No Breaks!

One of the most important aspects of any successful training regimen (or perhaps any pursuit in life) is consistency. Today, we’ll discuss the importance of sticking with your workouts and never letting too much time pass between training sessions.

Here Comes an Excuse

As you may have read in previous posts, I had the joy of traveling to Indiahoma, Oklahoma last week to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the children, youth, and adults in the community. We had an awesome time (more to come on that soon) and forged many wonderful relationships. However, there was one thing we didn’t do while there—workouts!

While I was able to stay pretty active moving rubble from a burned-down building, swimming at the lake, and even a bit of free climbing, I didn’t lift any heavy weights. And, though I intended to go on a few runs and do some bodyweight exercises, I never managed to make it happen.

The Price That Must Be Paid

Consequently, I was in for a rough day back to the gym today. My last full workout was 6 days ago, and that’s much too long to go between workouts. My metcon of heavy squats, dips, dumbbell jerks and pull-ups started off well, but I ran out of steam about 3 minutes in and my whole body began to feel like Jello.

I’m afraid that there’s no good way to get around the rough spot that I found myself in today, should you skip too many workouts. The only way to get past it is to go right through. So, that’s exactly what I did, pushing my Jello-feeling body through the next 15 minutes of punishment. By the end, I was totally wiped, and struggled to catch my breath for about five minutes.

The Reward on the Other Side

However, once I did catch my breath, I began feeling much better, even better that I had felt all day. I spent the next 10-15 minutes stretching my hips and calves, which had grown rather tight and immobile in the two 10-hour bus rides that we’d taken last week. All in all, I felt great by the end, but there were some rough moments in there for sure.

Learn from Mistakes

As you can probably tell, I’ve been through this a time or two in the past, and have learned to avoid this situation as much as possible. Since I powered through today, I’ll likely be back in a good groove tomorrow or the next day. Getting back in a good rhythm requires paying a high price, though, as I experienced today, so I’ll be working to avoid another slip in the future.

Be Good to Your Body

One or two days of resting and stretching can be a great way to rejuvenate your body and recover from a tough workout. But three days can be dangerous and four days is trouble. If you make my mistake and wait six days between, you’re in for a rough day back, so don’t let it happen to you! Make workouts your habit four to five days a week, and even if it’s just a few rounds of sprints and push-ups, your body will thank you for avoiding the punishment of a “first day back!”

Wandering into Trouble

I’ve enjoyed many hiking and camping trips since I was a young child.  Walking through the forest, listening to the sounds of wildlife and seeing the sun gleaming through the trees, I’ve had a chance to appreciate the beauty and creativity of our Father’s world.  Occasionally, my hikes have become extended for a bit longer than I was planning on, due to an underestimation of how long a climb might take or a casual disregard for things like maps and compasses…. 

Oblivious to the Peril

The funny thing about getting lost is that you don’t realize you’re about to get yourself in trouble until you suddenly realize that you are in trouble!  On a certain camping trip with a buddy of mine in Arizona, we hiked out into the desert loaded with many gallons of water.  We found a good site, set our provisions down, and trotted off in search of a good “sitting log” to place beside the firepit.  We found a good one a short while later, and began carrying it back to our campsite.  At first, we thought it was pretty funny that our campsite was taking so long to get to.  “Strange how it only took us 10 minutes to find this log, but we’re taking 20 minutes to carry it back,”  we laughed.  Slowly we realized that we were actually lost, and we’d been walking for so long because we didn’t know where we’d left our jackets and water!

A few hours later, tired and thirsty, we found our campsite as the sun finally set.  This set us up for a cold night (the coldest night of my life, in fact), since we’d wasted our afternoon and now had only a half-built shelter.  But we were thankful at least for the jackets and water that we had nearly lost.

This story is an example of how we can be walking along unaware, and suddenly find ourselves in an overwhelming situation.  We were too confident that we wouldn’t get lost, and by the time we recognized our precarious position, it was too late.

Common Financial Dangers

In a similar way, we can tend to be very blasé with debt in America today.  We look around at our friends and neighbors, and many of them have student loans.  Everyone’s got a mortgage, and some debt on their cars.  And of course we’ve all got to have our credit cards!  But even though we all know that people get trapped and pulled under by debt, we mistakenly think that this can never happen to us.

Confident of our ability to keep our debt in control, we walk right along the edge of a financial cliff.  We buy a nice big house, great new cars, and a brand new living room set—all on payments.  At the end of the month, we’ve got $25 leftover after all the credit payments are made, and we think, “All right! Everything’s going great!”  But then comes something unexpected, and all of a sudden we’re $175 under instead.  No big deal, we think, “I’ll just pay the minimum credit card payment this month, then get everything cleaned up next month.”  But again, something unexpected comes, and now the balance we carried last month is compounding on us.  On and on it goes, and the debt pulls us down deeper and deeper.

Recognize the Trap

This story has sadly happened to too many people who are able to escape only through a long and painful bankruptcy.  If you’re fighting this now, know this:  many have overcome this situation through wise money management, hard work, and tenacity.  If you’re still dabbling with debt and don’t think this could ever happen to you, think again.  Banks are not evil, but they are concerned with making money, not ensuring that you keep your head above water.  Knowing what you can afford and what you cannot is your responsibility, and you owe it to your family and to God to manage the money He’s given you wisely.

The most reliable way to make sure that you can afford something is to simply buy only with cash (or debit cards/checks).  The one exception might be a mortgage on a 15-year fixed rate with the monthly payment of 25% of your take-home pay, which can be a reasonable debt, provided that you have a substantial down payment.  And some financial experts would contend that there are a few other “reasonably safe” debts as well, but use these very carefully.  It is much easier to lose your way than you think.  Decide instead to take control of your financial life by eliminating debt and paying with cash.  The confidence and freedom that come with becoming debt-free will serve you well on your path to a thriving life.

But I’m special….

Ask five of your friends if it’s important to have money saved for an emergency, and you’ll likely get five affermative answers.  Now ask the same five friends if they have such an account, and you’ll probably get some resounding no’s.

Yeah, what do they know?!

We’ve all heard from financial experts over and over again how important it is to have an emergency fund.  “Three to six months expenses in a savings account or a money market account,” they say, and we think to ourselves, “yeah, that sounds like a good idea…”  But look at our accounts in a month or two and nothing has changed.  What’s the problem?

For one thing, saving for emergencies isn’t too exciting.  It’s much more fun to spend a few hundred dollers on a weekend getaway, new set of clothes, or a night out with friends that to put money into an account for “future unexpected expenses.”  Some of us also balk at the thought of earning a measley 1% interest in a money maket account when we could easily average 10% in the stock market.  Emergency funds aren’t slick, cool, or sophisticated, so we’re tempted to consider them optional.

The problem is, that unexpected things do tend to happen, and on a long enough timeline, they’ll happen to all of us.  Just think about this for a minute: do you know anyone who has been laid off from a job?  Or someone who’s gotten hurt or sick and required hospitalization?  Do you think that person expected those things to happen to them?

Knowledge gained vs. knowledge applied

Of course, we all know people in these situations, and we understand intellectually that having money saved is very important in such times.  The problem is, we just don’t connect it to our lives.  We assimilate the knowledge in our heads, but our hands never carry out any action to create change.  We delude ourselves into believing the lie, “that won’t ever happen to me,  I’m special!”

While every TotalThriver reader is special to me, you don’t have any unnatural abilities to avoid emergencies.  In the next several years, you’ll very likely encounter a layoff, sickness, injury, or family situation where a fully-funded savings account will be of great value.  Like our discussion regarding insurance, these financial foundations are often not appreciated until they’re needed.  And by that time, it’s too late to prepare.

A choice today affects life tomorrow

Those who succeed with life and money are those who understand the long-term consequences of decisions they make each day.  They realize that the decision they make today to forgo a trip to the beach to save money for an emergency will pay them dividends in the future when their house gets flooded and they have money to pay for a hotel room.

Will you apply these concepts to your life?  Will you commit to eliminating one fun thing from your expenditures this month, and put that money toward an emergency fund?  If you will set a goal that includes a total amount to be saved along with a timeline to meet that goal, you’re well on your way to financial security.  Not only that, but you’ll have put into practice the habit of acquiring knowledge and applying it toward long-term success, an ability that will bring prosperity and peace to many other aspects of your life as well.

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.


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.

Planning for Unusual Expenses

Last week, we discussed the importance of including unusual but predictable expenses in your budget.  Items on this list include things like car repairs, home improvements, large gifts, or vacations.  By allocating a fixed amount each month, these big expenses don’t have to catch us off guard.  For example, my wife and I set aside $60 each month for car repairs, which has been plenty for the minor repairs and maintenance that our vehicles have required.

This brings up a small wrinkle in your budget, though, since you’ve allocated money to be spent on a certain day, but since you likely won’t have a $60 car repair this month, your account will be out of balance if you don’t correct for this.

Thankfully, this feature is built right into the ThriveWealthy advance cashflow planning program.  If you’ve not downloaded a copy yet, be sure to head over to the ThriveWealthy page and download the latest version.  Start budgeting next month’s income in the colored boxes, along with the dates your paychecks come.

Once you’ve entered your income and expenses in the appropriate categories, notice the orange box in the upper left part of the screen.  This section is called, “pending expenses” in the example tab, and is used to balance your budget with your current bank balance.  This section is also where you’ll keep track of your car repair fund, and any other “funds” for big items that you’re saving for.

Keeping with our example of $60 per month for car repairs, let’s say that we’ve reached the 15th of the month, which is the date we entered the car repair fund to be spent.  But, since we’ve not needed any repairs or maintenance this month, that $60 is still sitting in our account.  To ensure that the budget matches the actual bank balance (ascertained by logging into your bank’s website), we need to enter the $60 as a pending expense.  Next to the value of $60 that we enter in the orange box, we need to title the expense as, “car repair fund.”  The spreadsheet will automatically adjust the budgeted balance, and the “difference” value in cell C25 should drop to 0.

Next month, we’ll have the same thing happen, and assuming no car repairs are needed by the 15th of that month, we’ll follow the same procedure.  On the 15th, we’ll replace the $60 value in the orange box with a value of $120, and so on and so on, month after month.  Anytime money is spent at the auto repair shop, simply reduce the pending amount by the total amount spent.  So, if on the 18th of that second month, you spent $20 on wiper blades, simply reduce the pending amount from $120 to $100.

Following this plan will bring you such a sense of peace–bring ahead of these unusual expenses instead of getting knocked down by them.  Please enter any questions or clarifications you have in the comments section, and as always, remember that we’re here to help you thrive!