

The First Step

As in our example, your physical fitness is a great area to test this idea and see real and dramatic results within a relatively short period of time.  If you don’t currently have a fitness regimen, try this:  put your workout clothes on every day, starting today.  I don’t even care if you work out at first–just put your workout clothes on, every day.  Once they’re on, how about doing a few jumping jacks?  Get your heart moving, even if just for 5 minutes.  Then, carry on with your evening as normal, you’re done for the day.  Tomorrow, get the workout clothes on again.  Try some pushups or squats, or maybe one of the workouts posted in the ThriveFit section of the site.  But do something, and keep it up, every day.

If you’ll do this, committing to doing something every single day, you’ll look up a month from now and notice huge gains in your fitness level.  You’re getting there one day at a time, just like Olympians do.

Habits for Eternity

Finally, consider your spiritual life.  Do you have any habits that will feed your soul?  Do you attend a church with gospel-centered preaching where the Word is shared each week?  Do you seek the Lord in prayer, or read the Bible to commune with Him?  If not, you are missing profound wisdom, comfort, love and hope from the Father who loves you more than anyone else.  Will you begin today by seeking Him in prayer?

By adopting these habitual practices–spending time working on an area of your life where you desire improvement–you will gradually begin thriving, with success building on success.  The next thing you know, you’ll be standing on the mountain heralding to others that they can get there too.  All they’ll is a little encouragement and a few good habits!

Keys to an Effective Fitness Regimen

We’ve spent a good deal of time lately discussing the many benefits of a good fitness regimen.  Maybe some of these ideas have made you interested in fitness, and you’re ready to dive in.  But before you embark on a new regimen, it’s important to have a good gameplan as well as some strong support.  Without these, your fitness habit will struggle to pass the 3-week mark, and you’ll have lost the strong motivation which could have been used to launch you to a new level of success.

The following principles are vital to a sucessful fitness regimen.

Permanence

Just like with diet, it is absolutely essential that your fitness habits be permanent.  Your program can certainly change as you move through life’s different stages, but thinking of a fitness regimen as something that you’ll do for a few months, then go “back to normal” will not only lead you to disappointment and frustration, but can be hard on your body too.  Your body is made to move, lift, and run.  Consider exercise like food or worship of God–you need it perpetually to live life as it was meant to be lived.

Support

While it may well be possible to stick with a fitness program in isolation, I’ve not yet met someone who’s done well that way.  Even Rocky had Mick!  Give yourself the boost of a training partner.  Ideally, this person can work out right beside you in the same gym, but even a friend who’s far away can be a good training partner if you can push each other to get out there on the tough days when you don’t feel like it.  I also enjoy competing with friends who are of a similiar fitness level as myself, so we both always know that the other person is probably nipping right on our heels.  As the Good Book says, “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)

Intensity

Though some fitness programs can be useful without intensity, I find that most people who are truly successful in fitness incorporate high intensity training into their regimen.  And practically speaking, most of us simply to not have the time luxury to spend hours in the gym every day.  The good news is that you can achieve a remarkable level of fitness in 20 minutes per day, 5 days a week, if you will work at high intensity.  Do that calculation, and yes, I’ll bet that’s a good bit less than the number of hours of TV you watch each week…

Functionality

This principle was a component that I sorely missed in my early years of fitness training.  Like many others have done, I spent way too much time on 3 sets of 10 bench presses, lat pull downs, and machine shoulder raises.  While these movements aren’t bad, they’re not particularly useful in real life.

When I began my current program, however, I found a whole new world with barbell lifing and other functional movements.  For example, the snatch, a complex barbell lift, recruits large muscle groups and requires a great deal of energy, while simultaneously honing timing and balance skills.  Not only this, but the strength built this way seamlessly travels into real life, whether it’s carrying a suitcase up a flight of stairs or hoisting a child up to see a parade.

Functional movements like pullups, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, and lunges work big muscle groups and the cardiovascular system.  Your body reacts to this by building more muscle.  The new muscle requires your body to expend more energy all day long to keep everything running.  Thus, in addition to the stronger muscles that you’ll have, you’ll also have a larger calorie gap (the difference between the calories you consume and the calories you require).  If you keep your diet under control, your body has no choice but to recruit energy from fat cells–resulting in a thinner, stronger, and happier you!

More to come

Much more could be said on this topic, but these ideas will get you started on a rewarding fitness regimen.  Check out the ThriveFit page for a few sample workouts to get you going, and let us know how you’re doing–we’re here to help you thrive!

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!