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?


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!

Your Body Isn’t Yours

Most of the time, when people hear the word stewardship, they think they’re about to hear a sermon about how the pastor wants them to give more money to the church.  If this is your understanding of this term, prepare to hit the reset button.  Stewardship means to manage well something that’s in our possession, but doesn’t really belong to us.

Stay at My Place!

Think of a time where a friend has let you borrow his car, or spend a weekend at his lakehouse.  How did you treat his stuff?  If you’re a good friend, you took great care to use your friend’s property well, avoided damaging it, and cleaned up when you were finished.

Bakers lake

In much the same way, it is important that we recognize that we are not truly owners of our life, money, or even the body we have.  These and all things are gifts from our Heavenly Father, to be used for His glory (see 1 Corinthians 6:12-20).

Need Motivation?

Understanding the concept of stewardship in regard to our physical body has a radical effect on one’s desire to begin and maintain a fitness regimen.  Instead of sitting on the couch thinking, “which sounds more fun, an intense 20 minute workout or watching another episode of Lost?  Hmm…  I think I’ll just forget the workout today,” a person who understands stewardship feels compelled to care for his body through proper exercise.  Just as you make time to change the oil in your car to avoid engine seizure, you are inherently motivated to maintain your physical body to honor and serve the One who entrusted it to you.

Start Today

Make fitness a priority in your life today by clicking the ThriveFit tab above.  You’ll find recommended workouts for all fitness levels and many other resources to assist you in your fitness journey.  Here’s to a fitter and healthier 2013!!

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.


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!

Get Money, Don’t Let Money Get You

Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours in pursuit of one thing:  money.  Even though money isn’t the only reason we go to work each day, for most people it’s the main reason.  Though money can get a bad rap sometimes (in particular from those who misquote the Bible as saying that money is the root of all evil), spending the day working to acquire it is not a bad thing.  In fact, if you’re like me and you enjoy eating and having a warm bed to sleep in at night, it’s quite a wonderful thing.  But, money makes for a cruel Master, and we must be sure to take certain steps to keep the money we seek from getting us.


What the Good Book Says

The quote I mentioned earlier that people often get wrong is from 1 Timothy 6:10:  “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”  Similarly, Jesus taught in Matthew 6:24 that, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

A Matter of Priorities

These scriptures, as well as many others throughout the Bible show clearly that money itself isn’t bad, but the way we spend our money tends to reveal where our allegiance lies.  If we are like Christ, our chief desire will be to love and worship God, and money will be a tool or servant under our watch, to be used to glorify God and spread His Gospel.  Conversely, if we seek our own desires first, we will tend to use God as a means toward the end of having more and being more comfortable.  As the wise teacher Hank Haanegraaf says, “instead of loving the Master (Jesus), we only want what is on the Master’s table.”

Fix Your Heart

So, given the understanding that we all tend toward selfishness and are tempted within our own hearts to pursue wealth for the wrong reasons, what can we do to keep money from getting us?  The answer is simple:  give.  All throughout history, God has taught His people to give to Him first.  Though many think that this practice is simply a pragmatic way to fund the church, in fact this has more to do with meeting a need you have than meeting a need the church has.  Here’s why:  God owns everything.  He doesn’t need your money to accomplish His purpose.

Live as You Were Meant To

But what you need is a way to keep your heart from pride, greed, and self-centeredness.  Giving accomplishes this wonderfully, and also comes with the side effects of joy and peace.  When you take the first $100 of your $1,000 paycheck and give it to God, it speaks very clearly to your heart:  “I’m not the most important thing in my life.”  By giving, you recognize that you are simply the manager of God’s money, to use it in accordance with His purposes, and really, what better investment is there?

Need a Lift?

Do you ever get discouraged?  Most of us can get excited about a new opportunity when we first hear of it (especially if we’re not yet too jaded!)  But what do you do when the initial fire wears off and you come face to face with difficulties, discouragement, and obstacles?

When You Need a Friend….

In times when you’re struggling, don’t you just wish that a warm, kind friend would seek you out, give you an encouraging word and a thoughtful, sincere compliment?  What if I told you that you could be assured this pick-me-up anytime you desired it?  Would you be interested?

…Be One!

Here’s how you get the vital encouragement you need to pick yourself up when times get tough:  encourage others.  No, I don’t mean that you should encourage friends and neighbors today, in hopes that they’ll reciprocate in the days to come (although that may also happen).  Instead, I’m encouraging you to seek out someone to pay a compliment to because that action will actually encourage you as much, if not more, than it does them.

Building, Building, Building Others Up

The reason why this works falls into the large category of things I don’t quite understand.  I don’t know why it brings us such great encouragement when we encourage others—I only know very simply and clearly that it does.  Incidentally, this idea is something we parents always teach our kids; however, like so many simple concepts that fill children’s books, we adults never seem to practice them!

Be the Leader

If your environment is anything like the workplaces and neighborhoods that most of us live in, the practice of an unsolicited and sincere compliment will be somewhat foreign to you.  It is difficult to start a healthy habit when it’s not modeled for you, but then again, readers of TotalThriver are trailblazers anyway, right???  Thankfully, this practice is one that’s relatively easy to start—people really do appreciate compliments, whether they’re your colleague, boss, or just someone you occasionally pass by.

A Win-Win Situation

Make your compliment specific, genuine, and personal.  When you notice a job well done, a positive attitude, or a bright idea, take a moment to share your delight.  Whether it’s something small or a significant victory, both you and the recipient of your compliment will leave the encounter happier, more positive, and energized for success.  Consider your fire rekindled!

Have You Any Excuses?

One of my major missions is to spend time around people who are living well.  I want to be around people who inspire me, who are succeeding in areas of life I’ve yet to master, and who thrive in all aspects of their lives.  When I meet and talk to people like this, I always notice that they’re all lacking one thing:  excuses.

Obstacles yes, excuses no

What’s even more significant than their lack of excuses is the fact that in many cases, they had huge obstacles in their way when they began, and often at many points along the way.  Sometimes, they’re facing a trial currently, but somehow still succeed despite it.

What I’ve realized is that these men and women are not exempt from the difficulties that you and I face from day to day; rather, they have adopted the attitude of an overcomer.  Instead of trying to accomplish things, and then giving up when it gets hard, these people just keep working.  They’ll try one idea to improve their life (health, marriage, career, etc.), and if that idea didn’t work, they’ll seek another solution.  Whatever roadblocks come up are seen by them as temporary—just problems to be solved.

Don’t Be Normal

During the time when normal people, who have given up after the first few tries didn’t work, are loudly broadcasting all their excuses for why they couldn’t win, overcomers are still working.  They know what they want, they’re willing to reach out to mentors for advice, and above all they keep trying until they attain the result they set out for.

What area of your life do you desire new success in?  Will you be willing to take on the attitude of an overcomer and pursue a thriving life?  The resources to reach your potential are all at your fingertips, and the only question that remains is what you will do!

You Need a Smaller Vocabulary

Do you know why you only achieve small victories in your life?  Why you may hope or wish for a grand success, but make only meager progress?  Why you’ve always dreamed of making a big impact on the world but can’t seem to turn those dreams into reality?  The answer is in your vocabulary.  You see, you’re letting the word, “impossible” spoil your mind.

But Don’t Jump Off a Building

Don’t misunderstand—there are certain rules of the world we live in which are not to be toyed with; gravity for instance.  I’m not saying that you can fly if you just start with a great mental attitude.  But I am saying that we are all apt to grossly underestimate our capabilities.  When we make up our mind that our dream cannot be done, we have ensured that it will not.

Garbage In, Garbage Out

Your mind is an incredible and powerful machine, and in many ways it is programmed by what you pour into it.  When you repeat to yourself that a certain goal or dream is impossible, your mind goes to work to find all the ways that the thing is impossible.  If you surround yourself with negative programming (most TV shows) and negative people, you’re programming your mind to bring you failure.  On the other hand, if you toss the word, “impossible” out of your vocabulary, you do the opposite—you begin programming your mind to find the ways to achieve the goal you’ve set before it.

A Lesson from the Master

When your goals are in line with God’s plan and you’re programming your mind to seek ways to fulfill your vision, you are in a wonderful place indeed.  I believe that this is the concept which Jesus was teaching in this passage in Matthew 17:

14When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, 15“Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16“I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” 17And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once.

19Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” 20And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

Trying Hard Isn’t Enough

Jesus tells the disciples that their lack of faith was the root cause of their inability.  Although it appears that the disciples were trying hard to drive out the demon, nevertheless they failed because they did not believe.  In order to succeed in that which is difficult, we must first choose to believe that that which we seek is possible.  Once we can see the goal clearly and accept that we will be able to reach it, our minds can go to work figuring out how to make it happen.  Oftentimes, God will give us ideas along the way that lead us in the right direction.  And finally, we must use our minds, passion, and resources to take action toward reaching the goal.

Ok, I Get It

A simple concept, huh?  As with most things, this idea is not difficult to understand.  Yet, how hard it is to practice!  It is a great challenge to believe a thing possible when circumstances seem to indicate otherwise, and all one’s loser friends surround the idea with negativity and discouragement.  But of how sweet the reward is for those who will believe their dreams and take action to achieve them.

How about you?  What do you dream of becoming or achieving?  Are you handicapping yourself by repeating, “it’s impossible,” whenever the dream pops back into your mind?  Release yourself from the self-imposed bondage and take action today toward the goal set before you.  You have nothing to lose but mediocrity!

The Secret to Riches

Ever wish you could get a hefty raise?  Want to enjoy some of the finer things in life as you climb to the top?  Read on to find the secret to advancement and wealth that many don’t know and even fewer practice.

Work harder than everyone around you.

Too Simple?

After reading such simple advice, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “yeah right!  I work hard and I never get promoted!  The way I see it, I’m stuck being paid basically what my salary is now, so I may as well coast through the day as best I can to at least enjoy myself a little.”  Don’t let this lie get you—instead, follow the sage advice of Scripture:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  (Colossians 3:23-24)

Good Work, Not More Work

Note that the verse says “with all your heart.”  We should not misconstrue hard work with excessive time spent at the office, rather, there should be a focus on productivity and enthusiasm, behaving as if you were doing work personally for a king, not just a client or a boss.

This kind of excellence in your work will get you rewarded.  It may take time, and it may not be from within your current company or industry, but as God promises, He will see to your reward.  Not only this, but there is a very practical benefit that comes with pouring yourself into the work at hand and doing your very best:  you learn things.  As you accomplish work in one week that your neighbor would streach out to two, you’ve effectively gained one week of experience over him.  You are more seasoned and capable, and as this pattern continues over time, you’ll become the “go-to guy” in many areas of your business.  Your neighbor thought he was getting a better deal by taking the same salary as you while doing less work, but long-term, he’s actually been cheating himself.

Don’t Believe It?

As usual, I challenge you to test these claims in your everyday life.  While this is a simple and easily-understood principle, a person who’ll put it in practice is quite a rarity in today’s workplace.  Besides, you’ve got nothing to lose but inexperience and a low salary!  😉


Getting Fit and Loving It!

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

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

Trial by Fire

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

Powering Through

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

 The Payoff

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

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


Getting There

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

Fitter by the Day

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

Follow a Winner

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

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

Identify, Model, Own, Repeat

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