Keep Your Goal Before Your Eyes

Imagine your ideal life—how would it be different than what your life is like today?  Spend a few quiet minutes thinking on this, and you’ll find the key areas where you’re ready to set a goal.  Make your goal bigger that what you think you can do, in order to stretch you and challenge you.  This exercise can be inspiring, motivating, and exciting, but soon comes the hard part of getting it done!

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Can You Keep Going?

You can achieve the big goals that are currently out of reach, and the path there is simpler and more straightforward that you think.  But one thing is required:  consistent right action.  Take a physical example:  losing weight.  In order to drop that ten pounds, all you have to do is lose half a pound a day for twenty days.  How?  Increase your energy output and reduce your calorie intake—it really is as simple as that.  But, here’s the hard part—on day three, when you’re hungry and your body is sore, will you continue with the consistent right action of eating healthy and exercise, or will you take a break and let your goals fade into memory?

The Slight Edge Principle

Setting goals is important.  But alone, the activity of setting a goal may not bring you what you want.  Once you set a goal, you must commit to it, and keep the goal in front of your eyes.  Like many principles of success, this important step is easy to do.  But easy to do is also easy not to do, and oftentimes we skip this important step, to our own peril.

How to Keep the Goal in Mind

What does it mean to keep a goal before your eyes?  Well, first it means that your goal must be written down.  Have a number and a date (for example, run a mile in seven minutes by December 15, 2013) so you have a clear idea where you are going.  Next, find a way to bring your goal to the front of your mind every day.  Some helpful ideas here include writing your goal and taping it to you bathroom mirror.  Some people ask others to help keep them on track towards their goals by checking in with them every few days, or even pursuing a similar goal at the same time.  One idea that I found strange at first was to actually speak your goals out loud every day.  What at first felt very silly became a valuable tool in training my mind to see and take action toward my goals every day.  Whatever method you want to use, the main key is to keep your mind on your goal.

Your Mind Working for You

Your mind is an amazing thing, and if you take the time to focus it on your goals, you will be astounded how it starts seeing opportunities around you every day.  Stay committed, stay steady, and start down the path toward living the thriving life that’s waiting for you!

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

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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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!

You Can Lose It!

Think of 10 friends you know.  Or better yet 10 of your neighbors.  How many of them are overweight or obese?  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seven!  Shocking, yes.  Disheartening, yes.  Solvable, Yes!

Although many temporary diets are unsuccessful, there is hope for those who find the scale reading a number larger than they’d like.  If you’re looking to shed some weight and create a healthier life, you can do it!  Today we’ll look at three components to a successful and sustainable weight loss plan.

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What Do You Really Want?

First, you have to actually want it.  Many diets fail simply because the dieter didn’t really want to lose weight; rather, his wife, his brother, or someone else wanted it for him.  Or perhaps the fellow we’re talking about did want to lose weight, but not in the, “I’m committed and willing to work and sacrifice,” kind of way.  To illustrate, I may want a green and vibrant lawn, but if I don’t put down fertilizer and seed, keep it watered and trimmed, I demonstrate that this idea is more of a fanciful dream than a real desire.

Avoid the Roller Coaster

Secondly, you need a permanent program.  The idea that you can avoid cake and skip breakfast for a month, then go back to normal and have this accomplish anything permanently is absurd.  The key to a successful diet program is that it must be a permanent change to healthier eating.  Now, before you get scared and exit this site, you can still have cake in this life!  🙂  The point is to start taking up healthier habits that you can continue indefinitely.  So, for example, maybe you start a new habit of having a vegetable with lunch every day, or limiting fast food runs to two per week.  Find the biggest problem areas that you have today and begin replacing them with healthier options.

The Right Supplements

Finally, you need to find a nutrition program that works for you.  Have you ever seen two friends undertake the same diet or exercise program, only to have one friend succeed and the other fail?  How is this possible?  How can you find the right diet program for you?  In my research, I’ve only found one weight-loss program that offers a custom solution to you individually, and is affordable and healthy long-term.  It’s called BodyKey from Nutrilite, and is the only program to tailor natural supplements to you based on your individual DNA.  This program is one of the reasons we’ve chosen to align ourselves with this company:  no one else offers a full 6-month satisfaction guarantee on every product they sell.  Yes, you heard that right:  if you begin the BodyKey nutrition and fitness program and aren’t satisfied with the results 6 months later, you get a full refund!  Where else can you find that kind of security on an investment?  And what better could you invest in than yourself?

For more information about BodyKey or other great plant-based products from Nutrilite, check out our ThriveMart page or send us a message today!  We’re here to help you thrive and enjoy a healthy life for many years to come!

Fill Your Toolbox

As you probably have noticed, most of the time here at TotalThriver, we typically feature an article each week to share ideas or concepts about how you can thrive in your fitness, finances, or faith.  I hope these articles encourage you to think and reflect on the various issues and take action based on new knowledge or understanding.  However, most of the how is usually left to you.  Today, we’ll try to remedy this by getting a bit further into the details!

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Find the Perfect Fit for You

If you’ve never taken the opportunity to look over the ThriveFit page previously, let me encourage you to go there now and check out the first five workouts of our recommended program.  Click the link above or the ThriveFit tab at the top of the homepage.  All workouts are conveniently split into three difficulty levels, so no matter your current fitness level, we have the perfect fit for you!

Hot Off the Press

For those that have seen the ThriveFit program in months past, we have a great new addition for you:  demonstrations and descriptions of some of the most important movements in the ThriveFit program.  Check out the Exercise Demos page here, and spend a few minutes learning a new movement–I promise each one will challenge you in a useful and different way, helping you to become a more rounded athlete and person.

One Movement to Improve Your Entire Body

In particular, today I’d like to highlight a brand new addition to the exercise demo page:  the snatch.  This powerful and complex movement can unlock new levels of fitness and strength for you, and though it’s difficult to master, the reward is great.  Incidentally, the video used in this demonstration was recorded just a few days ago, and came due to my competing in the 2013 CrossFit Open.  If you’d like to see the entire workout in context, feel free to check out my athlete profile page or watch my complete video here.

Why a Watch?

When you visit the ThriveFit page, you may notice that an unusual piece of equipment is required for nearly all of the workouts recommended there:  a stopwatch.  Unlike many workouts that you’ll see people doing in your local gym, our regimen involves completing a certain number of repetitions during a discrete period of time.  Is there a good reason for working out this way?  What are the advantages and benefits?  In today’s article, we’ll answer these questions and unpack how this strategy can help you reach your fitness and physique goals!

C&M Posing!

Better Challenge, Better Results

Most ThriveFit workouts take a form like the following:  with a continuously running stopwatch, complete three rounds of:  15 pushups, 20 lunges, 30 jump rope jumps.  Your goal is to complete all the reps in as little time as possible.  One of the beauties of this method is that whether you’re very fit or a complete beginner, this workout can challenge you.  The fitter you are, the lower your time will be, but as long as you’re pushing yourself as hard as you can, you’ll be worn out by the last rep.  And if you’re super fit, you can always adjust the workout up by adding more rounds.

Intensity Through Competition

A second benefit of keeping track of the time it takes you to complete a workout is that it promotes competition.  This competition could be between (1) you and a friend, or (2) you and yourself.

In previous articles, we’ve explored the many ways that having a training partner helps push you to greater heights and keeps you motivated and accountable.  By committing to a program like ThriveFit with a friend, you have the added benefit of being able to compete for the fastest time.  If you and your friend have a fitness disparity, you can even adjust the workouts up or down for one of the partners to cause a close finish every time.  For example, perhaps the workout for the day is: as many rounds in possible of: 8 clean and jerks 115#, 15 pushups.  If one training partner is a little stronger, he may use 135# while his partner stays with the recommended 115#.

A Worthy Competitor

Even if you aren’t able to find a workout partner right away, timing your workouts allows you to compete with yourself.  As you progress through the ThriveFit workout plan, keep track of your scores and times in a notebook or a spreadsheet.  Them, make sure to go through the list from time to time and recomplete workouts that you’ve done previously.  You’ll have your old time in mind while you’re doing the workout, which will push you to move faster and leave your old records in the dust!

Not only do your previous times help you push yourself harder and faster, but you’ll also have a clear basis for tracking your progress.  As your times go down and your loads go up, you’ll feel a strong sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.  Depending on your fitness goals, you may be tracking things like your weight and body fat percentage already, but an even more test of how you’re doing is to track how long it takes you to do 3 rounds of: 15 snatches 95#, 15 pull-ups!

Improve In Multiple Ways

And finally, keeping time while you complete an entire workout turns a strength-only scheme of exercises into a strength, endurance, and stamina challenge.  Most people’s workout program involves doing 10 reps of bench press, stand around for 5 minutes, 10 more reps, stand around more, 10 reps, etc.  Not only are they wasting lots of time getting through a workout, but that rest between sets allows them to catch their breath each time.  Conversely, the ThriveFit workouts keep your body moving constantly, resulting in a challenge to your cardiovascular system as well as your muscular strength and stamina.  Incidentally, this is a good reason to keep your rest periods short in the cases where you can’t complete a full ThriveFit workout without stopping.  Keep your rest periods to just a few seconds if you must take them, and get back in and knock out a few more reps.  Having shorter, more frequent rests will give you a shorter time and a better challenge than taking longer, less-frequent rests.

Our Network is for You

Today we’ve shown just a few of the many benefits associated with working out with a timer.  By timing the entire workout, you promote competition between yourself and others (or at least yourself and yourself), you have a means of tracking your progress, and you get to challenge your body more completely, which ultimately leads you to reaching your fitness goals more effectively.  Be sure to let us know how you’re doing along the way by sharing comments on the ThriveFit workout pages!  Happy training!

Small Changes for Big Results

We’re just about to begin the second week of the new year—how are you doing on your goals so far?  If you’re like most of us, this week it will be harder than last week to stick with your new habits.  As the excitement of pursuing a better or healthier life wears off, we all are very tempted to revert back into old ways that are familiar.  How can we head this tendency off at the pass?

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This Is Hard

I find it helpful to recognize that creating a new habit or doing what you’ve never done before is difficult.  Take fitness for example:  it may not seem like a very tall order to work out for 15 minutes for 4 or more days per week, but especially if you’re accustomed to 0 workouts per week normally, the new habit will be a challenge to acquire.

Hard, but Temporarily So

After recognizing that maintaining a new habit it difficult, it’s also important to recognize that it won’t always be so hard to maintain.  After you breech the 30-day mark, you’re essentially built a new routine and continuing with it is much easier.  So, when it’s hard to choose the apple over the slice of cake on day 18, be encouraged by remembering that your good habit of healthy eating will soon be much easier.

Keep Your Eye On What Matters

Thirdly, you’ll do best to focus on being consistent with the habit instead of demanding perfection of yourself every day.  For example, if your new habit is to get fitter, focus on getting to the gym for a workout at least 3 times per week.  Even if you don’t have a killer workout every time, you’re reinforcing the good habit of getting to the gym.  Later, once you own the habit, you can focus on getting the most out of each minute you’re at the gym.

Find an Encourager

And finally, seek accountability from winners in your life.  If you’d like to become more regular with your Bible devotions, find a godly friend and ask if he would be willing to meet with you once a week and let you share what you’ve learned in your devotions that week.  The coming meeting will help motivate you to spend time in the Word each day so that you have something to share at the meeting.  A great friend like this can be a great encouragement too in those times when you fall or fail—helping to pick you back up and help you get back on your good track.

Let’s Go Together

Good habits are hard to acquire, but once acquired, they can take us to extraordinary places.  Never underestimate what 20 minutes per day can do to improve your life when it’s toward a valuable purpose and repeated consistently for a lifetime.  Let’s make 2013 the beginning of your thriving life!

The Key to Getting Fit

Merry Christmas to all you TotalThrivers out there!  I’m sure that like me, many of you ate enough food in the past few days to feed a small army!  Some people feel bad after such a spree of overeating, leading them to seek out resources like our ThriveFit page to shed a few pounds and get back into shape.  It’s a good idea to work toward better health, but often these resolutions to “do better” fade after a few weeks or months, and instead of looking and feeling better, the person will feel even more like a failure for their lack of follow-through.  If you have the desire to live healthier, take advantage of the fire you have now by applying the most significant key to success in fitness or any other area of life:  adopting new habits.

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Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

Our natural inclination after a week-long (or month-long) spree of overeating and inactivity is to overcorrect.  We think that to even out the 1000 calorie dinner yesterday, we should break our year-long fast of jogging by running 5 miles.  We take the high enthusiasm to get fit and convert it into a short burst of high activity.  But we tend to neglect a few important steps.

The Big Challenge:  Change

First, we fail to recognize that adopting a fitness routine involves one of the most difficult things there is:  changing a person’s habits.  This is particularly difficult to do when the person who needs changing is you!  One big mistake at this point is that we try to accomplish this feat alone.  Accountability is absolutely essential to get into and stay with the routine of working out regularly, week after week.  Find a friend who is passionate about fitness.  Preferably, this person already has the habit of keeping fit, but another newbie is ok too if they’re really serious about getting in shape.  Decide how often and for what duration you will both commit to working out, and identify the specific times you’ll workout each week and how you’ll communicate your plans and results.

Write it Down

This leads right into the second necessary step for getting and staying fit:  setting goals and writing them down.   Make sure your goals are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.  For example, you’d ideally want to sit down with your ThriveFit partner and lay out something like the following:

We’re committing to working out 4 times per week for 30 minutes.  We’ll meet on Mondays at 7:00 pm at John’s house, Wednesdays at 7:00 am at Peter’s house, and on Thursdays we’ll meet over lunch for a run or bodyweight-only type workout.  Each Friday afternoon, we’ll email each other to figure out a workout to be done Saturday (each on our own) and we’ll send text messages to each other on Saturday to verify when the workout is complete and to share scores.

Between now and January 1, John’s goal is to reduce his one-mile run time below 7:00 minutes and lose 10 pounds.  During the same period, Peter’s goal is to increase his 5-rep maximum of deadlifts above 225 pounds and to trim 3 inches from his waist.

Instant Feedback

Notice how this is a specific plan with set dates and times and clear markers to shoot at.  The reason this is such an important step is that it gives you a standard to measure yourself against for immediate feedback should you start to falter.  Without this plan, you’ll tend to let your fitness regimen slip little by little as the days go by, until you are left back where you started, and with a vague sense of dissatisfaction with yourself.  With clear goals and a specific schedule to reach them, you’ll know immediately when you’re getting off course.  In addition to that, the goal or dream that you’ve identified will help motivate you on the days when you don’t feel like working out.

Let Us Help!

Remember, changing habits is hard, and our aim is to create good long-term habits for a fit life.  Don’t kill yourself on the first day such that you can’t move tomorrow.  Keep your focus on identifying and executing healthy and sustainable habits.  To support the new demands on your body, you will also do well to consider your diet and supplement choices.  Our ThriveMart store has a wide array of meal bars and shakes, sport drinks, and plant-based vitamins and supplements to promote your health, recovery, and weight-loss as you take the journey to a healthy life.  Just comment on our facebook page or send us a message and we’ll help you identify the right product for you.

And as always, be sure to check back with us each week for motivation and encouragement along the way—we’re here to help you thrive!

Why Not Machines?

Here at TotalThriver, we’re always emphasizing bodyweight exercises and barbell lifts.  Why don’t we ever suggest using those machines that fill the typical “fitness center?”  In today’s post, we’ll take a look at where these recommendations come from.

What Are You Aiming At?

Why did you first decide to adopt a fitness regimen?  To look better? To be able to climb a flight of stairs without getting winded?  Or perhaps to improve your performance in your favorite sport?  The great thing about bodyweight workouts and free weight workouts is that they are ideal for every one of these things.  The fundamental reason for this is that when you lift your bodyweight or pick up a barbell with correct form, you’re using your body as a complete system, with each muscle automatically being used in proportion to how your body was designed to function.

Avoid Huge Biceps and Tiny Calves

Not surprisingly, by training your body in this way, you’ll naturally develop a proportional look.  Unlike in bodybuilding, where you isolate muscles using machines and pulleys, a bodyweight and free weight regimen involves compound lifts.  For example, to take a barbell from the ground to your chest, then up over your head, you must use your calves, hamstrings, quads, abs, back, chest and shoulders.  By doing this lift within a circuit, as recommended in the ThriveFit program, you’ll also challenge your heart and lungs.  Over time, this will build you into a versatile and proportional athlete, capable of physical feats you won’t believe.

Move Your Friend’s Piano

In addition to working large muscle groups proportionally, bodyweight and free weight lifting strengthens all the small stabilizers throughout your body.  For example, in the “press,” you take a barbell in the standing position, and push it up over your head.  This movement not only strengthens the entire shoulder and upper pectoral muscles, but in order to control and balance the weight throughout the lift, your entire core needs to be engaged, along with the traps and small muscles in the neck and upper back.  Over time, this will strengthen your entire body as a system, not only making you capable of moving more weight easier, but helping you avoid injury as well.

Getting Cut

The final benefit we’ll discuss today relates to fat reduction.  One common reason for exercising is to trim down and get a leaner look.  A regimen like ThriveFit is ideal for fat burning, because compound lifts like clean and jerks or pull-ups recruit lots of energy from the large muscle groups involved.  Not only does this burn large amounts of calories during the workout, but as your body recovers post-workout, it will consume a great deal of energy rebuilding your muscles after the workout.  And with stronger muscles, your body will need more calories in the days and weeks to come simply to operate your now-stronger muscles.  Keep the same diet (don’t increase calorie intake) and you’ll quickly develop a significant calorie deficit, leading to a lower body fat percentage and a great lean look.

Start Today!

Of course, there are a great many more benefits to a high-intensity bodyweight and barbell training regimen than the few I’ve outlined today, but these will give you a good idea of some of the great benefits available to you through ThriveFit.  As with nearly everything we suggest around here, you can give this a try for yourself and take note of what happens!  I’m confident that if you dive in and stick with the program, you’ll quickly find the truth of these claims.  Enjoy your healthier and fitter life!  🙂