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!

Fitness and Your Disposition

This post is second in a series of six articles on why you should care about fitness.  We often don’t realize how investments in one aspect of life provide benefits not just in their own realm, but in many other areas of life as well.

Be Honest

Are you ever grumpy?  Most of us would grudgingly answer this question in the affirmative.  Even though we enjoy so many blessings, comforts, and advantages in our modern society, we all sometimes get upset and unpleasant.

One powerful tool in the battle against grumpiness is a consistent fitness regimen. In particular, a workout that involves moving heavy objects and barbells (the program we recommend here at TotalThriver) tends to take you from a state of irritability to a state of contentedness and confidence.

There are certainly many physiological reasons why moving heavy weights around or doing burpees makes you happier and more relaxed, but to make things simple, let’s just say it this way:  workouts are satisfying!  Sometimes, you have a rough morning.  Nothing seems to go right.  And on top of that, your coworker yells at you for not doing a task in the way he would have done it.

Use It

All this junk is your fuel for your workout.  When you step up to the barbell, remember those frustrations you faced in the first part of your day.  Focus your anger and frustration into the movement you are doing.  Not only will the weight move more swiftly, but you will get a better challenge to your muscles and cardiovascular system.  And now for the best part:  when it’s all over, you won’t care about your morning frustrations anymore!

There’s something about overcoming a difficult physical challenge that melts away a grumpy attitude.  Perhaps your coworker was rude and demanding in your morning meeting, but when you return from your workout, you don’t really care about it anymore.  By moving your body through this fitness regimen, you’ve burned off your frustrations, and you can start the latter half of your day with a fresh and positive attitude.

The Bonus

And what do you think this does to your life at home with your spouse?  If you’ve been married for any length of time, you know that a great many of the fights (and especially the big fights) have lots to do with the disposition of one or both spouses in the moments leading up to the battle.  The husband got chewed out by his boss just before leaving work, and the mom was puked on by a sick kid just as dad rolls up the driveway.  The smallest conflict between these two is likely to set off a firefight, and both spouses are apt to say things they’ll later regret.  Why not take a step to diffuse this situation before it even starts?  Take those derogatory comments from your boss with you to the gym, and pour your frustration into some heavy clean and jerks.  The fruit that a good fitness regimen brings to your marriage is some of the sweetest you’ll find!

The Effect of Fitness on Productivity

This post is first in a series of six articles on why you should care about fitness.  We often don’t realize how investments in one aspect of life provide benefits not just in their own realm, but in many other areas of life as well.

Adopting a fitness regimen will not only make you more fit, but will also affect your career, your marriage and other relationships, and your disposition.  In this post, we’ll explore how fitness pays dividends in your productivity.

The enemy

Many of our jobs involve something quite harmful to the production of quality work and creative thinking–a desk chair.  Study after study indicates that one of the most dangerous things we do in our daily lives is spending long periods of time sitting in a chair.  Read here for more detail on the studies backing this claim.

Desk Chair After

Look at it this way–your body was made to move.  God did not give you muscles, joints, a cardiovascular system and a digestive system so you could sit still all day.  Your body is a machine designed for a purpose, and when you don’t engage your body’s systems properly, it doesn’t work properly.

The first step

The good news for those of us who’ve adopted poor fitness habits is that the body is incredibly adaptable.  If you will start incorporating movement into your daily life, your body will adapt and get stronger and fitter in a remarkable way.  One very simple way to get started is to find a coffee machine, water fountain, or any other excuse that’s a good distance from your desk.  Make a habit of getting out of your chair and walking to your excuse of choice once every 1.5 hours or so.  If you can walk up and down a flight of stairs along the way, that’s all the better.

The next step is to find 15-20 minutes a few times a week to start engaging your body in a more strenuous workout, pushing your limits and giving you big gain potential.  Walking around the office is good for getting your blood moving and keeping your chair from killing you, but to truly engage your body’s systems and reap the productivity benefits, you’ll need something more challenging.

Where can your workout fit?

I’m blessed to have a small gym and shower facilities at my workplace, so I’m able to workout over lunch most days.  This is ideal, as it really allows my body and brain to be kicked into high gear for the afternoon.  It’s amazing how a morning that was quickly turning into drudgery and poor quality output can be turned around by a lunchtime workout.  Even if you can’t make this happen at your job, can you get a workout in before you come in in the morning?  Or ride your bicycle into work to get your body’s systems going before you boot up your computer?  Use your creativity to find how a workout can fit into your day.  Remember, our fitness philosophy here at TotalThriver revolves around short, high-intensity workouts with functional movements requiring little equipment, so there’s incredible flexibility in terms of where and when you can workout, and the time commitment is quite minimal.

In summary, we’re advocating a strategy of moving from your chair every few hours and working out as near to your work time as possible.  The most dramatic evidence for just how effective this is at boosting productivity and creativity is available directly to you.  Try this:  ramp up over a period of a few weeks until you’re doing a challenging workout 4 out of 5 workdays per week.  You will notice a dramatic difference in your capabilities when compared to where you were before you began the regimen.  Also, you’ll notice that anytime you have to miss a workout (for a meeting, a sick kid, etc.) that you’re just not at your best on those days.  It almost feels like someone stuck with you with a needle and is sapping energy out of you.  Once you feel the new capacity that this fitness regimen gives you, you feel like you’ve been cheating yourself out of so much latent ability that you never knew you had.

Test the claim

The great part is, this new productivity and energy level that you get from the fitness regimen can be a great motivator for keeping with the program.  On days that I miss a workout, I know that I’m not able to put forth my best on the work I’m doing, and I desire that workout tomorrow all the more.  When I get back in the gym and pour my all into a hard workout, I get such a feeling of satisfaction and my body is so thankful to get it’s systems moving again.  Best of all, when I head back to my office for the afternoon, I’m energized and refreshed, and my tasks are knocked out with quality, creativity, and excellence.  If this sounds like the kind of productivity boost you’d like to add to your day, why not head over to the ThriveFit page and give workout #1 a try?  You can test these claims for yourself and see the tangible benefit in a very short time.  Be sure to ramp yourself up gradually into any new program to reduce injury likelihood and to keep you from falling off the bandwagon after a week and a half.  Keep the workouts short, the form correct, and the intensity high!

Why Train?

Today, we’ll begin a series of articles on the topic of, “why is fitness valuable?”  Here at TotalThriver, we’re always working to provide you tools for how to win in all areas of life, but sometimes it’s the why that is missing between you and the person you aspire to be.

Fitness is so important to thriving in life because it touches so many other areas, increasing your capabilities for success in those areas.  In the coming days and weeks, we’ll look at how adopting a challenging physical regimen pays dividends in:

  • your productivity
  • your disposition and your marriage
  • the search for your mate (singles)
  • your finances and long-term health
  • your appreciation of God’s glory
  • your control of your habits

Each of the next six articles on our main page will search out and explain how success in the fitness realm will awake new thriving potential in these other areas.  Join us in the journey to thriving in all aspects of your life, and be sure to check out our ThriveWealthy and ThriveFit tools to help you along the way.

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!