Health and fitness are a crucial part of life, yet they are often overshadowed by the pursuit of money. I believe that the reason for this is due to the delayed gratification of a healthy lifestyle. People want easy, quick wins that are tangible and quantifiable. Sorry, but you don’t get six-pack abs after one workout or recognize that your daily jogs have prevented you from a heart attack 30 years in the future.
Even if you disagree with the ideas in this post, at least give your health and fitness some consideration. Align your lifestyle choices with your goals and be intentional about your actions.
Fighting the Inner Battle
If I surveyed 100 random people and asked “Are healthy eating and regular exercise beneficial for overall health?” I bet that 95%+ of those people would answer “Yes”.
Why then, are an astounding 36% of Americans considered ‘obese’?
I think it all stems back to our society’s craving for instant gratification. Sure, a cookie sounds great right now… a nice, quick hit of dopamine and some happy taste buds. But how about 20 minutes later? In a week? In a year? Chances are that your body already forgot about that cookie a minute after you finished swallowing. Now you just have a lump of sugar sitting in your gut, and your body is waiting for its next easy fix.
“One more episode, what’s the big deal right? I’ll exercise some other time.” The instant gratification of an enrapturing TV show has stolen your attention … once again. But what is that TV show really doing for you? You’ll probably have to watch some re-runs in a year or two before the new season comes out so that you can re-remember what happened!
Don’t get trapped in your mind’s constant hunt for quick gratification. Rewire your brain and take control of your health and fitness.
The Compounding Effect
When it comes to compounding, health and wealth operate in a similar manner. The more you put in, the greater your returns will be over time. Just as you won’t get rich by putting $100 in an investment account, you won’t look like Arnold Schwarzenegger after 1 set of curls, or lose 50 pounds after a 1-mile jog.
The same concept applies to healthy eating. I’d be foolish to say that your first protein shake will have you looking like Ronnie Coleman, or that your first salad will suppress your genetic predisposition to diabetes. But over time, these healthy eating habits will yield amazing results.
Achieving greatness takes time, and as you progress, things only get easier. Your first one-mile jog may be the hardest jog of your life, yet as you build it into your routine, it gets easier every single day. Your first kale shake might taste like dirty grass, but after a few months, you might actually start to like it! Nothing great comes easy. Always remember that.
Ballin’ on a Budget
Contrary to what you may believe, you don’t need to spend an extravagant amount of money to live a healthy lifestyle. My monthly grocery bill costs ~$200 and my annual gym membership costs $10 … for the entire year!
Minimizing your grocery bill is all about intentionality. I don’t cut coupons, eat 500 calories per day, or do anything crazy like that. Instead, I build a guiding list via the AnyList App and then make slight tweaks based on the deals that day.
I actually eat ~3,000 calories per day and still manage to keep the bill low.
The majority of the meat I consume is chicken and I can often find deals for $1.99 per pound. Vegetables are usually a “by-the-day” purchase depending on which items are on sale. The rest of my grocery items are reasonably priced or on-sale items that are on (or similar to the items on) my list. Notice how I’m not buying fancy steaks, microwave meals, or excessive junk … not only do these items make your wallet skinny, they make your stomach fat too!
As of right now, most of my purchases are driven by cost. However, as I start to accumulate more monthly income and reach Cash Flow FI, I plan to be more environmentally conscious about my food choices (free range chicken/eggs, organic vegetables, etc.)… but that is a topic for a whole separate blog post.
I wasn’t lying about the $10 gym membership last year. Although the gross cost of my membership was $160, my health insurance plan offered a $150 reimbursement! After I did some research, it seems that many of the big health insurance providers offer these types of gym/fitness-center reimbursements. The health insurance companies want you to stay healthy too (if you die early then they lose out big time)!
I am NOT a big proponent of solely relying on home workouts (unless you have some crazy home gym). I have a reasonable home gym, but the act of actually getting to the gym pushes me to work out so much harder. Use the sunk cost fallacy to your advantage! If you’ve made the effort to get to the gym, might as well get an awesome workout in.
Note: I understand that some people literally don’t have the time to make the gym (although that percentage is very small). Make it a priority and you’ll find a way to make time! But … if you are extremely crunched on time, use motivation techniques to get a great home workout in.
I often hear that people do not attend the gym due to a fear of “being judged”. Let me tell you, if you are using the equipment correctly and working hard, nobody is going to bat an eye! Do you want to “be judged”? Try dressing like Han Solo or singing the National Anthem at full volume … or maybe try this workout technique (THEN you’ll be judged).
In my experience, gym vibes are nothing but positive energy and reinforcement. No one will judge you for trying to get better!
Guys: Half-repping bench press and squats with ridiculous amounts of weight will not have significant impacts on your strength or physique… no matter how cool it looks.
Ladies: Lifting weights won’t give you “bulging veins” or “rippling muscles”. Instead, you’ll get the lean, toned look you might be looking for.
Although diet accounts for a significant portion of physical appearance, proper workouts are important to get the “fit” look, as opposed to just being skinny.
Note: I consider “working out” as lifting weights and/or performing bodyweight exercises. These are done in addition to cardio. Unless you’re doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT), your body won’t see significant results from a daily jog. Notice how some marathon and long-distance runners are still chubby? That’s because they fail to implement proper workouts into their routine!
A Sample Workout
I built this sample workout for my girlfriend almost three years ago now. She has always been skinny, but now she has a more toned and “fit” look to her. She went from being able to do 3 push-ups to over 20! Not to mention all the pull-ups and chin-ups she can do now. Sorry for bragging … I think it’s awesome 🙂
The workout plan I created is based on a 4-day rotating cycle. It addresses all major and minor muscle groups and includes some cardio and abdominal workouts. If there’s a workout you’re not familiar with, YouTube it at home or even while you’re at the gym!
This workout is not a rigid routine you have to stick by day in and day out, but it’s a great template for someone just getting started. Enjoy!
DAY 1: BACK AND BICEPS
– Hanging leg raise (25 reps) Superset with crunch machine (20 reps) x 3 sets
– Hyperextensions: 3 sets x 20 reps (holding a weight is optional)
– Stretch (never stretch your body before a warm-up)
– Treadmill (HIITs) training [0:00 to 1:10 minute on 4.0 mph, 1:15 to 1:45 on 7.0 mph, 1:50 to 3:10 on 4.5 mph, 3:15 to 3:45 on 7.5 mph, 3:50 to 5:10 on 5.0 mph, 5:15 to 5:45 on 8.0 mph, 5:50 to 7:10 on 5.5 mph, 7:15 to 7:45 on 8.0 mph, 7:50 to 9:00 on 4.5 mph, 9:00 to 10:00 on 2.5 mph. (Use speeds that work for you and follow the slow-fast pattern. The 5-second breaks in time are for the machine to get up or down to the desired speed)
– Machine rows: 3 x 15reps
– Lat pulldowns: 3 x 15reps (wide overhand grip)
– Seated cable rows (One hand at a time) 3 x 12reps
– Reverse grip lat pulldowns (palms facing your face & close grip) 3 x 12reps
– Bicep curl machine: 3 x 15reps
– Cable curls: 3 x 12 (slow reps/ make sure elbow stays perpendicular to the floor)
DAY 2: CHEST AND TRICEPS
– Ceiling kickers (20 reps) Superset with bicycles (40 reps) x 3 sets
– 1-minute plank x 3 sets
– Stairclimber (Maintain a steady speed and go for 10 minutes, should work up a sweat, turn up the resistance slightly [if applicable])
– chest press: 3 x 15 reps
– push-ups: 3 x 20 (do knee push-ups if you have to)
– machine flyes: 3 x 12
– Tricep extension machine: 3 x 15
– Diamond push-ups (on knees optional): 3 x 15
– Overhead extension: 3 x 12
DAY 3 LEGS:
– Leg raises (20 reps) Superset with Russian twists (40 reps) [weight optional] x 3 sets
– Left-Middle-Right Leg lifts: (twist left and lift, raise middle and lift, twist right and lift) … Knees should be coming up as high as possible
– 5:00 min on elliptical (keep it light)
– back squats: 3 x 12 reps
– leg press: 3 x 15 reps
– leg curl (12 reps) Superset with leg extension (12 reps) x 3 sets
– hip abductors (10 reps very slow) superset with hip adductors (10 reps very slow) x 3 sets
– calf extension: 3 x 25 reps
DAY 4: SHOULDERS & ABS
– Flutter Kicks (40 sec) Superset with V-ups (20 reps) [weight optional] x 3 sets
– Russian twists (50 reps) [weight optional] x 3 sets
– Vertical leg lift (20 reps) Superset with bicycle kicks (50 reps) x 3 sets
– 1-minute plank x 3 sets
– Same treadmill (HITS) training from DAY 1
– Shoulder press: 3 x 15
– Front raises (15 reps) Superset with Side raises (15 reps) x 3 sets
– Rear delt fly: 3 x 15
My Personal Experience
I have run the gamut with dieting and fitness. I have fun experimenting with different strategies and seeing their effects on my body.
Some of the diets I’ve tried include intermittent fasting, Keto diet, Atkins diet, Paleo diet, no-carb diet, no-sugar diet, and soon The Warrior Diet (great book). I usually just stick with a low-carb diet with lots of white meat and vegetables. Alcohol is my one vice, but I’m trying to get better about that.
Working out has been a part of my life since I was 14 years old. I’ve trained in bodybuilding, powerlifting, CrossFit, and MMA. I’ve experimented with supplements such as Protein Powder, Creatine, L-Arginine, Betaine, Amino Acids, Testosterone Boosters, Estrogen Blockers, Energy Enhancers, and (regrettably) Pro-hormones.
[Age 14 to Age 20 (on prohormones)]
I definitely don’t claim to be a health and fitness expert, but I hope that my experiences prove that I’m not some schmuck off the street.
The Natural Way or No Way
Flashy new products can certainly be enticing, but many of these products can have negative or even unknown effects on your health. Quite honestly, all the recent developments in nutrition and performance labs have not been studied for long-term health effects solely due to the length of their existence.
I urge you to stay away from extreme products such as ‘Lose 50 pounds in a month’ or ‘Gain 15 pounds in muscle in two weeks’ pills and supplements. There is no way that those products are a healthy or natural way to alter your body.
I am preaching from personal experience because I actually got lured into several cycles of prohormones. For those who are unfamiliar, prohormones are essentially steroids in pill form.
After my first cycle, I put on 30 pounds in one month and my bench press, squat, and deadlift increased by 80, 120, and 100 pounds, respectively. Sounds great, right? Well that’s because I left out the excruciating shin splints from my rapid weight gain (I could barely walk 1/2 of a mile without taking a break) and my increased blood pressure.
So yeah, please be wary of these extreme products and understand that they may have harmful or unknown effects on your body. I’m not saying to steer clear of all supplements (I still take some vitamins, protein powder, and sometimes test booster), I just want you to understand their potentially negative consequences.
Today, without the help of extreme supplements, I’m still looking pretty good!
At the end of they day, health and fitness are the most important things. Nobody is on their death bed wishing that they had earned more money or watched more TV shows. Instead, they long for more time with their loved ones and pray that they can see the light of tomorrow.
Do you want to be a 70-year-old grandparent that can play with your grandchildren, or do you want to be sedentary and forced to use a walker to get around? This question may seem trivial if you’re young, but the choices you make now regarding your health and fitness will have powerful impacts on your future self.
Like I mentioned before, it will not be easy at first. Your first jog or your first salad might not go so well, but don’t give up! If you truly care about your future self, you will start to implement these healthy habits and eventually, the compounding effect will seamlessly build them into your daily routine.
Share your personal health and fitness strategies in the comments below!
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