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Finances and Fitness ~ Similar principles for success in both.

I don’t think there is anything more daunting than getting your finances together. It’s something most of us prefer to put off until you're forced to deal with it. Probably because it's confusing, takes discipline and dedication.

My wife and I are in the process of forging our financial plan for retirement and our children's education. Luckily we've had some help!

What I’ve discovered along this journey is that the principles that cultivate success in finances are similar to those in fitness and nutrition.

I’m sure there are far more than these, but here are a few I’m learning and experiencing.

Define your goal(s)…

In finance you have to first define your goal(s). What’s your objective? Do you want to save and invest for retirement, your children’s education, a dream vacation house?

This one seems pretty clear when it comes to fitness and nutrition. Your goal determines everything. There is a big difference in eating to gain muscle in preparation for a sport season and eating to shed those extra pounds you’ve been wanting to lose.

Another way to think of this is to consider the difference between training for your first 10k or to achieve a 1.5-2 times bodyweight deadlift. You need to clearly define your goals in order to create a plan and ensure you are moving in the right direction.

Create a plan...

When saving and investing for retirement you have to create a plan with continuous action steps. You need to determine how much you need to save, where to put that savings and how much and how often to contribute. It often boils down to three questions; How much? How often? How long?

The same is true for fitness and nutrition. If you want to lose weight, get stronger or train for an event you have to create a plan.

On the fitness end of the spectrum; What time can you commit to? How many days a week? What kind of duration or how long can you or should you train? What are the key exercises or lifts you’ll need to perform to get you where you want to go?

Regarding nutrition; What is your daily caloric needs, what foods should you be eating and what foods should you be avoiding, how often and when?

When you’re creating your plan, bear in mind points one and two have to match up. It’s probably unlikely you’ll be able to retire in 5 years if you’re saving 5% of your income and you don’t have much of a nest egg already saved.

The same hold true for fitness and nutrition. Don’t expect to be able to run a marathon after 3 months if you’re plan is to run for 30 minutes, three days a week and 2 miles is a struggle for you right now. If you want to lose 15lbs in a month working out 1-2 days a week, not tracking your food and drinking a bottle wine every night isn’t gonna cut it. At Least, not in a healthy way.

Do the math and when in doubt work with a pro, someone who has done it before, someone who walks the walk and talks the talk.

It's more the habit and less the amount...

When creating your plan keep this in mind.

I’ve heard this from several financial advisers. Compound interest is the secret. Commit to contributing a certain amount and stick with it. It doesn’t have to be much, just do it and do it consistently.

The same it true for fitness and nutrition. I’ve seen so many people start working out, going at it “hard core”, only to quit after a month because they just can’t afford the time and energy. It doesn’t matter how well you ate or how much you trained last month. If you’re not doing it this month it’s irrelevant. Consistency is key.

You’re better off doing 20-30 minutes, 3 days a week for the rest of your life than training an hour, 7 days a week for a month.

That being said, be honest with yourself. If you’re one of those people who claims to be too busy to workout but spends an hour every evening in front of the TV or on’re fooling yourself.

Figure out what you can afford, commit to it and do it!

Start the habit early…

Do the math on the finances. With compound interest, you’re better off saving 10% from the time you’re 20 than saving 30% from the time you are 40.

I once had a client who told me that her husband’s doctor told him that he really didn’t have to begin working out until his late 30’s. Granted it was hearsay. But, if this is true, I think it’s probably the most ridiculous statement I’ve heard.

Even if your metrics are good (blood work, weight, bodyfat, etc) we are creatures of habit. The habits we forge when we’re younger tend to stay with us as we age. If your habit is to spend your evenings in front of the TV and eat junk, you probably do it when you’re older. If your habit is to eat healthy food and exercise regularly you’ll probably do this when you’re older.

Stick to the plan...

I wrote about this in a previous blog post ~

Sticking to the plan can sometimes be tough. I’ve found that when it comes to finances, automatizing things is key. Some aspects of fitness and nutrition can be a little tough to automatize since it involves you taking action. However, you can automatically schedule certain things and stick to them.

Schedule your meal prep. I spend 1-2 hours on Sundays prepping my daughter’s and my lunches and some of my dinners for the week. I roast a bunch of chicken breast, steam some broccoli and sweet potatoes and will often cook a whole grain like brown rice or quinoa. When lunchtime rolls around I just dice everything up and saute it in a pan.

I’ll also make sure I have the ingredients I need for breakfast, dinners and healthy snacks. I keep it simple. Usually I’ll do an omelette or scrambled eggs with some kind or herbs or veggies and a little oatmeal or mashed sweet potatoes for breakfast. Dinner is either extra lunch that I have prepared or often I’ll just saute some sardines with fresh spinach.

Regarding your workouts schedule them in advance. Mark off the time in your calendar and treat them like regular meetings with your boss. If you don’t make that meeting your boss is going to be furious.

Your body will too. It may take a few years but when your posture is so bad standing up straight means seeing just past your toes or when your health is so deteriorated you’re dealing with the health trifecta (heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity) skipping out on these meetings will come back to haunt you...No excuses!

The key to automation is preparation.

Be careful where you get your advice!...

There are so many self proclaimed guru’s out there in both fitness and finance. Make sure you do your “due diligence”. Do your research.

I’ve found the questions below helpful.

Do they have the state of health, fitness, wealth that you are looking to attain and achieve in your own life?

I think this one is pretty self explanatory. You probably wouldn’t take financial advice from someone who is broke or up to their ears in debt.

The same is true for fitness and nutrition. Not always, but it’s probably a good practice to adhere to fitness and nutrition advice from someone who is fit and healthy.

Are they a living example of the plan, philosophy, method, product they are advocating?

~Do they use the same products? Do they hold the same investments?

~Do they eat the same foods, workout the same way, take the same supplements?

I’ve fallen into this trap easily without realizing it. When I was young I got a lot of my workout advice from muscle and fitness magazines. These magazines would layout these crazy workouts and programs from bodybuilders on steroids. However, back then with no internet it wasn’t common knowledge that these guys where juicing. It was more portrayed that you, Jo or Jane Shmoe, could do this too and get the same result...especially if you bought these supplements (a subject for another blog post!!!)

Did they start from the same place as you?

Can they relate to where you are now and do they truly understand where you want to go and how to get there? Have they traveled the same path?

This does not always have to be the case but I do think it helps. I find It’s harder to coach weight loss clients as I’ve never been in that situation so it’s a little more challenging for me empathize and understand.

Not that it can’t be done. I have to plug into similar challenges I’ve taken on; like reducing down to a single digit body fat percentage, adding fifteen pounds of muscle to my frame or working towards a difficult performance goal. That being said, I think someone who has traveled the same road is usually going to be more effective at guiding you along the way.

Are they promising something way outside the norm.

If something seems too good to be true it usually is..think Bernie Madoff.

You see this in health, fitness and nutrition too. The only problem here is there’s no organization like the SEC, so people can make all kinds of claims; “lose 30lbs in a month” or “ripped abs in 5 minutes”.

Buyer beware!!!

Dan John, a well known strength and conditioning coach, has a great quote, “The longer it takes to build a body, the longer it stays”. If it took a while to get your body in the state it’s currently in, and you don’t like that state, it’s probably going to take a while to get it into the state you want.

The bottom line is if you ask the questions above it will at least provide you a little introspection.

There it is finance and fitness tips. I hope you’ve found this helpful or at the very least entertaining!

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