The Right Fuel

If you want to feel good, live healthy, and have lots of energy, what should you do?  It won’t surprise you to hear that one of the most important keys to getting this result is your nutrition.  If you put good things in, you’ll get good results.  But the hard part is, what are the right things, and how can you know which plan or philosophy to follow?

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Expert, really?

It seems that about one out of every five people walking down the street considers himself to be a “nutrition expert.”  People say things like, “everyone knows you can’t eat after 8 pm or you’ll get fat,” or “too much salt will cause you problems.”  The problem is, as in the examples, there is little if any evidence to support these claims.  Ideas that fall in the “everyone knows that….” category are often inaccurate, and are believed by the masses simply because they are often repeated.

So, what are we getting at here?  First, before you take advice, particularly nutrition advice, examine the credibility of the person talking.  Are they fit and in good health?  If not, ask them to stop sharing their ideas.  Further, once you’ve established credibility of the one offering advice, ask him to provide sources to back up the ideas he recommends.  He himself may be believing certain things based on what others have said, rather that based on research and critical thinking.

Delicious and Beneficial

Ok, finally on to the meat of the matter.  😀  Below I have my personal “nutrition manifesto.”  This is how I eat, giving my body the good fuel it needs without having to live in a nutrition bubble.  While it may not be earth-shattering (vegetables and fruits are good for you), I think it strikes a great balance between practical and beneficial.  Here are the results it’s given me:

Height: 6’0″  Weight: 173#  Waist: 32″  BMI: 23  Body fat: 10%  Blood Pressure:  118/70  Cholesterol: 137  HDL: 47  Chol/HDL: 2.9  Glucose: 84  Hemoglobin: 15.9  Pulse: 58  Max deadlift: 405# Max pullups without stopping: 38  Run 2.3 miles: 15 min  Max squat: 345#  If the person giving you advice has better numbers, disregard my recommendations and follow him.

Nutrition Manifesto

Most important, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.  Get as many fruits and vegetables of different colors as you can*.  Eat plenty of meat of various types to get enough protein.  Fish is good, eat plenty of it; also nuts, seeds, and eggs.  Drink milk, it’s amazing.  Have healthy convenient food (e.g. meal bars from ThriveMart) on hand so you don’t end up in McDonalds.  You need carbs, so don’t fear grains, but recognize man doesn’t live on bread alone.  Drink coffee excessively, drink wine sparingly.

 *If you’re not getting 2 servings of each color each day, you will benefit from a plant-based supplement like DoubleX—which though not as good as eating the fruits and vegetables themselves—provides these essential nutrients to your body so they can be absorbed, as contrasted with a synthetic vitamin.  See ThriveMart for this and other great products to help you live healthy!

http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthy-kitchen-11/dairy-truths

http://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/milk-really-healthy-you

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!

Does Money Drive Your Decisions?

Have you ever heard someone quote from the Bible that, “money is the root of all evil?” Does God really oppose riches and want His children to avoid nice homes, cars, and other physical possessions?  Is it wrong to seek financial freedom and success?

a formal affair

To start off, let’s check the accuracy of that biblical quote.

1 Timothy 6

7For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Money is Paper

Does this passage teach that money is bad?  Is money the root of all evil?  No. Rather, it is the love of money that is a root of all sorts of evil.  Loving anything more than we love God is idolatry, and to do so violates what Christ said was the greatest commandment:  to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  As the passage above teaches, many foolish men have wandered away from God in the pursuit of their greatest love:  money.

So, if loving money is a danger we must be careful to avoid, should we seek to keep our income low and not bother to learn sound financial principles and habits?  Some have misquoted and misunderstood Scripture in asserting such ideas, only to find that this foolishness has the opposite effect than what was intended.

Money on Your Mind

Which man spends more time thinking about money, the one who earns plenty and has a large savings account or the one who earns little and lives paycheck to paycheck?  All else equal, who places more value on a $100 bill, a man who’s in debt up to his ears or a man who has a $1 million net worth?  A rich man may be miserly or generous, and a poor man may love God or love money, but in general the following applies:  those with plenty of money make fewer decisions based on money than do those who have little.

How Then Shall We Live?

So, what does this mean for us—the majority between poverty and affluence?  How should we live in light of these truths?  I see two major lessons:  First, always check your heart that you’re loving God more than money (or anything else for that matter).  Whether you count yourself rich or not, your heart can be led astray after money, so guard yourself and always see money as a means to serving God, not the other way around.  Lesson number two is this: act wisely now in order that your decisions need not revolve around money later.  Dave Ramsey says in this way:  Live now like no one else so that later, you can live like no one else.

Don’t Be the Joneses

It’s a hard thing to do, saying no to fun trips, activities, and purchases just because “we don’t have the money.”  What makes it even harder is that it’s so easy to borrow money on a credit card or finance a big purchase, and this is exactly what our neighbors do.  But, if you will make the hard decisions and say no today, the money you save and invest will grow and compound, and one day you’ll reach the position of financial strength and freedom where money no longer drives your decisions.  We’ll look forward to seeing you there!

Reaching New Heights Together

Imagine being healthier and fitter than you’ve ever been in your life.  How great would it feel to look the way you want and have a habit of taking good care of your body?  Well today, we’re launching a tool that will help you do just that.

We’ve just added a resource to the recently redesigned ThriveFit page that will help you get plugged into this great community.  By connecting with each other, we can spur each other on and encourage everyone to reach new heights and achieve the results we all want.  Check out this free resource today by choosing ThriveFit from the top menu and selecting Results.  Or, just add totalthriver.com/results to your favorite places (or subscribe via rss). Be sure to register yourself as a user and share your successes with us!

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Is Success Once Success?

One day, a little boy decided he wanted to learn to ride a bike.  He found his dad and asked him all about how bicycles worked.  His dad told him all about the history of bicycles, the parts that make up a bicycle, and the technique required to ride one.

Victory!  Or Is It?

The boy and his dad began working diligently on learning to ride the bike.  As the boy practiced, he gradually improved, until one afternoon, his dad released his grip on the back of the seat and the boy rode under his own power for a full block.  Happy and proud, both man and son returned home and parked the bike in the garage.  The bike stayed in it’s spot in the garage all night.  The next day, the bike also stayed in its place.  So too the third day, fourth day, and fifth day.  In fact, the bike stayed put for weeks, followed by months, and then years.  The boy never again took the bike out for a ride, though he walked past it nearly every day.  Now the question: did this boy learn to ride a bike?

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Technically, the boy learned all about the bike.  And once, he did manage to ride it a ways.  But did he benefit?  Did anyone benefit?

Assimilate It

You see, you and I are often like that foolish boy.  We undertake a worthy venture, like eating healthier, beginning a fitness regimen, or connecting with God in Scripture and prayer, but we fail to continue and create a permanent habit.  In so doing, we miss out on the benefit of the venture, just as the boy missed out on the joys and benefits of bicycling around his neighborhood.

Today’s the Day!

Can you think of something you know you should be doing, something perhaps that you’ve even successfully done on occasion, but that you’ve never gotten consistent with?  What benefits would you enjoy if you made this behavior a permanent habit in your life?  It could be that the only thing separating you from the greater level of success or achievement that you desire is the simple consistent application of something you already know how to do!  Will you take the steps today to make a new habit for your own success?  Make a commitment, let someone know about it, and enjoy your journey to the top!

Learning Something New

Are you growing?  Not in height, but in your capabilities, your character, your walk with God?  Here’s one way to check:  how often lately have you been frustrated, overwhelmed, and uncomfortable?

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Yes Benefits, No Discomfort

It’s a little funny sometimes how we always want to have the capability, the strength, the skill, but we avoid the exact things it takes to develop those parts into us.  I’ve heard it said that the place where success resides is outside your comfort zone.  I think that describes it pretty well.  Have you been there lately?

I’ve been learning what some may think is an odd skill lately, and even though it might not be the most important capability in the world, the experience has been very enlightening.  You probably can’t tell, but this article is being written with a different keyboard than usual.  It’s called the Dvorak keyboard layout, and I encourage you to Google it and learn more about what makes it worth learning.

But keyboards aren’t what we’re talking about:  we’re talking about learning.  And it’s what I learned about learning that can encourage and propel you to success in what’s important to you.  What I learned is this:

Embrace the Stages

Learning involves progressing through four distinct stages.  Only if you persist through the hard times, the times that make you want to quit, will you get to experience the benefits on the other side.  If there’s only one thing you hear from this entire article, let it be this:  you must persist.  When all seems most hopeless, you must hang on—you are so close to a breakthrough!

The four stages of learning are these:  enthusiastic beginner, frustrated learner, capable but lacking confidence, and master.  When I first learned of the Dvorak keyboard layout, I got really excited!  I jumped into an online lesson and flew through it happily.  This enthusiasm lasted a few days…

By the next week I had a few of the letters down, but by no means enough to type at a decent pace.  I used the backspace key like nobody’s business, and it seemed typing three sentences would take me all day.  It was at this point that the thought of giving up entered my mind.  To make matters worse, I told a few friends about what I was doing and how it could benefit them.  Rather than getting excited like I did, they told me that this was a waste of time and not worth the effort.  This was the low point of my Dvorak experience, and only my commitment to learning and growing helped me hold on.

Don’t Give Up!

I’m happy to report that as I persisted, I began to improve and the new style of typing became more and more fun.  Better than that, I began to see some of the lessons I’m describing for you here, and that made me even happier that I stuck with it!  I still have some room to grow before I become a master Dvorak typist, but I’m at a strong pace and am moving forward—taking the lessons I’ve learned and applying them to growth in the areas that matter most.  Will you get out of your comfort zone this week and start learning something new?  Let us know what it is by registering (which is free of course) and posting a comment below!  Thanks for including us on your path to a thriving life!

To Whom Do You Go?

Can you think of a time when you faced a tough decision and were unsure of the proper course?  When posed with two different options and can only choose one, how do you sort out the best way to go?  I believe that the first step is to recognize the value in seeking council. This is natural, isn’t it?  To tell people around what’s going on in your life in order to hear their perspective?  But all too often, I think we apply this good principle of seeking council in a way that may actually hinder us.

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What to Do?

Let’s take a common and tangible example of a difficult decision.  Imagine that you own and drive a car that is near the end of its life and not worth too much.  One morning when you attempt to start the car, you get some scary noises and a whole lot of white smoke.  Later that day you get the call from your mechanic:  you need a between $800 and $1,500 of work done.  Now, you’re not sure that your car is worth much more than $2,500 once it’s all fixed, and you’re not sure if it’s worth it to pay for the repairs or not.

Seeking Feedback

What would you do in this situation?  If you’re like most people, you’d probably tell your car story to the nearest 10 people who’ll listen.  Invariably, many of these people will offer advice, and certainly it will be well intentioned.  If you’re thinking of the principle mentioned above, that gaining the perspective of others can be valuable in making decisions, you’re probably happy to get all the feedback.  But there’s one key issue we’ve skipped over that makes the difference between the advice you get yielding you a good situation or a problem on top of your problem.

Qualifications test

The key is the determination of adviser qualification.  Or, put more simply, does the person offering advice know what he’s talking about?  Take a basic idea like the following for instance.  Taking financial advice from broke people is unwise.  Think about that for a second.  Now try this one:  taking marriage advice from a person with an unhealthy marriage is unwise.  Seriously, think about it!

Now, while this may seem so simple and obvious, it’s been my experience (personally, I assure you, as well as by watching others do this) that we often fail to apply such a basic filter before giving people’s suggestions credibility.  Our car repair example above is quite a common case of this illogical behavior.  One will ask everyone around him what to do about the car, and he’ll hear many people say, “oh, just trade it in and get a new car!  You’ll save the money on repairs, and paying a little interest is no big deal.  In fact, have you considered a lease?  Then you could have a really cool car right now!”  All too often, we’ll not only accept these ideas, but will actually factor them into our decision making process and let them influence our choice.  But what is the financial position of the advisers here?  Do they own their own cars?  Do they have an effective budgeting system in place and are they on track for retirement?  Often, No!  They do not!

To Become a Winner, Follow Winners

So, here’s the bottom line.  Does the person offering advice have what I want?  If it’s financial advice I’m seeking, do they have a financial life that I’d like to have?  If it’s spiritual advice, so they have the walk with the Lord that I want?  If it’s fitness and nutrition advice, do they have the physique and energy levels I want?  Run your advisers through this simple filter first, and you’ve avoid many behaviors that lead to the terrible place called average.

Driving Blindfolded, Looking in the Rear-view Mirror, or Looking Ahead

What would you think of a person who drove his 2013 Corvette convertible around while wearing a blindfold.  How about someone who kept his eyes glued to the rearview mirror as he blazed down the highway?  Would you think that person is nuts?  Would you consider that person dangerous?  Would you be surprised if I told you this is exactly the way most people operate a major aspect of their life?

nice car!

The illustration above is the way many people operate their finances.  Ask 10 of your friends and neighbors if they keep a budget and you’re likely find few who do so.  Of those who keep a budget, many do not truly have a budget (forward looking) so much as they have a spending tracker (backward looking).  You would never drive a vehicle this way, so why would you operate your finances this way?

Not that fun?

Ok, few people are delighted to sit down with a spreadsheet and map out their spending for the month.  Even fewer people like to say no to themselves and restrict their spending on superfluous items.  But, if you will give advance cashflow planning (budgeting) a chance, I promise that the rewards will be worth the small investment of time, and you may just save yourself from careening off the road!

Having Financial Agility

When you’re sitting down with all the information in front of you, you’re more apt to see roadblocks and curves in the road ahead.  You can look at your home improvement fund or your vacation fund and get a gauge foe whether it’s on track for the upcoming expenses.  This lead time allows you to respond to financial challenges earlier: for example, skipping meals out for a few weeks early in the month so you can afford to buy new tires for your car when they’re needed later in the month.

Taking Control

Rather than creating unpleasant restrictions, a budget like that recommended in our ThriveFit page actually makes your life easier and more hassle-free.  While your friends are busy worrying and hand-wringing about how they’ll pay for the medical bill they didn’t plan for, you’ll be peacefully executing your spending plan for the month.  Although planning ahead doesn’t create more money for you from thin air, when you get your spending under your control, it often feels like you’ve gotten a raise.  Anyway, what do you have to lose?  If you hate the feeling of being in control and looking in front of you instead of behind, you can always go back to the chaos method….  😉

Making a Plan That Lasts

Why make a plan  for your money?  Isn’t it more fun to just grab what you want whenever you want it?

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Growing Up

Living your financial life with the foresight of a 3rd grader may be fun in the moment, but to have what you want next week and next month, a longer term vision is required.  Problem is, even when people become convinced of the value of budgeting to their peace and financial freedom, their first attempt to make a budget sets them up for failure.

Make it Today, and For Today

If you’re like most people, the first time you sit down to work up a budget for the coming month, you try to create a generic, one-size-fits-all budget that will represent all future months.  You’re planning for the perfect month from heaven, problem is, that month never really happens here in the real world!

The key in building a successful cashflow plan is to spend this month’s income on this month’s expenses.  Some expenses will be nice and consistent, such as your house payment or water bill.  But if you make your budget too generic, it won’t work in real life, and you’ll be tempted to just give up money management altogether.

Get Started

Today’s always the perfect time to start planning your budget for the coming month.  If you haven’t tried the latest version of ThriveWealthy, click the tab above to find the page and download the tool.  Read over the instructions briefly, then start entering your expected paycheck amounts and dates.  Allocate how you’ll spend all of next month’s income in the different categories provided, changing category names as needed to make the budget fit your life.

Enlist Our Help!

Don’t be discouraged when things come up and you have to revisit your allocations several times throughout the month.  As you continue to plan your spending before the money is spent, you’ll improve at predicting your actual expenses, and you’ll also notice that your money will start to be spent on those things that are important to you–with less “falling through the cracks” or getting spent on things that don’t really matter to you.  Feel free to post successes, hardships, or questions to the comments section below; we’re all in this together, and we are all here to help each other thrive!

Keep It Interesting and Avoid Plateaus

Some fitness programs out there give a month’s worth of workouts; others may even go up to 90 days.  But what do you do then?  Rest a week and do it again?  One big problem with that:  you’re asking for a plateau.

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No Endless Loop

One of the key reasons that a program like ThriveFit is superior to many of the month-long of 90-day DVD sets is that not only does it come with 200 workouts (which should last you about a year), but once you reach the end, you’ll have the tools to create more workouts for yourself.  Once you understand the philosophy of varied programming using functional movements, the sky’s the limit for the number of unique combinations you can create.  This makes your workout more enjoyable and less monotonous  but also minimizes your propensity for plateaus.

Apply the Principle

A personal example of this happened to me recently in my 1-rep max squat.  Several months ago, I had plateaued at a squat of 315 pounds.  Traditional programming would have led me to simply keep doing squats week after week.  Instead, I intentionally built for myself workouts involving squats, but sometimes back squats, sometimes front squats, and sometimes thrusters.  Not only that, I also varied how many reps of squats I’d do and whether to do them heavy or light.  Examples of these types of workouts would include:

1. Three rounds for time of

2. As many rounds as possible in 10 minutes of:

  • 5 squats 255#
  • 25 pushups
  • 15 box jumps 24″

3. For time:

  • 21 thrusters 125#
  • 21 v-ups
  • 15 thrusters 125#
  • 15 v-up
  • 9 thrusters 125#
  • 9 v-ups

With this type of programming, I was able to train my squatting muscles without repeating the exact same movement in the same way week after week.  As a result, when I retested my max squat last week, I found I had jumped from my previous max of 315 pounds all the way up to 345!  While this won’t get me anywhere near the Olympics, it was a huge gain for me and a big victory in an exercise I’ve struggled with for some time.

Try It Yourself!

I hope you’ll take a moment to check out the ThriveFit page and learn the philosophy and techniques.  I look forward to hearing about your success reaching new heights by mixing things up!