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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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!

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.

 

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.

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Your Premiums

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

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

A Grassroots Solution

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

Making Time

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

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

Get Wealthy and Fit

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

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

To get where you’ve never been, do what you’ve never done

If you’re ever began a new fitness program, you’ve probably found great results (and the associated soreness ;)) in the first few weeks.  The amount of weight you can lift jumps up and up.  The time it takes you to run 400m drops by large margins.  But after a few months, you seem to stall out.  It can feel like you’re hitting a glass ceiling.  Where you used to gain 30 pounds per week on your deadlift, you now strain to add 5.  What’s going on??

To avoid these frustrating plateaus, it is essential that your fitness regimen be varied.  As Arnold Schwarzenegger explains in Pumping Iron, “you have to keep zee muscles guessing!” If you repeat the same program week after week, your body will adapt to the stress, and what challenged you last week won’t stress your body this week.  This is good in one sense, because it means that you’re making progress.  But it’s bad if you don’t vary your program at this point.  You’ll find yourself stalling out, leading you to frustration and tempting you to drop your fitness program altogether.

In order to provide you with the best long-term results, our ThriveFit program includes dynamic and varied programming.  We use a plethora of different functional movements, training your whole body as an integrated system.  This keeps your body perpetually “on its toes” so that your muscles are always adapting to new stresses–thereby avoiding plateaus and promoting a high rate of improvement.

As you progress through each workout posted in the ThriveFit section of the site, feel free to be creative with the exercises involved and rep and set schemes.  And don’t forget to post those scores to build the ThriveFit community–as we compete with each other, everyone is motivated to push their limits and we all win!