My fitness journey closely resembled the path I took to improving my finances. As I enhanced both, I found the mindsets required for success in Fitness and in Wealth to be very similar.
California Here I Come
Since I noticed that simple white vest hanging off of Ryan Atwood in The O.C, I have been keen to get in shape. But it took me a good 10+ years after the show ended to actually start working on it.
Why!? Well I guess I just needed some time to mourn the loss of the show 😢. But also for the same reasons as many others struggle to get their bodies or finances in shape. It all seemed rather intimidating.
The gym, the equipment, the already fit people. As well as all the noise from online hustlers trying to convince you that their program or product is best.
Just like with my investments, I only started because I was lucky enough to join a company with benefits. This time there was an on-site gym, where I could train and build confidence.
Welcome to The O.C B*tch!
Now that I am some years along, I know that a gym is nothing to be scared of. You build self-esteem and strength by showing up and getting moving. The alternative is paralysis due to overthinking your options. Just get started, learn and adapt.
Don’t worry about being a noobie… I assure you, the vast majority of gymgoers are focusing on their own goals, or keen to encourage others efforts.
Many of those intimidating looking Beefcakes may also be the kindest people you’ll ever meet. Doing hard things repeatedly tends to have a humbling effect on one’s character. Even as it hardens and tones the body and mind in other ways.
Fitness looks different for everybody. You do not have to become a Beefcake! But lifting weights, learning new movements and getting your heart and lungs pumping are some of the best things you can do for your physical and emotional wellbeing.
The Last Action Hero
As with investing, fitness is a relatively simple path, clouded by those that wish to purposefully confuse and frighten you. This makes it easier for them to sell you their product. I tried out quite a few programs, plans and apps before realising simple is always best. Tune out the noise.
Focus on enjoying new movements, sports and activities over chasing aesthetics. They may come along as a nice bonus, but feeling yourself getting stronger and fitter can be so much more enjoyable and motivating.
It can be good to try different things out, but don’t chop and change too much chasing “results”. These come slowly from persistence and repetition.
I am not a qualified trainer or nutritionist. I can only write about what I have worked on and how it has benefited me. You know your own body, psychology and needs best.
Lifting heavy weights is a fantastic way to build and maintain bone and muscle density to prepare for an active old age. But, it’s really important to learn how to lift correctly. You should also work through any movement limitations you currently have to avoid injury. For that reason I recommend starting by joining a group or individual class run by a knowledgeable trainer who can adapt to your needs.
This can also make you feel more accountable and more likely to show up if you have someone waiting for you at the gym. Which is great for building a new habit!
CrossFit is a great way to do this in an affordable and social way. Once you are confident and safe with the movements, there is always more to learn, but your options can broaden if you want to be more of a lonewolf!
The Comfort Crisis
All good progress in Fitness and in Wealth comes from habit building. It is arguably one of the most important things to work on first.
It can be hard to build a regular excercise routine, especially in the beginning, as your body, mind and schedule will put up a fight to resist the change. But eventually you’ll discover that all three will actually be improved by you prioritising you health and fitness.
We are conditioned by nature and nurture to seek comfort, highly sugary foods and to always be hustlin’ at our desktop computers. It’s easy and incentivised within modern society to pursue these things; even though they can be terrible for our health, happiness and even our finances.
Comfort creep is a barrier to a healthier life, just as Hedonic Adaptation is a barrier to healthier finances.
But, you can also flip this on it’s head through excercise. Over time, yesterday’s discomfort can become easier and even something you desire today.
You must choose your discomforts, else others will choose them for you
Of course, it is more than OK to enjoy a little comfort in our lives as a treat that the progress of the modern world has brought us. But we must decide what is most important to us and prioritise those things.
If we don’t we risk being hijacked by the unending amount of instant gratification available to us. Supplied and motivated by, others who wish to improve their bottom line, and rarely your health.
A life spent at a desk, or on a sofa staring at a screen and eating nothing but processed foods now, means a high debt to pay later, in the form of chronic disease, fragility, lack of independent mobility and shorter life expectancy. Just as a life spent without control and intention over your finances means you will pay later, in actual debt, or via an old age where you have no choice but to keep working forever, or live on a threadbare budget.
We live rich and stimulating lives these days where many of us can afford to do anything we please. But it’s important to remember that we can’t afford and do everything. Trying to have and do everything is the road to emotional, physical and financial ruin. You must actively decide what is most important for you and sacrifice the rest.
If you want to be fit and healthy enough to enjoy many active years with your loved ones, you need to embrace the discomfort of lifting weights and moving lots. If you want the financial freedom that will afford you the independent lifestyle you dream of, you need to embrace the discomfort of paying down your debts and saving more.
Habits are Your Future
Despite how easy it may look for others on Social Media, building new habits is hard for everyone. But you can build a skill for it. It will be small, persistent pushes over time that are going to eventually make it easy.
After building these habits for myself, I now I get restless if I can’t make it to the gym or find good nourishing food! It’s amazing how your body starts to crave it, once it has started to feel the benefits. I also sometimes find myself looking forward to saving some money, about as much as I can also enjoy spending it intentionally!
But it’s also important to be kind to yourself, if you miss a few days, or indulge in something, don’t stress over it. Enjoy it and appreciate the progress you have made and benefits you have built, then get back to it when you can!
It was actually a business book that gave me that aha moment! And made me understand that in order to achieve momentum and reach a kind of auto pilot with new habits, you first need to persistently do these small pushes.
In “Good to Great”, Jim Collins uses the metaphor of a Flywheel when explaining how no single action or miracle moment provides that breakthrough moment for a company. It is only the result of turn upon turn pushing until momentum is achieved.
Picture a huge, heavy flywheel—a massive metal disk mounted horizontally on an axle, about 30 feet in diameter, 2 feet thick, and weighing about 5,000 pounds. Now imagine that your task is to get the flywheel rotating on the axle as fast and long as possible. Pushing with great effort, you get the flywheel to inch forward, moving almost imperceptibly at first. You keep pushing and, after two or three hours of persistent effort, you get the flywheel to complete one entire turn. You keep pushing, and the flywheel begins to move a bit faster, and with continued great effort, you move it around a second rotation. You keep pushing in a consistent direction. Three turns … four … five … six … the flywheel builds up speed … seven … eight … you keep pushing … nine … ten … it builds momentum … eleven … twelve … moving faster with each turn … twenty … thirty … fifty … a hundred.
Then, at some point—breakthrough! The momentum of the thing kicks in in your favor, hurling the flywheel forward, turn after turn … whoosh! … its own heavy weight working for you. You’re pushing no harder than during the first rotation, but the flywheel goes faster and faster. Each turn of the flywheel builds upon work done earlier, compounding your investment of effort. A thousand times faster, then ten thousand, then a hundred thousand. The huge heavy disk flies forward, with almost unstoppable momentum.Excerpt from “Good To Great” by Jim Collins
That is the kind of mindset to have about your Fitness and Wealth. All those little pushes add up! Eating a little better, sleeping a little better, moving a little more, saving a little more money, spending a little more intenionally, paying off a little more debt. In the beginning you may not notice much progress at all. But given enough time this will eventually build into an explosive change in your life. Fitness has an upper limit based on genetics, age and just being human, but your Finances really can compound infinitely.
I’ve been working on my own physical and financial “flywheel” for quite some years now and it has literally given me a whole new perspective on life! 🤡 I wish you all many happy, healthy and free years ahead!